This Used to be About Dungeons

This Used to be About Dungeons

by Alexander Wales

This Used to be About Dungeons is a comfy slice-of-life adventuring story that occasionally features dungeons. Updates Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Mostly it's about walking in the woods with a friend, looking for mushrooms to put in your soup, or haggling with the guy selling squash, or taking care of a neglected garden. It's putting some jam on shortbread biscuits. And yes, sometimes you go down into the dungeons with your friends, and you kill monsters there, or disarm traps, but when you come out, you realize you've found the perfect magic item to give to one of the local kids that helped you out when your cat was sick. Look, the dungeons are always going to be there, and sometimes you need to make a journey to one of the Spirit Gates, or make a pilgrimage with the local Cleric of Symmetry to a holy shrine. Your tour through the local dungeons can wait. You'll have rivalries with other groups, and find some dungeon eggs that need to be carefully incubated in case they turn out to be something valuable, and help a friend to build a fishing weir. There's a big world out there, a mostly tame place with lots of magic, and even more to do and see. Join me, won't you?

The cover image is Morning Sunlight Effect, Eragny, by Camille Pissarro.

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Author
Alexander Wales

Alexander Wales

Achievements
Top List #50
Royal Writathon October 2021 winner
20 Review Upvotes
20 Comments
2,500,000 Views
4,000 Followers
Fledgling Reviewer (I)
2nd Anniversary
Word Count (18)
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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 1 - The Fig and Gristle ago
Chapter 2 - Big City Energy ago
Chapter 3 - Venison and Honey ago
Chapter 4 - Three Raccoons ago
Chapter 5 - This One is Actually About a Dungeon ago
Chapter 6 - Henlings ago
Chapter 7 - Songbird ago
Chapter 8 - Late Meals in a Quiet Kitchen ago
Chapter 9 - An Unwanted Civics Lesson ago
Chapter 10 - Second Breakfast ago
Chapter 11 - Agates Among the Stones ago
Chapter 12 - Overgrowth ago
Chapter 13 - The Nature of Travel ago
Chapter 14 - Cracked Tiles ago
Chapter 15 - Good Next Steps, I Suppose ago
Chapter 16 - Notions from Elsewhere ago
Chapter 17 - The Blacksmith's Apprentice ago
Chapter 18 - The Next Day's Weather ago
Chapter 19 - I Suppose You're Wondering Why I Gathered You Here ago
Chapter 20 - Temple Politics ago
Chapter 21 - Sitting in a Song ago
Chapter 22 - The Journey More Than the Destination ago
Chapter 23 - This One is Actually About Dungeons Too ago
Chapter 24 - 10% Dungeons by Volume ago
Chapter 25 - A Post-Dungeon Pickle ago
Chapter 26 - Liberfell ago
Chapter 27 - Too Much Talking ago
Chapter 28 - It Takes Two ago
Chapter 29 - Historical Revisionism ago
Chapter 30 - Noodles ago
Chapter 31 - Delicate Arrangements ago
Chapter 32 - A Tree From A Stone ago
Chapter 33 - Possibilities ago
Chapter 34 - Woods Witch ago
Chapter 35 - Alumni of the Junior League ago
Chapter 36 - E7 Report ago
Chapter 37 - Cartier ago
Chapter 38 - Jockey ago
Chapter 39 - Holy Numbers ago
Chapter 40 - Post Mortem ago
Chapter 41 - Meddling ago
Chapter 42 - Singing Slow ago
Chapter 43 - Temple Day ago
Chapter 44 - Care Package ago
Chapter 45 - Visitors ago
Chapter 46 - Both Sides ago
Chapter 47 - Down the Dungeon ago
Chapter 48 - Dungeon Denizens ago
Chapter 49 - Dungeon Drudgery ago
Chapter 50 - Escape! ago
Chapter 51 - Mother ago
Chapter 52 - Teamwork ago

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Reviews
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kalatenb
Overall

The worldbuilding and characters are compelling, and all indications point to this story continuing to be interesting to read going forwards. Wish there was more stuff even close to projecting this level of quality.

Also good if you care at all about basic internal coherence / realism / not having your suspension of disbelief constantly taking a beating. This author tends to be good if you're discerning on that front.

CF_HoneyBadger
Overall

A really fun and engaging fic. All of the characters are different and have their own view of the world. the dynamics between them as they get to know each other more is really well written.

I LOVE the world building. Holy cow. The setting is fresh, the systems are clear and defined and original, solid 10/10

acids3
Overall

cozy and fun with a dash of action and adventure

Reviewed at: Chapter 6 - Henlings

Quite liked the first few chapters, the characters seem nice and realistic. Still early but I have high hopes for the story! Our mysterious main character seems intelligent but not overly so and kind, while for now keeping his semi-mysterious background. Not really litrpg no blue screens yet, but there seems to be certain game-like elements, that for now have been explained rather well.

Grammatically it's very good, very few mistakes in the first six chapters which is very positive for me. Story is interesting and the world is still being explained and explored. Some key points like dungeons being more dangerous closer to cities because of magic expended is original, and seems promising for the future world building.

I suggest you give it a read :)

Tegid
Overall

The characters seem to be well build and the slice of life-type stuff feels very nice to me. The bits of worldbuilding are also delightful.
I'm liking it a lot, for now, but I'm also intrigued about the backstories of the characters, and what the serial will actually end up being about.

 

(Five stars, for now. There's only 9 chapters published).

antikangaroo
Overall

One of the best stories on the site.

It has interesting characters in an interesting setting and doesn't rely on endless blocks of stats or blue boxes to generate fake story progression.

All five protagonists are well written, no cardbooard cut-outs here. They have distinct and interesting personalities.
The grammar is perfect, and the style of writing works very well.
The story takes place in an interesting setting, a world that has dungeons and some game-like elements without all the stats etc.

The only mild criticism is that the story could move a bit faster - for comparison, at a comparable word count a printed paperback would have to have reached the climax of its plot arc. Here it looks like it only just being set up at chapter 30.

 

I would have made this an advanced review, but Im not up for padding the word count with BS jut to reach the stupid word count limit so here are the scores:

Style: 5 / 5
Grammar 5 / 5
Character 5 / 5
Stroy 4.5 / 5

 

Chris Roberts
Overall

A realistic fleshed out take on a D&D esque world

Reviewed at: Chapter 10 - Second Breakfast

This story manages to feel real in a way that few stories on this site do.  The world seems fleshed out and consistent, and characters motivations and personalities are diverse and interesting.  This story is manifestly not an endless slog of dungeons, this is a slice of life done well.

Chroma
Overall

This was supposed to be a slice of life

Reviewed at: Chapter 11 - Agates Among the Stones

Thus far the story does not deliver at all on the synopsis. If the synopsis had said that this would be a slightly gritty fantasy novel about dungeons with a little slice of life, then I would have no big complaints. It's well written, no major spelling or grammar mistakes, but it's not slice of life as the synopsis says it is. 

As of me reviewing the synopsis currently says: 

"This Used to be About Dungeons is a comfy slice-of-life adventuring story that occasionally features dungeons. Updates Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Mostly it's about walking in the woods with a friend, looking for mushrooms to put in your soup, or haggling with the guy selling squash, or taking care of a neglected garden. It's putting some jam on shortbread biscuits. And yes, sometimes you go down into the dungeons with your friends, and you kill monsters there, or disarm traps, but when you come out, you realize you've found the perfect magic item to give to one of the local kids that helped you out when your cat was sick. Look, the dungeons are always going to be there, and sometimes you need to make a journey to one of the Spirit Gates, or make a pilgrimage with the local Cleric of Symmetry to a holy shrine. Your tour through the local dungeons can wait. You'll have rivalries with other groups, and find some dungeon eggs that need to be carefully incubated in case they turn out to be something valuable, and help a friend to build a fishing weir. There's a big world out there, a mostly tame place with lots of magic, and even more to do and see. Join me, won't you?"

That synopsis does not represent the story thus far, or what it seems to be building into. The synopsis should say that it's a dungeon fantasy with occasional comfy slice of life.

Without getting too spoilery: Two characters continuously reference their home city, which is seemingly political war central (no way that becomes a plot point later), the main character is only focused on dungeons (more slice of life from other characters than the MC who seems like a soulless "must conquer dungeon" bot), extremely limited interaction with everyone but merchants they are selling their dungeon loot to. All of the world building thus far screams conflict, everything from the MCs background/

Betrayal by his former super party.

To the bard who has her own "ran away from thing parents wanted me to do" story. The world is built and explained in such a way to create mystery, same with the power system which will likely lead to even more not slice of life in the future. 

There are several other things I could list, but they all have the same conclusion. Not slice of life. 

To be perfectly clear, for someone who enjoys dungeon diving fantasy, this is probably a great story. But when you say it's a slice of life, and attract slice of life readers (like me) then it's not even close to slice of life: we get frustrated.

It could also be that I'm reviewing too early, the slice of life could come in later. But the plot gives no signs of slowing down, in fact, if anything it's speeding up with the party buying supplies for their next dungeon run. And even then it seems counterproductive to start a story as not slice of life, then transition to slice of life.

This was a bit disorganized as I'm on mobile currently, but overall I'm just disappointed. The synopsis describes something that sounds like a great slice of life, but the story does not deliver.

tmartel72
Overall

Look at the title - "this used to be about dungeons".  That is, in fact, an absolute perfect summary of this story. 

Started out with a decent dungeon. Had some pretty good things going for it. But now it's really just boring relationships and the author pontificating about their own viewpoints in life. It's really gone downhill at this point.

deathless.smile
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

If anyone here has read Hakumei to Mikochi, it reads like a dungeoncore version of the manga, with the rural idyll plus the daily bustle of people going about their lives. I actually think that the title is a very apt description of the story, wherein dungeoneering is an important element, but not the crux of the party's lives, which is absolutely enriching to say the least. I enjoy the depth to these characters, and the intricacy of the worldbuilding that lays itself out in tiny, detailed descriptions. No exposition here, and no flat adrenaline junkie action either, but a well-balanced interplay of the two. The grammar and syntax is flawless, and it's clear that Wales-sensei has devoted much thought to how they'll unpack the dense world they've created. It is a marvel to experience these characters going about with their own lives and motivations, and see the strange dungeon world they inhabit. It's actually also refreshing to see that the dungeon mechanics in this universe are extremely different from any I've read or seen before.

Try it out. It's a welcome break from the rest of Royalroad's dungeon stories. Well-constructed, with characters who are more than caricatures or stereotypes. Simply splendid.

 

itme123
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Very strong story, but not for everyone

Reviewed at: Chapter 48 - Dungeon Denizens

Very strong story which I currently greatly enjoy, but, as said in the title, this story may not be for everyone, so I think it may be helpful to start this review with a short explanation of what this is and is not.

 

First and foremost, this is a dungeon crawling story. However, crucially, it distinguishes itself from the competition because, while it is at its core a dungeon crawler, the very large majority of the actual content is a slice of life social story. That is to say, while the core of the story is the dungeon crawling, the vast majority of the word-count is dedicated to the events surrounding the dungeon crawling.

 

World-building: I think this is arguably the story's strongest point. This reads like an incredibly well-built world, where the author started with a few base ideas, and really worked through all the consequences and impacts of those few core concepts. We have yet to see everything the world has to offer, obviously, but what we have seen is intricate and extremely well put together. 5/5

Characters: As a social slice-of-life, the characters need to be interesting for the story to be strong. In this case, the characters all feel real, with their own worldviews, doubts, insecurities and motivations, and we get to see the various events that occur through a rotation of the main character's eyes each time, which gives more insight into the viewpoint character while slowly moving forwards. 5/5

Style and grammar: The grammar is nearly flawless, and I strongly enjoy the author's style, although style is always dependent upon the viewer, so ymmv. 5/5

Story: This section is the only one for which I am not giving full marks, not necessarily because the story is bad, but because, due to the genre of the story, we simply have not seen enough plot yet. The story is a slow burner, and although we do see consistent progress, it is still too early to say if this story will be taken to interesting plot points or not, although current writing suggests a yes. 4.5/5