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
86 Chapters
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
Chapter 075 - A little village, home to those too strong to live in peace ago
Chapter 076 - We must obey the System, as long as it’s watching us ago
Chapter 077 - Sometimes volcanic monsters are a much simpler problem ago
Chapter 078 - What treasures lay in wait somewhere beneath the deep blue sea? ago
Chapter 079 - Long awaited answers to a question not yet asked ago
Chapter 80 - The gift of an old dungeon core forsaken by its age ago
Chapter 81 - The gods don’t seem to be as reliable anymore ago
Chapter 82 - The System has the whole situation under control ago
Chapter 83 - Sometimes the simplest of attacks produce the best results ago
Chapter 84 - The end of one great battle and a sign of something worse ago
Chapter 85 - Keeping faith despite learning the true meaning of 'lost' (End of Volume 1) ago

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F-rank Human

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 clichés 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. 


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. 


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. 


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.


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.

S.N. Keirstead

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.

Chaos Jester

Here I am again to do what I sometimes do

Something quick and easy, a five chapter review

But don't fret, as I know ripping off is tiring

I'll do the rest of the review without rhyming

I thimk a great takeaway from all of Eric's work is that it makes people attempt poems. And isn't that what bards are for? To inspire?

Everyone knows that this is a glorious undertaking. It is hard enough to rhyme without forcing yourself into specific formatting, but Eric knocks it out of the park.

Style. As said above, the formatting is amazing. I found myself double checking syllables and changing my cadencr to make sure it worked, and the author is an absolute master of the craft.

Grammer wise. I hate this section. I caught nothing grammatically wrong. Makes for an easy review.

Story wise, I want this to be a rock opera. A humble MC surrounded by heros with a system that seems to be purposely holding him back? It's perfect for any musical medium. I would see this play and listen to the OST on repeat. It gets a little repetitive on reminding us that Twig is unlucky or mediocre, but as I only read 5 chapters, I only assume it takes off.

Character score. You get to know Twig and the system and his family and friends completely. They all fit their roles, although in five chapters, you only get quick touches of them.

Overall, I get to once again move a fiction from read later to follow. This story will only get better from here, and I am here for it.


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 MC starts as an underdog tormented by the gods, but changes his fate through sheer persistence.  Although, as of this review, we’re not entirely sure his fate has changed for the better.  Cracks are appearing in The System of the world.  Monsters pour through portals.  And the MC has gained the unforgiving attention of ruling powers.  His only advantage is a good heart and the friends it has earned him.

You will immediately notice that the form is a little different than you might be used to – not the litRPG blue boxes, they are there in all their glory – but instead of paragraphs of prose, you will find stanzas of verse.  This can be disorienting, but I urge you, like Twig, to persist.  After just a few chapters the advantages of this form reveal themselves as you become fully engaged in the rhythms and rhymes of the world, the poetry weaving a grander, more detailed tapestry than prose is usually capable of because you have been co-opted into its creation. 

Don’t miss out on this experience!  If you’re finding it difficult to binge read, that’s okay.  Savor each chapter.  There are some striking lines and images for you to treasure.  Imagine actually remembering a story’s writing instead of just recalling a vague impression. 

The form is the first delight, but in addition there is also an intriguing story and delightful characters.  The world’s System is intricately layered with mysteries aplenty.  The characters, although brewed from fantasy stock, are memorable and fun.  There is action, drama and heartwarming moments.  Of course, any grammatical irregularities you might imagine should be dismissed as poetic license.

All in all, you should treat yourself to this unique experience, if only for the spectacle of snarky System messages written in verse :D