Dungeon Crawler Carl

by DoctorHepa

Original ONGOING Action Adventure Comedy Fantasy Dungeon GameLit Grimdark LitRPG Low Fantasy Magic Male Lead Non-Human lead Post Apocalyptic Strategy Strong Lead Supernatural
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity

It's the most-watched game show in the galaxy!

In a flash, every human-erected construction on Earth--from Buckingham Palace to the tiniest of sheds to all the trucks and cars--collapses in a heap, sinking into the ground. 

The buildings and all the people inside, they've all been atomized and transformed into the dungeon: an 18-level labyrinth filled with traps, monsters, and loot. A dungeon so enormous, it circles the entire globe.

Only a few dare venture inside. But once you're in, you can't get out. And what's worse, each level has a time limit. You have but days to find a staircase to the next level down, or it's game over. In this game, it's not about your strength or your dexterity. It's about your followers, your views. It's about building an audience and killing those goblins with style.

You can't just survive here. You gotta survive big.

You gotta fight with vigor, with excitement. You gotta make them stand up and cheer. And if you do have that "it" factor, you may just find yourself with a following. That's the only way to truly survive in this game, with the help of the loot boxes dropped upon you by the generous benefactors watching from across the galaxy. 

They call it Dungeon Crawler World. But for Carl, it's anything but a game. 

We have a Discord! Spoilers abound. I wouldn't venture within unless you're caught up.  

This is a work in progress. Editing will be done after the book is complete, so there will be egregious typos and parts that make no sense whatsoever. Please, please feel free to point any and all of these things out. Chapters WILL get edited, and that editing might break earlier chapters. I will attempt to keep readers apprised of all changes. I will attempt to update this regularly. 

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
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  • Overall Score

The premise of Dungeon Crawler Carl -- that aliens have made a reality show out of turning earth into a dungeon -- is a great hook for both a legitimate delve experience and integrated humor.  And that is key - the humor here is fully integrated, meaning an inherent part of the story and not forced into it.  While other lit rpgs make the MC OP by virtue of random events or firsts, here Carl's odd circumstances fuel the humor and the story.  Carl, you see, was the first to enter the dungeon with a cat, as well as the first to enter without pants.  For all the entertainment value, the characters act in believable ways and have understandable motivations.  In short, the story pulls off the rare feet of dropping a lit rpg dungeon delve into a unique set of often very funny circumstances without hurting the integrity of the story.

The author is very clever, and makes use of the alien reality show aspect in surprising ways that feel logical.  [Very Mild Spoiler Ahead]  For instance, when the MCs finally take on a floor boss, they get interviewed by a woman that looks like a "crabtaur" -- human with a crab's lower body.  After the segment tapes, she explains that long ago in her season, she was literally cut in half.  As she lay ready to die, a gold item box miraculously held an item that allows one to bond monster parts inspiring her to keep fighting.  She explains that she got far enough and had enough follows that the producers couldn't let her just die with whimper, giving up, hence the item.  Citing her experience with producer manipulation of item drops, she warns Carl "if you ever want to see pants, stop whining about not having them."  Its funny.  Its clever and makes perfect sense.  And fits right in to the story without feeling like a forced attempt to add humor.

  • Overall Score

Hitchhiker's Guide & Running Man make litrpg-tastic fun!

Reviewed at: Chapter 3.B

 This story is a joy to read! Very original mixture of post apocalyptic (think Hitchhikers Guide) and litrpg-tastic adventure writing. 

I strongly urge the author consider making an audiobook edition once they're finished. 

Thank you and keep those chapters coming!

The Wadapan
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An Excellent Premise with Pitch-Perfect Execution

Reviewed at: Chapter 48

This serial is apparently written by the author of actual books, and it shows! The quality of prose, ideas, pacing and characterisation on display here is leagues ahead of many of this story's contemporaries, and thankfully this seems to have been reflected in its high ratings. This alone would be impressive, but the story's astonishingly-high rate of updates make it a must-read.

Of course, murderous reality shows are a tried-and-tested concept, but at no point does Dungeon Crawler Carl seem stale. Quite the opposite: it manages to be unceasingly original and entertaining, and its use of metatext perfectly toes the line between clarity and heavy-handedness.

Perhaps the thing which most elevates Dungeon Crawler Carl is its empathy. The vast majority of characters in this story - not just the protagonists, but the background characters and (crucially) the enemies - have more personality than even the main characters of many other serials, with even the most reprehensible cast members being unerringly likeable and entertaining. The story presents a world in which there are no easy choices and every individual is trapped in their own fight for survival, and you will grow to care for all of them. Many of the story's minor antagonists are simply twists on common stereotypes, and yet each of them exhibits far more originality than the grab-bag of Dungeons & Dragons tropes that fuel most LitRPGs. The dehumanisation of the dungeon's inhabitants serves only to humanise them in the eyes of the reader.

Make no mistake, however, this story is above all fun to read. The fights are engaging, the dialogue is witty, the stakes are high. I think perhaps one of the best marks of quality in a story is how much it wants to make you smash the "next chapter" button, and I made it through all forty-two chapters (at the time of this review) in just two sessions, staying up hours later than I'd planned both times in spite of my best efforts to put the story down. I couldn't. This isn't normal for me.

I kind of wish I had meaningful criticisms of this story, and although it's far from being the best work of fiction ever - heck, nor the best on this site - it knows exactly what it wants to be and succeeds at its ambitions with aplomb. If pressed, I'd say that this story's biggest mistake is that its cover art looks like hot trash, despite the author themself clearly being a more-than-capable artist. EDIT: As of literally a few chapters later, this is no longer true!

Spoiler: Here is a list of just a few specific things which particularly stood out to me:

If I have not yet convinced you to read this story, note that the author's notes throughout frequently feature photographs of very cute dogs. What more could you ask for?

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Absolutely brilliant

Reviewed at: Chapter 19

Perfect combination of action and humor, set in a creative twist to the system apocalypse genre.

The two mcs are also perfectly crafted to fit both sides of the game. An ex soldier for combat and, of all things, a cat decorated with cat show ribbons for the showboating.

Zombie Unicorne
  • Overall Score

More Serious than you think!

Reviewed at: Chapter 34

Despite the synopsis may led you to believe this to be a funny comedic jaunt, it is anything but.

It's dead serious and treating the ridiculous premise seriously. The MC, Carl is always reminding you that this isn't a joyride, wishfullment, power fantasy story but a malevolent sadistic one. Every challenges Carl faces are just background noises as a result of unseen forces that are beyond reproach making thier moves, meaning that Carl, no matter what he do, he does not have a choice nor do they matter. Ultimately his triumph, defeat, life and death, it just benefits those that Carl cannot even grasp or even conceive. Pure hopelessness.

I don't think any other RPG Apocalyptic story has even come close to the feeling hopelessness that this series brings. Most premises of lit-Rpg apocalypse are akin to natural disasters but here, it's a well oiled machine that has intent and purpose, that will continue to run even when you die and billions of years after the fact.

The only Silver lining is Princess Donut who doesn't care for all that but the fame and glamour. Someone who (despite her intelligence being the highest shown so far) doesn't over think things and just enjoy the good and ignore the bad. A foil to Carl and ultimately his purpose to keep on fighting in this game where everything doesn't matter.

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Absolutely worth your time

Reviewed at: Chapter 27

Great start so far can't wait to see what else you got in store for the future of this story anyone looking for something good to read this book should satisfy your needs for reading material author does a good job with humor making it realistic even in the face of all the dangers the Mc has to deal with 

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Hilarious survival show in a dungeon

Reviewed at: Chapter 32

(as of chapter 32)

Like the blurb on the story main page says, Earth is suddenly turned into a subterranean dungeon where people have to survive and progress down the floors, all this done by aliens for a game show. Those participants that gain a following among the show's viewers might receive gift boxes that improve their survival, so you need to pimp up your "stream". Now the MC, Carl, is just a regular guy who is strong enough to beat a monster, but he has Princess Donut with him, his ex-girlfriend's prize-winning cat. Can the two of them survive against the many monsters? And what will prevail, the acting of a spoilt cat or Carl's sanity? Enter to find out...

Style/Grammar: The story is told in first-person style by Carl. The word choice is okay with a normal level of prose quality. Descriptions are mostly limited to the necessary stuff. There's a large amount of LitRPG elements in this story: monster/item descriptions, some stats and skills (later we'll also see classes), and loot boxes which are received from defeated monsters or by gaining an achievement. Especially the descriptions are written in a funny way (they like to kick people when they are already down, so Carl doesn't laugh). Grammar is good, with very few typos.

Story: We've seen many stories on RRL where people are in an apocalypse or in a dungeon and there are also some stories where the protagonists are unwilling participants in a survival game show. In the case of Dungeon Crawler Carl, those themes are combined in an interesting way and, most importantly, with a large dose of humor (though Carl doesn't like it so much to be the recipient of the jokes). The author also uses pop culture references in a clever way. The way the game show's dungeon is built doesn't allow for much rest, so Carl has to hurry from one danger to the next; this gives the story a rather quick pacing but it is not hurried. Everything about how this story is written fits effortlessly together. It is not just a collection of funny jokes, the premise itself is rather serious and treated appropriately.

Characters: Carl is a normal guy with strengths and weaknesses, he's taken by surprise by becoming a Dungeon Crawler but manages to bumble about okay. How he acts and thinks is written in a believable way.
Princess Donut is a cat with a cat's delicate (read: lazy, self-centered, arrogant) personality. While I personally don't like that kind of character, she's excellently written and adds a large amount of humor to the story. Other people haven't had much screen time yet but they fill a large variety of characteristics.

Other rating categories:
Suspense (higher is often better, but it depends of the type of the story; can be tied to predictability): 3.5
Predictability (lower is usually better but too low is bordering on madness): 2.5
Fun (do I laugh out loud while reading or at least chuckle? A low score is not bad, just different): 4.5

All in all, this is a hilarious story with the interesting "survival show" theme added to the "dungeon crawler" genre, written in an excellent way. I'm having a good time reading it.

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A blast, literally and figuratively

Reviewed at: Chapter 43

There's still a lot of room for this story to fail miserably, and the pacing has been slightly off at times (hence the 4.5 story score), but overall  it's been incredibly fun to read and experience. A well designed system, there's something for every type of reader to enjoy, good characters, a good plotline.

I really don't want to get into details, you deserve to find out what happens firsthand. Just know that it's the funniest story I've read on this site but it still tackles the events seriously. There's even a social element. There are themes. It doesn't get any better than this, people.

  • Overall Score

There is some flavs, but if you like good humor, you should favorite this immediately.

My "red flag" is characters, and they are good. Some side characters are cliche, but there is hope, they will die fast. What is good - we have only two MC, no harem, go heartbroken drama, just kill childrens, survive, and Goddamit, @DoctorHepa, where is next chapter?!


  • Overall Score

I tend to love "system apocalypse" which is a genre that I would give this story so far. It pulled me in within a paragraph, and I'm hooked. Can't wait to keep reading this story!