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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Author
Alexander Wales

Alexander Wales

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Word Count (19)
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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
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

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hobohuhn
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Grammar is flawless.

Characterwise, this story really shines. Every Character has a personality, even shopkeeps are unique with their own motivations and backgrounds. In the main characters this is even more pronounced, there is some serious depth here.

For example we get a scene about how the characters eat in some detail, which sounds boring, but is written well enough and wrapped in the flow of story that it just fits.

I really like the style of the author, same with the last book. Usually I don't go for stories with multiple points of view, but again, here it just fits.

But the most important part which has no separate category is the worldbuilding. Easy 7/5. The world is interesting, there are no loose threads, simply a delight to discover.

The magic system is a breath of fresh air, taking a different approach to many of the " standard" classes like wizard, sorcerer, cleric etc. At the time of the review, we haven't been shown all of the classes, but I highly anticipate the novel quirks.

If you combine that with the fact that the chapters are long (!), you get a perfect story either to bingeread over several days or to cram into breaks in smaller chunks.

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.

JasonFantastico
Overall

The writing is pretty good, the characters all have thier own distinct personalities and the dungeons are interesting. The author's focus is obviously on everything but the dungeons, but I don't actually mind that.

What I do mind though is that we're treated to the exact same 5-6 conversations in almost every chapter. One character will mention that they're gay/bi in every chapter. The priest character will remind everyone that her order is known for being down with the gays, in every chapter, regardless of if it makes any sense or not. One character will mention that they're not too sure about the party leader in every chapter. Every time the party makes any casual plan, like 'we should come back here next week' one of the members will say they're not even sure they're going to be in the party next week. Any time they talk about doing a dungeon, a party member will say they're not sure they want to do anymore dungeons. 

I could go on but the point is that fifty percent of each chapter is made up of these filler statements that we've heard 40 times already. I have no idea why it is so monotonously repetitive but after awhile I just don't want to read it anymore. Any given chapter is fine but hearing the same stock conversations over and over is just too annoying for me to stick with it. 

I wish the writer would have a little faith in the audience to remember this stuff instead of beating us over the head with it at every opportunity. 

Magiker
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.

StinkyTheToadstool
Overall

This has the potential to be a very good story, even if the plot moves pretty slowly. But there's a reason the plot moves slowly. The story is more of a backdrop for the characters to talk about gender issues and who is sexually attracted to who. Seriously, it keeps coming up, over and over and over again, it never stops. It's clear at this point that this is the main thing the characters want to spend their time talking about, and the rest of the story is simply getting in the way of their gender/sexuality discussions.

Oh it didn't start up right away, but the farther into the story it gets, the more that stuff comes up. 3 chapters in a row, right now. They just can't drop it without coming right back, for NO DAMN REASON. It doesn't add any value to the story, it just takes up real estate on the page and slow everything down, because instead of things that make the story interesting or advance the plot, we get gender chat or who is sexually attracted to who.

It could all be cut out, 100% of it, and the story would be better off for it...but that would leave some chapters missing up to a third of their length, others just a paragraph or three. You might think I'm exaggerating, but it really adds NOTHING of value to the story and doesn't even flesh out the personalities of the characters talking about it. It's a complete waste of space and time.

Oh, and it's not tagged for it, either, or I wouldn't have read it. I want a story that has a plot and progress, not gender chat time.

hank
Overall

This book starts off well, a different dungeon system,  weird magics,  more about the people than the battle 

 

however the direction is going more and more sexual and I don't read that. It isn't enough to need sexual content warnings, but if don't read anything became of those warnings this won't be to your taste either .

mrasiteren1
Overall

First of all I must say, I loved the author's previous work: Worth the Candle. I think it's one of the best stories I read online. Well, except for the ending which I'm ambivalent on.

This story is quite different. While it also had the vast and deep world- building you might except, it doesn't really have a plot. Well, no more than "I want to get a good career" or "Will they, won't they" or other persanal dramas. I know that the author discloses it on the front page and I commend him for it, I still personally believe that a piece of literature should have more.

Writing is very good. The characters all have different and distinct personalities which I appreciate. Still, sometimes I still feel like their dialog feel the same. Maybe it's the style of the author and even this well meaning criticism is unwarranted. But I wanted to put it out there anyway. As I said, the characters have individuality. One characters is flippant and sometimes funny. Another is focused and prone to go on tangents. Yet another one is native and stoic. They do feel different.  But at the same time, they all speak as if they are on a debate team. It doesn't feel very naturally. To five an example, I think, Harry Potter, whatever issues it might have, pulls it of splendidly. The characters not only have unique traits but also their way of talking is feels distinct. 

As the author said, it is a slice of life story. While I'm not fond of the genre, I still binged it in two days. But toward the end, I am ashamed to admit I started skipping a bit. Because most of the stuff doesn't seem like it's terribly important. Maybe I felt a bit burnt-out and you might feel differently if you follow the release date. 

Actual dungeoneering takes very little screen time unfortunately. Maybe 4 chapters overall? Take it with a grain of salt. Most of is talking (about worldbuilding, food or interpersonal drama). 

I might have given it 3.5 but most of it comes down to my personal preference and for others this story might be a 5. I didn't want to give such a low score because of it, I also didn't want to not be true to myself by giving much higher than I personally felt it merited. So I'm going with 4.