Members, attempt review by 09/27 for Challenge - Unbound Deathlord Series #1

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Spoiler :

If at any point you stop reading this fiction, cite why here:

Provide a brief impression of the blurb on the fiction page:

Provide a brief impression of just the first chapter (Or first 2-3 if they are extremely short):

If you reached the end willingly, what were unanswered issues do you recall:

If the story follows a main character, tell us what stood out about them:

What about this story feels stereotypical or trope filled to you:

What about the writing style did you enjoy? Provide specifics:

What about the writing style did you dislike? Provide specifics:

Were they any lines that amused you for any reason? Cite them below:

What about the setting bothered you? Be specific:

Tell us the most attractive thing about this story to you:

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RE: Members, attempt review by 09/27 for Challenge - Unbound Deathlord Series #1

First a big thank you to FrustratedEgo for keeping everything running. Yeah!

I have read the entire story up to today and it leaves me with a sense of frustration. The Main Character is described as killing his parents in the blurb and then it is teased about for over 20 chapters. You don't use the blurb as a background piece to supplement the story. It needs to be for the purpose of describing the story.

The next sore point is the MC's motivations. He comes across as a spoiled rich kid slash jock but I don't get any back ground on him. When the story is told in first person, I need more background to feel connected. Then it comes to his goals. The first goal is to go into the game and find a wife to have brain hurts from this. The author quickly dropped this and just made him a flirt. Then there is the thing about being one of the top people and getting a bonus if he doesn't die and stay in game. I still don't get why he is with this Resistance Movement except plot railroading.

If I worked it out, he heard about the Resistance from some random players. Went to a city to find the Resistance. Joined up for no apparent reward. I am confused at what started this in the first place. 

The next thing is the game system. I like it and hate it at the same time. It is well explained and makes sense to the story. Unfortunately he seems to power up too quickly and can just spam magic. You can deal with every situation in the same way, but it gets boring for the reader if there isn't something new each battle. Sure he plans around the monster's weaknesses, but it comes down to throwing more magic balls or morbs.

He is too strong. This story is developing Naruto Syndrome. This is the disease that infects stories, causing characters to rapidly power up too quickly. As an author if you run a slow story like this you can't super power the MC. With his advanced healing abilities, there is no consequence for injury. I think there were at least 5 times his health dropped below 10 in a combat situation. You can get away with that a couple of times, but you can't keep having the MC fight and win every single time in a situation like that. I also have no reference for the top level people. How strong is the MC really compared to everyone else? 

There is no reflection in the story. I mean the MC hears about how his actions caused a change in the entire game dynamics in regards to grappling and he never reflects on that. For a first person story, I would want at least a paragraph for something that monumental. Instead the author seemed to slide it in there as a 'surprise'.

The writing style is very well done. I counted about 1 grammar mistake every two chapters on average, which is really good looking at the release speed of the story. There are some minor formatting issues, but nothing that really takes away from the story. The author writes really well, the dialogue, setting, and characters are all great and carry the story despite the MC. The fight scenes are really well done.

I like the story, but it is only good not great. The author is trying to get too clever in terms of writing style and hide details that the MC knows. This is okay except for one key rule. ***You cannot hide background information in a first person story when it affects the MC's decisions in a plot critical manner and the MC knows this information.*** By breaking this rule the author took what could have been amazing and made it frustrating, doubly so when it is in the blurb. I really wanted to like the story too, which is why I read the whole thing. I would give a 3/5.

RE: Members, attempt review by 09/27 for Challenge - Unbound Deathlord Series #1

Finished reading Part One.

After reading the first part, I find myself half interested, half bored. The style of the author is very good, and it shows his skill in writing first person with a rather nice main character. His thoughts are easy to read, and the flow of narration is well done.

On the other hand, the action scenes and analysis of his use of magic and skills is a sure weakness of the story. I found myself skimming through them all, unable to keep myself interested in their use for very long. This is a weakness of many stories, not necessarily just this one. One of the reasons why magic user Main Characters are a rare breed.

The plot was fine for now. He's just advancing through the game, with most of the quests and hidden quests popping up through his actions. Whether his altruism stays till the end is questionable.

Action scenes are, again, the most questionable part. I find them lacking in any real sense of thrill. The MC's damage and subsequent dodges and impact to his health is all left to the whim of the author. I find that he should have died more than once, but manages to live despite my beliefs. Now that the reward has come up regarding him staying alive for a month to get stats, I find myself still not finding any interest in the fight scenes.

Too much self reflection when Magic comes up. What else can I say. I'd rather read him obscurely using magic than read him, step by step, learn to wield it. It's just boring.

RE: Members, attempt review by 09/27 for Challenge - Unbound Deathlord Series #1

Finished reading Part Two.

The first thing that I have to comment on is the lengthy, lengthy dialogue. I mean, it flows well, but it's so dense that I got bored. It was the equivalent of pages after pages of dialogue, with little action in between, which is not a very good style to keep up. Intermixing the dialogue with actions or events would be better. Other than that, the flow was well done and I could more or less tell the different characters.

Again, the use of magic knowledge and understanding continues to bore the heck out of the story.

The author did well to keep the perspective at the main character's perspective, except when action scenes pop up. For instance, I didn't like how the author showed the damage the main character's magic did and give such precise knowledge of how much magic resistance the opponent had against him. I forgot if his magic actually had a set damage, but the random "he has 60% resistance" was a mess.

Gold quickly becomes the main coinage used. Author has to remember several things about coins; there has to be some thought in the value. For instance, 8 gold coins somehow equals a leather equipment. With a system of gold equaling 100 silver or 10,000 bronze, it makes leather a very expensive item it seems, especially for such low quality items. The fur material to make the leather wouldn't be expensive, and the labor costs should only multiply the costs by a bit. To have it cost 8 gold coins... What the hell can you buy with bronze? A speck of dust? Half a speck of dust?

Blood and gore seems to not faze the main character. If this continues with that cheery disposition of his, I'd be on the side of believing he would have actually killed his parents. I mean, he ripped off the jaw of a spider queen...

I don't have any support for the portrayals of other players in the story. Other than their use of real life terms, they feel more like really dark people... Like, I'd imagine them acting out their roles in prison more than in a game...

RE: Members, attempt review by 09/27 for Challenge - Unbound Deathlord Series #1

Finished reading Part Three.

So it seems there is a set damage to all spells, with various things affecting the damage. Still annoying to read fights with such exact damage. It just isn't a fight that way.

Part three has an overall quest near the second half involving some Gabats (wolf headed bats?) and that was retardedly boring. It was basically a grind quest. Too much fighting and experimenting that made me bored, mostly because the interactions with new characters Dagger and Eternal slowly became less interesting.

For instance, Dagger is too into the military upbringing of hers. While it's a nice quirk I guess, it's kinda weird to see her being both formal in speech yet argumentative at the same time. Her quirk of obeying the MC's random commands are also odd, and him going along with her by roleplaying an officer is just cringe worthy.

Eternal is the weakest member, and the one who grows increasingly jealous of the MC's strength. He's also stupidly fanatic to his master, and his IQ is at an all time low. It's very creepy to see a player be so fanatic about being a slave, while ignoring the way other slaves are treated...

Slaves... urgh. I could have done without any knowledge of it. They were first introduced when the MC flashbacks to his time owning slaves... Yea, modern world slavery which made me sick. His cheerfulness with such a past just makes it all the more creepy, especially if I take that cheerfulness as a defense mechanism.

As for the slaves in game, needless to say it casts an even darker tone to the story, especially with the sex slaves. For a game that the MC said prided itself on not abusing the rights of players with harassment, it seems to not care about its NPCs much in that regard. At least the enslaved kinds.

The plot! Resistance seems to be playing a large role in the beginning, but once he got to the Vampire city, it was shoved to the side for a bit and the MC takes up the grind quest. Vampire interactions were... not that well done. I found the lich of the resistance to be the best side character in this part.

Dialogue flow. The Gabat kind's dialogue was probably the most well done, with him speaking in clipped phrases or sentences and even sometimes acting like a spoiled child when he shouts CHEATER at his opponents or when he is out-talked by the MC's simple arguments. 

That said, sometimes the dialogue interactions become a bit too long and dense, the same problem in the second part. This time, it causes the core of the dialogue to become messy, disjointed, and outright confusing. For example, when the MC argues with the First Lord about how he could take the chance to use the MC's mistake and solidify his status or something, which then moves on to him falsely acting as a slave and being subservient to the First Lord. Did I already say it was really weird for players to actually have the option of becoming a slave? Yea, it's weird.

The censor. Dear god, it's annoying. MC agrees.

Ted makes a reappearance... or at least her dialogue does. In contrast to the MC's dark surroundings, she seems to be more lively and is dealing with relationship problems.

Some low points in the story include the dark past of the MC. Did we need to have slaves in the real world? Made my stomach twist when he ordered a female slave to lick his feet. How young was he? Younger than 10? I dunno.

And also, if he's rich enough for slaves, then he's real rich IRL, no? Surprised he didn't go the Wallet Warrior route like Ted.

Ah, if you'd confused about the censor, the game replaces it with game world equivalents. Like, players become "Travelers" and such and such. Gets annoying fast.

RE: Members, attempt review by 09/27 for Challenge - Unbound Deathlord Series #1

If at any point you stop reading this fiction, cite why here:

I guess I'll stop at part Three. The reason would mainly have to do with my general distaste over the characters. They were most likely well done, but not to my tastes. Especially during the MC's flashbacks with the slave. While it did set his view on the game's version of slavery, that in itself was a problem. The entire slavery aspect of part Three turned me off.

Provide a brief impression of the blurb on the fiction page:

The first part focused greatly on his past, but we don't get to see much of that except a few glimpses in the beginning, a couple confusing lines throughout the first and second part, and a messed up flashback that made me queasy. At the very least, the story's past compared to the blurb was several times darker. I don't know whether he hyped up the MC by making his past more tragic, but it didn't work for me.

As for the second part, it's a fine in that it states that this story is a game. Pretty much it. Maybe some foreshadow of his adventures would help.

Cover was meh. Didn't make me want to really read it, but it fits the overall grey tone of the story.

Provide a brief impression of just the first chapter (Or first 2-3 if they are extremely short):

Sets up the MC's tone of voice for the story, which then gets crushed by part Three. The saleswoman was probably the only side character I can remember fondly, regardless of how agressivegood she was at her job. The game starts off with a very Elder Scrolls-ish kind of setting, but he meets and interacts with far more NPCs that were more of a hinder than a help to him. Also sets of the dark tone of the story there.

My complaints can all be found in the "Finished reading Part One" section.

If you reached the end willingly, what were unanswered issues do you recall:

Could he not have spent some money at the beginning? It seems that leveling is a complete horror, and reaching level 20 will take a long while. With how difficult he makes the events seem, I'd say him being some rich orphan could try and scrounge up a few bucks and equip himself like batman.

Gold doesn't work that way.

Setting in part One becomes obsolete by part Two. Setting in part Two becomes obsolete by part Three. Is this a set pattern? Switch in settings is fine, but it's rather noticeable and not a good aspect of the story, especially when done in so few chapters.

Does the slave fanatic player really not know he's the dumbest player in the world?

If the story follows a main character, tell us what stood out about them:

Not a very good main character. I just don't like him. What stood out? He likes magic way too much. He also sucks at arguing. That nice MC I thought of at the beginning turns meh by the end. Don't exactly know why. His optimism just doesn't fit with the dark setting that's being made I guess.

What about this story feels stereotypical or trope filled to you:

Not really. Haven't gone too deep into it for it to show such stuff.

What about the writing style did you enjoy? Provide specifics:

Good first person. Very good style the author has. Dialogue flow is well done, even if they are bunched up and crowded when displayed. The quest and notification boxes are well done, they didn't feel crappily made like in other stories.

What about the writing style did you dislike? Provide specifics:

Too much dialogue. Worst part of the interactions, other than the characters clashing.

MC sometimes thinks too much, and it shows in the dense text.

Lots and lots of magic study, which doesn't appeal to me. Maybe others will like it, but I skimmed over most of it.

Action scenes suffer from the really close detail. You can write a good action scene without giving soo much detail and information...

Were they any lines that amused you for any reason? Cite them below:

Eh, lines... no. Nothing pops into my head so there must be none.

What about the setting bothered you? Be specific:

Slaves in a fricken game, with players having the option of being a slave. Didn't need that. Turned me off from liking the story.

Tell us the most attractive thing about this story to you:

... Most attractive... How the MC keeps getting his HP reduced to less than 10, yet never seems to get hurt right after. The plot armor passively turning on then made me smile soo many times...

RE: Members, attempt review by 09/27 for Challenge - Unbound Deathlord Series #1

I'll do this as I did with the two other fics so far: this post will include initial thoughts on blurb + chapter 1.

Blurb + cover: Cover is vague enough that it doesn't really do much for the novel, but it does actually hold some semblance of interest. It isn't overly suggestive of the plot/setting/character, nor is it too vague. Overall, it is... there, I guess.
Blurb: It sounds like a prologue of sorts, which I would assume works in favour of the story. It doesn't actually point to anything the MC will be trying to achieve, but that doesn't seem like a negative point overall.

Chapter 1: Ohkay. Chapter One has essentially 5 different parts.
The story: The first part, an excerpt from a book/something, sets up the fictional characters in-game background/mythology, a nice touch to draw the reader in.
The barter: The first part is the intro to the MC actually buying the game. Relatively useless chit-chat that serves to set up a story as a VR, and the MC as a rich guy. Full of backstory no one will remember.
The dictator: The second is a dialogue between MC and his lawyer, who he treats more like an employee or a servant. The aforementioned manslaughter of his parents is present here, and the MC's initial goal (getting a wife and having a kid) is discovered. MC is presented as as a rich kid with "bad habits". I wonder how that turns out in VR?
The patient: A small part about the VR tech and its scientific properties. Flavor-wise, seems nice.
The prisoner: The main part of chapter one, and the introduction to the story.
I felt a bit like a 5 year old. The information dumping presented by the MC was a bit overbearing. Don't get me wrong, it was beautifully made, but it was a bit over the top for my tastes.
Action scenes were done appropriately well, the writing style flowing seamlessly throughout the chapter. The narrative is fluid and the grammar seemingly flawless.
Overall, the first chapter has only maybe one flaw, and that is the unsatisfying switch between the real world and game world MC. But I guess I am drawn in to read more. And that is enough for now.

RE: Members, attempt review by 09/27 for Challenge - Unbound Deathlord Series #1

Word count - a whopping 177976

Title, generally too long for me. I get the impression that different series will be on different posts but taht makes me bonkers.

It's part of the newly formed LitRPG Society and shows up everywhere on facebook.

The opening implies booze and games are major keys due to a trauma of killing his parents. No idea if this is actual strangulation or implied actions leading to 'accidental' death or if he took out a hit on them. Vagueness annoys me. 

Chapter 1, Prison, and I feel a trope coming on - I guess this is the book name since the chapter content talks about a race that means little to me. Positive aspect; there are no glaring errors. It's just not important content. No prison trope yet!

The formatting falls off a bit in chapter one. There are items that feel like internal exposition or deliberate thoughts but aren't italicised. The writer tucked in an info dump in the form of sales pitches. We've also learned there's no in game brothals. Clearly VR is not living up to it's full potential. 

Wait, this guy in the next really small chunk argues. 

Quote:The game would launch in a week, and it seemed eunuchs had created it. I mean, no brothels? C’mon!

Quote:“Yes.” He said tiredly.

"Yes," he said tiredly.

 I'm trying to get more...

RE: Members, attempt review by 09/27 for Challenge - Unbound Deathlord Series #1

I really don’t like the cover, or fiction name. Both bother me. While I don’t mind ‘gritty’ or ‘dark’ fictions this one comes off as pretentiously dark. Almost like vampires should be in a circle drinking from blood filled wine glasses while uttering snarky conversation about decades gone by. That’s not the type of dark this story implies. Is that weird to anyone else? (I know this is belated, I’ve been busy with a newborn!)
I don’t even like the story. Stuff that is dark to be dark just strikes me as dull. I’ve played on multiple factions in multiple stories and to this day on Star Wars The Old republic managed to make dark side feel dark. Why? Because the light side choices of Sith was to enslave everyone and their dog – whereas dark side involved making them murder each other for sport. Moral is enslavement = total good guy and that’s as good as the empire ever gets. Nothing else ‘evil race’ ever comes close to that. The whole idea is generally poorly done, everywhere.
Here’s some tentative stuff I plan on shoving into the review along with more scattered thoughts.
For the Reader:
The opening is perhaps the most jarring portion of this entire story. Once the main character escapes into virtual reality the plot essentially becomes ‘fantasy world survival’ through the eyes of a ‘dark’ race character. Real life plays little import for a good portion. This may appeal to a lot of people who don’t want real life interfering with the game mechanics and video game plot. As for our main character, the blurb is difficult to apply since his perception on the death of his parents and reality are muddled. Essentially the author takes a cynical, amoral, and sarcastic version of Bruce Wayne – dead parents, money, and anger issues – and shoves this figure into a virtual reality.
Readability is generally high for this fiction because common mistakes (numbers in text, repetitive word choice, sloppy conventions) are all nearly nonexistent. There are a few moments of conflicting personality drives. In one chapter the main character goes from being upset as the AI text messages insulting him, ignoring a nearly naked woman to look over said system notices, feeling awkward about touching a female because of rules, then wondering if he could have gotten there faster (when he’s getting distracted by text boxes). While this doesn’t tear down the story itself and the world being presented, it may disrupt reading flow for a moment.
That being said, the setting itself is where this story is really interesting. The story starts with a prisoner escape through the death lord dungeon – and along the way we get introduced to all sorts of figures.  The vampire encountered was funny and interesting. The other people’s attitudes spiced up this scene. The story setting feels like the most distinct part; more so than the main character’s own situation or personality. Items and skills gained in the virtual world are done through actual actions – which is often an easier to read premise for LitRPG then a character leveling as with a two handed blade then throwing points into lightning talent trees. The stat system is simplistic and explained as each item comes up – without choking the book with long winded text boxes.
For the Author:
The boxes usage is inconstant between system notices, stat explanations, and gear drops. Stuck with one or the other. Boxes can make the information pop a bit; however, consistency helps reduce reader strain plus helps keep them in the story without constantly needing to adapt to different presentations.
Consider altering or slightly adjusting the entire portion in the blurb about him killing his parents. It feels misleading and put a few reviewers off. Taking it out may help since we get an introduction to this in the first two chapters.
The entire opening arc is kind of weird for a ‘virtual reality MMO’. Personalized storylines that have impact later in the ‘book’ can be done well in games like Dragon Age 1, or something similar, however in an MMO it comes off as implausible. This doesn’t mean the story itself is wrong, but that the game mechanics aren’t really game like. It might be worth addressing this somehow during the opening to smooth out the whole immersion process. Multiple people have noted the story itself basically goes ‘Video Game, screw you you’re not my father, I’m throwing away reality, oh shit I’m in prison, I’ll just kill the guy guarding me’ – which isn’t bad for a story. It’s only awkward for an online multi-player game where one million people can’t possibly have unique opening storylines such as what the main character goes through.
Upgrades can come off as too easy to get. A lot of different abilities are tossed his way during the opening that feel negligible in terms of plot immediate plot (Antimage, Shadow). In the Antimage example he ignores the nearly naked woman in favor of looking over his gains and thinking about them – while in pain. There’s one point where he complains about the level of realism being absurd, after noting he neds to punch a ghoul in the face 22 times which costs him stamina (a few hours earlier). Hit point based combat runs counter to ‘realism’ when you can level and so on.
Anyway, this is as far as I got before the deadline. Something about the entire opening didn’t interest me. It wasn’t bad once I got into it – but I couldn’t complete a review of the remainder within the time limit.

Actually, this is a bit of a lie - I read up to chapter 28 before my phone ran out of battery - and the feedback above stopped at chapter 4.

While the 'vibe' of the story doesn't change - the characters themselves do grow more - stable? - as the book goes on. I still have major qualms about the main characters attitude - but some of the scenes set up are fun when you consider it a game. 

The 'parent company' does constantly seem to be updating the rules and closing loopholes - some of this may be pointed out by readers proving that it really is an alpha test. I kind of think the whole challenge mode thing is nonsense as well as him being able to break a game world. Something about it bothers the daylights out of me.

Chapter 28 puts us at like day 29.5 of the storyline itself. There's a few weird training time skips that are handled better than a lot of other fictions. At least none of it came away with a 'NEXT TIME ON DRAGON BALL Z' feeling.