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 and Thursdays.

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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Alexander Wales

Alexander Wales

Top List #50
Royal Writathon October 2022 winner
Word Count (20)
30 Review Upvotes
3rd Anniversary
Royal Writathon October 2021 winner
Fledgling Reviewer (I)
Table of Contents
166 Chapters
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
Chapter 53 - Siege Songs ago
Chapter 54 - Hatching ago
Chapter 55 - Carving a Path to Dondrian ago
Chapter 56 - The Family Vault ago
Chapter 57 - Street Food ago
Chapter 58 - Mixed Up Meals ago
Chapter 59 - Dressing ago
Chapter 60 - Opera ago
Chapter 61 - Concessions ago
Chapter 62 - A Night on the Town ago
Chapter 63 - Curation ago
Chapter 64 - Outside Help ago
Chapter 65 - Lonesome ago
Chapter 66 - Private Affairs ago
Chapter 67 - Resolve ago
Chapter 68 - Undone I ago
Chapter 69 - Undone II ago
Chapter 70 - Undone III ago
Chapter 71 - Hair of the Dog ago
Chapter 72 - Frink Fruit ago
Chapter 73 - Corridor Squeeze ago
Chapter 74 - Off Tempo ago
Chapter 75 - Constrained ago
Chapter 76 - Misgivings ago
Chapter 77 - The Day Of ago
Chapter 78 - Law and Order ago
Chapter 79 - Sleepover ago
Chapter 80 - The Sunken House ago
Chapter 81 - Beruchald's 6th ago
Chapter 82 - As Easy as Falling Down ago
Chapter 83 - Oeyr's Hand ago
Chapter 84 - The Spare Lute ago
Chapter 85 - Seeker ago
Chapter 86 - The Unexpected Past ago
Chapter 87 - Composition ago
Chapter 88 - Stewing ago
Chapter 89 - Theater of Mind ago
Chapter 90 - Cloister ago
Chapter 91 - Liferaft ago
Chapter 92 - Frank Discussion ago
Chapter 93 - Catching Up ago
Chapter 94 - Bridges ago
Chapter 95 - Thinking Outside the Box ago
Chapter 96 - Square Meals ago
Chapter 97 - Flight of Fancy ago
Chapter 98 - Deals ago
Chapter 99 - Moving Mountains ago
Chapter 100 - Universal Truths ago
Chapter 101 - The All-Seeing Eye ago
Chapter 102 - A Bowl of Tea ago
Chapter 103 - The Waiting Game ago
Chapter 104 - The Pucklechurch Gardening Club ago
Chapter 105 - The Summer Dungeon ago
Chapter 106 - Strange Moods ago
Chapter 107 - Testing ago
Chapter 108 - The Warehouse ago
Chapter 109 - Dung ago
Chapter 110 - Slop ago
Chapter 111 - Swift Death ago
Chapter 112 - Stones and Tones ago
Chapter 113 - Weird Pot ago
Chapter 114 - Plating ago
Chapter 115 - Autem Mort ago
Chapter 116 - Wedding Bells pt. 1 ago
Chapter 117 - Wedding Bells pt. 2 ago
Chapter 118 - That Sort of Thing ago
Chapter 119 - The Brave Knight Gave ago
Chapter 120 - The New Normal, pt 1 ago
Chapter 121 - The New Normal, pt 2 ago
Chapter 122 - Brief Bars ago
Chapter 123 - The Sea and the Breeze ago
Chapter 124 - Bulrushes ago
Chapter 125 - Putting Up ago
Chapter 126 - Dungeon Dreams ago
Chapter 127 - Dungeon Dreams II ago
Chapter 128 - Dungeon Dreams III ago
Chapter 129 - Dungeon Dreams IV ago
Chapter 130 - Commiseration/Celebration Brunch ago
Chapter 131 - A Herd of Children ago
Chapter 132 - Lutes ago
Chapter 133 - The Last Days I ago
Chapter 134 - The Last Days II ago
Chapter 135 - The Last Days III ago
Chapter 136 - The Last Days IV ago
Chapter 137 - Demi ago
Chapter 138 - Overguard ago
Chapter 139 - The Wildlands ago
Chapter 140 - Foundation ago
Chapter 141 - Ecology ago
Chapter 142 - Spies ago
Chapter 143 - Songs of the Past ago
Chapter 144 - An Interlude on the Island at the Edge of the World ago
Chapter 145 - Allies ago
Chapter 146 - Meetings ago
Chapter 147 - Making Moves ago
Chapter 148 - Bellies ago
Chapter 149 - Diplomat ago
Chapter 150 - Wild ago
Chapter 151 - The Rayedhcraft School ago
Chapter 152 - First Steps ago
Chapter 153 - Setting Records ago
Chapter 154 - Roads Go Ever On ago
Chapter 155 - Wanderings ago
Chapter 156 - Searching ago
Chapter 157 - Cool Cave ago
Chapter 158 - Performance ago
Chapter 159 - Finding Joy ago
Chapter 160 - Dungeon Wide and Dungeon Vast ago
Chapter 161 - The Empty Dungeon ago
Chapter 162 - False Starts ago
Chapter 163 - The Sermon ago
Chapter 164 - Collegiate Daydreams, pt. 1 ago
Chapter 165 - Collegiate Daydreams, pt. 2 ago
Chapter 166 - Collegiate Daydreams, pt. 3 ago

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One of the objectively best things on this site

Reviewed at: Chapter 78 - Law and Order

A young adventurer sets out to clear dungeons with four young women at his side... This Is probably the best story ever writen that begins like that, witch might not be a particulary high bar but nontheless. 

I like the writing style and It alone is enough to keep you reading but the story and worldbuilding are great to. Its a story about the characters and different chapters are from different perspectives. Its a Slice of life or maybe its an epic with a glacial pase.

I realy can't think of anything bad to say about it exept that there is sometimes a rare word I don't know but lerning them is good. 


Slice of Life Meets Fantasy Adventure Done Right

Reviewed at: Chapter 50 - Escape!

There are basically two stories here:

1. A strange world where everything is divided up into 12 mile wide hexagons (which are bestagons) with horrible magical semi-sapient(?) deathtraps in the center, filled with monsters and magical devices. 

2. A low fantasy slice of life about 5 people living and working together, discovering themselves and working through their problems. 

The main characters are all fantastically done, and each of them has a unique voice that adds significantly to the story, which is something that is rare in multiple viewpoint stories. 

A heavily suggested read.


The characters are goddamn interesting, I love them all. 

The world is really really interesting, and to every new word or notion or simple detail I just get more and more curious about it. The world building is quite natural, done from bit to bit or sometimes all at once.

Overall I just fell in love with the characters connections, they are 5 different persons that somehow actually work as a team and why and how they do is amazing.

Anyway if you like reading about different people with different personalities and lives uniting to go through dungeons or just move a heavy wardrobe from one place to another, give this story a go and you will really like it ! 

Thanks for writing mate ! Keep up your amazing work !!!


Don't be fooled by the title: This Used To Be About Dungeons is absolutely about dungeons. It's also... not about dungeons. You see, the focus isn't really the dungeons themselves -- they could be anything, really. Trials of the gods, a group project, building a home. The focus is the people, what makes a party tick, how you work together with your colleagues, and how you become friends. We follow our five point-of-view characters as they prepare for, delve into, make away with filthy loot, and then handle the logistics of selling said loot and preparing for more delves, and this whole process gets so much attention paid to it that it almost feels like other fics about dungeon delving are hollow in retrospect.

The characters are what this is all about, and unsurprisingly the author manages to create five (!) incredibly distinct voices and worldviews, five different upbringings and life experiences, and the complex relationships between all these different people. This, I believe, is what other reviews mean by 'slice of life' -- the fact that there's so much attention paid to people and relationships. I think that it's incredibly unique for any story on Royal Road to have such a polished and satisfying approach to character.

But that doesn't mean that the world is neglected. Characters constantly reveal tantalizing worldbuilding elements through natural conversation, ranging from the makeup of the entire world all the way down to the mundane like cooking and storing food. Dungeon's world is unique and like none other. It isn't a LitRPG, but it takes the best of that genre and discards everything that could be stale. Again, unique and satisfying.

This is almost an afternote, but the copyediting is impeccable as well.

I highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys fantasy of the dungeon-delving kind.


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).

Chris Roberts

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.


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.


The characters in Alexander Wales' stories come to life, jump off the page, and thrust themselves into the center of your attention. They have their virtues and their vices (which you'll come to love even more than their virtues) and quirks that make you sure that somewhere out there in the multiverse, these people actually exist and Wales is simply giving you a window into their beautiful country full of interesting people.


Whatever you call it, it’s definitely well written

Reviewed at: Chapter 34 - Woods Witch

I've seen a few reviews arguing for and against the "slice of life" tag. I don't see much of a point in arguing about definitions and labels (definitely not a follower of Qymmos, I'm not), so I'll ignore it in favor of just stating that it is definitely a competently written story, with nigh impeccable grammar and point out the things that may or may not appeal to SoL readers.

I've been reading and enjoying it since chapter one came out, but I waited until a good while longer before writing an advanced review so that I'd have a reasonable grasp on it before doing this. TUTBAD is not a story with some great goal that it's headed towards. Each of the characters have their own goals and motivations, but none of them is headed to defeat a big bad, save the world, retrieve a macguffin or anything of the sort. They're a party of dungeoneers clearing dungeons. That might give one the impression of an action adventure story, and in fact the dungeon chapters qualify as such, but as the title and the blurb clearly state, that's not the focus here. What the story is all about is the time in between, the interactions of these characters as they slowly go from complete strangers to friends. There's a whole lot of eating scenes and hikes, as they provide the backdrop for them to talk and reveal their personalities, each of which is quite unique and, just as you think you're getting the hang of them, still manages to surprise you in a way that makes perfect sense in retrospect. 

As far as worldbuildiing goes, the author doesn't disappoint, the setting feels quite unique, even as it is playing with the conventions of your typical fantasy world. 

And even in regards to the storyline, which is usually the weakest point of SoL-like novels, there's still some manner of conflict going on to keep things interesting, even if it's not the main focus. 


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