LitRPG is a relatively new genre of prose fiction that was born from a different genre in a different realm of entertainment altogether. The term LitRPG, is you haven’t guessed by now, is short for “Literary Role-Playing Game.” No, it’s not necessarily a choose your own adventure or any kind of game. It’s actually a genre that centers around players in one of those Mass Multiplayer Role-Playing Games like World of Warcraft or Everquest. In fact, the genre really started gaining popularity with the rise of World of Warcraft, and the other MMORPGs that tried to compete.
To anime watchers, this particular genre might seem strangely familiar. That’s because the central idea of LitRPG has been portrayed in shows like Sword Art Online and the .Hack series. For you avid movie goers out there who can’t be bothered to watch that weird ‘ol animoo, Ready Player One is another great example of the kind of story you can expect when cracking into a LitRPG series.
But why did it gain so much popularity? I mean isn’t it like reading about someone doing their daily quests in World of Warcraft? How interesting could that be?
That’s the odd thing about the genre. Since it’s founded in the idea of having two worlds (the game world and the “real” world) it has certain freedoms that other genres don’t have. For example, you can set the story in a fantasy game and poke fun at stereotypical fantasy clichés while retaining the freedom to tell a serious or even a dark story. LitRPG is also a uniquely potent breeding ground for character studies and character focused narratives.
I mean, if you even glanced at the news back when World of Warcraft was dominating the market, you’d likely heard of at least one crazy story surrounding an MMORPG and the people who play them. You might have heard of the guy who died in an internet café or the couple who were so addicted that they let their baby die. And of course, you have the people who retreated from society and let their health turn to crap so they could spend more time online. (Now, it’s just called the internet.)
LitRPG stories can explore beautiful and interesting fantasy worlds while also exploring the people behind the level 99 elf wizard. What kind of person would spend this kind of time online? Are they always social recluses? What scenarios do people choose to take up an MMORPG? What about the guy who takes roleplaying way too far? What about guild drama? What about making friends and seeing that friend log off, not realizing that was the last time you’d ever hear from them?
The premise may sound silly and ripe for comedy centered stories, but I think this is a genre perfectly equipped for strong characters and powerful character moments.
If this genre sounds interesting to you, I looked up a few of the more popular LitRPG stories to help you get started (Independent Publishers Only):
Ian just wanted a job as a Quality Control tech for the biggest virtual reality game online. Instead, he met the woman of his dreams… who just happens to be a demoness from hell.
Ian starts off as a Level 1 Warlock, and after summoning a mischievous imp named Stig as his first servant, goes on a series of quests to win the ultimate prize: a sexy, smoldering succubus who will fulfill his every wish.
But Alaria has a mind of her own. When she’s not playfully seducing Ian and then driving him crazy, she’s plotting revenge against shadowy figures from her past.
Ian gets drawn into her plot, and the three of them – Warlock, succubus, and imp – go off on an adventure full of bloodlust, blood, and – well, lust.
WARNING: This is a story featuring naked women, lots of foreplay, hot sex, demons, warlocks, violence, revenge, and moral quandaries. If you’re an old granny lady who’s going to clutch your pearls every time a woman’s breasts are described or somebody gets naked, this book is not for you.
Dodge Tank: A LitRPG Novel
Ryan’s life sucks.
His brother is a jerk, his mom is sick, and his legs are next to useless thanks to a neurological disorder. Plus the world ended two centuries ago from nuclear war. Now, what’s left of humanity live below ground, with the only escape from reality being the massive VR world of Crystal Shards Online.
But even in the game, Ryan’s life sucks. Unable to play a combat class due to his condition, he works as a miner, earning barely enough to get by and not nearly enough to afford the operation that will save his mom’s life.
When Ryan discovers an item that grants the ability to dodge any attack, however, he has the chance to become one of the game world’s most elite and sought after players: a Dodge Tank.
But for someone who’s never played a combat class, success isn’t so easily had.
To save his mom, Ryan will have to overcome his disability and level his way to the top. But the real-world consequences are more far reaching than he ever could have imagined and the fate of not just his mother, but humanity itself, may be resting in his hands…
WARNING: Contains RPG mechanics, detailed party combat and giant boss fights. If these things do not interest you, then this is not the book for you!
After being betrayed and cursed by an extremely rare spell, Oren, a powerful and influential player, finds himself as a 1st level Goblin!
Without even a fraction of his previous power, he vows to pull through and have revenge on those who betrayed him.
His thorough knowledge of the game’s world and his unique ability to immerse himself entirely are his only advantages.
But first, he must figure out how to survive long enough playing what is basically a low-level fodder monster!
Roguelike: A LitRPG Novel
Alex enters a roguelike embedded inside the Tower of Gates VRMMORPG. If he makes it out by avoiding Yet Another Stupid Death, he’ll gain an epic magic item and rejoin his companions.
Was taking the chance and going into the roguelike his biggest mistake? Or will playing bring him even further riches and glory? Find out in this first supplement adventure in the Tower of Gates universe.
YASD! Aaargh! If you loved Rogue, Nethack, or any of the other procedurally generated RPGs, you should grab this book.
Dungeon Lord: The Wraith’s Haunt
Dark forces have extended Edward Wright an offer of incredible power at a terrible cost…
…and Edward has chosen to make them regret it.
When Edward is swept into the world of Ivalis as a Dungeon Lord, the Dark’s most powerful servant, he has no servitude in mind. He’ll oppose the evil plans of the Dark god Murmur, whatever it takes.
Through only his wits and his guts to help him survive a weakened arrival, Edward must rise to power if he is to earn the right to live another day.
But in the battle between Dark and Light, what can Edward choose if both sides are cruel, uncaring monsters?
Cold gods laugh in the distant world of Ivalis. Heroes chase after power and experience, while Kings send their armies to their deaths in the name of the Dark and the Light.
But no one expects the rise of the Dungeon Lord… And in the world of Ivalis, maybe a single man can forge his own path.