The Ascent: A Kingdom-Builder/Military History Survival LitRPG

The Ascent: A Kingdom-Builder/Military History Survival LitRPG

by Strif3

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Traumatising content

As the sun set on the African wilderness, Mandla didn't realise it was the last time he'd ever gaze upon a familiar world.

At a party with his best friend, Kaveh, the System descends upon Earth and everything changes. The two boys enter the Bloodline Ascent, a strange parallel progression method offered innocuously alongside the normal Classes, that seems to have some connection to human history.

They didn't know what they were getting into.

Now, wielding a power they barely understand, with allies they can barely trust, they must battle evolved beasts, true monsters and Ascendants just like them to reach the peak and claim the ultimate prize.

Updates new chapter every Monday and Friday (2.5 - 3.5k words, sometimes more)

Cover art by: Sininenblue (who is open for commission)

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I really enjoyed what I've seen of this story. My initial review got taken down, and I'm not quite sure why, but I'm going to be a bit vaguer just in case it was something spoiler-related.

One of the main things I liked about this story was the choice of setting. There are quite a lot of LitRPGs with a vaguely European bent, so you see a lot of wizards and knights facing off against wolves and bears. Setting the story in Africa opens up a wide range of possibilities, infusing the narrative with an almost safari-like quality as the protagonists face off against enhanced, deadlier versions of creatures found in the African wilderness.

Specifically because it's South Africa as well, the colonial legacy of that country also gives the author a lot of options in the choices of his protagonists, and they have so far used those options to excellent effect. 

So far, there isn't a huge departure from the typical tropes of the LitRPG genre, but the writing is competent, characters in the setting have narrative tension between them and aren't all there just to make the protagonist look good by comparison, action scenes pop nicely with descriptive language, and overall I find myself quite enjoying it.

I do wish there was a little bit more 'crunch' in how the main character approaches the system and how it works, as of the current chapter there hasn't been a lot of in-depth exploration as to how exactly the whole system works, but there's plenty of time for that to develop later.

Looking forward to future developments!


A LitRpg with a good premise, location and detailed weaponry. Give it a try, you'll know if you like it by Chapter 4.


What do you get when you mix lots of food, alcohol, people and privacy? A good party or a terrible start to an apocalypse. This fiction starts off strong with interesting weapons and different classes based on character origins.


One factor I feel holds the story back is the treatment of the protagonists friends who didn't get combat classes and a feud that I feel escalates very quickly without much antagonism.

Arthur Inverse

This story is quickly becoming a new dirty pleasure for me. It is well written and has very real and relatable characters. The way that Mandla teases his friend Kaveh who is obviously head over heels for a girl who will never give him the time of day, is something I think we can all relate to.

The take on the litrpg elements is a great refreshing change from the norm. It is deeply seeded in historical reference from South Africa if I'm not mistaken, and I have had to google more than a few things but it only adds to the enjoyability of learning the framework of the story. The entirely expansive class system that seems to be unfolding in the story is a joy to read.

Style- It's smooth and easily to follow, no complaints there.

Grammar - There's nothing I could say, it's far better than my own, and if anything is pointed out it is fixed right away.

Story - As I've said it's a great take on this type of system genre where most of everything is derived from SA culture if i'm not mistaken. Almost giving me new eyes on the genre itself.

Character - The main character is very relateable as I've said. Even his interactions with friends are very in line with things you would expect a person in his position, and you would do I believe. And that's the great part, the characters are believable!

Overall the way the story is written, the grammer, and pacing are all wonderful. This is a story to watch out for because it's going places.


I am not a LitRPG person, infact it is a gerne I usually avoid not because it's bad but because I never really found it an interesting concept. 

Yet nothing could prepare me for the work of art this was. I might be biased cause I'm black but thos story is great in its own right.

From the style to the characters, everything gets high marks and I can tell the writer has a lot to offer us by how diverse the premise is from the usual LitRPG stories I've pulled myself through.

This one feels fresh and I'm happy to say that because I really get to see African characters really potraryed in these kinds of works.

The inclusion of historical events is also something new I stumbled upon and this gives the story a real-er vibe to things and grounds it to reality, making you feel like these characters are actually losing themselves to a new world that they don't understand.

In respect to the characters, they're all well written, there seem to be tropes but they're not done badly and have the writer's uniqueness shining through. I feel the urge to get invested in their stories and I urge the writer to build them up more in future chapters as the characters are just as important as the plot.

The plot of the story is well paced considering how far I've read and I have no problems with it.

Overall, I enjoyed reading it and look forward to coming back for more once my schedule frees up. Give this story a try if your interested in different perspective on on your usual niche.

You won't be disappointed.


A South African LitRPG With a Hunger Games-y Twist

Reviewed at: Chapter 5 - Not That Easy

The characters of The Ascent come alive from the first page. They are three dimensional and varied - with their own motivations and relationships to each other. I immediately have found myself rooting for some over others, but am fascinated by all of them. 

The setting in South African jungle is also refreshing and interesting, not to mention beautifully described. Both the dialogue and the description are both equally pleasurable to read, which is a rare thing to come across.

The System immediately reminded me of a twist on the Hunger Games, with Legends competing to be the best in the ranking. Of course, these similarities are superficial, and I'm not far along enough to know who put the system there, or to what end, but it is the feeling it gives me. There is also the interesting geographical / historical tie-in with the bloodlines, which is really intriuging - read this if you like learning a bit about historical fighting styles and weapons.

Best of all, this system - which is different from your usual fantasy-fare, is introduced in a non-overwhelming way, which I really appreciated. When people go for an unconventional class system I often find there are too many terms to immediately memorize and it throws off my immersion. That is not the case here! Even with the extra burden of geographical and historical terms, I found it an easy read. This is especially helped by the images the author supplies. 

Grammar and style are superb. It's a joy to read - although a bit dark and gory in description (which can be a perk for many!) I really reccomend you give it a try.

Max Lake Enix

Reviewed on Chapter 5 - Not That Easy

There are couple things about this story that bring it right up to the top for me. The first is characerization: Our protagonists are dynamic, smart, likeable, and most importantly, they have conflict brewing bewtween them that is both separate from and interrelated to the LitRPG elements of the story. The next excellent quality is the immersion. This is accomplished through sharp dialogue, detailed description, and silky smooth action sequences. It's a joy to read, and I found myself plummeting down the page and clicking NEXT before I even realized what I was doing. I stopped to write this review, but will continue reading immediately after.

Style: The only reason this isn't getting a full five stars is because blue boxes hurt my eyes. I'll take bold text or whatever any day of the week, but the blue is killer.

Story: So far the story is great. The first chapter sets up our characters nicely, planting a few seeds for future interpersonal conflict. There's excitement even before the system is introduced, but once it is, nothing about the prior excitement is dilluted. Rather it compounds. We get some truly harrowing action sequences early on, with the promise of more to come.

Grammar: Pretty much perfect. I'm so conditioned to encountering rough grammar on RR that when I find stories well-written, it's a delight.

Character: I pretty much said it al above. What's especially refreshing is that the character are smart. It's a simple plot device to write dumb characters who take forever to figure things out; this eases the expansion of conflict and makes it easier for the author to raise the stakes. But in this case, the author has taken no shortcuts. It's clear that our characters are going to make good decisions, which will, presumably, lead to more complex challenges. Also mentioned above, the subtle but present interpersonal conflict is brewing right from the get go, and I'm very curious to see how it all plays out.

Hope this story gets some more attention. It's definitely a stand-out.


Apocalyptic System LitRPG (Gone Wild)

Reviewed at: Chapter 14 - Counterstrokes

This story is a great find, and I was very impressed by it. I found it while poking around the forums, and do have to say that I was lied to, because I was given to understand that the main character would literally be climbing a ladder. If this was your experience, I am sorry to spoil it, but I am 14 chapters in and still no climbing of actual ladders (although they did climb some ropes).

With that out of the way, it's a great story! The 'ladder' that I was ranting at above is more about 'Rungs' on an apocalyptic system. One of my big requirements for LitRPGs is that the World System should actually matter, and have some purpose or reason, rather than just being an arbitrary 'numbers-go-up' device. While we haven't found out much about the Ascent or its reason for existing, so far it definitely seems to fit the bill.

Getting into the categories:

5/5 - Extremely unique World System, nice progression and character dynamics

So far, it's been pretty great. Since the story is following a group, there's a lot going on with power dynamics and kingdom-building, along with some progression, but the big place that this shines is in the worldbuilding (literally) of the Ascent itself.

Rather than arbitrarily plunging our heroes into a fantasy world, or making tropy monsters appear, the main enemies are mutated versions of actual animals endemic to the area. The classes and powers derive from historical warriors. The environment itself has been altered to become far more dangerous and extreme. Each encounter with a new creature, each foray into a new area, and each new ability is a delight to the sense.

4.5/5 - The prose flows well, the structure of events is well organized, and the use of historic and cultural terminology adds a nice touch, even if it can sometimes interrupt the flow.

The style works quite well, and part of the Ascent's whole deal is that it seems to draw on history, so expect to see a lot of specific weapon names, and a few other terms. This is usually pretty straight-forward, especially since you could just pretend they're fantasy names (they aren't, they are real weapons) and it'd be effectively the same.

It does cause a few stumbles however, especially during one particular flashback/interlude, in which a glossary at the start is used, but the new words are not easily explained in the context, making you stop reading and go back to the glossary to see what that word meant again. 

4.5/5: It's pretty well gramm'd.

There are a few occassional typos, an odd missing word or two, and a sprinkling of strangely-worded sentences, but it's at the level that you probably won't notice it when you're reading. If you're going through it with a fine-toothed comb or are doing editing work, you'll probably catch them, but so far I've only encountered one that actually interrupted my reading.

4/5 - A few nuanced characters, a few characters with a bit of depth, and a lot of Sir Also Appearings.

The characters are not poorly written, especially compared to some of the other works I've seen, but are probably one of the weaker aspects of the story, unfortunately. Don't take this as damning, though, because the rest of the story is very very good, so these are comparatively not that bad.

The main character is fairly well written and nuanced, and his friend Kaveh also has a fair amount of nuance and depth, while the two deuteragonists of Karl and Nicola have a few facets, but are slightly less nuanced.

Most of the other characters are background, with a few having the luxury of having names or a character trait to spare. However, the story is only 14 chapters in, so I expect this will likely change eventually.

I would have given characters a 3/5, because some of the self-described "experienced political wheelers and dealers" make some really heavy-handed and poorly-maneuvered political plays, but I am tentatively giving it a 4, because I suspect there may be more going at play that might explain their behavior later.

All in all, it's definitely worth a read!


A Typical LitRPG set in a very promising setting

Reviewed at: Chapter 14 - Counterstrokes

Edit: I've followed farther along and have updated my score to reflect the increase in quality and the unexpected turn the story has taken. It deviated from the standard LitRPG tropes by focusing on this Kingdom Builder aspect of its internal progression system and the politicking therein. I like this a lot. The characters are being fleshed out as a result of this internal dramatic stakes and the themes the story is exploring is expanded upon by the human vs human dynamic.

My initial review got chewed up by the system and spat out. Overall, I think that this fledgling author has the chops to write their story in a compelling way. Their material is immersive with the inclusion of numerous South African verbiage that I can contextualize even without being from the region myself.

The dangers that our main characters will need to face also show promise, being atypical creatures like hyenas and meerkats that lend as refreshing problems as opposed to the bogstandard goblin or orc.

In a lot of ways, the issues I have with the story stems from my issues with the genre as a whole, which is a vague goal for power that people wish to achieve and a general goal of surviving against the apocalypse. The story simply lacks grounded stakes to the situation, even moreso considering that their strength is supercharged by their demi-god status compared to the classless background fodder maimed in the early chapters.

The ominous discussion of power demanding sacrifice is a mystery that promises to raise the stakes in a novel way and I hope that the author delivers on that promise. The sacrifice element also promises me that the story won't devolve into a power fantasy for the main character, or at least that's my hope.

The ascension premise when moving from one rank to another certainly shakes the formula up in a way that not only fleshes out a characters class origin but how that class origin relates to the character in an interpersonal way.

It's only in the last chapter that we've started to veer away from the archetypical character molds into something more granular and I am excited to see similar treatments done to the ensemble cast that the author is attempting to build.

I want to see the author grow into their story and I want to be surprised by what the setting has in store. Clearly they care about the material and it's shown with each passage they write and each picture blurb they attach to the post story section to help readers visualize the weaponry discussed in the story.

Read this if you like LitRPG's and want something atypical from the generic fare.

You won't be disappointed.


Original LitRPG (God i love this)

Reviewed at: Chapter 12 - Three Blind Mice

A breath of fresh air. Do you know how long I've waited? For something like this to come into my life and fill the empty void that usually only subpar LitRPGs and trash xianxias take up? I have waited for years. Years. And now, finally, the wait is over. 

Finally, there is a LitRPG that does not have the same plot or cookie-cutter system, the same Eurocentric or Cultivation World Heavily Based On Ancient China setting, but instead has a whole new culture (by "new" I mean not shown in LitRPGs at all), a whole new system, and characters that are not just extremely dramatized manga tropes. 

Reading this story feels like eating a good meal after years of only eating junky fast food; feels like opening your eyes to a sunlit meadow or a beautiful painting after decades of not being able to see. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself, of course. 

The characters, first of all; the characters that are so wonderfully relatable. So nicely rounded, and so sensible in their actions (even though I do admit that it doesn't seem fitting for a group of teens). They are not just 2d mirrors for the mc to reflect on. They are their own people. It's so refreshing to see. 

And then goes on to the style. The perfect combination of dialogue, action, and prose. If the balance of the style was to be depicted in some sort of symbol, I would say it would be an equilateral triangle, since all of the components are satisfyingly equal. I find myself sinking into it, and before I knew it, I was already at chapter 12. 

The story. A world of opportunity, and the author does take these opportunities. The anxieties, worries, and conflicts of the teenagers are depicted well. Not just anyone can pull off the attitudes of normal people thrust into an apocalyptic setting so easily, nor so accurately too. I admit the system layout does seem a bit too technical, but I like to believe that's the charm of it. After all, I have been waiting for a system that doesn't just make the MC more op, and that's what's been given to me. 

Grammar, which is wonderful. I always have nothing to say about the grammar when it's good. When it's done well, it's done well. 

Overall, I highly recommend you to read it if you're tired of gorging yourself on the guilty pleasure that is the typical overdone LitRPG. But hey, if you really wanna keep eating junk food, keep eating junk food. As soon as I read this story, I knew I found myself a fulfilling meal. 


A Unique and Exciting Take on a LitRPG Apocalypse

Reviewed at: Chapter 4 - A Laughing Matter

This story is a refreshingly new take on the LitRPG apocalypse genre. It's set in South Africa—something rare in itself—and features interesting classes and terrifying creatures. The action starts early on and doesn't let up once it gets going.

Style  - The story is impeccably written, with snappy dialogue, and a good flow to it. This makes it easy to read and the chapters just fly by. The only problem I had was that there's several terms from South Africa that I didn't recognize in the first few chapters. But its becomes less of a problem after Chapter 2.

Grammar - The grammar is incredibly solid, and aside from a handful of typos which don't detract from the story, there's nothing to mention here. 

Story - The story is definitely the highlight here, and the desperate situation the protagonist and his friends find themselves in makes you want to read further. And the system seems to have a lot of unique twists and nteresting aspects to it. I've only reached chapter 4 so far, but I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Character - The characters are well developed and you get to know the protagonist quite well in the first few chapters. And eveyrone else is well fleshed out, which is a nice change from most LitRPG. There also seems to be some setup for conflict later on, and I find myself caring about what happens to the characters.