Carn Online: Second Chances

by D.H.Hansen

Original ONGOING Adventure Drama Sci-fi Cyberpunk LitRPG Reincarnation Strategy Virtual Reality
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Traumatising content

The future belongs to the rich. Corporations make the laws, while the poor are forced into medically-induced comas, all in the name of profits. The impoverished flock to a hero who vowed to fight back—not in the real world, but in immersive games. In these virtual competitions, the ultimate prize holds the key to changing the world.

Damian was one of the penniless, a follower of the hero's revolution. A former teacher turned analyst, Damian gave everything to help the hero, but in the end, the hero was a lie. The corporations created him as a pawn to hold the rebellion in check. When Damian tried to reveal the truth, the corporations had him executed— but it didn't work. Damian didn't die, but woke up alive, six years in the past.

Neither a warrior nor rich, but equipped with knowledge of the future, Damian has a second chance to take down the "hero" and the corporations.

//This synopsis was created with help from the amazing Etzoli, please check out her work.\\

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D.H.Hansen

D.H.Hansen

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Character List [Minor Spoilers] ago
Prologue I - The End is but a Beginning ago
Chapter 1 - Planning for the Past ago
Chapter 2 - Entering the Game ago
Chapter 3 - I'm the Tutorial ago
Chapter 4 - Mindfulness and the Slaughter of Hapless Bunnies ago
Chapter 5 - Quests ago
Interlude I - A Date in the Sewer ago
Chapter 6 - Open for Business and Ridicule ago
Chapter 7 - A Change of Plans ago
Chapter 8 - Evening Cookout ago
Chapter 9 - Rising Popularity ago
Chapter 10 - Exceeding the Limits ago
Chapter 11 - First ago
Interlude II - The Interview ago
Chapter 12 - A Pest Problem ago
Chapter 13 - Down the Rabbit Hole ago
Chapter 14 - Legendary ago
Chapter 15 - Luck ago
Chapter 16 - New Recipes ago
Chapter 17 - New Faces ago
Interlude III - The Gathering Storm ago
Chapter 18 - Sarah ago
Chapter 19 - Degrees of Truth ago
Chapter 20 - Tarnished Reputation ago
Chapter 21 - Shopping Spree ago
Chapter 22 - What Lies Beneath the Sewer ago
Chapter 23 - Dhin Daruhm ago
Chapter 24 - Plans for the Future ago
Epilogue I - Not So Special ago
Prologue II - The Escape ago
Chapter 25 - New Recruits ago
Chapter 26 - Pacifist ago
Chapter 27 - Unanswered ago
Chapter 28 - New Skills and Classes ago
Chapter 29 - Trial ago
Interlude IV - Surveillance ago
Chapter 30 - Assassination ago
Chapter 31 - The Golden Goose ago
Chapter 32 - Weekly Auction ago
Interlude V - Betrayal ago
Chapter 33 - Unexpected ago
Chapter 34 - Assistant ago
Chapter 35 - Setting Out ago
Chapter 36 - Setting Up Camp ago
Chapter 37 - Castle Run ago
Chapter 38 - Settling In and Moving Out ago
Chapter 39 - Surprised ago
Chapter 40 - Beginner No More ago
Chapter 41 - First Monthly Auction Begins ago
Chapter 42 - First Monthly Auction Concludes ago
Chapter 43 - The Sailor, the Blacksmith and the Beauties ago
Chapter 44 - Impatience ago
Chapter 45 - Magic Lunchbox ago
Chapter 46 - Seaworthy ago
Chapter 47 - Friends and Allies ago
Epilogue II - Fairy Tales ago
Prologue III - A Reporter's Woes ago
Chapter 48 - Officer's Meeting ago
Chapter 49 - The Game Truly Begins ago
Chapter 50 - Celebration and Runes ago
Chapter 51 - Quest Time ago
Chapter 52 - Travel Preparations ago
Chapter 53 - More Preparations ago
Interlude VI - Dawning Awareness ago
Chapter 54 - Negotiations ago
Chapter 55 - Benefits of a Camping Trip ago
Chapter 56 - The Great Harvest ago
Chapter 57 - Kitchen Mania ago
Chapter 58 - Moving Day ago
Interlude VII - Investigation ago
Chapter 59 - Emotional Turmoil ago
Chapter 60 - Emotional Wreck ago
Chapter 61 - Divergence ago
Chapter 62 - Lost in Confusion ago
Chapter 63 - Sour Moods ago
Chapter 64 - Fighting the Waves ago
Carn Online Interlude VIII - Second Thoughts ago
Chapter 65 - Back to the Beginning ago
Chapter 66 - Catching Up ago
Chapter 67 - High T____on ago
Chapter 68 - Fractures ago
Chapter 69 - Finishing Touches ago
Chapter 70 - Waiting ago

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Ray The Red
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Story
Grammar
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Carn Online started off alright, with a classic set-up we've all heard before. It wasn't doing anything special, per se, but it was hitting the rights notes; the MC has a concrete goal, doesn't go it alone, and plans to take advatage of his future knowledge. It was looking to be a slow burn, with some solid world building and good number crunches, and I must give props for making the crafting fun. The character interactions are by far the weakest part of the whole thing though, especially as the author eschews subtlety entirely by the last few chapters of the first novel - not to even speak of the Epilogue. 

Honestly, I have no clue why the author thought it a good idea to waste not one but two villains with a single stroke, as well as removing any and all intrigue from the the table. What little nuance there was, and there was precious little to begin with given we already had evil corporations and a brutish and sadistic guild leader, is erased with Marcus. I won't spoil it but suffice to say that the revelations in the Epilogue come completely out of left field - and not in a good way, either. 

Where I'd been able to power on through the amateurishly handled drama of the buid up, there was no such inclination for the amount of stupid that was crammed in that one chapter. It was an instant turn off for me, and quite violently so. It's quite dissapointing really, because while Carn Online had never been without its flaws, it had at least been enjoyable despite them but nothing can save it now - at least as far as I'm concerened. If nothing else, though, it does show one how to waste any and all suspension of disbelief. 

 

 

some_total_kretin
Overall

 UPDATE: OK, here it is. Time to change my review. I hate doing it because it feels like I'm going to defecate into someone's chocolate sherbet, but I feel the need. So here goes.

TL;DR: Enjoyable read that "done the twist" to groundhog day premise re-enacted as psychological thriller in an epilogue of book I.

This novel has a promising start. All of the boxes are slowly ticked as our hero gets reincarnated, completes his team and starts playing. 

At the start I have a few petty niggles about a convoluted premise but otherwise it's readable and (at least for me) gripping variation on the standard stuff, that stratches all the right spots.

And then the warning signs of drama start popping up in conversations. Conversations that slowly shift from dialogues to arguments. Then the classical trope of sociopathically villainous guildmaster enemy finally starts playing itself up. So far so good. The MC and his motley crew can survive it and overcome that.

And then comes the epilogue of first book, with what I call the SHYAMALAN TWIST. It's a phenomenom where all the little clues combine together to reveal something you partially expected, but precisely not like THAT.

It's like when a couple of kids found a dead body and that psychopathical weird kid starts doing stupid shit with it. You expect him to poke it with a stick, maybe throw a piece of the body at someone, but you certainly do not expect him to engage in a bout of necrophiliac bestiality with the corpse in plain view of everyone...

In a bout of really tortured metapor, that is exactly what the epilogue does here. And I don't like the resulting twist. It had basically gone from partly cloudy but enjoyable narrative to full on groundhog day by way of psychological thriller. Sigh.

--------------------

ORIGINAL:

I like reviewing online novels. It's like being five years old all over again and having everything proof shield and a pillow fortress to hide in so you can sling rotten tomatoes at unsuspecting passerbys you deem worthy of a sudden stink bomb. Or shooting the fish in a barrel. Or watching the happily unsuspecting badly written online novel run across a meadow in full bloom as you slowly load your blunderbluss with salt shot while cackling maniacally.

Hehehe....HA HA HA...Hehe

Now, where did I put the damn salt...?

TL;DR: Standard premise of  Do-over LitMMOPRG done from the point of noncombat (at least during the first arc) MC guildmaster with seemingly good characters by an author who either played a lot of D&D or has a secret desire to be an insurance agent. Oh, almost forgot about a a bit more moderate tone. Good enough.

Carn online is another attempt at the "Do-Over litMMORPG" that every asian web novel author and the dog they had not yet eaten butchered at least once in last few years.

It's hard to tell if the style is western or eastern, but I'd say it's western-ish enough. Or it has more western feel. The fact one of the characters is samurai-inspired and the villain is almost chinese in it's sociopathic young-master-who-has-to-get-everything-he-wants-over-everybody-else notwithstanding.

The exposition is luckilly not done in a large wall of text. Instead the author chose the gradual exposition wrapped in conversation and cut to several pieces intruduced during or just before the event/activity they are related to.

I still found myself slipping and just skimming over paragraphs several times and the odds for success (at least the written ones) will surprise you in how low they are. Still, every mechanic is over time painstakingly explained in a way that made my eyes almost glaze over. Well, I'm sure the accountants, insurance agents and D&D cave masters will love it.

The premise is well enough executed to be almost believable, but still extremely contrived. I still don't know about any reason why you'd put the poor into medically induced coma other than the one introduced by the Matrix movies and can't imagine important incriminating emails would be forwarded to our MC like it happened here.

The MC is adult and acts like one. Well, at least adult enough by my standards. And the side characters can hold their own and have their own motivation - for the few chapters that are out by the time I'm writing this.

What I'm curious is how long can the author keep going, because the premise gives us the general timespan of more than six years and spanning several genres. It will be insteresting to see what happens when the first inevitable crisis strikes.

Rexmundi
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Unoriginal, predictable, poor character development, decent world building

Reviewed at: Chapter 21 - Shopping Spree

Protagonist does literally everything right, is morally perfect and completely unrealistic. Antagonists are unreasonably fixed on the protagonist, moraly depraved and completely unrealistic. In short the characters suffer from the lack of  actual realistic characteristics and behavior. The world building is okay but predictable and unoriginal. If you like reading an endless grind of comparable items (item name changes, bonusses change but it's basically the same) read this, if not don't bother.

HJekyll
Overall

The story is there, but the humanity isn't.

Reviewed at: Chapter 21 - Shopping Spree
This is a great litrpg story for those of us who like crunching numbers, and slow but steady progress. The trouble is how the characters interact with each other.
 
Everyone is always scowling, or snarling, or shouting at each other. Do a control f search for "snarled" in any chapter and you'll see what I mean. Think back to the last time you interacted with someone you hated. Just absolutely could not stand. Did you shout at them? Sneer at them? Did they do that to you?
 
People just don't interact with each other that way. As a society, in public at least, we are generally civil. It kills the immersion to have everyone in the story shouting mad, all the time.
Neri
Overall

Carn Online: Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Story

Reviewed at: Carn Online Interlude VIII - Second Thoughts

This story is a rough draft. This is repeated at the start of every chapter, and yet its of better quality than many published books I've read.

Have you ever thought of a time loop?
Of course you have.

How about hacking a computer with a brute force solution? Every password possible, from AAAAA1 (or equivalent) onwards?

Have you ever thought to combine the two elements, and tell the story from the near 2000th attempt at getting a time loop conclusion correct?

The whole story started fairly mundane with an ordinary man being betrayed. It quickly got me hooked and reading until 4AM, for several nights.

5 Stars, and my personal salute to D.H.Hanson for a brilliant story that I hope continues.

Trolls have been attacking this story on RR, If it is discontinued here, I will be following it elsewhere.

Nazura
Overall

Had potential, ruined by unrealistic mc

Reviewed at: Chapter 19 - Degrees of Truth

Really good world building. Unrealistic characters, trying too much to give them depth that you ruin the story.

I liked the story up to chapter ~19, but I couldn't handle how dumb the mc is anymore.

MC's people handling skills are non-existent. His plans plain dumb.

Sad to drop this one, it had a lot of potential.

Aufan Souja
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Nice, needs a bit of work but it is engaging.

Reviewed at: Chapter 17 - New Faces

I like it. The challenge Damien faces isn't the game itself, but the effect his small ripples in time have on the outcome.

You can tell when a chapter has not been edited. There are numerous grammatical and tense errors.  Not enough to confuse the intent but enough to make you scratch your head for a moment before moving on.

The characters seem to be a bit odd.

I expected Hansen to take Kira further as a character given the emphasis on her ability to train. We have a brief bit where she trains them and they get better. Though I suppose this is more a craft grind fest than a story about intense battles, so I'll give him that one.

The interactions with the Bears seem artifical, sure there are idiots in games that p0wn n00bs, but these show no indication of intelligence. If they're willing to spend money on the game, I would expect them to do a little research before attacking someone a third time. "We have more people, we crush them," is a bit neanderthal. If they know that Ed is a summoner he would be a priority target. If he's not summoning, there's something unusual afoot.

The angst the hack brought forth seemed like a forced ploy to reveal the MC's big secret. I don't know what judge would stake their career on approving a warrant when a company says they weren't hacked and they found no evidence of hacking.

Perhaps another issue I have with the characters is that Hansen tells us the traits of the characters instead of showing us. Sometimes he does both.

These are not unsurmountable odds though. The story's engaging and fun for the most part. I look forward to more and hope this makes it to book form so some of the oddities can be hammered out.

Nomad1791
Overall

Kinda confusing but we'll written

Reviewed at: Epilogue I - Not So Special

Read up to current chapter, seriously don't understand what's happening anymore. The MC isn't bad but the side characters are a little too ass-holish to be believable. Guy saves you from what's basically promised storage death and you question his every breath and move?! Literally zero trust to the guy that saved you?! That's my only real complaint story is easy to read, well written, world building is solid, and no way to easy to guess what's happening. 

Greimour
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

 

Style Score: 4/5 
A lot of little math explanations for how the 'system' works. Sometimes overly vague and sometimes over-explained. The Failure and Success rates of various crafting actions quickly become monotonous. The display showing "this is the chance of success" is skippable content. So is much of what follows. The end result is "30 attempts, 18 failures, 9 flawed success, 3 Success" — now continue with the story and what this means.

Mostly, the story has a lot of content that uses up the Author's time and undoubtedly requires mental focus, memory, notes, math and other distracting work that prevents the Author from just writing the story itself. This comes across in the writing. Mostly when the author is showing how and why the results of certain actions came to be.

This is also true in things such as 'Skill exp/upgrades' and 'Level ups'.

Grammar Score: 3.5/5
The author stresses a lot in the beginning that this is a ROUGH DRAFT. This to me is an excuse for the most part. Not an excuse for the mistakes, but an excuse not to waste time, effort and energy to go back and correct them. It gives the impression that they will be "corrected" in a future draft. 

For this reason, a lot of things I could have pointed out in regards to grammar and other issues were not. The BIGGEST by far of grammar mistakes, in my opinion, came in the form of "WAS vs WERE" 

Just correcting when to use 'was' and 'were' could easily bump up the grammar score to 4.

Story Score: 4.5/5
The story is about a guy reincarnated into the past after being killed by someone he is affiliated with. A common theme in Lit-RPG; but at least he wasn't killed by Truck-San. This story, however, took the less travelled route on many aspects of the story. Some of which I don't want to include in the Review due to spoiler purposes.

Taking a new approach on a common story trope is obvious. If you want the story to stand out, it can't just be the same stuff that has been done a million times before. That being said; turning a common theme into an original work not easy. This story does a great job of throwing 'spanners' into the normal way stories like this work. 

Examples:
"Not a combatant" is a rare route to take but not unheard of.
"Not a solo player" is less common but not rare. Starting and running a Guild is a viable option.
"Doesn't have every other character instantly in love" — definitely borders on 'rare'
"The antagonist knows he reincarnated almost from the word GO." — what? Has this ever happened before?
[UNWRITTEN SPOILER] — WHAT? Who would ever take that risk? Why? Good idea or bad idea? What!?

Well, in summary, the Story pushes it's way out of the 'typical' and becomes a joy to read.

Character Score: 1.5/5
OK, bit harder to summarize this from my own perspective. Only enough 'characterization' is given to allow the reader to understand a vague impression. Like how well you might know a neighbour, your local shop keeper or the kids at school you knew but didn't hang around with.

This is great for letting characters do things that may otherwise be perceived as 'breaking character'. The reader doesn't know enough about the person to know if it is something that person would or wouldn't do. On the other hand, it prevents the reader from investing in the characters as much as they can.

Example: MC releases person 'M' from 'the coffins' and reunites the family. Person M shows moderate level appreciation and gives the MC leeway with certain things. However, person M is purely repaying a debt. The level of gratitude shown is 'seriously low'. 
— "I am thankful, so I will help you with this. But that is it. I don't particularly like or care for you that much so outside of this I won't interact with you on a personal level."

Wow! 

Still, if that is how M is, then fine. But at the same time, M is a character very involved with the MC, so getting to know whether M is or isn't a stuck up *[email protected]%Q is worth knowing.

In summary: Characters/characterization are/is largely under-developed. While that is good for dropping a lot of text and progressing the story, the same progress is removed by other aspects of the story that should be less important than characterization. Such as why the MC only makes 34 out-of 100 poitions, despite failure rate being 65% — meaning he should have made roughly 45 successfully... Luck and RNG is made relatively clear fairly early on. Instead of stressing the point and driving it home, some time spent on characters instead would go a long way.

Characters of this story —(Lack of humanity, lack of actual character, lack of personality, lack of substance and lack of many other aspects)— bring the story down a great deal. Just from the characterization alone the overall score of the story could have been dropped to a 3.

HOWEVER! The twists of other factors, which seem to be hated by many, brought the story score back up (for me). I mean; sure, Marcus can be considered to have 'ruined' a great deal of intrigue. However, he also brought a lot. Who, Why and How took on a different meaning when the 'groundhog day' aspect of his existence became apparrent.

Everything depends on how the author deals with these things going forward.

The problem is, THE CHARACTERS have NO substance to get invested in them. So I couldn't care less if half of them die during the course of the story.

— A 'Mean Old Lady' that comes across as a grouchy bitch with a foul mouth and gives nothing to the story yet gets more screen time than Kira or Mia. Why?

— A mother with a cute daughter enters the story as a character that could EASILY be loved and supported by the readership; becomes an annoying person that doesn't let her daughter enjoy having a fatherly figure in the form of the MC. I can't understand her at all.

— Annoying Ed with strong authority inside a Game Setting, while shy in reality, gets enough screen time for the readers to understand some of his character but barely enough. Then he fades out of existence, just as Kira mostly does except for "I want to PK" and "Do your training exercises!"

This theme happens throughout. I understand Fillards character more than the MC's closest 5 companions.

—HannahVixen is yet another storyline character that had great potential that entirely went to waste.     

OVERALL and personal thoughts.

Originally heard about this story from the Author in Discord. It sounded exactly like the kind of story I like to read. I haven't read a good story belonging to Lit-RPG in a while and I was really hoping this story would be one I could enjoy.

I was not disappointed!

The author originally knew I was the type to comment on every mistake in writing, even minor mistakes. Undoubtedly I could make comments on every single chapter. That is not a detraction though, as most mistakes were small. More often than not, it was an incorrect word here and there, or excessive and unnecessary words in some sentences. I did not do this however because I was having to much fun following the story.

A story that has me so absorbed that I don't even want to waste time with comments? :O Impossible! Well, it happened. 

To those that like this kind of story, I strongly recommend giving it a try. While characterization is severely lacking, the story itself is good. The plot, the world and to a lesser degree the game, are all things worth following and seeing develop.

 

~G.

rusticsoldier
Overall

The story was the nice type of second chance story you love to read about. I enjoyed it. The mc has a lot of things i like about him. Not the smartest man out there. Kind of a tool. A little immature but completly humanized and relatable. The epilogue  gave a twist into a type of murder mystery slash open warfare. Really taking the story out of the orginal direction.  The author has a thin skin as well so remember never critique him. He takes it personally.