TWIG - The System Can't Save Me, But It Can't Stop Me Either [a gamelit-portal-fantasy-poem by eric river]

TWIG - The System Can't Save Me, But It Can't Stop Me Either [a gamelit-portal-fantasy-poem by eric river]

by eric_river

This is an experimental new type of fiction
It's a gamelit verse novel, a brand new concoction
Follow Twig as he rebels against his status screen
And learn why its messages are always cold and mean

Like my main work, "Hero's Song," its form follows a rule
every rhyme and syllable is taken from that school
see the prologue for a quick guide on this new format
this will be a first draft, so I hope you're fine with that

[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Prologue - A reader's guide and gods in thought ago
Chapter 001 - Achievements... I guess? ago
Chapter 002 - Friendship is its own reward (unless you're somebody else) ago
Chapter 003 - Status is determined by the gods, but mine is... ago
Chapter 004 - So my guardian deity values the life of a slime over mine?! ago
Chapter 005 - For most people, a portal is a window of opportunity... ago
Chapter 006 - If I die a hero, can we call it even? ago
Chapter 007 - Even other gods are wondering what's going on? ago
Chapter 008 - A bittersweet freedom... Wait, what is it now?! ago
Chapter 009 - A realm beyond realms and gods beyond the system? ago
Chapter 010 - Fast or slow, what's done is done, will they make it in time? ago
Chapter 011 - If this is what help from the gods looks like... ago
Chapter 012 - Did I cheat death or am I in for something even worse? ago
Chapter 013 - Oh, good morning, you would not believe the day I've had! ago
Chapter 014 - What's a System and why does it want to 'delete' me?! ago
Chapter 015 - I have to leave my home because of just one single word? ago
Chapter 016 - So even evil gods can bleed, I guess that's good to know... ago
Chapter 017 - It's nice to know that other gods would help me... if they could.... ago
Chapter 018 - This is definitely not a standard adventure... ago
Chapter 019 - Surely there aren't bugs out there with gods weirder than mine... ago
Chapter 020 - I don't know what I'm running to or from, but I'll run fast ago
Chapter 021 - A strong defense is more than just a number on a screen ago
Chapter 022 - You know, I've always heard them say that when it rains, it pours ago
Chapter 023 - What is the enemy of my enemy anyway? ago
Chapter 024 - You dare not say I'm picking on weak monsters anymore ago
Chapter 025 - Will I ever have the power that I want or need? ago
Chapter 026 - Maybe home is not always the safest place to be ago
Chapter 027 - Hopefully I don't catch too much attention today ago
Chapter 028 - Is this really what the life of heroes should be like... ago
Chapter 029 - It’s okay to slow down sometimes, but life will go on ago
Chapter 030 - Was the world always so full of things that want us dead? ago
Chapter 031 - I don’t think that rabbit would be too good in a stew ago
Chapter 032 - Portals aren’t so common that we need to worry yet ago
Chapter 033 - I thought only comedy and sneezes came in threes ago
Chapter 034 - Just a couple kids on an adventure, move along ago
Chapter 035 - When destiny itself has spoken but it won’t feel right ago
Chapter 036 - Even messengers need to watch what they say sometimes ago
Chapter 037 - Ever come across someone you shouldn’t have messed with? ago
Chapter 038 - How do you prepare for something that makes gods worry ago
Chapter 039 - Too late to ask questions but too early for goodnight? ago
Chapter 040 - Sometimes understanding problems only makes them worse ago
Chapter 041 - What fun is fighting monsters when there’s reading left to do ago
Chapter 042 - Perhaps at your discretion we may read a page or two ago
Chapter 043 - This must be the last thing that will ever surprise me... ago
Chapter 044 - Sometimes it’s nice to unwind and enjoy your hobbies ago
Chapter 045 - Whether I’m enjoying this or not is not the point ago
Chapter 046 - If only life were as simple as just running faster ago
Chapter 047 - Isn’t it the perfect day to take a pleasant nap? ago
Chapter 048 - Your title makes more sense after seeing the way you fight... ago
Chapter 049 - A joke is only really funny if everyone laughs ago
Chapter 050 - Funny how things change, but what is there a boy can do? ago
Chapter 051 - Was this all to get my hopes up, where does this joke end? ago
Chapter 052 - Don’t leave anything untried before you’ve even died ago
Chapter 053 - Even gods should avoid talking in the library ago
Chapter 054 - The dangers only libraries can offer a young mage ago
Chapter 055 - Just three random pages from a book of mysteries ago
Chapter 056 - There’s never a bad time for a refreshing cup of tea ago
Chapter 057 - Will there be a moment to recover and reflect? ago
Chapter 058 - Just one victory, one life to save, one lesson learned ago
Chapter 059 - It’s funny who you trust when you get desperate and alone ago
Chapter 060 - Going for a nice walk beneath the end of the world ago
Chapter 061 - The chaos of the world according to a small village ago
Chapter 062 - Even those who can’t fight fate can make a lot of noise ago
Chapter 063 - The Oceans hold their fair share of mysteries after all ago
Chapter 064 - So many research materials, so little time ago
Chapter 065 - History and mystery tend to go hand in hand ago
Chapter 066 - Something glowing in your heart that you don’t recognize ago
Chapter 067 - You can get to the core of an issue but be lost ago
Chapter 068 - Is there a satisfying answer anywhere out there? ago
Chapter 069 - The more questions that I ask, the less I feel I know ago
Chapter 070 - Fighting to belong in a new world of adventure 🐝 ago
Chapter 071 - The taste of something sweet and dreams of things not to repeat ago
Chapter 072 - Is there a place to rest where one need not fear an attack? ago
Chapter 073 - Safety in the last place one would ever want to go ago
Chapter 074 - The fine line between minding one’s own business and a war ago

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I swear I remember writing a review before for this. 

What happened, did a bug delete it, anyway, truth is,

This story is quite fun, I shall admit with pleasure.

It reads light, and with rhymes for good measure. 

Truly something of a rare breed on this site.

At least out of curiosity, I recommend to take a bite.

So far the story is without twists, its structure clear. 

But it's engaging anyway, to see what awaits in future near. 

Now to the story, I guess, I should steer this review

It would make writing this easy for me, this is true. 

The story follows a young little boy named Twig

In world where everyone else was blessed, he was weak

But fortunately, he had a good family, friends 

With their help, he didn't go off to deep ends. 

Through perseverance and grit he worked hard every day 

To spite his evil patron deity and not to just obey

His deity's evil will, to make him rot away

But things weren't all too sunny, ahead adventure lay. 

Anymore than this, I shall consider spoilers.

And I will write in vague terms to avoid them, not cutting corners. 

There's a lot of characters and they all have their quirks

And the people don't treat our underdog hero like jerks.

His family's nice, and indeed, they won't die (I hope)

So that's more clich├ęs off the shelves and out of stocks.

The hero is not single-minded, not dumb

Though, admittedly, he can take things too far and come to harm. 

And he has good friends that will have his back

It's heartwarming to read, though sometimes also sad

The author updates often, and clearly puts in effort

I doubt it will be dropped like many others of this sort

In conclusion, this deserves my recommendation

Well, I'd not write this review otherwise, without question.

Give it a try, I'm sure you won't hate it at least

But passing it by is a fun experience missed. 


This is my first review, so bear with me here.  While I admit that this story is just starting, I already can't put it down.  It's the story of a boy named Twig who is despised by the gods.  The fact that the story is told in a ballad sort of validifies the epic tale.  

Normally, I have a difficult time reading stories published in this manner, but I only had to read each line once to ascertain its meaning.  One of my favorite things about this story is the naming convention for the characters.  You got the main character Twig, and his three fellow kids Leaf, Pebble, and Sky.  I don't call them friends because they are not at this point in the story.

Every new chapter makes me anxious to see the point where Twig comes into his own, but he is still young and probably has many great lessons in humility to learn before he gains the ultimate class.

It's needless to say, but I am already in love with the story, so I gave that 5 stars.  The character names are very good.  The way they are described with a single strong point reminds me of video games where this genre gains its storytelling strength from.

I took half a point off for style and grammar here.  The style, while very good for what it is, still presents a minor challenge to flow when reading it.  My eyes just weren't designed to read this way.  It's not the author's fault but the fault of every other writer for not writing this way.  As for grammar, to make some of the syllables fit, the sentence structure had to be compromised.  I considered sending corrections for a line or two that felt out of place.

Overall, I can't wait until another chapter comes out for me to devour.  I encourage you to give it a read if you are into game-lit.  Don't let the format scare you off.


The story follows the titular Twig as he struggles to live without a system in a world of active gods who use it to grant their followers boons.

Every status message is a poem in the author's much practiced style. Every piece of dialogue a rhyme taking up at least two lines of its verse. Perfect for those of you who enjoy either poetry or LitRPGs.


I don't know what you are doing standing (sitting?) around here for. Read it, or at least try it, if you haven't already. But, if you insist on reading this review go right ahead. Btw it is completely spoiler free.


First, we've got Style:

I'm giving it five stars, and for an important reason. It's the most unique thing about this novel and it is very obvious. The entire thing is made in verse, with every line being part of a rhyme. To top it off, it doesn't just rhyme but follows a set pattern showcased on the first chapter. The authors dedication to their craft really astounds me. This is also a LitRPG, so expect stat tables.


Next up is Grammar:

I have taken half a star off on this category, because the author will have typos/the wrong word occasionally. But they don't distract from the story and are picked out be readers (cough, cough, me) fairly quickly. 

Moving on to Story:

Even with the limitations of writing a story in the form of a poem, the author is building a great story, with a great world to accompany it. It has a set narrative and seems to be going twards actual objective rather than just wasting words. All in all, five stars.

Lastly, Character:

The story mostly follows one characters perspective, but switches to others occasionally. These shifts are handled well in my opinion. Each character has an unique voice and clear goal (unless they arern't supposed to). With the way this story is written, it is very impressive how well the author manages to differentiate each character. Five stars.


I'm overall giving this story five stars, and it certainly deserves it. The way the author writes his stories and the sheer speed he can do it at is amazing. If you haven't already, give this story a shot. 


Never before I have seen a story (or I guess in this case, epic poem) that sets out everything it aims to do in the first chapter. 

It's a brilliantly crafted poem/parody that captures the essence of LitRPGs without being mean, condescending and forced. It's funny and in a wholesome way. Chapter 001 knocks it out of the park in getting the reader invested. Twig has a clear goal. His motiviation is perfectly described. And the way the world is presented makes it familiar, but in a way that works with the story. 

No reason for LitRPG fans to not add this to their reading list.


I thought to myself, fine, it's in verse

I'll read a chapter or two, give it a look

It can't after all be worse

Then this site's median, Sturgeon'd book

But lo, to my surprise

This book turned out great

My workday found its demise

Any more backlog, and I'd have stayed up late.


I can't play with words, so i just review normally, even though i really want to try

This story follow Twig, a boy who is practically cursed. In a world where everyone is blessed by a kind god, he's the only one that got a cruel one. Where other people gain a boon for doing things, his god gave him insult and discouragement for everything. Whatever he did, whether it be training himself or pushing his limit, it yielded nothing as his stats is determined by the god that oversee him. Yet he persist, undaunted by the cruel trick the god played on him to try and carve a name for himself in the world. But when something happened that turn reality on its head, threatened the world and made the gods panicked began with him, will he break or will he come out stronger like a metal out of a forge? Only time will tell.

For style i'm absolutely loving it. A poetic telling of an epic story that is pleasing to read every step of the way? What's not to love.

The story intrigued me. From the beginning it laid a very basic question. What is the system? Who is the god that is playing prank on him? As for the answers, let it be unravelled in Twig's journey following his destiny.

Grammar i have no problem. I can read everything pretty clearly so i wom't complain.

And the characters is great. From Twig himself to his friends and the people around him, they each have a story to tell and i cannot wait for it to be told in this collection of epics.

All in all, it's a great book. If you like a story of an underdog doing his best and are looking for a fresh format, do give it a try. Chapter is pretty short but the update is quick, and with this style i actually enjoy that more.

On chaptee 44 and things are starting to pick up, and i'm sure i will follow it all the way to the end.


Once again eric_river is singing his minstrel's song,
The bard of the tavern who's epic tales stretch long!
This new tale of his is not just a trick,
His telling has me invested in the story of Twig!


The style of blue boxes, stats, only heighten the mood,
the telling in song really gets in the groove! 
Already I can see the loaded meanings,
there is depth beneath words that are bright and gleaming! 


The story might be still in its infancy, 
But it already sings out: "listen to me!"
"Let me tell you a tale of a boy overcoming the odds,
a spinster of a god who likes to prod."


The main character of Twig is the underdog,
A character of worth who had enough of the flog.
He has inner strength and the power to say,
'If you aren't going to help me then I'll do it my OWN way!'


There is nothing at all to say of grammar in this way,
As we know that verse and song has stylistic choice at play.


Overall, at this point I only see gold,
this tale right now is shaping up to behold.
Even early on there is great merit to submit,
You really should sit down and partake in it!


Damn, that was hard. This tale is loaded with style and eric_river's well defined approach for telling the moral tales of old in the form of song. The story of Twig is no slouch, straight out of the gate its right into it with subtle messages and challenges for the well-crafted main character to overcome. The use of gamelit elements and portal fantasy are being implemented in such a way that they heighten the elements of the song in sometimes mischevious ways!

Its a 5 star from me, the quality is apparent from the start, and I can't wait to see Twig grow to a Tree! 

At Chapter 28 now, and it is only getting better and better!


There are some typos i will not lie and some words that look out of place all the while. 

I still do highly recommend this truly interesting blend.

The work you see right here, does well enough to deserve some cheer.

It might not be what you came here for, but take a look right through the door.

What awaits you is nought but exciting, reading it is like being struck by lightning.


The author's dedication to meter and rhyming

Is really quite good and the story's sublime.

The problems are pacing and character depth

When you have to look past the poem to see why they wept.

It takes dedication to write all these chapters


screw it. 


The author's skill and dedication is beyond question, but it's hard to appreciate the story underneath the rigid poetic framework. If what you're looking for is a poem, you've got it. If you're looking for a story, it's there, but this isn't easy reading. You've got to sink into the flow of the poem and appreciate the experience on its terms. This isn't popcorn reading, for all that it's written on a theme notorious for its low demands on the reader. Regardless, it's technically very good, with a single typo for narrative effect.

I won't say you'll like it, but I will absolutely say it's worth reading. Check it out.