Harbinger of Destruction (an EVP LitRPG)

Harbinger of Destruction (an EVP LitRPG)

by RobertKeene

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Profanity

Hirrus Callabryn is cursed. Afflicted. Infected.

He’s also aware. For once.

After a player-led event turns his once peaceful town into a band of ravenous monsters, Hirrus obtains a sentience usually unobtainable by non-player characters. It might be a gift of the gods, or a mistake, but Hirrus doesn’t care. It means he can track down and find the players responsible and stop them from doing it again.

Thing is, players don’t like their plans being interrupted. And in this game, there’s no resurrection until the weekly reset. Will Hirrus be able to cut a path of destruction across the land to get his revenge, or will the players be able to overwhelm him and bring him to justice?

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RobertKeene

RobertKeene

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Ch1 - The Decision Tree ago
Ch2 - For Want of a Weapon ago
Ch3 - A Bite to Remember ago
Ch4 - Got to Break Free ago
Ch5 - The Last of the Strong ago
Ch6 - 404, File Not Found ago
Ch7 - Another Line Without a Hook ago
Ch8 - Never a Moment's Peace ago
Ch9 - Try to not Think About it... ago
Ch10 - Thinking Like an Adventurer ago
Ch11 - Once you pop the fun Don't Stop ago
Ch12 - The one who Almost got Away ago
Ch13 - Adventurers in Motion ago
Ch14 - A Frosty Encounter ago
Ch15 - Upgrades A-Plenty ago
Ch16 - The Right Direction ago
Ch17 - Who's Your Messiah Now? ago
Ch18 - The Enemy of Man ago
Ch19 - Nothing's Ever Just a Conversation ago
Ch20 - Bannable Offenses ago
Ch21 - The toll of the bell ago
Ch22 - Kept it Real from the Jump ago
Ch23 - Run Away Little Girl... Run Away ago
Ch24 - Much More fun When Lives are on the Line ago
Ch25 - Permission to Come Aboard ago
Ch26 - Only Beat Them Half to Death ago
Ch27 - The Turkey Lord ago
Ch28 - On the run From the law ago
Ch29 - Leverage ago
Ch30 - Confrontation and Confirmation ago
Ch31 - Stealth is Optional for This Mission ago
Ch32 - A Testament to Glory ago
Ch33 - Get Used to Disappointment ago
Ch34 - Fluorescent ago
Ch35 - I Suppose you Think You're Brave, Don't you? ago
Ch36 - Any Method Necessary ago
Ch37 - Always Moving ago
Ch38 - Copypasta Design Elements ago
Ch39 - You'll get the Horns ago
Ch40 - Outclassed and Outgunned ago
Ch41 - Missing Link ago
Ch42 - Loophole ago
Ch43 - Sweep the Leg ago
Ch44 - Not a Memelord ago
Ch45 - Hunter Become Hunted ago
Ch46 - The Great Redeemer ago
Ch47 - Dust Speck ago
Ch48 - Another Brick In The Wall ago
Ch49 See You In The Stars ago
Ch50 - Sellout ago
Ch51 - Calm Before the Storm ago
Ch52 - Between a Rock and a Hard Place ago
Ch53 -Merciless ago
Ch54 - Death Begun ago
Ch55 - Gotta Kill 'em All ago
Ch56 - Clone Wars ago
Ch57 - Last Man Standing ago
Ch58 - A Price Paid in Blood ago
Ch59 - GG EZ ago
Ch60 - Where the World Ends ago
Ch61 - Heart in the Right Place ago
Ch62 - The Right Thing To Do ago
Ch63 - Gone Forever ago
Ch64 Respect Doesn't Make History ago
Ch65 - Born Again ago
Ch66 - Ink Spots ago
Ch67 Man in the Mirror ago
Ch68 - Clash of the Merciless ago
Ch69 - Danger Around Every Corner ago
Ch70 - Doing the Math ago
Ch71 - The Guy ago
Ch72 - PvE? In This Game? ago
Ch73 - Always the Questions ago
Ch74 - Grave Danger ago
Ch75 -Fanatics Make Unreliable Friends ago
Ch76 - Split Focus ago
Ch77 - Clash of the Titans ago
Ch78 - Risk and Reward ago
Ch79 - Kill Steal ago
Ch80 - Off Roading ago
Ch81 - Just According to Keikaku ago
Ch82 - Game of Cat and Mouse ago
Ch83 - Just a Stone's Throw ago
Ch84 - Worth It ago
Ch85 - Quiet Moments ago
Ch86 - All Eyes Forward ago
Ch87 - Buying Time ago
Ch88 - A Necessary Evil ago
Ch89 - Time to be Clever ago
Ch90 - Fangless Beast ago
Ch91 - Are We Having Fun Or What? ago
Ch92 - Power Of Will ago
Ch93 - Remember The Name ago
Ch94 - Catching Up ago
Ch95 Ashes To Ashes ago
Ch96 Unlikely Allies ago
Ch97 The Enemy Of My Enemy ago
Ch98 When You Gotta Go... ago
Ch99 Limited Potential ago

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Espesx
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Harbinger of Destruction is a mixed bag. It's coherent and the prose flows well, and though the setup and overall concept isn't the most original it's still compelling enough - but issues with consistent/realistic worldbuilding, flat characters and repetitive fight scenes hold it back from standing out.

--

No real complaints regarding style and grammar. It's the kind of writing where the words and sentences themself tend to go unnoticed, which leads the reader's focus the content. It can be rather light on descriptions at times - the prose is terse - but this fits pretty well in an action-focused novel and keeps things moving. If there are spelling or grammar errors, I haven't spotted any, and there isn't anything regarding general structure that takes the reader out of the novel.

Fight scenes - which make up the bulk of the story so far - are pretty good. They can get a bit bogged down with numbers and tend to follow a similar pattern, but they're easy to parse and visualize with interesting choreography. The length of the battles is just about right and enemy capabilities are comfortably unique.

--

Unfortunately, the plot, characters, and a number of breaks in the 'realism' hold this story back from being one I would currently recommend to most readers.

There's not much to say on the characters. Most 'adventurers' (players) we've seen so far have been hostile to the protagonist and are overall fairly similar - rude, dismissive and quick to attack. NPCs have a similar feeling of same-ness, though their personality is generally helpful and friendly (I'm referring to their characters outside of the 'decision tree' - I'll speak more on that later). There are a few people who have seemed to have more personality, though unfortunately these characters have been minor and infrequent.

The protagonist and main supporting cast are more distinct, though still rather two-dimensional. There has been one, sort of two, side characters (seen outside a single scene), and there's just... not much there. Along with the main character, it would be uncomfortably easy to describe their entire personality with one or two adjectives each.

Of course, it's early in the story and there's room for fleshing out characters further, but as-is this aspect is left a bit bland.

--

Now, I've mentioned worldbuilding and 'realism' issues a few times. In this game, NPCs have more or less the same intelligence and such as a standard human. However, all their external actions are dictated by their 'decision tree' - essentially, directives that tell them what to say and do to keep them in their role. Why would NPCs be given human levels of intelligence if they're passengers in their bodies, and the decision tree is what actually makes them do everything they do? Who knows. It's been implied that no one in this world - players and GM alike - is entirely aware of this. If this was part of a mystery, exploration, or even a plot point it could be very interesting. Unfortunately, it's treated as part of the backdrop and not given any explanation. Again, this might be delved into later in the story, but it still sticks out.

There are a few other miscellaneous oddities in this story. At one point, a GM is called to address the main character's killing spree - apparently GMs need to physically hit people with a ban hammer to ban them from this game. Our hero is able to physically run away from the GM and hide behind a fence, escaping him. I don't think I need to explain why a GM not having any ability to find people, or perform administrative action outside of walking up to them in-game and bopping them with a hammer, feels rather off.

While it's fine to leave a few aspects of a story as unknowns or just plain odd things, they accumulate over the chapters here to make a world that's difficult to believe and get immersed in.

--

Harbinger of Destruction is an okay novel. It has some good action and smooth prose. However, flat characters, a generic story, and world consistency leave it wanting.

To readers:
If you're a fan of action, powerful protagonists, and revenge stories, this could very well scratch that itch for you. If you're wanting something more, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.

To the author:
Writing isn't easy, and as far as novels go, this is still put together better than most. I think it might help to sit down and go over the details of the characters, flesh out the world, and make an outline of how you want each story beat to progress. While this has been a critical review, I do think you and this story have great potential.

Dark Jester
Overall

A well paced and engaging story

Reviewed at: Ch16 - The Right Direction

Very enjoyable, try to look past the quite generic cover and the basic bio. Some stories just pull you in and for me from the first chapter I found myself intrigued by this world. The way that NPCs are presented is done very well, giving them a degree of autonomy from what i guess is some kind of intelligent ai but similarly constraining them by imposed decision trees. 

It isn't without flaws. For example: to me the numbers thrown out seem a little bit arbitrary, and I actually think the story would flow better if they were removed entirely or only mentioned on an odd occasion. I don't need to know that one attack does one thousand three hundred and twenty seven damage and when the numbers flying around are so big I think they would be better presented numerically (1327 interupts the flow a lot less). 

By Royal Road standards its still a 5* story though: the pacing is on point, with the narrative flowing well, I havn't noticed any mistakes with the grammar or spelling, the characterisation of the MC is done quite well and as on ch16 we have met a new side character who i hope gets a nice fleshing out. I've followed and I look forwards to seeing where this story goes.

Cocop (Cale Plamann)
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Short and sweet: This is worth a read.  The plot follows familiar revenge tropes but they're don wel and from a very new direction.  

STYLE
My biggest compaint with this story is how crunchy it is and how the crunchiness ultimately doesn't feel like much.  Every attack deals a Very High Number of damage and stats are Very High numbers that feel... abstract and disconnected from the story.

That's it.  That's the bad.  Easily skippable and it doesn't break immersion.  Now onto the things I liked.

Stylistically the writing is good and combat heavy.  The story has primarily one POV with a couple minor shifts in order to explore the world, but the author does a good job of keeping the story limited to one compelling plotline and following that to its conclusion.  There aren't any plot bunnies to distract us, just a singleminded focus on justice/vengeance with some hints morality concerns from the MCs companions.  Simple, but effective and a lot of fun.

GRAMMAR
The grammar is good enough that I didn't notice anything and that's what good grammar does.

STORY/CHARACTER
The story is a simple and straightforward tale of revenge, but told from the perspective of an NPC that breaks free of his programming in an MMO.  The author does an interesting job exploring the various NPC's enslavement to their programming and some of the struggles that entails, but the vast majority of the story is "PCs do careless and awful things to an NPC, and he reenacts John Wick or Taken on their faces with an axe."

I took a .5 off on both of these fronts because the characters and the story are fairly simple, but don't take that to mean they aren't fun.  They're a lot of fun.  This is an emotionally satisfying, gritty revenge story and the author does a great job with it.  Its a delightful summer blockbuster of a book, and even if its not going to get an academy award for some overly emotional contrivances, It's a heck of a good time.

Senera2000
Overall

A reasonable and likeable protagonist on a revenge

Reviewed at: Ch17 - Who's Your Messiah Now?

Major guild pisses off a Guardsman by causing the destruction of his village and the murder of his wife. Now the NPC has gained awareness and is looking for answers, justice, and revenge.

Great story with an actually likeable protagonist who behaves reasonably ( And not like an edgy murderhobo).

Good characters and good grammar as well.

Old_Man
Overall

practically flawless grammar, a creative story, a realistic depiction of the stoic and manly MC... it's a lot of fun.

It's light on the LitRPG elements but they are never forgotten.
There is not the typical problem of an author excessively describing inner turmoil.
The MC isn't a puzzy bicch, nor a chuuni fantasy wish fullfilment protagonist.

Check it out. See if you enjoy it.

Imperator Virtue
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

A very good story so far, no reasons not to read it if you like the synopsis. Its still early days yet, but everything about the story says quality. Author is cool and replies to comments, which is always a plus.

Style: smooth and clean, the paragraphs are well layed out and the whole story flows well, very pleasant to read.

Story: not unique, but a fairly rare permise, even more so because it is done properly, and the NPCs are shown to be both thinking and bound by the game at the same time.

Grammar: no problems here, no poorly constructed sentences or basic errors, and nothing too outlandish in terms of vocabulary, all in all, just well written.

Characters: we have been introduced to a few main characters so far and each has clear motivations and personality. Side or temperory characters are just that, not everyone they interact with is some over the top villian or grand character, they feel like normal people, and interactions are natural.

Anyone looking for a vr story where the players act like players, mashing through dialogue and jumping all over the place, this is a good place to start, well worth the read.

moredread
Overall

The plot for this has been done before. That said, I don't believe it has been done better. This is some good writing. 

The basic jerk players guild in a game kills off an entire town. One of the town's guard survives even though his wife is killed. He then manages to gain self awareness, and goes full skynet. 

His interactions with the players is hilarious. They have no idea just what is going on. Even the GM are having problems with him. It's both very funny and a little violent. Right up my alley. 

JHawk55
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

tl;dr - This is a wonderful tale so far. It's well-written and stands out from the rest of the tropy LitRPG stories on the web.

Style: 5/5

The author's style works very well with this tale. They have an excellent grasp of flow and use it to the story's advantage repeatedly. I also really appreciate the sheer dismissal the MC has for the LitRPG elements until they show him that his existence has fundamentally changed. Very well executed.

Story: 5/5

Revenge stories, GameLit, and sentient NPCs are not new cocnepts, but I think this si the first time I've seem them in a cohesive combination, and well-written at that. The very first chapter gave me chills as you'll see in my comment there, and that sealed the deal for me. There are multiple times in the first 17 chapters whre I feel that the very essence of toxic MMOs has been perfectly captured, and I've been highly entertained the whole time.

Grammar: 5/5

This story is one of the few on this site that has been well proofread. Typically when I'm 17 chapters into a new story on RR, I'm half-ready to drop it because there are enough easily-fixable mistakes that only a really good story will keep me going. Here, not only is the story interesting, I'm yet to notice a mistake. That doesn't mean that there aren't any, but that if there are, they were so minor that my immersion wasn't disturbed in the slightest.

Character: 5/5

The very first chapter gave me chills, and it was entirely because of what was going on inside the MC's head. 'Nuff said. 

Skyeman69
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

An adventure like no other (possibly who knows)...

Reviewed at: Ch20 - Bannable Offenses

I was looking for something new as I'd caught up with my favourites and saw this on Trending and I can see why.

This is such change from the usual LitRPG I've read coming from the NPCs perspective and because of this the usual "VR immersion" "real world earnings" etc is missing. It can be a bit off putting but the author has done a great job of creating the world for our MC that I barely notice it 20 chapters in and only rmember due to reviewer comments.

The style is pretty good in it's PvP intensive with our NPC being a "player" as far as the game thinks. There are some great moments when NPCs who seem to know they are constrained by a response matrix find ways to get around it. This adds some light moments to the otherwise darker revenge storyline. Don't get me wrong this isn't a pitch black morbid read far from it. It's fun, full of life and has decent characters which the author is developing as I type.

The MC is the only one at the moment with a lot of information but as the author engages with his reviewers we know more will be on the horizon as chapters are released (one a day for January).

The author has decided to spell out numbers, (one thousand and five), instead of just numerically (1005) due to a condition he has. I don't find this jarring personnally but I know some will so style wise it may impact your reading of the story but it doesn't detract from the Story itself.

I can definitely recommend this as a great read with a unique slant on the LitRPG genre; possibly who knows :-)

Mark Long
Overall

Impressive writing. I like these kind novel. I am hooked. It is also well thought out. Usually the NPC are too OP and story just fizzle out but this time it had a very nice development and main character is human. The NPC had mercy. It let people go. Now it really reflected how people are so distant and mean where as machine are more humane than the flesh