LitRPG fiction scratches all the same itches that Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, or any other role playing games do- where a character literally progresses as they live through epic adventures, gaining tangible experience, skills and loot.
The intent of this article is to highlight the aspects of the genre that appeals to me and help those who wish to indoctrinate the unexposed into this uniquely rewarding style of storytelling.
Like most fiction, LitRPG stories pull readers in, immersing them in rich, fantasy words like nothing on earth. In most cases this is done (again) literally, with the main character pulled into another existence; either with or without their consent.
Once inside, the responsibilities of their past lives can be forgotten and this new life of action and adventure can be embraced without guilt. Not all LitRPG stories lock the main character into the virtual world, but the concept still holds true. You are given a fresh start with nothing in your past to hold you back.
02: Tangible Progression
In the real world, you can study for a test, run on a treadmill or haggle with a used car salesmen, but afterward, you will not have any observable indication that your ability to perform these actions in the future has progressed in any way.
In a LitRPG novel, characters will often have access to detailed statistics of what their physical strength, mental capacity or even attractiveness levels are, and know exactly what these stats will allow them to accomplish. Again, not all stories do it the same way. But, typically, there are always measurable levels of character progression.
This applies to skills as well. Knowing that you can permanently perform a specific technique takes a lot of stress and frustration out of life. Often times these skills and abilities are granted instantly when attempted, or picked from a list of potential paths on level up.
Countable experience points that can never be taken away seems to instill a primal sense of growth and contentment within the human mind. In a LitRPG game-world, your hard work will always move you forward and often comes with instant gratification.
03: Continuous Origin Story
One of my favorite parts of a superhero’s journey is when the newly-gifted individual is learning about their abilities and figuring out how to become an unstoppable powerhouse. Within the LitRPG genre, this wonderful period is typically stretched for the entire length of the story, even spanning multiple books in a series.
They will continuously gain experience, stats, skills, and slowly grow more powerful. Often permanently. As I’ve said before, this seems to scratch an itch in the human psyche and experiencing this gradual, and measured growth throughout an entire story is what makes these works of fiction different from other genres.
04: Epic Loot
Millions of people around the world play massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Developers learned long ago that allowing players to bash foes like pinatas, causing them to drop sparkling treasure, tickles that often-mentioned part of the human brain. This is also similar to the thrill of a scratch-and-win ticket or a slot machine pull.
The chance that a powerful artifact will fall out of a vanquished giant-rat only spurs our main character to dive headlong into those infested sewers. Combine epic loot drops with permanent character growth, and you have a potent combo that can stimulate humans to new levels of contentment.
Like all books, reading a LitRPG will place you in the dragonhide boots of the main character, and you will experience all of the legendary adventures and satisfying skill gains along with them. A talented author will be able to wrap all the concepts above in a nice literary package, complete with; a great story, lovable characters, and vivid descriptions of the fantastical, virtual game-world.
May the road you travel have just enough bumps to be interesting.
Author of erotic, fantasy, litRPG eBooks.
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