A Dearth of Choice (Dungeon Core)

A Dearth of Choice (Dungeon Core)

by Grim Tide

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity

A young dungeon core forms next to a lovely village, full of lovely people who would likely understand its plight of not wanting to murder them all if only it had a mouth with which to speak. Instead, everything goes horribly, terribly wrong.

Its literally a crystal, it can't be having a panic attack, can it?

This is the story about a village, a dungeon, its desire to provide light and laughter and life. It tries to choose the talents and perks to bolster its life-mana alignment every time, to further its cause. So how is it that it wound up with an undead army and some insane boosts to death-aligned mana? How did everything go so wrong?

[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]

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Grim Tide

Grim Tide

Top List #50
Word Count (8)
Royal Writathon April 2022 winner

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Crop Harvester

Needs more chapters! Refreshing and cozy story! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


An excellent Dungeon Core novel with a twist

Reviewed at: Chapter 8: Bloodied Silver

This is a very good book. The premise is that someone is reincarnated as a dungeon, and he kinda doesnt want to kill. So he tries to find a way to defend himself from being exploited, while at the same time giving the opportunity to everyone else to survive. Its a difficult balancing act, which is not made any easier considering that he accidentally got Necromancy as his main power, and everything he does kinda strenghtens that - he literally cannot afford to not use his necromancy.

The style is fitting, the only thing that might be improved are the POV changes. They are fairly clear however, and I only kinda want them as intermissions/interludes in different chapters. The issue with that is that this wouldnt really fit how the authors writes his (or her) chapters.

As I already mentioned, the story is excellent.

Grammar is great, no issues I have seen, at least.

Characters, well, its a dungeon core novel, so not the highest importance. Still, while currently the level of character development (for everyone) is fine, it also seems fairly static, even when drastic changes happen. This is definetly a point where improvement is possible.

All in all, an enjoyable read, which will hopefully get better as the book and the author develop.

The Captain of Hellsing

This story honestly feels like a breath of fresh air since it is about a dungeon that doesn't immediatly choice violence every chance it gets the characters feel real and I can really just understand the M.C. and his reasoning and so far the story is riveting and fun I cannot wait to see how it progress


This story is everything a Dungeon Core story should be. Not a Post Modern Dungeon Core story, not a subversion of the genre. It's just a good exploration of a wonderful niche trope and I adore it. 

Well written, well paced, good world building, interesting and diverse characters, I will happily drop in and watch this funky little dungeon grow as often as there is a new chapter for me to read. 

Very fun!

Roof Monster

This is a pretty good story of a dungeon core who appears near a backwater town. The starting 7 chapters have a good mix of building rooms and structures, developing minions and the dungeon core observing their quirks, interacting with villagers, and some invasion + defense, with some nice RPG and Sim elements as the dungeon makes plans to evolve it's two best monster types as well as interact with the villagers.

I really appreciate that there's an implied negotiation and level of uneasy alliance between dungeons and the people who delve them, and the dungeons are given the ability to write their own mods and conducts. I know the author says they designed this story with the write-a-thon in mind, but it seems like giving the dungeons the ability to write rules (and have adventueres try to clear the dungeons under those rules) will have some potentially interesting conflicts where both sides try to rules laywer what's written.

If there's an area that the story is still has room to grow, it's characters and relationships. As of yet, the core is the center of the show and most of his interactions are with his undead who rarely give him any feedback yet, and there's only a handful of human characters who've spoken to the dungeon, and only one that he can actually talk back to. Many of the minions are undead who can't really talk, but I feel like there's a promise that the various named minions, special groups of monsters, and townfolk involved in the story are going to continue to develop and start to interact, and I look forward to it.


Very enjoyable. Reminds me a lot of Blue Core (except without the sex) and There is no Epic Loot here, Only Puns (except less light-hearted).   Interesting twist on the dungeon core presence, characters that feel alive, and well-done world-building.  My only complaint is that is too short (at the moment, at least). I hope the author continues this story. 


Contains spoilers, though I don't consider anything in the story so far spoilable.


This story's description suggests it's about a dungeon trying to establish friendly relations with humanity and being undermined by the system giving them murderous tools. There are suggestions that this might be the direction things will go, but most of the text has been focused on some fairly shallow dungeon building. "Shallow" because it focuses more on stating what monsters go where and are directed to do rather than any exploration of systems, magic, rules, or specific advances within the dungeon. Abilities are either gifted arbitrarily by the system or purchased through some sort of level point system that we don't see or know the scope of, so only a token effort goes into developing or earning new abilities. The dungeon creatures are unintelligent with two exceptions who speak (a fact the protagonist is weirdly dismissive of) and offer no meaningful interaction, which wouldn't be a problem if humans in the story had a stronger presence.

So far it has been established that the world at large views dungeons as both a valuable source of resources and training that are necessary for sapient species to survive in a difficult world, but also essentially a hellmouth that must be controlled for fear of it destroying nearby civilization. Naturally, one of these opening up beneath your small, dying, literal backwoods town would be a big deal. At least a month after the dungeon's discovery all we know about the town's reaction is that they're ignoring it and letting their one old adventurer guy deal with it. Is there excitement over the potential to revitalize the town? Terror at the prospect of losing their home to the threat? We might never know. The protagonist for his part is aimlessly developing agriculture and crafting to trade with a society he apparently has no meaningful contact with or awareness of. 

He should be aware because of the only two other reals characters in the story at this point, his slave girl (we'll get to that) and the old-adventurer-guy are always available and can be communicated with. Given how long has passed in the story without mention of any kind of communication or information gathering, about the town over his head or otherwise, I have to assume it's simply not happening for whatever reason.


This story has two characters worth mentioning outside of the protagonist.

Protagonist: Protagonist doesn't have much personality. Kind of a generic good-guy type. Notably not emotionally invested in his creations, even the apparently sentient ones.

Old-adventurerer-guy: The town's protector and the source of information about the larger world. He's introduced in the first chapters where he exposits some information, then sort of fades into the background, continuing to visit the dungeon with young trainees but not contributing any useful information or dialogue for readers. He is still positioned as an important character, but just isn't acting as one. He doesn't have much personality.

Slave-girl: Everything about this character has been mishandled and poorly written.

After a man accidentally falls to his death in the dungeon we find out he had a fiance. She comes in and, unprompted, dumps a vague life story about having a curse and a secret that was discovered and used to coerce her into marriage to someone who who tortures and rapes her in a family that treats her as a slave. Then she offers to let the dungeon kill her for experience. The dungeon warns the old adventurer who does nothing because the family employs 10% of the town's population (40 people) making them too influential, which makes no sense because he's the most important person in the town as the last one who can keep it safe. So she returns to the parents of her dead fiance who berate, beat, and mustache-twirlingly taunt her about how they're going to rape her for sneaking out. Just as the raping is about to start the system offers to let her escape and be enslaved by the dungeon, which she accepts.

This is writing with the intent of strip mining sympathy from a reader. No nuance or interesting backstory, just pure puppy kicking. The degree to which she is abused is so irrational that it undermines any ability to take her character seriously going forward.

So having given herself into service to a dungeon there's a few interesting ways she could go. Will she represent the dungeon to the outside world? Be a spy to keep the dungeon aware of shifting sentiments? Will she become a combatant? Maybe her bitterness will lead her to antagonize the humans in ways that frustrates the protagonist and his efforts at coexistence? No, none of that. She becomes a background set piece that wanders around the dungeon, giggling at zombies, making happy noises while eating, and praying over the bodies of adventurers.

As a perk of selling herself into slavery to a cave dwelling crystal ball she is given access to an arbitrarily large portion of the dungeon's power, the freedom to come and go as she pleases, and the ability to grow stronger from the dungeon investing mana into her. After investing the cost of a minimum level minion into her growth she immediately gained some absurd sounding abilities that refer to final judgements and the infinite universal forces. Real end-game rpg stuff that feels silly here. Maybe if he invests two skeletons worth of mana into her she'll become a god herself and can cure her own curse.

Speaking of her mysterious curse, we don't know the specifics but it comes from a god and, conveniently and inexplicably, gives her the ability to feel the emotions of the dungeon (a feat only replicated by some random adventurers a few chapters later). He uses this to smother her with feelings of affection despite having just met, which causes her to let out, I kid you not, a single tear.

As a character for whom the world's rules and rationality bend to engender sympathy and empower, she meets my personal definition for an unadulterated Mary Sue.


Very good dungeon building story line

Reviewed at: Chapter 11: New Perspectives

Even though there aren't many chapters yet, the story is already interesting. The author changes between the dungeons thoughts and different narrators, resulting in a good ratio of dialouge and dungeon building as well as keeping the story "alive".

I have high hopes for this fiction and will continue to enjoy it


The book just keeps improving and makes you just want to keep reading. It's such a refreshing book to read and is really heartwarming. The story is built so well and understandable. At times it so funny do to the "system" and having to deal with wanting the dungeon to be life based and Sumplumented by death but it seems that it doesn't come easy. Not only that it ever show the struggles a dungeon core has to go through. 


Starts directionless and seemed like the author was pulling it out of their butt as they went along. After that however the story took a dramatically better turn and started feeling more solid. World seems defined, overarching plots are being laid out, character progression and growth is starting to form etc. I really hope that the earlier chapters dont hamstring the author as it's when they established their system and world rules.

Tldr: worth reading but first 10-15 chapters feel rough, author finds their voice after that.