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 supply shortages. And other settlements poaching their people. And idiots who don't get exactly wht having to settle somewhere entails. And dragons... A slice-of-life fantasy story.

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Cover by JackOfheart 

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Shadow Crystal Mage

Shadow Crystal Mage

Overlord of Crack

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Table of Contents
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
SS2 - Ryan Is An Isekai! 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

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Jorlem
Overall

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. 

KoboldPatrol
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

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!

OskarSalt
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

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.

Achronos
Overall

tl;dr: Interesting premise and a good start! I'm excited to read more! :)

 

The Author describes a blatant Deathworld in which the characters are living, where everywhere but painstakingly built desmenes is toxic and mutagenic. But he still manages to gives the story a whimsical and hopeful look where you can't help but cheer for the settlers. I'm eagerly awaiting how he will further explore this dangerous but beautiful world he is describing.

SillyScribe
Overall

THE MOST INSANELY UNIQUE & EPIC DRAGONS THAT EXIST

Reviewed at: 18 - After The Dragon

I love the dragons in this book. I've always been a fan of powerful dragons. A lot of webnovels have been portraying weaker and less omnipowerful dragons, and I'm fine with that, will still read them, and it's not going really affect whether I love the novel or not. But it's just much more cooler when the dragons are OP and unique. And the dragons in this book, are the most insanely unique dragons I've ever seen.

This is just a description of how epic the dragons are, it's not really a spoiler, but it's so insane I think it's spoiler worthy.

Like dragons tend to be portrayed as forces as nature, however, rarely do they are they truly natural disasters. In this book, they are the deadliest of natural disasters, dragons are as massive as hurricanes, and do more destruction than tornadoes, earthquakes, and typhoons combined. When a dragon flies over your town, the mana in the air gets twisted and rips everything around it apart, destroying entire civilizations if they're above ground, or even not deep enough underground. The distorted mana also creates creatures called dragon spawn that land on the ground and eat and obliterate everything in their path. 

It is probably the most epic portrayal of dragons I have EVER seen. 

 

Charles
Overall

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
Overall

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.

 

jklm
Overall

Creative world-building,with a bit of a silly tone

Reviewed at: 6 - Food and Other Resources to Manage

This story has an interesting dungeon concept, with a world where dungeons are controlled or created by magic users ("Whisperers"). I liked the creativity in world building, and I felt like there were characters with distinct personalities even from the first chapter. 

The story's tone is a matter of preference. It vascilates between serious fantasy and silly modern references (For example, in one scene the main character is completing a complex magical ritual and in the next she is complaining about student debt). Personally I found it a bit jaring, but it would definitely appeal to some readers.

One particular humor point that did not appeal to me is the main character's name, "Lolilyuri." According to the author, "It's Loli + Lily + Yuri. The ingredients of a good anime, like Card Captor Sakura, Lyrical Nanoha and Prisma Illya!" Honestly, it's just kind of an "ugh" factor and eyeroll to me. It feels out of place.

Helixical
Overall

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.

seeker7246
Overall

Hey Shadow! 

Followed you over from SB. 

Lovely story with wonderfully well written characters that don't feel like cardboard cutout of archtypes. 

The name makes me cringe each time I read it though. 

I have to admit I enjoy how your expanding the whole dungeon concept and studying the power dynamics that such a thing creates. Human emotion in a fantasy setting with implications of abilities has always been my favourite thing to read.