Dungeon Crawler Carl Book 5: The Hunting Grounds
Dungeon Crawler Carl Book 1 is now on Amazon!
Book 2 is also now available!
Royal Road and Patreon is where to get the newest chapters and releases.
The apocalypse will be televised!
A man. His ex-girlfriend's cat. A sadistic game show unlike anything in the universe: a dungeon crawl where survival depends on killing your prey in the most entertaining way possible.
In a flash, every human-erected construction on Earth—from Buckingham Palace to the tiniest of sheds—collapses in a heap, sinking into the ground.
The buildings and all the people inside have 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. Your clout. 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.
The first several chapters of DCC are now off of Royal Road because the book is on Amazon. I want to thank all of you for 9 months of amazing support. This is and Patreon will always be the place for the newest chapters and content, but to comply with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited policy, I can't have more than 10% of the story up here.
This is a work in progress. Major 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. Updates one-two days a week.
- Overall Score
- Style Score
- Story Score
- Grammar Score
- Character Score
- Total Views :
- Average Views :
- Followers :
- Favorites :
- Ratings :
- Pages :
Leave a review
Carl is the one story I tear open as soon as that new chapter notification comes in. In a sea of unfinished Ikea stories, this one is the rare gem that's ready to go. Tightly plotted, funny and engaging dialogue with unique, well-written characters.
While some stories limp forward on the energy of an interesting premise, Carl starts with a relatively standard setup and then unfolds beautifully with an expanding cast of enjoyable characters and interesting challenges.
The world is fun with an irreverent sense of humor, while still being able to hit dramatic and sad moments. I think the character humor and dialogue tends to be a bit stronger than the world-building humor, that can someetimes come off overly juvenile.
There is a unique, oppressive feeling to the story based on the big bad and situations the MCs find themselves in. There is relatively little numbers-go-up, the plot is strong enough to not need it. The MCs don't fall into the overpowered badass trope, or 'I'm the only one smart enough to game the system' trope. When they cleverly figure their way out of a situation, you actually feel like it makes sense instead of just being told the characters are smart. Everything is a struggle and the successes and rewards feel well-earned.
Can't recommend this one enough.
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.
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!
- In a wonderful microcosm for the story as a whole, the dungeon's notifications perfectly balance humour with horror. They're fun to read, but terribly cruel.
- I had an advantage in being able to read Spanish, but I thought that the device of hiding some deeply-humanising dialogue behind a foreign language was an ingenious way of mirroring the broader situation, both for the in-universe characters and for the readers; ultimately, you have to make a choice to care for people.
- The portions of the story centred around the group of old people are captivating, and it was fascinating to see the story seem to address what are (presumably) the divided opinions of its own audience on this aspect of the plot head-on. I enjoy when serials engage in dialogue with their readerships, especially if it's done deftly and unobtrusively. In light of current events in the world at the time of this review's writing, it's hard not to draw parallels.
- The build-up to the Rage Elemental scene was some of the most effective use of foreshadowing I've seen in a long time.
- At the exact moment when one particular supporting character dies, the narration pivots into an almost funeral-style eulogy for them. This might sound cheesy, but it somehow isn't in the slightest, instead proving to be a very effective emotional beat.
- The in-universe recaps are ingenious, recontextualising moments of carnage to highlight the story's own well-considered exploitativity.
- The latest chapters - in particular forty-two - felt topical in a very non-specific, universal way, and my heart was legitimately beating in my chest throughout the latter. (I mean, it does that normally, I just happened to notice. Again, this isn't normal for me.)
- The author's notes periodically include nice artwork of the story's enemies.
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?
When I first started reading this, I gave it 5 stars because I thought it was pretty good and deserved better than what it had. It may now be my favorite fiction on this site. It starts without Carl having much agency in the story, because of the nature of the dungeon, and I was fairly skeptical of that style. But man, it grows from there - the characters have great depth, there are challenges beyond belief that are completed through the character’s own actions, and every element I was worried about ties back into the story beautifully. Prepare for a world with intrigue the characters are only just beginning to understand, twists that resolve arcs well and open up ever more interesting parts of the world. And, of course, the interstellar audience that’s even more dangerous and fickle than the dungeon itself.
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!
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.
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.
Just hit ch 65. If you like gamelit, if you like high stakes dungeon diving, you should read this. Well written, good command of English, great characters.
Holi shit, this is some good writing
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