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

[Temporary Hiatus until April 2020, while I write and post The Mountain Lord]

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.\\

This story will update Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday every week. Interludes will be released as bonus chapters.

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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

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Ray The Red
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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. 



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 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.



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.

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Good Story Ruined By A Bad Author

Reviewed at: Epilogue I - Not So Special

It’s pretty mediocre, but not bad, but still pretty bland honestly, until the author gets to epilogue 1 and throws the whole vibe of everything out the window, makes the edgiest possible villain they could think of, ruins the main character’s character, then acts like nothing is wrong turning it from a solid 3 to 4 stars to less than 1. Only thing it has goin for it is world building. 

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Plot twist taken too far, amidst overdone sitcom drama

Reviewed at: Epilogue I - Not So Special

This story had a lot of good elements, specifically with world building, but there was far too much interpersonal drama introduced towards the end of Book 1 and the epilogue to book 1 introduced an edgy, asshole villain that throws the entire premise of the story from The little man fighting against corrupt corporations” to “Hero fighting against immortal reincarnating villain that tortures people for a millennia based on a grudge.”

It’s such a drastic tone shift that I cannot read it anymore.


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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.
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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.

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Overall a good story. The main characters are fairly believable and, aside from Blaze, likable lol. Some of the characters are a bit overly dramatic but often times when people are playing a video game they act in ways they wouldn't normally act in real life take Ed for instance who becomes a very confident and competent leader in the game while being incredibly shy in real life. The story itself seems to be fairly well thought out and I am enjoying it so far. The only character I don't particularly like is Marcus, he feels a bit off, I'm not sure if that's just because I don't like who he is as a person or if the character itself doesn't feel realistic though. It has a nice twist to the usual litrpg and kind of reminds me of Ready Player One but with its own style. Again the huge plot twist with Marcus feels a bit off but I'm still not sure if that's just because I don't like the character or whether the scene feels flawed. Grammatically the only thing that I recall being a consistent error is that the author tends to use "were" a lot where he should be using "was".

My only real problems with the story are more of personal preference with a touch of personal experience in games. I don't particularly like the manual crafting system, it feels a bit off in comparison to the manual fighting. I think it may be just a bit overbalanced due to how RNG based it is.

I could see system assisted crafting being all RNG but I feel like the manual crafting should be based more on how well you do than just plane RNG. Which is where the comparison with the manual fighting kind of comes in, a professionally trained martial artist comes into the game and can likely take on a handful of people relying on system assistance, but a professionally trained butcher can come in and perfectly butcher a rabbit and fail because of a bad roll. I think maybe the chance for extra stuff like rabbit's feet trophies or stat bonuses with cooking could be RNG based, but success or failure should be more about how well the person did. 

That also ties into my issue with the MC's spending habits with regards to rabbits etc. This isn't as much of an issue if the RNG is taken out of the picture, but in my experience, a lot of people will give crafters loot in some instances where they feel they will get something out of it. In this case, giving him rabbits will allow him to level his cooking and butchering skill which will allow him to provide higher-level food with good stat bonuses. Often times they will negotiate for free food if they provide the ingredients essentially.

I could still see him paying for stuff it just seemed like he was overpaying by quite a bit when the RNG was taken into account and he was, oftentimes, barely breaking even. In a regular game that wouldn't be much of a big deal because any gold lost would be considered paying for skill levels but in this case, any money loss has real-life consequences for them.

As I said, love the story it is very well written and I rather like all the characters just wanted to offer up what I hope is a little constructive criticism. If you are reading this please don't feel like I'm attacking you or your writing and definitely don't feel the need to change anything I just wanted to "get it off my chest" as it were and hope that it might be helpful. 

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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.

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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. 

Allen Clark Copeland, Jr.
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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.