LitRPG, what is it and where to start?

LitRPG recommendations.

This article aims to give a short description of what LitRPG is and to give a good list of recommendations for LitRPG books to start with. The LitRPG suggestions aim to give a good variety of different LitRPG types. This will give you a border understanding of the different subgenres and related types there are in the LitRPG genre.

LitRPG, or “literary Role-Playing Game”, is a fictional subgenre.
Its most commonly found under broader fantasy or sometimes science-fiction genres.

The most significant element of the LitRPG genre is in the name of the genre. RPG, or role-playing game. Books in this genre have strong game-like elements in them.

Most LitRPG books have a few things in common. Most have characters that level up by gaining experience points. When they level up they can use points on character statistics, abilities, professions, and so on. Some also have town and empire-building mechanics. Where the main character creates buildings, upgrade them, create trade routes and so on. Most of these mechanics are usually very detailed with numbers and character sheets.

Another very common thing is looting. New items and loot are usually found from dead enemies and around the world. The items very often also have stats and abilities.

Another thing that most have in common is that the main character is usually inside a game or a virtual world. This is not a rule, but it's very common. This virtual world is usually a full immersion world where you can't see that its fake. Most also have some level of pain and pleasure.

Usually, the main story takes part in a virtual world. It's not uncommon that the story is in our world only a short period in the beginning. Then the main character is stuck or fully transferred into the virtual world. But some also split the story between the virtual world and the real one.

LitRPG is like a book version of watching a LetsPlay of a streamer that is good at creating stories.

Some other subgenres that are tightly connected to LitRPG are Dungeon Core and the Wuxia/cultivation genres. Dungeon Core is mainly from the point of view of a dungeon that level ups and grows its dungeon. In Wuxia/cultivation books the characters grow stronger by strengthening their cores. A core can bee seen like a magical core inside you that you. It can be strengthened by meditation, potions, training, and scrolls.

 

What follows is an interesting list of books in the LitRPG genre. We have tried to keep a good variety in our LitRPG suggestions.

New Era Online

Life Reset: A LitRPG Novel: New Era Online, Book 1 cover

New Era Online, NEO, is a full immersion virtual reality game.

Oren Berman is among the most powerful and influential players. He is the guild leader of one of the most power full guilds. In NEO the first person to discover a skill gives you the exclusive right to teach others the skill. Oren has some really good exclusive right, and together with being the guild leader he easily lives of what he makes in-game.

But all these changes when he is betrayed by his own guild commanders.

They use a rare item that transforms your character into a monster, permanently. Oren ends up as a level one goblin far into the uncharted monster territory. If Oren starts a new character he will loose his exclusive skills to the guild that betrayed him. What will he do?

Is New Era Online good?

Life Reset is an excellent LitRPG book. It has interesting game mechanics and character development.

It's fascinating to follow the main character. A person that starts out among the most powerful players, but then he is betrayed, changed to a monster race, and stuck in the game.

Why is New Era Online recommended?

New Era Online has strong game mechanics with both character leveling and town building. Its a game world that uses full immersion pods, so it feels and looks like a real world. The main character starts out as a regular player, but then in transformed into a monster character and gets stuck in the game.

If you want to try hardcore LitRPG that also has city building then try New Era Online. Especially if you also want a story where the main character is stuck inside the virtual game world as a monster character.

Everybody Loves Large Chests

Morningwood Everybody Loves Large Chests vol.1  cover

Mr. Morningwood, or Boxy, is a mimic, a monster in the shape of a chest. For some reason, he has gained consciousness.

After gaining consciousness Boxy ventured out of the dungeon he was born in hunting for shiny and tasty stuff.

This starts Boxy's continent-spanning journey.

During his travels, Boxy acquires a few useful companions to help him to find shiny stuff. One of his companions also happens to also be especially tasty.

Is Everybody Loves Large Chests good?

Everybody Loves Large Chests is a good and funny story about a monster without any kind of moral compass.

If it only had less sexual content it would be excellent instead of just good.

If you want a funny LitRPG book from the side of a monster, a true monster, then Everybody Loves Large Chests is a must-read.

Why is Everybody Loves Large Chests recommended?

If a LitRPG following a self-centered monster with zero empathy sounds interesting, then Everybody Loves Large Chests is a good suggestion.

It also has a good dose of humor, if that is to your liking. But it has more sexual content than most LitRPG books, and not of the clean sort.

If you want something humorous and grotesque then this might be a good start, otherwise, some of the other suggestions might be better.

Dark Herbalist

Video Game Plotline Tester: Dark Herbalist Series, Book 1 cover

Timothy has just started as a tester for the largest and most technologically advance VRMMORPG game in the world. The testers compete for some big reward by streaming their game. The tester with the most popular stream wins.

The company delegate the class and some skills for the tester to use. Their goal is both to test the less common combinations and to make them more popular. Timothy is given the goblin race with the herbalist class and put in a strange starting location.

Timothy and his sister secretly cooperate to make his chances to win the competition among the testers higher. She is both too young to work as a tester and disabled, so she has to join from their home.

Together they explore the game and make plans for dealing with the strange class and race combination. But it's not only in-game problems they have to overcome, but real-life dangers are also a problem. There is a huge award for the winner of the game

Is Dark Herbalist good?

The Dark Herbalist Series is a LitRPG book series with a good balance. Game and leveling mechanics are well mixed with a solid story and character development.

The characters are not helped out by random events and Deus Ex Machina. Instead, they use out-of-the-box and quick thinking to get out of problematic situations.

The Dark Herbalist Series is interesting and absolutely worth reading if you want a LitRPG book series.

Why is Dark Herbalist recommended?

The Dark Herbalist Series has a story that is both in the real world and in the virtual world.

It's a strong intertwined story. Most of the story is in the virtual world, but it's one of the LitRPG books with the most real-world content. Unlike most other LitRPGs, the real-world parts in this one are interesting and not boring fillers. The

Dark Herbalist Series is a good starting point for a LitRPG book.

Way of the Shaman

Survival Quest, Way of the Shaman book 1

Daniel Mahan is unjustly sentenced to prison for eight years. Like most other criminals he has to serve his sentence in a full immersion chamber put in a prison work camp in the VRMMORPG game Barliona.

Barliona is a medieval-like virtual world with monsters and other players.

The game has become so popular that players now choose to spend months online at a time without returning to the real world.

In Barliona, anything goes: You can assault fellow players, level up, become a mythical hero, or just get a regular medieval job if you like. The only rule is that no player is allowed to feel actual pain.

But there's an exception to every rule.

People in Daniel Mahan's position, prisoners, feel just as much pain as they do in real life. For them, Barliona has become their personal hell.

Is Way of the Shaman good?

Way of the Shaman is one of the best LitRPG series I have read, it's also one of the first, so that might affect my judgment.

It has both well-developed characters and a good story. The LitRPG elements are also done in a very good way, which is important.

Why is Way of the Shaman recommended?

Way of the Shaman is a typical LitRPG series. It has strong character leveling and looting elements. It has questing and, guilds and mysteries. The main character is temporarily stuck in a long term immersion pod as punishment.

If you want a good and finished LirPRG series to start out with then Way of the Shaman is a good place to start. Its originally written in Russian, but the translation is good.

The Divine Dungeon

Book cover: Dungeon Born

Cal is a Dungeon Heart, a soul forced into a magical stone against his will.

After several years of only instinctive living, he was able to regain his sentience. This allowed him to form new memories again, and to slowly start growing a dungeon around himself.

With help from a small friend, Cal learned to create monsters and traps and how to use treasures to grow his dungeon. His main goal is to lure in brave adventures to eat so he can grow in both power and size.

Is The Divine Dungeon good?

Dungeon Born is one of the best books I have read in a while. This book is written in a light and funny way. For me it was new and fresh, it was the first Dungeon Core type books I read.

Why is The Divine Dungeon recommended?

Dungeon Born is strictly a mix of the LitRPG, Dungeon Core, and the Wuxia/cultivation genres. It's not a game or a virtual world, and the main character is a dungeon. A dungeon that wants to consume people. If your more curious about Dungeon Core and Cultivation stories than pure LitRPGs then Dungeon Born is a good choice.

The Ten Realms

The Two Week Curse: Ten Realms, Book 1 cover

Erik and Rugrat are both combat veterans, Erik is a combat medic and Rugrat is a Marine Recon sniper. During a mercenary trip guarding some shady copper mine owners, they are caught in an ambush and Erik ends up losing his legs and his arm.

And to top it off, they both get the Two Week Curse.

It's a strange sickness where they get a strange message saying that they have been randomly selected to join the Ten Realms. And that one may choose to ascend the Ten Realms, thereupon making a request to the Gods of the Realms.

People who get this curse dissipates in a bright flash after exactly two weeks.

As the harden veterans they are, they do their best to prepare for what is going to happen. When the two weeks are up they are teleported to a new strange world where people can rank up as in a game and cultivate their internal power.

Is The Ten Realms good?

The Ten Realms Series is not the absolute best of its genre, but it is absolutely worth reading. Especially for people that are interested in the LitRPG and Cultivation/Wuxia genres.

It's interesting to see how Erik and Rugrat use their military knowledge and comradery to take on their new strange circumstances.

One of the major problems with the series is that Eric and Rugrath soon become too powerful. And the initial preparation part before they get to the new world is too long.

Why is The Ten Realms recommended?

The Ten Realms has main characters that are not gamers, but experienced army veterans. They use their army skills to rapidly become powerful warriors in this new world.

This series has both character leveling and empire building. The character leveling part is slightly more related to cultivation growth that RPG game leveling.

Street Cultivation

Street Cultivation cover

Rick is a young fighter. To support himself and his sister he is working as a sparring partner at a local gym. Helping people strengthen their cores in exchange for some meager coin.

He does not dream of becoming an all-powerful immortal cultivator. But he wants to be more than just a human punching bag.

The main reason Rick works as a human punching bag is for his sister. She has a deadly disease that is costly to keep at bay. Working at the gym is the only way Rick sees that can earn enough to pay for her medical needs.

Getting the treatment for her deadly spiritual disease is not easy. And being born by poor parents that have left them by themselves surrounded by scavenging relatives makes this a daunting task.

It does not help that they live in a world where power makes right. A world controlled by powerful corporations and modernized martial arts sects. A world where those at the bottom of society often find themselves at mercy by those higher up in the power chain.

Is Street Cultivation good?

Street Cultivation is a good and interesting twist on the LitRPG genre. It mixes in both elements from the Wuxia genre and cyberpunk elements.

It's a good story that also contains slice-of-life elements. It's more than just cultivation and level-ups.

Street Cultivation is a good book series that is worth checking out.

Why is Street Cultivation recommended?

Street Cultivation is an interesting mix of the LitRPG and Wuxia/cultivation genres. It is not a virtual world like most LitRPG books and its set in a future fictional future universe. But if you like cultivation stories, or if you're curious about them then Street Cultivation is a good LitRPG to check out.

Perimeter Defense

Sector Eight, Perimeter Defense book 1 cover

Ruslan is a professional gamer that one day gets a strange job opportunity. He has been contracted to command a space fleet in a brand-new secretive game that is exclusively for the elite. He has never heard of it before.

Ruslan has to be in a total immersion chamber for six months while he fulfills his contract. His main objective is to survive until those six months are over.

Is Perimeter Defense good?

The Perimeter Defence books are an interesting mix between the LitRPG and military science fiction genres.

The LitRPG elements are very light, it's more focus on space command. It's not the first book in the genre I would pick, but if this genre mix looks interesting then it's definitely worth giving a try.

Why is Perimeter Defense recommended?

Perimeter Defence is different from most of the other suggestions. It's more like Military Science Fiction books with LitRPG elements.

If you want to read a science-fiction book with LitRPG elements then the Perimeter Defence books are a good place to start.

Bushido Online

Bushido Online: The Battle Begins cover

Seth Kinnaman's dream has always been to become the best fighter the world has ever seen. He has spent his entire life training to reach his dream.

In the semifinals of the world's biggest tournament, his opponent uses an illegal move that puts Seth in a coma. When Seth wakes up he discovers that he has become blind and that the dream he has worked for his entire life is now impossible.

Seth falls into a terrible depression.

Seth is introduced to the VRMMORPG Bushido Online to help out with his depression and to keep his skills sharp. The game does not need his eys to render the world for him.

Bushido Online is set in feudal Japan where players can play as ninjas, samurai, and other classes. It's a game where real-life fighting skills are helpful for in-game fighting. Something that is perfect for Seth's situation.

Is Bushido Online good?

Bushido Online is a decent LitRPG series that is set in an eastern medieval setting instead of the more typical western one.

It's not among the best LitRPGs, but its worth a try if you like this genre.

Why is Bushido Online recommended?

The Battle Begins (Bushido Online) is not among the absolute best LitRPGs out there, but its included on this list because it has a slightly different setting and main character than most of the others. It has a main character that is not a gamer and is set in feudal Japan instead of a western medieval setting.

Chaos Seeds

Book cover: The Land: Founding

James and his friends were among the top teams on the newest and greatest VRMMORPG game, The Land. When they were riding a new dungeon he was separated from his friends.

A game boss, or so hi thinks, asks him a question.

After answering the same question three times he is suddenly transferred to the real planet that the game was based on.

James still has access to his character sheets and delves into this real game, where he now is called Richter.

Richter quickly finds himself dragged into an age-old war. A war between forest sprites and goblins. At the same time, he also ends up in control of his own village that he has to grow.

Is Chaos Seeds good?

The Chaos Seeds books are so far among the best LitRPG books I have read, atlas among the LitRPG book that goes all-in with the game mechanic.

Richter's story is captivating, funny, and a little addictive. I feel like I'm playing the adventure I'm reading and it's always interesting when Richter levels up or finds new loot.

The only thing I hate about this series is the author, he has been attempting to trademark the LitRPG genre. He's a greedy bastard, but his books are good.

Why is Chaos Seeds recommended?

Chaos Seeds has strong game mechanics with both good character leveling and town building. It also has lots of looting and questing. It's not a virtual world, but a real-world with game mechanics in it. This is a good starting point if you want a typical and good LitRPG series.

Sentenced to Troll

Sentenced to Troll cover

Chad has acted as a toxic troll one time too many against other players. After a specially nasty outburst, the authorities have decided to make an example of him.

They have sentenced him to a 30-day sentence of full-immersion therapy designed to improve his anger issues. For his endless trolling in real life, he's forced to play the most hated race in the Isle of Mythos.

He has to play as a troll.

The goal is that he can finally experience what it's like to be on the other side. As a troll, he is hated by humans, and since he is an outsider he is also distrusted among the other trolls.

To make the matter even worse, the game has mutated his character name to Chod instead of his regular cool nickname.

Chod sets out on a quest for the local troll tribe. Along the way, he makes both friends and enemies and he uses some very unorthodox solutions to some of the problems he faces.

Is Sentenced to Troll good?

Sentenced to Troll is a cool twist on the LitRPG genre with an interesting story. Its not the first LitRPG book where the main character is sentenced to full-immersion in a VRMMORPG game, but it is slightly different. It's not the first LitRPG I would start with, but its a decent pick if you already have read some and is searching for more.

Why is Sentenced to Troll recommended?

Sentenced to Troll is a series where the main character starts out as a douchebag and grows into something better. It has full immersion pods, and the main character is stuck for a fixed time person in it. He has to play as a monster race.

Completionist Chronicles

Ritualist Completionist Chronicles, Book 1 cover

Joe is an army medic that had an accident at work and has become a quadriplegic with no chance of getting healthy again. When he is given the option to permanently transition his consciousness into a virtual world, a game, he takes it.

When he enters the game he is given the option of picking a special class, a ritualist. Its a class with huge potential, but it also has the drawback that if anyone discovers his class, he will be hunted down.

Is Completionist Chronicles good?

The Ritualist (Completionist Chronicles) is among the best LitRPG books I have read so far.

Joe does not have a typical fighting class, and he is not turned into a Mary Sue character. The story is interesting, and I love the game elements and character leveling in this book.

Why is Completionist Chronicles recommended?

The main character in the Completionist Chronicles has his mind transferred into the game. He has a slightly different class than the usual combat-related class. There is still combat, so no worries.

Hopefully, this article gave you a short introduction to what LitRPG is and some good suggestions to try out. Our aim was to find a variety of different types of LitRPGs so you could pick the ones that sounded most interesting.

You should come back in the future. We have plans for extending this article, and for some related articles. There is also a little more in the introduction about what LitRPG is that could be fleshed out some more too. So else come back for more.