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WIP The Humble Life of a Skill Trainer by Alstonsleet - T - Original

Discussion in 'Original Fiction' started by Blorcyn, May 17, 2020.

  1. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Chief Warlock DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

    Oct 16, 2010
    Title: The Humble Life of a Skill Trainer
    Fandom: non - it’s its own fandom I suppose.
    Author: Alstonsleet
    Rating: T
    Genre: LitRPG
    Status: WIP
    Library Category: General
    Pairings: Snowy/Josh OTP <3<3<3<3<3
    For Joshua Still, Skills were the lifeblood of his business. He wanted to understand them, collect many of them, and teach a few of them. Which was a problem because while his profession of a Skill Trainer was perfectly legal, it was frowned upon by most of the kingdom. After all, it wouldn't do for a non-tailor to teach Tailoring. Or, so says the Tailors Guild.

    The same could be said by the Blacksmiths, the Bakers, the Butchers, the Candlestick Makers, the Mages, and every other Guild with enough money and clout to complain. But still, Skill Trainers provide a valuable service, and so he has managed to start his business and keep it under the table. To a degree. With many a bribe. But his quiet anonymous life of research, practice, and training was about to change. When the Baron demands you pay him a visit, you have little choice.

    The last of the bunch, another 4/5 LitRPG from me. Like Seaborn, this is the story of someone born in situ and raised in the world trying to make his way. Except, from the start, his way is a little more dishonest than sailing.

    He's a torturer for money, basically. He teaches skills, but most skills that you go to a shady skill trainer for are the stuff that people don't openly teach. Poison resistance, pain resistance, controlling some darker skill you already have.

    We join Joshua then, just as he finds himself entangled in an adventure that pulls him into the light, and all his careful performance as a 'skill trainer' is stripped back, and he is left oddly unsuited for being 'himself'.

    The inciting incident comes relatively quickly, and he finds himself plucked from a relatively underground trade into a very visible and very endorsed job, by the local feudal Baron, who rules the borderland in which Joshua lives (seemingly quite unilaterally, a bit of a In-name-only King so far).

    I can't really spoil this, because it turns and it turns quickly, but it's got reversals and the situation he thinks he's in changes rapidly, several times, over the course of about ten chapters until he gains some relative measure of constancy again.

    This is where the magic of this lies, I feel, though it has a healthy plot to pull it along. I love Snowy and Joshua's early interactions and both are very quickly apparent to have chemistry. I really enjoy the fact that she's a 'big woman' and that she's not some warrior wafe, it just tickles me.

    Joshua is a well-developed MC. As we learn more about him, his parents, his vocation and his new life-altering skill we get a better and better sense of what it is he wants out of the world, and increasing sense of the danger that this guild he keeps alluding to will obviously end up presenting, now that he is officially 'out' as it were.

    I will say as a product of what he's gone through in the first twenty chapters, and an introspective nature, he's being a bit emotionally labile now that he's in relative safety again, but I don't think it'll last for long as he's pretty well able to subsume himself in his work and I think he's almost worked through it (and I think it will be relevant to the skill and vice versa, it's not entirely for itself, it's going to serve multiple story-purposes)

    The system is a little more apparent in this one, by the very nature of his vocation and his interest. In a world where skills are normal, and no-one seems to care, he's one of the few people challenging orthodoxy and enjoying figuring things out and teaching them other people. And that's the thing, he does enjoy teaching. It's rare to see an MC where it's not a side-product of some exploit for themselves.

    It's quite an interesting setting. People don't have a skill for shaking their dick after pissing, it's not that sorta LitRPG. If you were a piano player, you'd have piano playing, and not a ton else, perhaps. People prefer to focus on one thing rather than have a dozen things going on. The skills aren't intuitive and a lot of what he enjoys is the puzzling things out, and this is expressed well.

    It's another Pseudo!Feudal European setting. It's got some tribes alluded to, and although I don't think we've seen them, I think there might be other non-human races out there somewhere. It's unclear. The kingdom and its politics are gearing up to make a bigger role, now that he's on the stage, and he and Snow are now divided by society once more.

    There's some pretty exclusive magic, in the form of a mages guild, and a relatively well-developed skill economy. Its local geography is quite clear at this point and we're learning more about the city's major players at the current point.
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
  2. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

    May 27, 2010
    Powered through this today on Blor's recommendation on Discord.

    The best thing about this story, by far, is the relationship between Josh and Snowy. They play off well each other and are endearing to read about. There's chemistry there, that spark of special something that makes some relationships great. Snowy herself is this giant warrior woman, but also a girl. Joshua has a detailed past, and the author takes the time to build up him as character.

    The setting, in both the game system used and the actual worldbuilding aspects, aren't anything particularly impressive. The action I'm not a fan of, as the pacing of them feels off---a tad too slow, too sluggish due to the introspective nature of Joshua. There's some attempt at plot too, with political intrigue that I wish there was more of and not... training guards how to do stuff. It also gets a bit word-y and wall-of-text-y as all gamer fics tend to be.

    Worth a read if you like this kind of story, otherwise, YMMV.

    Honestly, 3/5, just for the chemistry between Josh and Snowy.
  3. Feanor

    Feanor Third Year

    Sep 25, 2006
    This is goddamn excellent. 5/5 from me.
    I've only recently discovered the LitRPG genre, and apparently I love that shit.

    Biggest criticism I have is that there aren't 100 chapters already.
    I hope the author expands the world in future chapters, the little shown so far is decently interesting.
    Highlight is Josh and Snowy's relationship for sure.
    Also like the skill? magic? system, it's entertaining without bogging the reader down in a page full of numbers.
  4. Otters

    Otters Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Jun 8, 2010
    High Score:
    John. Domenic. Joshua.

    What's with all this original characters born in fantasy settings having such milquetoast modern-sounding names?

    Ohhh, right, they're all SIs in denial. Gotcha. The veil has been pulled back.

    And that's my biggest criticism - the voice of Josh is the same generic introspective menu-munching banality as every other litRPG or isekai story protagonist. Still, at least in this one the gimmick of his profession makes this an appropriate fit for his character. It makes it more palatable, although not any more interesting. There's quite a lot of inner monologue discussing how skills work and fit together, but it's all rather shallow and I didn't find myself that engaged with it.

    It suffers heavily from the tutorial-bloat of the genre. Everyone is running around with basic level skills and negligible achievements. This only served to make the utter lack of excitement even worse. There was only one real action scene in 25 chapters, and not nearly enough interpersonal contact to make the story conflict be character driven rather than action or plot.

    I enjoyed it well enough, but my attention wavered in places. Although it's competently written it definitely feels like it's being written on the fly and could have benefited from being plotted out.

    As Halt said, YMMV. It's on the better end of a bad genre. LitRPG is inherently bad and cannot be redeemed. It's fun, and I like it anyway, but this story illustrates a lot of the common failings while steering clear of the insta-win formula.

    Of the three in a row which I've just read, this is the one I loved the least, but I'd still recommend fans of the genre check it out. Might well be that I'm just running out of steam after so much of the same thing in a row.

  5. Mutton

    Mutton Order Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    I don't get the gushing about Josh and Snowy, she's barely a character? Like it's okay but I think that's one of the weaker parts of the story so far

  6. Dryops

    Dryops Second Year DLP Supporter

    May 29, 2007
    United States
    I really enjoy this one. Nice take from a different perspective than "hero protagonist" or "villain". I like the backstory with the generic skill trainers being disliked to hunted by the other guilds, and enjoy the methods through which skills develop.

    This one is a solid 4/5 for me.
  7. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
    Started reading this one but don't have time to continue for now, because work/life/shit.

    I had trouble getting into this one, and I'd suggest that anyone else struggling to get into it push forward through Chapter 6. That's when it finally hooked me. Until then the story read a bit like a 'tell' sequence of the protagonist's life, where it went through the motions of showing us what he did and where he lived and doing quite a bit of it by rote. I didn't have a genuine feel for the character and I need to engage with the protagonist to get into something.

    Finally clicked for me after reading Chapter 6 though. Got decent insight into who the main character really is, a good second character in Snowy, and a better 'feel' for the RPG aspects of this story.

    Tentative rating of 4/5, but I won't push it up further til I'm finished reading what is currently out (on Chapter 11 now).

    Edit - finished reading what's available and sticking with a 4/5. It's reasonably well written and I like the characters but it's taking a bit to really get going.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
  8. Sauce Bauss

    Sauce Bauss Second Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Apr 4, 2008
    High Score:
    The protagonist is a vanilla navel-gazer per the standard Isekai kit, as Otters mentioned. While the story gripped me at first, a whole lot of nothing and less than has happened with very few characters seeing any development beyond the perfunctory minimum needed for them to serve as plot devices in setting.

    I almost feel like the more we strip back the layers of mystery and novelty in the world, the less interesting it gets. There are attempts at more subtle interactions, which are then helpfully narrated by his internal Navi screaming "Hey, listen!" Goodness knows I might have missed something if he'd not made a mental PowerPoint of every conversation's subtext.

    As another gripe, Snowy's competence at courtly matters is far, far too high to be believable. She grew up wearing furs in a tribe, and is using subtle courtly snubs to communicate favor and disfavor to protag who is himself well acquainted with such maneuvers despite not growing up in that setting.

    At its best it teases the realm of a 4/5, but with recent chapters falling short and no indication of that changing any time soon, I have to call it a 3/5.