Street Cultivation - a modern wuxia/litrpg hybrid

by SarahLin

Original ONGOING Action Adventure Fantasy GameLit LitRPG Male Lead Martial Arts Supernatural Urban Fantasy Wuxia Xianxia
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Profanity

In the modern world, qi is money.

The days of traveling martial artists and mountaintop masters are over. Power is controlled by corporations, modernized martial arts sects, and governments. Those at the bottom of society struggle as second class citizens in a world in which power is a commodity.

Rick is a young fighter in this world. He doesn't dream of immortality or becoming the strongest, just of building a better life for himself and his sister, who suffers from a spiritual illness. Unfortunately, life isn't that easy...

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Author's Note: I'm aiming to do something a little different here, with cultivation and LitRPG elements in a modern setting that has developed around them (so not system apocalypse). The story will have one foot in realism, so don't expect the protagonist to be handed immense power immediately. There's a longer note at the end of the first chapter, but the plan is to upload a new chapter every three days until the story is complete.

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Dollar Store Power ago
Birthrighters ago
Combat Massage ago
Ether Void ago
Liquor Store Powerup ago
Inheritance Dispute ago
Family Conflict ago
Aura Leeches ago
Picking Up the Pieces ago
The Underground ago
Appendix: Lucrim Mechanics ago
Bonus Melee ago
Special Event ago
The Slayer ago
Granny Whitney ago
Core Obligations ago
The Obvious Choice ago
Maguire Incorporated ago
Tea Training ago
Handicap ago
Emily ago
Worth Any Price ago
Flame in the Void ago
Brotherhood ago
Past the Storm ago
Public Techniques ago
Chaos in the Underground ago
The Hitman ago
Aftermath Coffee ago
Cleanup ago
Sealing a Demonic Bond ago
Silver Linings ago
Granny is Back ago
Side Effects ago
Public Park Training ago
Power Budgeting ago
Fight Patrons ago
Three on Three ago
Consequences ago
Ultimatum ago
Planning Recovery ago
The Gifts of Family ago
A Family Visit ago
Researching a Solution ago
Sibling Technique ago
Granny Whitney's Team ago
Deathbane ago
The Multi-Tier Tournament Begins ago
First Round ago
Cheating Randomness ago
The Verdant Mountain Sect ago
Closing In ago
Rick's Last Fight ago

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Interesting twist on the Wuxia trope

This is one of the few novels I have earmarked for push notifications.  I always run to read an update when they are published.

The author has written a very good Wuxia type novel.  Qi.  Cultivation.  Inner Energy.  But he has done it in a futuristic setting instead of the past.

Spirit Energy has been 'farmed' and commercialized.  The MC has a few strikes against him right from the beginning.  He's poor.  His parents are dicks (sorry but they are).  His sister has a problem with her dantian that has nearly bankrupted them.  And he has problems generating enough lucrim (inner Qi that is monetized) to survive.

Give this a try.  It's worth your time.  And the author does a great job of responding to comments and questions.

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A juicy truffle for us mud slogging pigs.

I never took the time to write a review before, so hear me out, please.

I read a shitton of wuxia/xianxia, but honestly, the genre is saturated with so much garbage that most of the time I feel like a goddamn pig slogging through mud and shit trying to find a truffle. Thing is, this story is a goddamn truffle. A juicy one with earthen and smoky tones.

The characters feel real, the problems are relatable, MC isn't OP, at all. It's wuxia without all the bullshit.

This is a truffle, people. Enjoy it while it's here.

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Well written, but depressing

The writing is excellent; definitely professional quality, and the world building is fantastic. It's a joy to read, and I'd love to see more stories set on this world.

Just be aware that the protagonist starts in a bad place, and his life gets worse... and worse... and worse...

No happy ending here, folks.

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Good writing. Bad world building.

I've only read the first five chapters, but I like the story. It's fun, the characters are likeable, and the MC has actually reasonable motivations. However, what I've seen so far doesn't paint a cohesive picture of the world the MC lives in. It's a ?capitalistic? system in which power equals money and money equals power. You settle legal disputes by fighting. This basically means you settle legal disputes by seeing who is richer. Such a system is more feudal that capitalistic. 

*spoilers* When the MC and his uncle fought over the inheritance - what about other next of kin? What if they wanted to make a claim for the inheritance? The law firm just immediately gave it away with no procces or documentation. They didn't even confirm identities. After that they forced a mana leach on the MC without explanation or the offer for him to pay voluntarily. That is in any capitalist system illegal. Bodily autonomy is absolutely integral to the maintainance of a capitalistic society. If the MC had somehow, after going through a court system, been found guilty of a crime (even if that crime is not being able to pay off his parents debt) and then had mana leeches forced on him then maybe it could be feasible. But, independent actors can't just do whatever they want to you without a contract, or it's not capitalism, it's just anarchy. 

The author would have needed the MC to blindly sign a contract without reading\comprehending it that gave the law firm the right to force the leech on him. That would be out of character, but still better than a badly built world.

I've decided to stop reading the story. Although the writing is good and the MC likeable, a coherent world is just the most important thing for me to enjoy and immerse myself in a story. I could ignore the strange fight over legal rights, I could ignore the lack of proper inheritance laws, I could ignore debt being inherited from relatives, I could ignore the MC being ignorant of what would seem to be extremely common knowledge among poor citizens(inherited debt). But, I can't ignore all of this together with a lack of contract law in a 'capitalist' society. 

To the author: you're a good writer, and I like what you've done here. However, what's holding you back is your world-building. You're a five star worthy writer; you could limit the amount of times you make world-defining statements/plot points to make things easier on you. You quickly built one of the most fleshed out worlds I've seen on RR. Your problem was that that fleshing out didn't make good sense. ?Spend more time crafting your worlds, or make them simpler?

 Most importantly though, spend time thinking about the implications every plot point had towards your story's world!

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Bad pacing, no hooks

This story failed in several ways at keeping my attention, but what ultimately led me to drop it was the handling of the "mystery core" that Rick finds within himself in the very beginning of the story.

It was set up as a stereotypical xianxia/wuxia "cheat", by which I mean the advantage or shortcut or insight that allows the protagonist to advance faster or to beat much stronger opponents, that will serve to elevate the otherwise unremarkable main character above the rest of the herd. But no, it was just a red herring that took 18 chapters(180+ pages) to reveal as such, and very anti-climactically. 

I think it's fine to subvert a trope; some of my favourite stories are deconstructions/subversions. The problem is that besides skillfull writing, it requires great familiarity with the ins and outs of the genre, which I don't feel this author has with wuxia, and maybe not even with litrpg. 

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Kung fu wageslaves?!? What?

Awesome and enjoyable.

Street Fighter, Big Trouble in Little China, Kung Fu Hustle come to mind thinking about this story.

The Will of Heaven is there for the taking, and it can be yours for 5 small payments of $99 each!

Modern urban setting, cultivation with litrpg style tracking of ones progress - the better for the corporate overlords to quantify you with, my dear.

This story possesses a wonderful mashup of elements, and solid character building rooted in street level, understandable struggle.

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This here thing is pretty darn tootin nice

Well, since I gave every other metric five stars, I think I'll focus more on the story score, which I only gave three stars to.

Now, there's a good reason for that. I just don't find the story quite satisfying. That isn't to say that it's a bad story. No. It's basically just if someone decided to, let's say, horizontally stretch a movie so that it goes slower, and that the story beats are further from each other.

Don't get what I'm trying to say? That's okay! I don't, too!

The story starts with a young man who works in a martial arts Dojo. That doesn't make him strong at all, though. In fact, his job is to offer himself as a sparring partner to Dojo members. He could become stronger, but unfortunately, due to the artificial scarcity of lucrim (or Qi as you'd recognize it) caused by megacorporations, he can only afford so much to make himself stronger. He also has a younger sister who has a disease and the only available treatment is to pour lucrim into her body so the disease doesn't cannibalize her completely.

You can see how our main character isn't quite capable of focusing all his endeavors on the martial path, now, can't you? That's okay, though. You expect him to somehow rise up in the first few chapters. You see the chance of that happening when three scions of large-scale corporations come knocking at the Dojo door. These Young Masters were just following their prime directive: bully the MC.

And bully they did, until the MC somehow receives a special core from the fight. You think "this is it! He got this power and now he'll become a real contender in his setting! This is the first true step on his Martial Path!"


But those hopes come crashing when you realize that the whole 'special ability' thing was a sham, anyway. To make matters worse, he's inheriting the debts of his deadbeat parents, he can barely follow up on his younger sister's treatment and his job is STILL being beaten the shit out off on a regular basis.


The plot is literally designed to kick the ever-loving sh<3t out of the main character. He doesn't seem to be winning, even a little, at least for the first fifteen chapters.

What I realize, after having written this so far, is that there's not really much wrong with the story, inherently. It's just not MY cup of tea. I'm a romantic, and this story is DECIDEDLY unromantic. In fact, it brings a new meaning to realistic. It's the realism of knowing that you're nothing but a bug in the face of higher powers, powers that can decide the entire course of your life on a whim. This isn't even just true in this story. It's true in real life, too. In real life, the small guy doesn't just rise up out of nowhere. He works hard. He works hard enough to break out of his mediocrity, and he needs help from big guys to do just that. His own effort is drowned out by all the contributing hands pushing him towards success. The story of the little guy who climbed up to become the big dragon looks like a fairy tale compared to this realistic fiction

I have faith that in maybe fifty or so chapters, maybe more, the character will truly become a contender in his setting. Maybe not strong enough to touch the actual experts, but strong enough to no longer be pushed around by some snot-nosed Young Masters. 

It could even take more chapters than that, all things considered. Maybe the point of the story ISN'T to reach the martial peak. Maybe the MC is content with just saving his sister's life one day at a time while affording rent and paying off his literally soul-sucking debt.

It's a story that doesn't quite grab hold of me, but it's DEFINITELY a story that I'm going to see through til the end. I'm twenty-FIVE chapters into this depressive clusterfuck, and I'm too emotionally invested to leave before I see some more developments.

Keep writing, author! You're doing great :)

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An Aversion of Xian'xia isn't necessarily better

To be honest, I tried liking this story, but I really couldn't manage. Basically this story is set in a "modern" Xian'xia setting where the rich are cultivators and cultivators are the rich. The middle class also gets to cultivate and has power and the poor get fucked. A bit like real life in that way.

Now the protagonist starts out as an "undeserving poor" as the author calls it. But as I said, starts out, as the story progresses he does everything to deserve his poverty. He has no wealth, more pride than a king, a sister that's very sick and a healthcare system like the US. Basically he starts out rather fucked.

The thing is this is an aversion of Xian'xia. Meaning instead of heavenly encounters or just plain luck, he's got encounters with assholes, bad luck and bad decisions. I don't think there's one chapter after the first where he doesn't get fucked over. Being beaten up, inheriting his parents debts, joining an underground fighting ring, getting crippled, ending up effectively a slave, then gaining a billionaire heir as his personal enemy.

Honestly that's the latest chapter and where I stopped caring about this story. The MC is an overly prideful fuckup machine and the story so far has been how he stumbles from bad encounter to bad luck to fuckup to bad luck to bad encounter. Basically the MC is a classical authors chew toy. Where a normal Xian'xia protagonist would be an author avatar that has more luck than brains this one is the very opposite.

And to be honest, where classical Xian'xia gets boring because you just know the character will get the next OP thing for certain, this one gets boring because you just know a new chapter a new torment. And it won't get better because the MC is just the kind of never-do-well that has enough intelligence to fuck himself over where a dumber or smarter person would have just done nothing and coasted along.

  • Overall Score

Atypical of the genre

I generally won't read a wuxia novel, not because they're bad, but because they are bland and repetitive. This story is neither of those things; it's well thought out and varied to the point that the characters only repeat words necessary to the current discourse they are involved with.

There are few typos, and mentioning one often results in it's correction.

The characters aren't fully developed as of yet, but only because the main character doesn't know everything about them.

All in all it's a good story thus far, and I can only see it getting better.

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Great Start and Premise - The Middle?

Ahh, time for a review. Let's keep it simple. 

The good: 

The author is on to something with a fanstatic idea of merging cultivation prowess and current income. In a way, it's a bit like the move "In Time".  The premise here is excellent: 

Our MC also starts in the dirt, and continues to get dumped on for awhile in the beginning. Instead of suddenly winning the game of life, it gets worse.  Major points here - kept it interesting longer.

The so-so: 

He gets a patron. Now he can suddenly have almost all his problems solved. Sadness, story becomes less interesting. 

There might be a romance. Could have been a romance? I think this would have been beneficial for the story. Issues of self-worth in respect to finances could have made for lots of character development. Not a minor topic amongst many Western societies. Culturally, men must make more than the women they are with, or they are losers. Don't be afraid to explore this. 

The not as good: 

The explanations on why Lucrim = Money = Generation = Maximum just didn't really work. I tried the first several times, reading and re-reading. The logic isn't quite there, and I think it needs to be reworked and simplified. I now just skip over them. Terms probably also should be adjusted to make this clearer. 

I'd reccomend you sit down with a real-life friend and have them map them out with you. They should be able to explain it and map it out by the end [not you]. Most likely this will be much clearer at this point. 

Since this is such a huge driver of the plot, it would really pay to get this cleaned up. 

Finally,  at 280pgs in, it seems like we have lost the red line. Why is the MC getting up in the morning? What is he working towards? Getting stronger? Saving his sister? Surviving something? These could even change as milestones are reached the story, but I think the story would benefit from a clearer focus on "Where are we trying to go". 

TLDR = You'll enjoy the strong beginning, but might find yourself unexplaininably losing interest over itme.