Breaker of Skulls (LitRPG)

Breaker of Skulls (LitRPG)

by HereBeTreasure

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Sexual Content
  • Traumatising content

The MC bashes skulls and gains levels and overthinks small things. He becomes a knight. 

Synposis: An ordinary twenty-something human male undergoes the test of his life as he gets thrown into the Tutorial without any warning, learning to survive by any means possible with his sense for danger in a world where those who proved trustworthy were rarely competent, and those who proved competent were dangerous. 

Trusting his intuition, Marcello braves each new increasingly perilous test of survival as he slowly discovers that he himself was far from ordinary. 

Release schedule:

5 chapters per week, tentative. 

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HereBeTreasure

HereBeTreasure

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Table of Contents
52 Chapters
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 1 – Class Selection  ago
Chapter 2 – Skills and Status  ago
Chapter 3 – Tutorial Begins ago
Chapter 4 – Gangsters and Bitches run the tutorial ago
Chapter 5 – Bear Traps and Goblins ago
Chapter 6 – Hobgoblin ago
Chapter 7 – Boss Fight Contribution Bonus ago
Chapter 8 – Area Two Tutorial Store ago
Chapter 9 – Level 2 Human ago
Chapter 10 – Area 2 Closing ago
Chapter 11 – The Castle ago
Chapter 12 – Level 12 Lord's Servant ago
Chapter 13 – Banshee ago
Chapter 14 – Shattered Eardrums ago
Chapter 15 – The Breaker of Skulls ago
Chapter 16 – The Final Room ago
Chapter 17 – The Castle Lord ago
Chapter 18 – The Final Battle ago
Chapter 19 – $$$$$ Class Promotion ago
Chapter 20 – Boss Fight Solo Clear Bonus ago
Chapter 21 – Golden Key ago
Chapter 22 – Artefacts of Power ago
Chapter 23 – Carpenter's First Project ago
Chapter 24 – Shoddy Wooden Ladder ago
Chapter 25 – The Forest ago
Chapter 26 – Advanced Identify ago
Chapter 27 – A Bad Situation ago
Chapter 28 – ? ago
Chapter 29 – The Dumbest Idea In the History of Dumb Ideas  ago
Chapter 30 – Quest: [A Simple Shield]  ago
Chapter 31 – Secret Quest: [Conquest of Lords] ago
Chapter 32 – Shoddy Creation Turns Into a Historic Piece ago
Chapter 33 – Charismatic White Spider Silk Pants ago
Chapter 34 – Bloodshed ago
Chapter 35 – The Blood Moon ago
Chapter 36 – Awful Totem of an Ice GIant ago
Chapter 37 – Gabriel ago
Chapter 38 – Forced Into Giant Transformation ago
Chapter 39 – Arrogant Head Hunters ago
Chapter 40 – Imp's Tail and Dark Magic Warding ago
Chapter 41 – Don't You Dare! ago
Chapter 42 – Goblin Shamanic Ritual Site ago
Chapter 43 – “Human, you die”  ago
Chapter 44 – “Liver Treasure for Human! Delicious Liver!”  ago
Chapter 45 – Wood Isn't Supposed To Have a Hearbeat, Is It? ago
Chapter 46 – The goblin shaman snickers internally at your incompetence.  ago
Chapter 47 – Maybe You’re Just Weak  ago
Chapter 48 – Encounter With a Strong Enemy ago
Chapter 49 – Action Hero ago
Chapter 50 – Reunited ago
Chapter 51 – Watch the Master in Action ago
Chapter 52 – A Maelstrom of Fire ago

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yellingbrian2
Overall
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Good but has a Number of 'New-Author' Flaws

Reviewed at: Chapter 21 – Golden Key

This story is the author's first work has a lot of virtues but a number of rather large flaws. Such as the supporting cast being generally unlikeable and underdeveloped, a rushed pace, and number of LitRPG elements that don't seem to work properly. This review is mostly going to focus on the negatives.

But first I want to go over the positives (why I'm still reading):

  1. These character's aren't perfect, people die due to incompetence, suboptimal plays are made. While I feel this has been taken way too far, I do find this more interesting then reading about basically perfect people you sometimes see in other novels.
  2. I believe I could personally survive and do well in this tutorial. So it creates a "Walking Dead Effect" where readers can feel like they're learning from the character's failures. I like this feeling of 'learning' even if this will never be usefull information in my non-magical life.
  3. There's somewhat of a mystery element in finding out what danger the next room contains and seeing where the tutorial leads them. There's been talks about how humans are actually a common race throughout the stars and empires that exist outside the tutorial.
  4. The main character is (somewhat) of a Mary Sue due to his special ability, so I always know everything's going to turn out optimally for him, so it can be satisfying to read.
  5. I like the semi-grim tone, and the concept of a litRPG apocalypse has always interested me. And this story has enough unique elements to stand out.

However there's a number of things about this story that just irritate me to no end and that's what this review is going to be about.

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***WARNING HEAVY SPOILERS BELOW***

===Style & Story===

The story's pace feels rushed, (as of chapter 19) they've had to get from room to room without discussing strategy or even taking a nap. I believe about 4 real world hours have passed between chapter 1 and 19.
But the story often times ACTS like a lot of things have happened,

  • That there's been a lot of character development and team building
  • That the Main Character and the female Mage have a relationship (they don't he just looked at her ass a couple times)
  • That the Mob boss taking over the tutorial in a hour is realistic.
  • It also acts like the main party is a lot stronger then a functional party from the Easy path (they aren't).

It honestly feels like there was a "boring" couple of MONTHS of character interactions cut out of the final draft, and it SHOWS.

Here is a particular cringe worthy example from Chapter 12:

She pulled on Marcello’s sleeve and whispered to him. “Are they always like this? Like, is everybody here always on edge and just about ready to fight each other at all times?”

Marcello nodded after mulling over the validity of the statement. Alice was right, and he couldn’t agree any more. “Yep, and you can include me in as well. We’re all about one hair’s breadth away from killing each other, but as long as that doesn’t happen we actually make quite a great team. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is the perfect team to tackle a trial of this kind of difficulty. A team held together not by something as flimsy as moral standards or charismatic leadership, but by the rock solid foundation of mutual respect for mutually assured destruction. Just like peace in the wake of nuclear power.”

Dude... Your team has won ONE battle, and during that battle:

  1. Two of your team mates ran away
  2. One of your fighters basically pissed themselves and died
  3. Your wizard hit you in the back with one of his spells (and killed the fighter with friendly fire)
  4. Sure it was like 24 goblins to 8 humans, but most of those goblins died in one hit.

It was actually rather pathetic to read. It made sense because YOU ARE NOOBS! But this confidence isn't warranted.


For better or worse, I believe most functional adults could get through the Hard Mode Tutorial. As long as they knew to just aim their attacks at the monsters in the first room and buy one or two "OP scrolls of instant win" for the second room. The hardest part seems to just be finding functional party members (more on that latter).

So there's a number of times where the novel SHOWS basically a non-existent social dynamic or learned skill set. But then CLAIMS they have grown together for a long time or have are more competent than they've actually been and it's a very prevalent flaw throughout the novel.

The author sometimes says things along the lines like "reviews are negative, but the best part won't be until chapter 18" so I wouldn't be surprised if he did cut a lot of planned content out between room 1 and room 2 to speed run to the "good stuff" (the Boss Battle). 

.

One weird complaint, is it feels that the LitRPG elements were ether tacked on late in this story's development, or HEAVILY nerfed in the final release. I'll explain:

At lot of the LitRPG stuff the story CLAIMS matters and is worth dying over isn't ACTUALY worth risking death over.

  1. Starting Classes don't matter much, the only thing a class seems to do is change your starting equipment. 
    1. If you picked a Magic class you get a cool spell but no usable equipment, if picked a Physical class you get beginner equipment. That's pretty much it as far as I can tell.
    2. The story acts like the starting classes matter a lot, but honestly I don't get why didn't all the 'Mages' just buy weapons and armor after gaining access to the shop. There's no reason (as far as I can tell) for everyone not to have Bows and Armor at this point.
  2. Levels also don't matter, the difference between a level 1 Human and a level 10 Human is having an extra 10% stat points.
  3. Stat points don't matter because in this game stat points are just a vague multiplier of a person's base abilities.

Here is quote about the "value" of Stat Points from chapter 2:

Important notice about stats– While values for stats such as strength and vitality are displayed in alphanumeric form, these numeric representations are not linearly correlated with actual performance. For example, 20 strength does not make a player four times stronger than 5 strength, nor is an increase from 20 to 25 strength necessarily the same for two players who experience the same increase. Alphanumeric display is a crude estimate of growth, rather than an absolute. Every participant’s development is different. Strength is not quantifiable. Keep this in mind.

So (from we've both seen and been told in the story) its completely reasonable for a level 50 old man to lose to a level 1 physically fit young boy armed with a basic knife. Which brings up the question "What's the point in taking the Hard path?" because its not exp, so its just about getting more equipment?

The only things that actually matter in this world are:

  1. How physically fit and clever you were at the start
  2. What equipment you have
  3. What skills you picked
  4. If you got a magic power called an "Inheritance", which just lets you BE BETTER than everyone else.

Speaking of these "Inheritances", the main character's makes him somewhat of a Mary Sue. His is [Despair Intuition] it gives him 100 levels worth of stat points whenever he's "near death" and basically gives him Plot Armor whenever he just has to randomly know something. So that's just a little bit OP in my opinion, especially for something he didn't EARN.

Despite this the characters ACT like levels and classes matter a lot. Level 6 players get intimated by level 9 players, mages all use (seemingly ineffective) staffs and robes, no one armors up if they aren't a warrior, ext. But given the established rules of this world these actions don't actually make sense.

I would honestly prefer the LitRPG elements (such as stat points and HP) were removed from the story if they're not going to be used. It seems they are only present because stat points are "supposed to be there" but the author doesn't actualy want to have anything to do with them.

  • The only "used" LitRPG mechanic is the [Skill Selection], everything else is just meaningless numbers that don't seem to change anything.
  • If stat increases were replaced with a "vague feeling" of growing stronger after combat, and levels were replaced with a "danger rating" it wouldn't change anything and be more in line with this story's theme and tone.

The problem here is this all somewhat devalues the feeling of growth a LitRPG is supposed to project. I have NO IDEA if increasing Strength from 8.1 to 8.7 actually does anything, because as far as I can tell it doesn't do anything.

Once you realize the exp rewards aren't actually all that helpful it becomes somewhat difficult to get excited about "leveling up" and the conflict it took to earn them. Getting new gear is still fun tho.

.

===Characters===

All the side characters are Colorful, many of them are Memorable and they all have their unique flaws, but that's about the only compliments I can give them.
The side characters are BY FAR the worst part of this novel.

The characters generally doesn't seem to realize that being an asshole only works in the short term and in the long term gets you socially ostracized and/or killed. Most functional adults realize this before turning 18.
Through out the novel a number of characters are just complete sociopathic assholes to each other and NONE of the characters ever do anything about it.

.

Example #1: Early on there is one Large Guy who (apparently) is a 7 foot tall Mob Boss who can just rip peoples arms off with his bare hands at level 1. And he murders A LOT OF PEOPLE without any sort of provocation. Like 20-40 people this man kills in plane view of everyone else.

The whole time I was wondering how the f*ck everyone else in the tutorial was so God-dam brainless and couldn't figure out to ether Mob up on him or just pelt him with arrows and Magic from range (Or even just RUN AWAY from him). Instead everyone (but the Main Character's party) just flocks around like headless chickens and lets him do whatever he wants even tho its 100% clear he'll eventually kill everyone in the tutorial!

Example #2: One of the Main Character's party member's straight up kills one of their team mates with friendly fire, and almost kills the Main Character with more friendly fire and NO ONE ADDRESSES THIS ISSUE! That should have been a "I'm never going to work with this man again!" moment right then and there.

The story tries to justify it by claiming he's level 4 and all the other Mages are level 2, but levels DONT. ACTUALY. MATTER. in this game so they should have put SOME effort into finding a better Mage. And this mage latter decides to threaten to kill them to keep a piece of loot of questionable value (an object that has ZERO immediate usefulness).

Example #3: And its not just these two assholes. Its only been about 4 hours since these people have been teleported out of their peaceful homes, everyone still has access to water, shelter, and food. And yet we've been told a large number of these people are about to start killing each other and there has been NO EXPLANATION for WHY. This game doesn't seem to reward Player Killing, so WHY?

.

It sometimes feels like the author genuinely believes a person MUST be an absolute selfish asshole OR be a door mat and just let themselves get slaughtered to avoid a 'confrontation'. And that's just NOT how Humans work. 

In the real world it's generaly the SMART play to be a team player and polite when possible. ESPECIALY when dealing with people you are ether trapped with or people you require to watch your back in a deadly fight.

There's definitely situations where f*cking over people is the best plan, but those situations almost always involve you never interacting with them afterwards.

Screwing over your Party will CLEARLY get you killed.

So I don't find these character actions realistic for their situation. It seems to me that every character was given 1-2 random flaws from a hat to create problems for the Main Character, and it can feel very silly to read at times.

.

I appreciate what the author is trying to do, having flawed characters makes for more complex social dynamics and creates unique problems for the team to overcome. I just believe he went to far and made it seem like most of these people are insane asylum escapees. And more importantly these character problems aren't overcome or even addressed, so the dynamic is just "people are shitty".

.

===Grammar===

I always understood what the author was trying to say and don't remember any stand out issues. I have no complaints.

.

===Summary===

It seems like there was supposed to be a 2 month training montage between room 1 and room 2, where the Mob boss would establish a tyrannical gang over the other Players and the Main Character's team would actually grow close to each other. Instead the story just claims this all happened in the 4-7 hours since the start of the tutorial, and that doesn't work for me.

I'm honestly hoping MOST of these side characters die. They're all various combinations of incompetent and assholes. 

The main character's Inheritance takes out a lot of the tension in the story, because as far as I can tell it just lets him pick the 'correct' move. For example at one point he decides to save his points rather than buy survival equipment, and I was just like "Why?" but I'm sure at some point that'll be revealed to be the perfect move.

BUT I'm still going to keep following this novel. Due to wanting to see some of these characters die, see the main character succeed, and my curiosity to see what this tutorial is all leading to.

Romule
Overall

In the beginning chapters it gets pretty dumb imo. Either the protagonist is a sociopath or the author doesn't understand how in a group of 200 people not one person would stand up to a murder right in front of them. The author linked some studies but their applied wrongly to the situation so their basically moot.

From what I've seen so far most other people are stereotypes, and the only person I found somewhat respectable was the healer.

Tldr: I dislike the beginning chapters and didn't bother to keep reading, but if you like "cold, stoic and badass" protag and stereotypes this is for you.

TheEarlofBronze
Overall

Author is giving this a solid effort.

Reviewed at: Covergate PSA

*** Edit *** having read farther i'm afraid i'm going to have to agree with my inital impression and drop this down just a notch, it's still an enjoyable read but I don't think it's really lived up to it's potential. 

(old review)
I AM enjoying myself, mostly. I can't say the novel is "exceptional" but that's fine. There is quite a bit to enjoy here, the combat is good, the dialogue is actually decent, the sentances and paragraph structure aren't artistic or poetic but very very easy to read and follow.

But. The Dreaded But(t).

Firstly:
Your characters, including the MC are.... very eh. I realise you've had very little time to put into developing them so I won't write them off as failures yet but, it SEEMS (to me as a reader) that characters are little more than an after-thought for you, and that the class and cool and tutorial-story is taking all of your attention. That's always a problem. No matter how interesting a story or world is, a dull set of characters WILL kill it.

Secondly:
The implementation of the MC's... well, MC powers (which every MC needs) was...not the best, not bad but not the best. (Very spoiler so more on this in a comment I left on chapter 10 Mr. Author!) 

Thirdly:
You over-explain. Like. A lot. Numerous times so far you introduce a concept or mechanic or something, or even just describe some characters interacting. Then you IMMEDIATELY turn around and essentially repeat EXACTLY what has just been talked about/narrated etc, in an even more simplistic fashion.

I totally get the desire to be understood by your audience. The last thing you want is to try to portray a cool idea or concept and then have people go "wtf are you on about". Like, I GET that. But you've gone to far in the other direction. This isn't even info dumping. It's info-dump + Info-over-analyze... makes the novel slower and more boring to read.

Just some thoughts I've had. Personally i'm torn between wanting to rate this a 3.5 from a more clinical perspective, and a 4 because I am actually still enjoying reading it. Hope to see you power on through some of the negativity and keep this going for a while :)

Pau
Overall

The characters are unlikeable.

Reviewed at: Chapter 3 – Tutorial Begins

This is not my cup of tea. It's just ridiculous when dozen or hundreds of people are just watching someone doing a, basically, murder and do nothing. It can be justified when they are at the latter trial when someone already has more power and the killer shows overwhelming power than the other. But they were at the starting point where everyone was still a human being with just a system and a bit of skill. It was unreasonable for dozen people to be scared of someone that still a vulnerable human being.

I've already read some novels with similar starts and themes. It was not likable for me either.  

There are no other problems, the grammar and style are good enough for me. 

ShadyFerak
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Author with potential, but a poorly chosen story

Reviewed at: Chapter 20 – Boss Fight Solo Clear Bonus

Well, I'll start with the negatives ..

This story is basically a very close rip-off of another story here on RR called The Primal Hunter. That in itself would not be such a bad thing overal, BUT ..

The starting premise, the character's personality and skillset are pretty much one and the same! It is one thing to get inspiration from another's work, but this is on another level altogether.

I pretty much lost all interest in this story with the self-serving purchase of the summoning scroll. The moment the character purchased it, I was 99% sure that it would turn out to be a trump card in one of the followed trials and I was just waiting if the story would exceed my expectations - which it sadly didn't as it turned out pretty much how I imagined it

Ie. All the "cards" just had to "fall" the right way for the protagonist .. which is pretty much booring as hell. There was no suspense during the fight, no real achievement to his victory. The others did most of the work for him and then graciously left the trial (of course in order for the protagonist to get the biggest and baddest reward possible duh ?).

 

On the positive side of things:

Grammar and writing style in this work are actually pretty good. At least I had very few "what the hell does that mean?" moments during the read. So cudos to the author for that.

 

As a summary:

If you can come up with your own original story, and avoid the common cliches, it has the potential to become a good story worth reading, since your writing style in itself is pretty good.

tts
Overall

SIDE CHARACTERS + MC NEED LOTS OF WORK

Reviewed at: Chapter 15 – The Breaker of Skulls

The basic bones of the story (plot, premise, world building) are basically fine.

The issue is with the way the MC and other characters behave and interact. They pretty much all behave like edgelord cardboard cut outs most of the time and that starts to really grate after a while.

The other main issue is there is some hamfisting going on here.  For instance:  the MC has a skill that lets him intuit all kinds of things (where to go, what to bring, who did what, etc) and its featured quite well at first.  But as the story progresses this skill seems to largely do nothing and kind've vanishes. 

I guess it was too OP?

That is irritating, nerfing the characters for no reason is a big no no IMO!  The one that really pushes my buttons is the forced stupidity though.  Its completely unnecessary and cheapens everything and is ultimately what made me stop reading.

Rudybega
Overall

The story premise is interesting, but I couldn't make it past the 4th chapter and I read a lot of dreck on this site.

The side characters are caricatures while the main character is an inconsistent sociopath.  The only person to immediately try to heal a grievously wounded man is deemed incompetent by the main character(?). Subsequently, 196 armed people stand by as that character is callously murdered for trying to help...  There's a weak bystander effect justification offered up (amusingly based on a flawed understanding of the phenomeon), but it's still immersion breaking.

Regardless, I tried to read on despite everyone blithely ignoring this murder, and ran face first into a comically insufferable, unrealistic group of characters tackling the hard room.  At that point I accepted I wasn't going to enjoy this story.

rexharris
Overall

Good start but could use some work

Reviewed at: Chapter 10 – Area 2 Closing

The start of this novel is really interesting and does a lot of things well. It has a sense of excitement and mystery about the situation, and also has good charecter building. There are three main problems so far though. 

1st. There are some events that feel really forced and don't make much sense. So far there is one big one with some smaller ones that aren't as bad. 

2nd. The combat scenes are blocky. It's hard to write good combat, especially with groups fighting each other. In this novel the combat reads more like a turn based RPG to me. It seems like at any time 1 or 2 people are doing something while everything else just seems frozen or not very active. I think the problem lies in the pacing of the different parts, but am not sure. 
3rd. Could be a big problem or no problem at all later. That is his special intuition. This is a very interesting trait that is exciting and fun. The problem is things like this can be really hard to write. Like do he has super human intiution, but then makes a dumb mistake tha ten should have caught later, it breaks the charecter and immersion. It also involves reasoning and so far his reasoning is pretty good but defiantly not super human.

overal though this book is exciting and these types of tutorials are soem of my personal favorites. I look forward to future chapters!

Paradoxcloud
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

I couldn't get past the logical leaps the protagonist was making, inference is fine and good, but it doesn't work if all you've got is assumptions and your own guess work. Another gripe that I have is that in spite of the aforementioned because the author is already aware of all the events that make up the story, what the protagonist is thinking is likely going to be the right course of action regardless of any real logical deduction. The unrealistic behaviour of other characters also bothered me heavily.

As an example, spoiler warning:

In chapter three we come to learn that the protagonist and the people around him will have to face trials, for these trials they can take an easy route and a hard route, an old religious man, who I know was religious because he constantly talked about how he has sinned, went mad and entered the hard route.

Not long after he went in did he leave with one of his arms having been turned into a bloody stump. Upon seeing this a young lad who had chosen the healer class tried to save his life, but didn't have the proficiency and failed. The reaction of a woman in the surrounding crowd to the man failing was and I quote "you killed him". Which instigated her boyfriend to throw the young man into the hard route and kicking him unconscious, almost certainly killing him.

 

Now, how do you think the people reacted to this? Shock, fear, something else?

Well we don't know because apparently this quite frankly ridiculous series of events was not worth showing the people's reaction to, with thatbeing how the chapter ends. In the next chapter the people behave as if nothing happened at all.

 

 

There were some spelling mistakes here and there, but nothing mayor. Grammar and sentence structure were both fine.

Primordial Raven
Overall

Honestly, you could probably feel the potential of the story at the start, so just keep going with it. There is one part that is honestly just annoying and the way the author sets it up isn't the best, but i can defintely forgive it becuase everything else is really well done. The MC is a thinker thank god and a reallly good one. This is the only story i've found with such a good likeness to the dark souls series, so the style is very similar! So if you're on the fence with this then I highly recommend you start reading this NOW!