Yes, I have been radio-silent for a time (albeit that I use a wired connection.) Part of this is because the main project I was working on I temporarily shelved for REASONS. But last night, I finished the draft of The City and the Dungeon.
What? Time for some SOCRATIC DIALOGUE!
RAQ: (Rhetorically asked questions)
Q. What is The City and the Dungeon?
A 70k word young adult, coming-of-age novel in a world of monsters, treasures, and magic. And an impossible romance…
The City and the Dungeon is also my loving tribute to the dungeon crawling games of my youth, the sort that had no plot, graphics, or anything unnecessary to going into a dungeon, killing things, and coming back out with loot, then repeating this process. I’ve wondered what such a world would be like for real, and so I wrote this.
Q. TELL ME TEH DETAILS!
(That’s an imperative. But fine.)
The City is a source of wonders. Born to support brave souls venturing beneath, the City has since become a vast metropolis, the most glorious and powerful place on Earth.
The Dungeon is a vast world of unknown depth, containing incredible treasures guarded by terrible monsters. Among are the only magic items in the world, potions to improve one’s strength, beauty or even intelligence, and magical stones that give instant mastery in skills from painting to business.
But only those who touch the Cornerstone in the City dare to enter the Dungeon, for doing so they become a delver. A delver is quasi-immortal, bearing a heartstone inside that can be used to bring them back with the proper spell. Yet this comes at a price–for once a human being has a heartstone, they must consume crystal from the depths of the Dungeon or die.
Many become delvers, nonetheless, for every reason. Some seek power, others talent, magics, and healing, others simply to survive. Some to rescue those who had been lost in the Dungeon before them. Some seek the unknown bottom, for fame, knowledge, or in worship. Still others live above, supporting the brave by running shops or offer services. A few turn from the Law and lurk inside the Dungeon, slaying other humans.
Alex Kenderman, our hero, comes to the City for the sake of his family. But soon enough, he finds himself doing it for another reason.
A reason, perhaps, impossible: love.
Q. What age group is this for? Content warnings?
Junior High and up! I’d say it’s for even younger than Prince Anak the Immortal.
While the book is clean of (real) swearing and sex, it contains significant violence. The heroes are, after all, roaming a Dungeon and killing (non-sapient) monsters, and sometimes (temporarily) killed in return. The heroes also use magic as well, but it not in any way occult, only power invoked by seemingly arbitrary hand movements. Even “dark” magic is simply an element in the Dungeon, as one character points out.
Q. What does the scouter say about its papistry level?
The book contains trace of amounts of popery, as well as much Crypto-Catholicism. Nonetheless, this is not explicitly Catholic fiction.
I have taken care that the elements of RPGs one might find religiously offensive (as did my much younger self when I was young) aren’t. There’s no altars to worship at in the Dungeon to get power from false gods. There are powerful god-like human beings (very much like in Fred Saberhagen’s fantasy books), as well as truly devoted worshippers, of many things. Whether the character of the Creator one heroine worships is that of the Trinity is for the reader to contemplate.
Q. What game(s) inspired The City and the Dungeon?
Mordor: the Depths of Dejenol (primarily), roguelikes (including NetHack, Angband, ADOM, Ragnarok and Dwarf Fortress), Bravely Default (and Final Fantasy in general), and pretty much every other RPG I’ve played. Also, I listened to a ton of Sonic CD’s OST while writing.
Q. Non-videogame influences, plz. This is a book, not a videogame!
The Sword Art Online influence is obvious. Others include, Tower of God, Order of the Stick, the Face of Apollo, the Epic series (book), Ezekiel, and, of course life.
Q. What is an unlikely real-world word that occurs in the text?
Q. When is it coming out? GIMME GIMME!!
Details will be forthcoming. I hope to have more news within the month. Watch this space!