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WIP Delve by SenescentSoul - T - Original

Discussion in 'Almost Recommended' started by Ched, Mar 21, 2021.

  1. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
    Title: Delve
    Author: SenescentSoul
    Rating: T
    Genre: LitRPG - Original Fiction
    Status: WIP
    Library Category: Original
    Pairings: No romance focus, though a handful of relationships are popping up as the story progresses.
    Link: https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/25225/delve
    Delve is an isekai litrpg that follows an average guy who just happened to wake up in a forest one day. He wasn’t summoned to defeat the demon lord or to save the world or anything like that, at least as far as he can tell. The only creature there to greet him was a regular old squirrel.

    Soon enough, he meets other people, only to discover that he can’t speak the language, and that not everybody immediately trusts random pajama-wearing strangers they met in the middle of the wilderness. Things generally go downhill from there, at least until the blue boxes start appearing.

    Delve is a story about finding your way in a new, strange, and dangerous world. It’s about avoiding death, figuring out what the heck is going on, and trying to make some friends along the way. It’s not about getting home, so much as finding a new one.

    Did I mention that there will be math?

    == == == ==

    I like this one a lot. It's not as epic in scope as something like Randidly Ghosthound but I think it's better written. I can't decide which I find more engaging. I personally like it a lot more than Seaborn.

    Like both of the above mentioned, this is one of those LitRPG where the characters all get status screens and pay attention to their six stats, their skills, choosing how to 'build' their abilities, etc. The main character goes straight for building himself into a useful support, which is a bit refreshing.

    It's a fantasy world, so monsters and low tech levels for the most part.

    I give it either 4 or 4.5/5 personally, and will be donating via Patreon (which I do rarely). It hits a lot of things that I like in stories. Very little focus on romance. Decent main character. Friendships are important to build, but you can't trust everyone. Lots of standard fantasy and LitRPG tropes but none that felt 'old' to me personally.

    The math is a little excessive at times. It's not hard math, and it's relevant to the character, but there's no need to walk us through his thought process to the extent that the story sometimes does. I have a possible stat boost for this one of 1.2x, and then over here I can add on a 3% bonus, and then there's this flat +10 to stat bonus, but then it can synergize with this other thing that gives me 20% of this other stat, and if I add in range to this it will decrease the power by 15% per meter, and...

    And not only is all of that explained, but you get to enjoy a ride wherein the main character will plug-n-play repeatedly with those numbers to figure out in which order they apply and what is the optimal manner in which to get the most efficiency (power per mana) for each and every spell, as well as how much damage and how much mana it would take to operate at full, etc.

    Also most people you read about in this story don't poop.

    At least 4/5 from me. We're getting close to a big power rank-up and I'm curious where the story will go from there. I can see it going higher for me at least.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2021
  2. soczab

    soczab Groundskeeper

    Feb 1, 2016
    High Score:
    Hmmm. Maybe ill dive into this again.

    I read... a lot... and I enjoyed it well enough but I lost interest right around
    the whole bit where that neighboring empire is trying to invade a puts a... foricefield i think it was? Around the city.

    I'd be curious if you think its worth giving it another go Ched.

    I wasn't disliking it even when i stopped perse so much as it started to feel a little like 'whats the point.' I kind of lost interest in the plot and a few of the gimmicks. Again not in a bad way but more of a 'this isnt going anywhere new' way.

    I will say i thought it one of the better of the leveling sort of litrpg. And Ched is fully right on all the plot points. And its much better then some of the other ones i consider pure trash.

    My initial reaction from memory is 3/5 but i may be too harsh with that just cause i lost interest and stopped. I may give it another try before officially rating.

    It DEFINITELY isnt bad. Im just not sure if it is good heh. But ched's post is inspiring me enough to dive in and give it another try.
  3. valrie

    valrie Fourth Year

    Jan 1, 2018
    I've been following this for a bit over a year now. In the beginning I was really excited and even signed up for the Patreon. But it had a very long period very almost nothing exciting happened, especially to the MC. The discord community is a bit crazy though. The MC stopped progressing but they continued talking about the same numbers. Pretty sure a lot of them prefer the math stuff there to actual plot development. I posted something about how the MC isn't progressing or even doing anything to try and progress and got a response from someone who said he wouldn't mind if the next 100 chapters (2 years of writing) would only focus on city building stuff.

    Part of the problem was that sometimes the weekly chapter would be completely dedicated to some boring or annoying side character who wasn't doing anything plot relevant. At other times a significant part of the chapter will be about some technology the MC is trying to remember and recreate with his crafter buddies. Maybe reading the whole thing in one go gives a different feeling but reading it week-by-week was very frustrating at times.

    However, things finally started getting interesting in the last few weeks and I'm hoping the author will manage to pick up the pace again.

    As some people have said it's pretty well-written. The characters feel like people too. The system seems to be fairly well balanced although I'm a bit afraid that the author is going to do too much uplifting. The MC sometimes gives the crafters of his group ideas and they're doing stuff with it. Nothing crazy so far but I'm not a big fan of mixing fantasy litrpg and uplifting. Even with its problems it's definitively still in the top 5% of all litrpgs that I've tried.

    I'll give it a 3/5 right now but if I'm right that the plot is about to pick up a bit again then I'll update it to 4/5 or even 5/5.
  4. Spanks

    Spanks Chief Warlock

    Jun 8, 2007
    New Jersey
    I read this a few months ago. Put it down to wait for more chapters because I was getting impatient waiting for the MC to break through to the next set of leveling. Once that happens maybe I’ll pick it up again.

    But I liked it. It’s different from a lot of litrpg. Heavy focus on min/maxing and math. The power building really slows to a crawl tho.

  5. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
    So first, as some have implied... it is better to read in one go than slowly. I can see how it might feel as if it's stalling out if you read it one chapter at a time. BUT that said... while I agree that the pacing is strange for a novel, it does work okay for me as a serial. There are definitely times where the protagonist's main goal isn't to 'get stronger' but I usually found that refreshing instead of frustrating. When he's stuck in the city because reasons he's doing what he can. Most of us aren't set up to do much more than that, and I'm okay with my protagonist not being the best at figuring out a way forward.

    So I get if there's frustration at a lack of progress sometimes, but I never got bored and felt that most of these led to 'slice of life' moments that I enjoyed just fine as part of the story. Again this probably relies on the fact that I read it all at once.

    @soczab - if you made it that far then nah, it's probably not worth you returning to. You'd be engaged or not by that point, imo, and it doesn't take a significant jump up in quality after that arc.
  6. Ceebee

    Ceebee High Inquisitor

    May 5, 2009
    This is a heavy de-rec from me, or perhaps more accurately a 'reader beware' label, for the same reasons as a few reviewers stated above. 2 / 5. If it clicks for you it clicks, otherwise bail.

    The pacing is absolutely atrocious, and it is compounded (or maybe caused) by what I think is the worst aspect: namely what I'd loosely call the bait & switch or betrayal of premise.

    Look, we all know that LitRPG's are a trashy genre. It's one of the main subgenres of the 'progression fantasy' meta-genre, where the key main appeals are the MC's cool character builds, and the concept of getting stronger over time, progressing. LitRPGs take this further with a literally 'numbers get bigger' aspect to signpost the progression.

    Delve leans heavily into this early in the story.

    Enter Rain, our MC, though actually his name is Raymond, but Rain is his screen-name/D&D characters name which he immediately adopts when isekai'd into a LitRPG land. We are informed about the general gist of Rain's backstory in a broad 'tell not show' overview that he is a construction worker who had to drop out of his 1st year computer science college course because his mother got cancer and the dystopian US healthcare system required him to go a get a job to pay for everything to support them both (or whatever, not important).

    Rain loves nerdy things; comic books, video games, he enjoys playing D&D and dreaming up character builds and is probably on the autistic spectrum, you know, the typical computer science student stuff.

    In Delve-land you can be 'awakened' and have access to a LitRPG system with experience & levels & classes; the whole shebang. The way you get 'awakened' is you have to participate in combat with extra-rare & strong elite monsters called 'essence monsters' or 'blues' (because their name is in blue in the system interface).

    HOWEVER, the big underlying part of the system & the entire world, is that the level of the 'blue' that you kill becomes your level cap, up until you kill a higher level one. I.e. kill a level 10 blue, you can level up to 10. Then kill a level 13 blue, you can go up to 13. As mentioned, blues are rare and super strong, so it's pretty lucky that when Rain gets dumped into Delve-land, there is a (high level for the lowbie zone he gets dumped in) blue near him that is suffering from not being in a mana rich environment or w/e, and the adventurers who found the disorientated Rain have him poke it with a stick for 1 damage before they kill it. Cool. Rain has a decent, but not game breaking level cap to work up to.

    Delve's early (I say early but it's really the first 250 thousand words) section is good. It's about Rain acclimating to the middle ages-ish fantasy society he's landed in, becoming an adventurer, meeting interesting characters and forming relationships with them and most importantly for a LitRPG progression fantasy story, the genre defining premise: Exploring the LitRPG system and Rain progressing.

    The premise is that Rain has, because of his D&D min/max powergamer style, chosen a build that is reasonably unique and non-standard and he has to navigate the world with this strong in some-ways but weak in many others abilities. Here's the author's semi-indepth summary from the story page, to give you the gist:

    The main character becomes a magic user, but he takes a route that is not very popular in adventurer culture, namely that of a support. There is a full magic system with various spells, skills, and abilities, but our MC decides that aura magic is the way to go, and that the only stat worth investing in is mana regeneration. Most people at the Adventurer’s Guild think that this makes him a bit of a dumbass, but he’s playing the long game. We’ll see how that works out for him, won’t we?
    Because of his build, the MC levels up fast, at least compared to normal people. There are no cheats, though, and he is limited in other ways. There are some clear and pretty obvious downsides to his build. That’s what makes it fun, no?

    Now you may be able to tell from the near universal decrying of the story's pacing, is that once Rain hits his level cap at Chapter ~30 @ 250k words, it's not much of a spoiler to tell you that as-at chapter 139 @ 709k words 18 real months later, Rain is still at the same level cap, and has made some limited but ultimately marginal progression in terms of his character strength.

    The author has baited & switched the story from progression fantasy LitRPG to autistic modern guy tries to use SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND ENGINEERING! to uplift medieval peasants with democracy and egalitarianism because he's an enlightened modern man and knows best, and its just a big fucking mess that is so fucking glacially s l o w.

    Do you guys remember that Dresden Files novel, Cold Days I think it was where it finally jumped the shark? When Dresden is talking to Butters or w/e and goes on about how because of conceptual fuckery/the power-of-belief making things real, in some part of the Nevernever you could actually find Spiderman? Absolute sheer fuckery that is so out there is completely derails the thin suspension of disbelief you afford the story.

    A couple of chapters ago, Delve had one of these, where autistic man Rain makes a specific reference (and even says the makers name for fuck sakes!) to this youtube video.

    I enjoyed the early parts of the story, some of the other side characters are quite good, not only in comparison to the c-tier side characters you find in LitRPG/progression fantasy stories, but good in their own right.

    I am sticking it out, checking back roughly once a month to read the free RoyalRoad chapters because I am honestly morbidly curious whether or not Rain will ever make it to the next level, and I want to see how that shapes out. It looks like there may, finally, be some development on that front, and I know there's like a 99% chance I'll drop the story for good once it happens.

    Maybe that's why the author has dragged it out so long, right? They had a bit of a mess up in their story planning and meandered, and now they have a financial incentive to delay the main point for as long as they can because they fear people will drop the story when the long delayed level up occurs?

    Dunno, it's just that every chapter increases the contempt I have for the story just that little bit more, but I stick around in some stupid stockholm syndrome.

    Maybe the story really isn't for me, as they have enough fans who enjoy it for what it is; cf. valrie referencing a superfan on discord who likes the current pace & direction.

    I guess for them they didn't mind the switch from 'progression fantasy LitRPG' to 'isekai tech uplift the peasants', but for me it was an absolute bait & switch that I'm not sure I'll ever forgive the author for, not that whatever some dickhead on the internet writing a scathing review on the internet, or his forgiveness is worth.
  7. valrie

    valrie Fourth Year

    Jan 1, 2018
    Yeah, @Ceebee 's post sums it up perfectly. If you like slow progression and uplifting stories this might be for you. But the litrpg part died for like a hundred chapters and even now it might take another 30 chapters until something actually happens considering the pacing.

    This may be a bit unrelated but I think the problem of the story is that the character is able to level with just grinding his skills to max levels. And he's able to do it fast. If he could only gain XP to level from killing monsters then this story would have been much better paced. You could still have the blue as special monsters you have to defeat to increase your level cap. I already see it coming that once his level cap is raised he'll have 10 to 15 chapters of getting to the level cap and then another 150 until we see something like this again because he has to help his friends raise their levels and make a proper adventuring party.

    Even worse, Tallheart and Amelia might be able to carry him now and help him kill a silver blue but that's going to stop being possible soon. Tallheart is really high levelled but primarily a crafter and Amelia is focused on versatility instead of power. He will need to raise the level of at least his main party (Val etc.) to go further. On the other hand that would at least give us some interesting fights.
  8. Selethe

    Selethe normalphobe

    Feb 13, 2012
    Reading this now, and I'm at chapter 55 so far. I'd rate it 4/5 at the moment. I usually dislike all the numbers and math in litrpgs, but this isn't so bad. Maybe it's because the progression path Rain chose is something we don't see often. Though, I still skipped the mental calculations and blue boxes bits. Rain thinking about how to minmax his class has probably been half the story so far, so I've skimmed about that much. Rain is alright as a protagonist... he makes a lot of real-world references to Delve-world characters, and then he chuckles as they stare in confusion. Kind of annoying as this repeated behavior. And the jokes aren't funny either. His philosophy about wanting to help people isn't very inspiring either. He kind of just exists? As a human calculator? 75% of the dialogue in the story is Rain asking questions about the system. I'm kind of over it. But nothing Rain has done has been repugnant, which is a miracle considering the genre. No instant harem of beauties, no extreme angst, et.

    I do like all the side characters. I think the author has a good grasp on how to write characters. I just wish the story was about 90% less system-wank, and focused more on the story.
  9. Selethe

    Selethe normalphobe

    Feb 13, 2012
    I finished it. I'll keep my 4/5 rating, but here are my bullet points:

    - We're ~750k words in, and it seems like we've just crossed into Arc 2. Not Arc 2 as in "Two out of Three", but Arc 2 as in just finished the first interlude of Worm, Arc 2. This story could end up being absolutely fucking massive. If we follow a typical story outline we've basically just hit call to action. If the author has the stamina this could be 20 million words.

    - The pacing is slow, but somehow, not unbearable. This is 1000% something you read in a couple of sittings-- trying to keep up with this story weekly would be masochistic. Like Mother of Learning, I think I'll shelve this story for a year or two and come back.

    - I don't mind that Rain's leveling is slow-going. If a large portion of adventurers were hanging around level 100 or level 1000, it might seem like he's been struggling for too long, but he's already way above average level-wise. Only a small handful of people have surpassed 50. Rain's capabilities are acknowledged and appreciated, even by gold-plates. He's useful. I'm ok with him not killing a higher level blue for a while longer.

    - I wish so dearly that the protagonist wasn't Rain. The author knows how to write interesting, distinctive characters, and he created an evocative well-thought out world, and everything meshes... and then drops Rain, a garbage bag of characterization, on top of it all. In a mediocre story, Rain wouldn't stick out. Unfortunately, Delve, in my opinion, is good, so... The only decent thing about Rain is that he isn't bad enough to turn me off the rest of the story. That's not including the spell macros, which I'm pretending don't exist.

    - The tech uplift bits are like bulbs of cancer I want to spray chemo on.

    - The world-building is great. I like the concept of Citizens, the prospect of dragons and lairs so far beneath the earth no human has ever reached them, poison cities, etc. I wish there was more of THIS instead of calculating aura boosting modifiers and mana regeneration percentages based on range and the height of the person and if they have one eye opened or closed and if they are smiling or smirking

    - I'm skeptical about (spoilers): Rain starting his own company. Really, it should be Ameliah's company. If Velika or any other gold-plate wanted to stomp all over them, the whole lot of them would be ash. How are Rain, Ameliah, and Tallheart going to kill any kind of significant blue to improve their level when everyone else is like a Rank 3. Like I said, I don't mind waiting, but waiting because of Rain's shitty and abstract "make the world a better place" philosophy sucks.
  10. Iztiak

    Iztiak Prisoner

    Dec 4, 2006
    I think this is a mediocre story, if I’m being honest.

    Something approaching 30% of this story is absolutely pointless math, as the author jerks himself off on how smart he is. Considering how fucking long this story is, that’s a criminally high percentage.

    The main character probably falls somewhere on the spectrum since he’s supposed to be in his 20s but mentally behaves/thinks like he’s 14-16.

    Simultaneously we’re supposed to believe he’s the smartest dude around as he philosophically, morally, and technologically uplifts the hopeless barbarians he’s surrounded by.

    ...But it’s a litRPG, and the above is practically a glowing review compared to most of the rest of the genre.

    The part where he’s leveling is pretty alright, everything past that is math literotica.
  11. Thaumologist

    Thaumologist Dark Lord

    Jun 27, 2011
    Wrexham, Wales
    I kind of like the story, and tend to read each update as it comes.

    But I've already complained about chapter 113 in another thread, where the author had seven and a half pages of character sheet in the middle of the chapter. Whilst I don't think they've done it again, they don't shy away from presenting the exact same information to us quite frequently.

    The maths is dull, and reading about Rain juggling points between his stats using magical items feels like I'm revisiting a long-question exam, rather than something I'm reading for fun. Which is a shame, because the ideas behind the stat-increasing items is relatively unique in online LitRPGs, and having interlinking skills like this could have been good... But it just has so many numbers involved, and I truly, honestly, do not care if Rain manages to squeeze out an extra 1% of damage by contracting his aura by half a micron again. It was unique the first time through, but it's been done by now, and I don't need to read more on it.

    I also can't write a review without talking about how a modern-day man, who maybe plays TTRPGs, manages to discover an exploit within a system, that has never been discovered ever by anyone who lives within that system; and is so certain that they're all mentally deficient, decides to spend all his exp in a build, and then continues when people say "hey, don't be stupid". It turns out his build isn't terrible, because he (somehow) has the levels to grab everything he needs, and doesn't screw it up (he could maybe have dropped purify, and some of the others don't have much extra utility, only adding DPS, but they're not irrelevant).

    Also, of course Rain is able to provide information on how to uplift society.

    Otherwise, I enjoy it. The other characters are interesting, the worldbuilding's good, and there's a lot of background stuff going on that makes it feel more real than we often see.

    But I do not care about numbers going up in tiny amounts.

    3.5/5, rounding up to a 4. If you can look past the problems, this is something worth sinking your teeth into.
  12. Greener

    Greener Sixth Year

    Oct 18, 2010
    3/5. Interesting enough for me to want to see where it's going, but I'm skimming past pages and pages of it.
  13. Tutorial Boss

    Tutorial Boss Seventh Year

    Apr 10, 2012
    I think the best way for me to describe my opinion of this story is for me to describe my reading experience.

    In the beginning, I was super invested. I think the worldbuilding is fantastically done; many of the organizations, societies, and systems are a delight. The Rares system is quite excellent, and the way the author introduced us to the world is excellent. Many characters are distinct, likeable, and the author isn't afraid to kill some minor characters off.

    Then, at a certain point, once the initial worldbuilding was established, there were a dozen or so chapters where nothing really happened.

    I started skimming.

    And skimming.

    And skimming.

    And then there was a point where I noticed that I was skimming more than I was reading.

    Maybe it's because I don't like some of the narrative decisions with Rain's character, or the pacing was just too glacially slow, but fuck, I didn't realize how disappointed I was with the story until I was at the end and realized I've just been skimming for 500k words.