A (NOT LitRPG) Dungeon story

Out on the frontier of a new continent, the wizard Lori and her group of settlers try to build a community for themselves in a land actively hostile to intelligent life. With their wits, their will, and their newly built Dungeon to protect them against the Iridescence, they should be fine. If they can survive the lack of infrastructure. And the deadly beasts they need to hunt for food. And other settlements poaching their people. And idiots who don't get exactly what having to settle somewhere entails. And dragons... A slow slice-of-life fantasy town-building story.

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Shadow Crystal Mage

Shadow Crystal Mage

Overlord of Crack

Word Count (16)
1st Anniversary
Top List #60
Table of Contents
261 Chapters
Next Chapter:
Chapter Name Release Date
1 - Our Unfortunately Named Protagonist ago
2 - Do-It-Yourself Dungeon ago
3 - How to Build a Dungeon's Core ago
4 - Parts and Advanced Features Not Included ago
5 - When a Lord And A Lady Love Each Other Very Much… ago
6 - Food and Other Resources to Manage ago
7 - Suspiciously Sunny Day ago
8 - Minions Require Facilities ago
9 - Naming the Community With Malice Aforethought ago
10 - Material Shortages of Lori's Demesne ago
11 - We Left Living in a Society To Live Here ago
12 - Working with Tools ago
13 - Advancing Building Techniques ago
14 - Lori Goes Seeling ago
15 - Yes, There Are Dragons ago
16 - The Dragon and the Dark ago
17 - Stories In The Dark ago
18 - After The Dragon ago
19 - A Mess To Deal With ago
Ryan Is An Isekai! - April Fools 2021! ago
20 - Detritus To Clean ago
21 - Checking On Corpses ago
22 - Rebuilding ago
23 - The Importance of Lunch ago
24 - The Strangers ago
25 - Rian's List and Reasons ago
26 - Inconsistency ago
27 - Lori's Boat ago
28 - Beyond the Demesne Again ago
29 - Obviously, Grem Lied ago
30 - This Place Isn't Civilized ago
31 - River's Fork Demesne ago
32 - The Doctor of the Demesne ago
33 - The Savant ago
34 - She Remembered Someone's Name! ago
35 - Winter Plans ago
36 - The Aunt and the Niece ago
37 - Grem Explains Himself ago
38 - Don't Mention Your Fetish ago
39 - Runaway ago
40 - Fruits of the Morning ago
41 - The Promise of Breakfast ago
42 - The Binder of River's Fork ago
43 - Shanalorre Rising ago
44 - You're Wrong ago
45 - Grem's Sentence ago
46 - Home Is Lori's Demesne ago
47 - Finally Back At The Dungeon ago
48 - The Next Level ago
49 - Other Business ago
50 - Laundry Day ago
51 - We Need More Houses ago
52 - Foundations ago
53 - Building On The Foundation ago
54 - Work and Play ago
55 - Adequate Ventilation ago
56 - House Envy ago
57 - Minions Need Maintenance ago
58 - Material Restitution ago
59 - Post-Meeting Details ago
60 - Priorities in Construction ago
61 - The Map ago
62 - The Laundry Area ago
63 - The Laundry Area, Revised ago
64 - Lori Gets Ready To Explore ago
65 - Lori The Explorer ago
66 - Lori Goes To The Hospital ago
67 - Wounded ago
68 - Oh, Rainbows ago
69 - The Cost of Treatment ago
70 - An Altercation ago
71 - That Would Have Been Nice To Know ago
72 - The Proposal ago
73 - Home Again ago
74 - The Morning Of A Sudden Holiday ago
75 - Holiday Morning ago
76- Things People Do On Holidays ago
77 - Lori's Bored, So She Goes Seeling Again ago
78 - Something To Do Tomorrow ago
79 - Breakfast Swimming Prizes ago
80 - Competitions ago
81 - Holiday Logistics ago
82 - Just A Thought During Holiday-Appropriate Semi-Violent Outlets ago
83 - The End of the Holiday ago
84 - The Holiday Is Over, Back To Work ago
85 - Unfinished Business and Experiment Preparation ago
86 - Experimental Preparation and Contextual Exposition ago
87 - Rian and Lori Experiment With Each Other ago
88 - Tests, Tanks and… Taxes? ago
89 - Successful Test ago
90 - Privacy, Privies, and Winter Worries ago
91 - The First Miners ago
92 - The Mine ago
93 - Subcontracting To Experts ago
94 - Lori Does Carpentry ago
95 - Craftsmanship and Cleanliness ago
Omake - Can You Fly? ago
96 - Emergency Order Bonus ago
97 - Fulfilled Obligations and Bedroom Hygiene ago
98 - Miners Home Again ago
99 - Blood, Wire and Water ago
100 - Ice Boats and Housewarming ago
101 - Lori Builds The… Um… ago
102 - Thank You ago
103 - Obvious, Insight and Brilliance ago
104 - Making Better Plumbing ago
105 - Waterworks and Ice… Actually Works? ago
106 - The Ice Boat Prototype ago
107 - Prepare As You Did The Last Time ago
108 - Yes, There Are Still Dragons ago
109 - From The Core ago
110 - Timekeeping ago
111 - Day Shift ago
112 - Into the Night Shift ago
113 - Just Barely Not A Dragon Shelter Party ago
114 - A Mess To Deal With, Again ago
115 - Improving Defensive Measures ago
116 - Responsible For Fourteen ago
117 - No One Died ago
118 - Making A Better Water Jet ago
119 - Modeling ago
120 - Rian's Problem ago
121 - The Better Water Jet ago
122 - The Ice Boat Floateth ago
123 - A Favor ago
124 - Something To Come Back To ago
125 - A Lonely House ago
126 - Cheerful, Unreadable ago
127 - Playing with Water ago
128 - Golden Sweetwood Company ago
129 - Finishing Touches ago
130 - Trying To Convince Himself ago
131 - Come Back Safe, We'll Be Waiting ago
132 - Finally, To Covehold ago
133 - Can't Bring Herself To Care ago
134 - A Small Hole ago
135 - Hungry After All ago
136 - Even When He's Not Around ago
137 - It's Just Not The Same ago
138 - Needing More Light And Heat ago
139 - Chatrang And A Petition ago
140 - Riz's Chimney ago
141 - More Chimneys ago
142 - The Dock On The Other Side ago
143 - Beginning Improved Defensive Measures ago
144 - To Keep Busy ago
Anniversary Special: Riz And Mikon In Bed ago
145 - The Harvest ago
146 - The Best Kind Of Advice ago
147 - Drying To Thresh ago
148 - Experimenting With Riz ago
149 - Final Desiccation Test ago
150 - Threshing and Storage ago
151 - Everything Back To Normal ago
152 - I Missed You Too ago
153 - We're Home ago
154 - Leaving The Silliness To Rian ago
155 - First Morning Back ago
156 - Lori Reads An Almanac ago
157 - Customs Inspection ago
158 - All Was Right ago
159 - Report On A Journey To Covehold ago
160 - Images Bound In Light ago
161 - The Importance Of Milling ago
Ryan Is An Isekai Zeo! - April Fools 2022! ago
162 - The Mill Stone ago
163 - The Milling Process ago
164 - Warm and Cold ago
165 - Salt, Fees, Anchorage, Heat ago
166 - Ship Sinking ago
167 - Better Farming Through Explosions ago
168 - Tired Of Stairs ago
169 - The Dungeon Farm ago
170 - Winter Is Co—Oh Wait, It's Already Here ago
171 - Lori's Demesne In Winter ago
172 - Traveling In Winter ago
173 - River's Fork in Winter ago
174 - Punitive Measures ago
175 - An Accord ago
176 - Things Left Unattended ago
177- Preparing To Smelt ago
178 - Smelting Copper ago
179 - Time To Sit Down ago
180 - Most Definitely Not Procrastinating ago
181 - Borders ago
182 - Expansion ago
183 - The Rest Of Her Life ago
184 - When It Rians It Floods ago
185 - Schedule Optimization ago
186 - Lori and Rian Wake Up Together ago
187 - Experimenting With Expansion Variables ago
188 - And Bloody War Followed ago
189 - Matters of Marriage ago
190 - Theatricality In The Presentation ago
191 - Seasonal Hazards ago
192 - Fortunately, No One Asphyxiated ago
193 - Taking A Rest ago
194 - Lori Officiates Marriages ago
195 - Application Complications ago
196 - Smarter, Not Harder ago
197 - Planning For Recovery ago
198 - Unexpected Unexpected ago
199 - A Success By Any Standard ago
200 - Past The Storm ago
201 - Oh ago
202 - The Sled ago
203 - The Sled Air Jet ago
204 - The Sled, Completed ago
205 - Not a Dungeon Core ago
206 - Bead Economic Theory ago
207 - Bead Experiments ago
208 - Breaking Bead ago
209 - White Iridescence ago
210 - Routine Set In ago
211 - A Gap In Understanding ago
212 - In Case of Pregnancy ago
213 - Interest ago
214 - Expecting ago
215 - Expecting Visitors ago
216 - A Guest ago
217 - Due Diligence ago
218 - A Clear Hazard ago
219 - An Outrageous Offer ago
220 - Project Negotiations ago
221 - Finalizing Agreements ago
222 - Flood Preparations ago
223 - Infrastructure Assessment ago
224 - One More Day ago
225 - Lori's Rest Day ago
226 - Sewing and Board Games ago
227 - Back to Work ago
228 - Rolling Stones ago
229 - Building The Flood Barrier ago
230 - Basic Bricklaying ago
231 - Stone Finishing ago
232 - Diagnose Shanalorre ago
233 - The Winter Community Meeting ago
234 - Land, Again ago
235 - Denied. Next! ago
236 - Not Her Problem ago
237 - Raining And Still Freezing ago
238 - The Coming Of Spring ago
239 - (Re)Securing Water ago
240 - Forward Planning ago
241 - Bug Repellent ago
242 - Cold Room Improvements ago
243 - Cold Room And Holiday Preparation ago
244 - Binder V Binder ago
245 - Holiday Excitement ago
246 - Worth More Than Anything ago
247 - The Horrified Light Of Realization ago
248 - Subordinates ago
249 - You Just Want To Eat Our Food ago
250 - To Deal With Malcontents ago
251 - Spring Construction ago
SS1 – "What If Lori Was A Generic Charismatic Main Character?" ago
252 - Land Inspection ago
253 - The Dehydration Shed ago
254 - Further Adjustments ago
255 - Preparing For River's Fork ago
256 - Getting The Boat Ready ago

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An excellent village start story with some magic

Reviewed at: 62 - The Laundry Area

I was walking into this story without reading any of the reviews beforehand, so I was really excited in the first chapters at the unique world created by Shadow Crystal Mage for Demesne, along with the hint at future power progression.

After chapter 18 or so, it feels like the unique flavor of the world stops being a factor in the story beyond explaining the mechanics behind the improvements that Lori makes to the village. This fading of the world building is, frankly, turning me off from the story, because I am not interested in *just* a village building simulator, which is how it feels by chapter 62 (where I am reviewing this).

The grammar is overall good, but has a few problems here and there, on the order of 2-3 mistakes per chapter, which is hardly distracting. It's usually an obviously-omitted word, a typo, or something along those lines, as opposed to an incomprehensible sentence. I probably have more grammar mistakes in this review than the story does in a chapter.

Essentially, if a somewhat magical early village creation story with a socially apathetic MC is something you'd like to read, this is your jam. If you're looking for something with a little bit of action or power progression, this is very much not what you're looking for. My rating of 4 stars instead of 5 is due to the story failing to leverage the very interesting, unique worldbuilding (the strength of the story, in my opinion) after the first couple dozen chapters.


A breath of fresh air in the dungeon core genre.

Reviewed at: 10 - Material Shortages of Lori's Demesne

This review was made when there were 10 chapters available. 

This is a fun story, and a dungeon story that isn't an isekai, and isn't mired in pseudo-game mechanics is an amazing breath of fresh air. The magic system is interesting, well detailed, and feels decently hard, in a Sandersonian kind of way. Similarly, Lori, the main and viewpoint character, feels decently experienced with the magic system, but is in no way a master or the most skilled ever at anything she tries. She comes off as basically a nerd who'd rather be doing stuff with her magic, and just knows that everything would be better if people would just do things her way, but has never actually been in charge of anything. She's a fun character, and I'm looking forward to following her.

The reason why I am dinging this half a star is the typos. While I personally find the typos somewhat annoying (there are a few too many than I usually ignore, there aren't a ton but they are noticeable) different people have different tolerances, so don't let this stop you from trying the story. 


Settlement-building with highly unusual magic

Reviewed at: 18 - After The Dragon

(as of chapter 18)

This story has a dungeon. Stop, don't run away! No, it's absolutely not one of those abounding stories with some person in a hole in the ground creating floors and monsters. Yes, this story has a dungeon core, but that is just there to generate energy for the fully human MC to use and to allow her special powers in that area. The focus seems to be on settlement building and slice-of-life interpersonal dynamics but I could be wrong since we are still early in the story.

What's it about: This world is a crappy world. The air, the ground, nature, everything is poison/instant cancer/whatever. Only by a wizard using the special powers of a dungeon core can this so-called Iridescence be removed from the nearby area (the demesne), leading to small islands of human life in the middle of danger. The MC, Lori, is the wizard in a group of adventurous emigrants looking for a new life in the wilderness of a far-away continent. They manage to create a dungeon/demesne to protect them from certain death, but uncertain death is still around. After all, they are really far away from civilization...

Style/Grammar: The story is told in third-person internal style by Lori. Descriptions are fine with a good eye for details. The sentences are sometimes constructed a bit awkwardly and they are often too long (yeah, I know, look who's talking; I never claimed to be a good writer). There are also some errors per chapter, but nothing off-putting. 

Story: Like I wrote above, this story is unusual and that makes it highly interesting. The magic system is very different from the norm, with four clearly separated types of magic to affect four different aspects of the world. Each wizard can only use one type, except the owners of a dungeon. That is one of the main reasons why wizards want to own one (next to "get filthy rich", "have unlimited power" and "rule with absolute might"). Like the MC soon learns, she now has the ability to use the other three types but doesn't know how they work. LOL. 

Most of the story so far has concentrated on building the village and the author is doing a great job making even raising preliminary shelter interesting. The other central part are the dynamics between the people, those are fine too. There's also a bit of light comedy. One narrative highlight is the danger shown in chapters 16/17: The dragon (very misleading name) is more like a force of nature destroying anything in its path without noticing than an evil monster attacking deliberately. That event was narrated excellently and captivatingly, with all the consequences and the emotions such an event would bring to the people. Even though the story is tending towards slice-of-life, the pacing is not slow. 

Characters: Lori is not a good person but this is presented in a great way. In many stories, MCs who are "not good" are either lulz-evil, painfully edgy or have similar flat personalities. Not here. Lori is a very flawed but still realistic person instead. She is not actively evil, but due to her arrogance as well as her lack of empathy for and interest in the common people she is severely hindering herself and the group. She's very bad at communicating which leads to funny or interesting situations. In fact, she's an interesting kind of annoying. I really like the characterization of her personality. 

The main supporting character, Rian, comes across as a comic relief at first glance, and he indeed often introduces humorous elements to the story; yet as the reader learns more about him, he shows a remarkable depth of character. Most of the other characters are still a nameless mass so far, because Lori usually ignores them. 

All in all, this is an interesting story with a highly unusual premise. Have fun reading it!


Demesne is set in a world where being outside the Dungeons kills you, which is a rare take on the genre. With the almost omnipresent iridescence, which is only counteracted by moving water and dungeon domains, there is a legitimate reason to actually listen to your mage overlords who sustain the dungeons outside of their sheer power, which is always fun.

I haven't really noticed any grammatical error, and though there aren't many characters just yet, the ones we have at the moment do the job quite well, and are all fun in their own ways.

It also features four magic systems, of which we have recieved only tantalizing glimpses of three so far. The one we actually know quite a bit about is Whispering, which involves manipulating wisps of different types, like lightning darkness, light, and the classic four elements.

The other types are Deadspeaking, which involves manipulation of organics, healing, and the creation of undead. Mentalists, which we know little of thus far, outside of them having enhanced memory. Horotracts can somehow manipulate space, including expanding it, and possibly contracting it as well.

All in all, fun story, would reccomend. Would read just for the magic system alone, honestly.


Pragmatic Town-Building in a Deathworld Setting

Reviewed at: 45 - Grem's Sentence

The duo of main characters have distinct personalities, and the magic system is an original centered around mana-wisps. The setting and world-building develop well and logically, and I have enjoyed what I've read. The world is out to kill, and dungeon core binders stand between the populace and the Iridescence, a kind of mutation death-plague. High points on story and character.  

What I consider a big flaw is the female main character's name. It's Lolilyuri. When reading, the word sounds in my head like "Loli Yuri" -- an anime genre I avoid. I wish the author would replace every instance of 'Lolilyuri' with 'Lori'. I suppose it does make me remember the story. Minus on style, it isn't something I can avoid reading, and it strikes me as not following the rest of the story style. 

Have Demesne on my follow list, and if you can ignore my pet peeve, you'll likely enjoy the read.  The story includes magic descriptions and the type of laws and structure a society built around surviving in a deathworld setting would develop.  This elevated it from he run-of-the mill dungeon core story and kept my attention as a reader.  It pays attention to both the background expectation and shows the actual characters encountering this in practice.


The first thing I'll note is that the terminology in this story can be a tad misleading, as the Dungeons and Dragons (lol) in the world of Demesne are far from what we normally think of when we hear those terms. THAT SAID, I think Shadow Crystal Mage's versions are actually significantly cooler than the usual. Needless to say, I find the worldbuilding of this story to be one of its attractions.

A second note is that the main character is a bit of a dick. She's competent, smart, and not actively evil, but she doesn't really care a whole lot about most other people. Still--and as annoyed by her as I sometimes am--she's good at her job and seems to be maturing emotionally as the story progresses (even just in the 16 chapters currently published). It also helps that she has a vastly more empathetic and charismatic subordinate to balance her out (potential romance?). I'm also interested in another character called Katrina. She seems like a good kid, and I'm interested to see how her role will evolve over time.

I think the pacing's good, and while I'm sure it contains some grammar and spelling errors they've not been significant enough for me to take any especial notice. The author is obviously a skilled writer.

some total kretin

TL;DR: Tightly focused and firmly bound in a flowing narrative that managed to suck me in and leave me wanting more. This is properly good. Characters that have character, endearing flaws and humor in a hard situation while not leaning on anger and pathos. I think I love this little story.

More later, when I actually have time to write and not only gush. And time for some hindsight.



I'm genuinely surprised that this isn't on...

Reviewed at: 10 - Material Shortages of Lori's Demesne

trending yet. Pretty good shit.

OP is still introducing characters and letting us get a feel for them, and I like them. I'm excited to see what s/he does with them. The world being built is cool. No grammar issues jumped out at me. I'm not smart enough to figure out if OP is doing all that literary shit like having a theme or keeping a consistent tone, but I figure s/he's doing alright.


Fun and balanced, with great character

Reviewed at: 60 - Priorities in Construction

In few word :

A story build on a great setting and new kind of world backround and magic system, who build and mostly carried by the two principal character.

- great setting of magic, clearly worked and build from scratch, wich is uncommon enough to be said. The four major wichcraft are well balanced, and realy well done. The danger of the raindow, monsters, and how the donjon work and why is perfectly done, sensible and believable.

- excellent character. Yes, some people will maybe be put-off by Lori in the start. Don't be fooled : she is not the selfish and grossly rutless brat she seem to be. Just ... different. And so blatant with her way to talk. The skit betwen them is pure gold, and work fine.

- story pretty ok, in the kind of "day-by-day base building from scratch.

- some little cheapness and easy-to-use trop there and here, yes, but who don't spoil the story (not for me at last) like the fact the settler are pretty idiot, greedy and narrow-minded like Lori think often.

- the psychological part is well used, and aspect of ethic, moral and all shit around that (like killing, right of the strong, etc) never become carttonish or idiotic like in so many story out there.

- character development ! YES, even if slow, and needing to be vigilient to see it.

- common trope used uncommonly, wich is alway a + for me.


Stop reading reviews and read this story

Reviewed at: 16 - The Dragon and the Dark

It is a funny but still serious story of a sassy wizard who controls a new dungeon in the middle of nowhere that saves peoples lives surrounded by funny "idiots".

Others have already said everything worth saying.... Just read it, it is Great!


(To make my review longer to follow the rules, a suggestion would be to give a few interactions with Villiager A, B, C (in her mind).  She really only talks to like 3 people and most of the comedy is her sassing people)