The Elemental Arena

by Gilgilad7

Original ONGOING Action Adventure Fantasy Sci-fi Dungeon GameLit Grimdark LitRPG Magic Male Lead Portal Fantasy / Isekai
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore

*A Rational litRPG Survival Series.*

The time for the trials has come, pitting the mortal species of the galaxy against one another.  By completing challenges, clearing dungeons, and defeating rival species, the players may forge themselves stronger and smarter.  But only one species will be declared the winner.

Earth has finally qualified...

...and participation is mandatory.  

A twenty-nine year old data entry clerk works together with a group of internationally diverse players to survive.  Learning synergistic skills and using teamwork, can humanity achieve an upset?  If they don't, their lives are forfeit.

 

Author's note:  My goal is to post one lengthy chapter a week on Wednesdays.  Chapters will be anywhere from 4k to 9k in words, varying based on the plot beats instead of specific word counts.  

Rational actions and teamwork will be important aspects of my story.  I'm trying something a little different in writing a Rational litRPG, hoping to capture the essence of how real people would react to their situation.  I don't recommend starting the series expecting wish fulfillment tropes just because it's tagged litRPG.  It's a survival story with the game settings on Hell difficulty.  The plot hasn't gotten there yet, but in the future of the series I want to recreate my nostalgia of forty person raids on Ragnaros, but with the high stakes of boss battles in Sword Art Online. I also love puzzle rooms so expect one of those each book.

Warnings: mild PG-rated language, graphic violence and gore, and graphic medical content.

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Gilgilad7

Gilgilad7

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David Musk
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Since there are only 12 chapters here at the time of the review, I’ll focus on details rather than big picture
 
The premise is elegantly simple: the earth is forced into a tournament with RPG-like machinacs. Not much more to say there. To anyone familiar with sci-fi or LitRPG tropes, this won’t require much more explanation. Whether this succeeds or fails all comes down to the execution.
 
The beginning starts out strong, blending the seemingly mundane with the fantastical. An accountant is riding the elevator on the way to work, but the door opens to a forest. In my opinion, I think this was the perfect place to start the story. Five minutes earlier, and I might have been bored. After all, what’s less exciting than going through an accountant’s morning routine? (No offense to the accountants out there.) Five minutes later, and I might have been confused. (Wait, who is this character and why is he in a forest?) Major props for that. Other writers mess up their beginnings, and those effects can easily carry over into the entire story.
 
We’re also not bombarded with game elements right away. The MC’s first reaction is denial about the whole thing, which i think felt realistic. Far too often, I see authors on here too eager to jump into the premise of their story, and their characters suffer for it. In most portal fantasies, the characters are too quick to accept their fate and dive into the “system”. It’s like the authors get too excited in their own premise, and skim over the rest. But if the MC reacts to his own situation with apathy, then why should the reader care?
 
These characters react realistically. I would expect that having your life suddenly “gamified” would be uncomfortable, and that’s exactly what we get here. It works well, and it makes it far easier to care about the characters. Leveling up in this world is downright painful, which makes sense because that’s how it feels to become stronger or smarter in real life.
 
Style
 
The prose is simple and straight-forward for the most part, which makes sense considering where the author draws his inspirations. (Progression fantasy like Mother of Learning, and litRPGs in general.) Things are easy to understand, I could visualize the environments, I rarely felt confused.
 
However, some parts could be tightened up. I’ll give an example here, because it’s the quickest:
 
“No, no, no!” he cried out, terrified of his escape route suddenly vanishing. He waved his hands where the doors should’ve been but felt nothing but air.
 
This is one example where we’re given dialog (“No, no, no!”) and action (hand waving). These two things clearly communicate what the character is feeling without this additional emotion tell: "terrified of his escape route suddenly vanishing”
 
To me, the emotion and reasoning is perfectly clear already. We already see that he’s terrified, and we know why. The fact that we’re being told what he’s feeling is redundant. This sort of thing clutters the prose and puts distance between the reader and character. 
 
To be fair, you’re going to find a lot of emotion tells in the majority of RR stories, even the better written ones. You’ll even see emotion tells in best-sellers. However, I think these are best saved for scenes that would otherwise be confusing or ambiguous. Otherwise, trust the readers to read between the lines and figure out what a character is feeling.
 
With that said, this is still better than your typical Royal Road litRPG. The issues I mentioned above are prevalent in most stories here, so it’s not I’ll be deducting stars. I only bring it up because this was the stories biggest weakness in regards to style, and also thing that’s fairly easy to improve.
 
Grammar
 
All good here. I noticed a few typos, but that’s to be expected in any story that isn’t professionally edited. The author even fixed those as I pointed them out, so no complaints.
 
Characters
 
From the first chapter, we’re immediately introduced to a diverse cast. Our main character is American, then we get an Irish teenager, a middle-aged woman from Sweden, and a older Japanese man in the military.  These characters start out with genuine conflict between them. As if the language barriers and the stress of being thrown into a giant arena isn’t enough. They have clear disagreements about how to handle things. Overall, the diversity felt fresh for this sort of book and it brought to mind TV shows like Lost. Major points for this since it automatically requires more research to write characters from a broad array of countries and cultures.
 
Other than those initial observations though, it’s simply too soon to give an in-depth character review. If this story ends up having 100+ chapters, then 12 is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I’m tempted to call certain characters more likable than others, but that’s mostly do to with attitude and competency. It’s also implied that the mental stats will change characters quickly so it will be interesting to see how the author develops everyone. 
 
Plot / World-Building
 
When I first started this, I was skeptical about one thing: how/why did aliens create a game that was inspired by Earth RPGs? I’m happy to say this question was answered early on, and there was a good explanation
 
Otherwise, plot really has the same problem as with characters. Without knowing how long this story will be, it’s impossible to cast judgement.
 
I did appreciate several things about the setting though, which I’ll mention here. The characters are transported to this game world with only the clothes on their backs, and what they’re wearing has real consequences. One character starts with military combat fatigues, and this gives him a huge advantage over everyone else. Two more characters start in their pajamas. One woman even has barefeet and she has to wrap them with someone’s shirt sleeves. This was great attention to detail, and it shows what a difference one piece of clothing can make. As readers, I’m sure we’ll share their relief when they finally get proper boots, armor, etc.
 
That leads me to setting. The magic system is enjoyable so far. I’ll admit that anything with elements (fire, water, earth) makes me skeptical because it’s been done so many times, but the trope isn’t inherently bad, and I felt this one was handled and explained well. The world also gives me a WoW vibe with its level zones, elemental resistance, and the way raids were described. 
 
One thing I’d like to see more of is fantasy elements to help define the world. Most of the elements we’re shown are more sci-fi in nature (bracelets, collars, floating drones, AI, and holographic scenes.) By contrast, many of the skills and equipment we’ve shown are more traditional fantasy in nature. I’m assuming we’re slowly start to see more fantasy elements, and if that’s the case, I think the story could benefit from showing me at the very beginning. For example, the characters start one of the early chapters in a cave. A lot of fantasy readers will subconsciously use setting as a determining factor if they want to keep reading a book, or drop it. They ask themselves, does this feel like a world they would have fun exploring? Is there a sense of wonder? It’s like when you first enter an RPG, the starting area plays a big role in determining whether you want to continue.
 
Since I’m 99% sure the author has played WoW: Try to remember the sense of wonder you felt when you first steped into Azeroth. I do appreciate the realistic/gritty aspect of the setting, but the other fantasy aspects can go a long way toward getting readers excited about your world, and making them want to stay.
 
Overall
 
As the summary promises, this is a realistic take on the litRPG genre. The progression feels rewarding, and the magic system feels well explained. 
 
And despite the game mechanics, there's no “virtual reality” or reincarnation here. These characters are transported here with their real bodies, and there are real consequences if they die.
 
It's been entertaining so far and I'm sure it will only get better as the world expands!
 
 
Tommyjl7
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So far at chap 11 wonderful start the romantic character interaction does feel slightly cheesy and forced but everything else is pretty damn good is a bit dark and gorey too as a fair warning and so far seems like an intresting and somewhat unique litrpg concept

KoboldPatrol
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Interesting and realistic LitRPG group survival story

Reviewed at: Chapter Fourteen - Sidequest

(as of chapter 14)

Nathan and a few thousand other people are transported to an 'arena' tournament. First they'll have to survive in RPG scenarios against impersonal trials and monsters before they'll even have a chance to compete last-species-standing-like against the seven other participant groups for humanity's survival. While there is a system that gives stats and skills, it is a brutal fight for survival at every turn. And 'brutal' really means that, it's very easy to die here.

Style/Grammar: The story is told in third-person style from Nathan's point of view. The descriptions both of the action and those of the surroundings are good, the amount is sufficient but not very detailed, fitting the pacing of the story. Word choice is good with excellent grammar, everything is easy to understand without being too simple. The LitRPG elements are enough to let the readers follow the characters' progress and know their abilities but without cluttering the story. There are only a few typos, nothing jarring.

Story: So far most of the story has been one long fight for survival without major breaks, keeping the characters always on edge. Nonetheless, a good amount about how the world/system works has been discovered and the people have had opportunities to show their personalities. The pacing is good.

Characters: The MC and some of the other characters behave believable for people thrust into a life and death situation, barely coping emotionally but still keeping enough of a mind to use the resources available to them. They do make some errors but that is expectable. Some others still feel a bit too stereotypical but let's see how they develop. Interesting is the diverse origin of the cast, compared to the homogeneity in other stories. The interpersonal dynamics are done very well.

All in all, this is a good LitRPG group survival story with a realistic (for a fantasy story) take on events.

Rhino8000
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Very interesting, definitely enjoying it.  At first, I was hesitant because of the simplified stats and the ol’ faithful “abducted for a tournament”, but the author really made me feel for Nathan and how shitty his situation is.  He just barely scrapes by at like every challenge in ver believable ways.  Much respect, author.

Greyko
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This story is one of the well-thought ones, since here you can find a system that allows for a lot of potential implementations, well-behaviored MC and steady flow of the story. There weren't any grammar mistakes that I could spot and characters feel pretty real.In my opinion, there's nothing obviously wrong with this story and you would probably enjoy it.

fujitora ishuo
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I enjoyed the story so far. I think the synopsis from the author is very spot on as well.

 

There is no wish fullfilling, random op achievements and so on. Character mostly seem to be 3d as in the have some innner processes that arent obvious at first.

Personally i think there is to much interpersoanal things going on but thats probably up to your taste.

 

The mc is likeable, there was lnly a single time where he seemed kind of stupid. (Figuring out how much time passes)

The magic system is interesting, the fights are well written (althoug there has been some repition).

Ill follow the story for now but i might take take a break to read more chapters at once at aome point. 1 chapter a week can be hard for me.

Destroyuw
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This story has many similarities to other novels such as having a ‘death game’ or ‘level system’ type part to it. What is different is that every common aspect (or new creation by the author) is so seamlessly put together that it becomes a joy to read. I must say that if the quality stays the same this will most likely be within my top 5 favourite novels.

speenza
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Smart implementation of a traditionally cliched and trite genre. Still fairly early in the story, but shows promise so far. The difficulty the players experience is very refreshing, in particular the interpersonal issues, though for now those are mostly just promises of future strife. 

Bookgirl
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I love the world the author is creating. The story draws you in and I simultaneously want to take part in the competition and but also horrified by how poorly I would perform if I had been selected. The characters are developing nicely with distinctive voices and personalities.  There is enough description to imagine them without having to wade through long paragraphs of description so it makes a good balance.  I appreciate the lack of typos and the careful grammar.  All in all I am excited to keep reading.

Mister Bill
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Well written so far. Good cover, too.

Reviewed at: Chapter Five - Second Challenge

As of chapter 5 this is well written with very few (no?) errors. Neat idea about the arena and good worldbuilding with the elements and such. I'm looking forward to the next chapters. Give it a read.