Title: Dungeon Born (Chaos Seeds: Book 1 A LitRPG Saga)
Author: Dakota Krout
As with many gamelit / LitRPG series, it took me a couple times to get into this book. I understand having to introduce people to the system, but a lot of authors seem to be fans of a cryptic start. Still, the beginning premise was intriguing enough to continue.
The main character is a dungeon core. This is the first ‘dungeon’ type LitRPG I’ve read, and apparently there are multiple series where the main character is a dungeon. I’ve seen them on Royal Road too, just haven’t read any yet.
The main character is a human (?) consciousness/soul who is forced into becoming some kind of jewel by a necromancer. Much of the first part of the book is Cal figuring out exactly what he is, and how he can take in energy and make himself stronger so that he can create living beings, plants, and shape his terrain around him. As you can imagine, this is a great book for readers who like to experience a process of leveling up.
Cal’s guide is a Wisp, a fairy-like creature of light who bonds with him and teaches him (and us) about the system of magic they use. At first, Dani’s personality irritated me since this character seems to be based on a moody teenager, but as someone on the subReddit pointed out, Dani is a wisp, a fairy-like creature. Can’t blame her for being wisp-like.
The other main character is Dale, a basic human noob on the surface. Yet he is also a surprisingly tenacious and non-stupid adventurer. He starts off as a terribly low level, yet keeps being just powerful enough to survive Cal’s challenges, unlike other hapless dungeon-crawlers who end up becoming ‘food’ for Cal.
There are hints of a larger antagonist, but nothing too solid yet. This first book focuses on the magic system, Cal’s dungeon expansions and mob and trap creation, and Dale’s training. There are also some factions coming into play as a city starts forming around the dungeon, and Dale’s caught in the middle of politics between humans, the church, elves, and some other interested parties. (I’m currently on book 2, so I don’t remember exactly where the divide is.)
Magic system details: high.
50% of this book is explanation and demonstration of the Essence and Mana system. There is much, much discussion of what kind of Essence people, creatures, and dungeons can use (there are 6 types) and how to grow in power. Almost all the major characters are high-ranking ‘cultivators,’ who are on the path to power.
Mob and item creation: high.
At least in this first book, there aren’t that many fighting encounters. It’s more like a tower defense book, where the dungeon sets up his system to defend himself (mostly against Dale) with increasingly better mobs and traps. And drops better loot. Creating and enchanting the loot takes up 20% of the book.
This isn’t properly LitRPG, which seems to require the characters being trapped or transported into a literal game world. Instead, this is gamelike fantasy where the rules of the world include game elements (like the levels.)
Game aspects are the formal levels of Essence and Mana development, the dungeon and associated loot, and the many races and guilds that populate the world.
Sexism: A small amount, but it’s humorous and equal opportunity.
There is a very small amount of sexism, but far less than you’d find in the average Dragonlance book (what I started with.) In general, it’s intended to be humorous. While the dungeon and wisp are technically genderless since they aren’t human, Cal’s voice is male and Dani’s is female, and they are both fully-formed characters with personalities and independence.
Romance: None, so far.
Cal is a dungeon, and while he and Dani have a relationship, it’s not romantic and doesn’t look like it’s headed that way. Most of the female characters, though young-looking, are much older than Dale, who is a young and (sometimes comically) innocent man.
What I Especially Liked:
As the third LitRPG series I’ve read, this one has held my interest the most. Here are my favorite points:
- Though some people may find it excessive, I enjoy the detailed description of how the magic system works, for both the human and dungeon characters. It’s clear that the author put a lot of thought into it, and it feels unique, instead of something just based off a MMORPG. Not that there’s anything wrong with using a D&D based system or anything. I just like getting a fresh perspective on a logical process, not just ‘it’s magic!’
- I was truly entertained by Cal’s amoral, survival-based personality. The body count is high, but hey, a dungeon’s gotta eat. Dani sort of serves as a conscience, but not really. After all, a wisp’s gotta eat, too.
- The races, factions, and town planning. There’s a fair amount of city building in this book, though it’s woven into Dale’s everyday troubles.
- The humor. This book definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s highly entertaining.
This book is worth reading if you want to go in-depth into dungeon creation and a magic system. There is a plot, but this first book takes a lot of time showing the upgrades and leveling procedure for the main characters. I have already gone on to Book 2.
Perhaps it’s because this is the first ‘dungeon character’ book I’ve read, but it doesn’t seem to be as derivative as others. I know there are other dungeon stories on Royal Road, but it felt like I was reading something original.
Worth the $4.99 I paid? Yes.
I was kept entertained all the way through this long book and went on to Book 2, which seamlessly picks up where Book 1 ends. I’ll post a review of that one, too.