The Legend of Randidly Ghosthound

B: Great read with some quibbles.

A fun LitRPG adventure with great exploration of skills and systems. It eventual loses itself on Royal Road (well past the Amazon book), but the first book is fantastic.

Note: I’ve read the Amazon Book One, and then Royal Road chapters up to around Chapter 300 (ie many books worth). This review uses all of the content I’ve read, but I’ll make sure to separate book vs royal road if you’re thinking of buying. Actually, scrap that, just buy the first book, its great, and then continue on RR if you want.

So let’s begin with the basic premise. Earth is taken over by the System, and it becomes an effective post-apocalypse LitRPG adventure, which is fairly normal for the genre. Our MC, Randidly, has the bad (but good) luck of being randomly teleported into a dungeon when the System takes over. It’s a high level dungeon, and you can’t earn class levels in a dungeon (but you can earn skill levels), and he is a scrub.

So, lets of tension, lots of fighting to survive, and lots of experimenting with the system (like discovering Farming as a skill) right out of the gate. I loved it.

Without spoiling how things happen, our MC escapes the dungeon after months and months, only to find that its only be hours since the System took over (hello 1000x time dilation mechanic). The central exploit / gimmick of the series is that once people gain a class so they can level up (which has good attribute and stat benefits), they have a limited number of skills they can learn. Without a class, Randidly can learn as many skills as he wants, but can’t level up properly. So, will he grind skills forever, or wait to find the perfect class?

The skill focus is a major strength of the series, as it allows Randidly to explore many, many avenues of creative problem solving in his life and the many fights he gets into. This is the joy of the series—digging into those fun skills and how they all work.

It is also where things start to go off the rails eventually. I’ll circle back to this in a tick.

Character wise, we have Randidly, but then also a bunch of other secondary characters. These don’t get much development, and the number of secondary characters continues to expand and expand as the series goes on, which gets in the way of feeling a proper connections to any of them.

As an aside, some of the characters infuriate me (in the bad way). After the apocalypse, Randidly is about to form a village, but the declines the Village Chief role. An arrogant and annoying teen runs up and makes himself Village Chief (a System role, not just words), and then refuses to give people classes unless they work under him and call him a boss. Despite the human race being in peril and how tense everything is, every character sort of shrugs and goes “yeah alright, we’ll let this dumbass teenager steal the position of Village Chief, who cares.” How am I supposed to feel tension about the state of humanity when the characters clearly don’t care either?

I assume it happened because the author thought it might be fun down the line, but it doesn’t make sense to me in the story. This is probably the main issue with the series, especially after chapter 150 or so. Things happen because the author (or readers) wants a change of pace or to explore something else, not because there are good story reasons.

As some examples:

  • Early on, after saving the second Newbie Town (and learning Cooking), Randidly has this big chapter about how all his progression is thanks to potion making and how he’s going to dedicate himself to it from now on. Then he just… never does. Instead, crafting chapters become about mana engraving, not potion making.
  • To add some character conflict, Tessa—during the middle of a monster invasion killing thousands of people in her city—confronts Randidly about how non-violence is the best option. Totally out of the blue. And then the character disappears essentially forever.
  • To make Randidly appear smart, the author makes an entire world dumb (not Earth, to be clear). Randidly invents selling food, concession stands, merchandising, and more.
  • Randidly’s mentor has him murder someone to get thrown into prison, kills dozens to help them escape… but then gets upset about Randidly not valuing human life.
  • A godlike being is about to break down Randidly’s barrier, so he scrambles for something to do. In the second or so he has… he destroys a massive artifict, uses its pieces to create, design and build a giant clock, evolves his inner wisp creatures, creates an artifical world for them inside himself, and more. Not even Dragonball Z with their “the world will blow up in five minutes” has gotten a sense of urgency so out of whack.
  • Randidly is teleported to a new world, given some inane quest out of the blue, and suddenly that’s what we’re doing for a hundred chapters, no issues.
  • Randidly is worried about how his home village is going, but actively decides not to use the universe-spanning LitRPG messaging system they unlocked to check in. Decides to just do it later. Again, hard for me to care when the characters don’t.

There are a few more examples, and sometimes the author even lampshades it:

Randidly walked out the the arena, struck by how… ridiculous this all seemed. But then again, this was another world.

This sort of meandering and lose plot is a common web serial problem. The authors have to pump out chapters and content, and don’t get to write and plan far ahead enough. And then on top of that, your readers constantly hound you about things they do or don’t like. Maybe a lot of people said they don’t want more potion making, and that’s why it just disappeared. Who knows.

So yeah, it becomes a bit harder to invest in the plotlines as you continue, because the problems (and then solutions) seem to blatantly fabricated. Like… if you have dungeons which provide 1000x time compression, Randidly no longer really ages due to his Vitality, and he’s one of the only people (without a class) that won’t get sick by staying inside them… how is this not something he abuses incessantly? It’s literally a perfect solution, that he never utilises fully, which makes me roll my eyes at all of the “but there was no more time to…” segues designed to increase tension.

However, whilst we remain on Earth for the first few arcs, its great fun, and I highly recommend people do check out the Amazon publication.