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Literature / This Used To Be About Dungeons

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This Used to be About Dungeons is an ongoing slice-of-life adventuring story by Alexander Wales that occasionally features dungeons.

Mostly it's about walking in the woods with a friend, looking for mushrooms to put in your soup, or haggling with the guy selling squash, or taking care of a neglected garden. It's putting some jam on shortbread biscuits. And yes, sometimes you go down into the dungeons with your friends, and you kill monsters there, or disarm traps, but when you come out, you realize you've found the perfect magic item to give to one of the local kids that helped you out when your cat was sick. Look, the dungeons are always going to be there, and sometimes you need to make a journey to one of the Spirit Gates, or make a pilgrimage with the local Cleric of Symmetry to a holy shrine. Your tour through the local dungeons can wait. You'll have rivalries with other groups, and find some dungeon eggs that need to be carefully incubated in case they turn out to be something valuable, and help a friend to build a fishing weir. There's a big world out there, a mostly tame place with lots of magic, and even more to do and see. Join me, won't you?


The story can be found here on Royal Road and updates on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

This Used To Be About Dungeons contains examples of:

  • Adventure-Friendly World: Dungeons are ubiquitous, having been set up far in the past to keep natural magic from getting too out of control. Occasionally they need to be cleared out, providing a valid if niche career path.
  • Arc Number: Six. There are six gods, each with six groups of six groups of six chosen ones to serve them, and the basic unit of land is called a hex. A notable break from this pattern is that the limit for party size is five.
  • Benevolent Precursors: The Editors, a mysterious group from far in the past who created the dungeons, codified classes, and established the criteria to determine someone's elevation.
  • Blessed with Suck: Verity is a chosen one of the god of infinity, and she really wishes she wasn't.
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  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": An in universe example. According to the world's magical census system, people who make magic items are counted as cobblers, magic item maker being a comparatively new profession that post-dates the establishment of the system.
  • Cats Are Magic: Or at least, they're one of the rare dungeon spawned creatures that can propagate outside of dungeons, and one of the even rarer varieties that isn't overtly hostile to humans. Same thing with chickens and tomatoes.
  • Druid: Isra is one unintentionally, thanks to the circumstances of her birth and her father's disinterest in his new community.note  She spent most of her life unaware of the fact and mostly used her abilities to hunt more effectively.
    • Known abilities include: knowing the next day's weather, knowing which plants are safe to eat, an awareness of all nearby animal life, the ability to talk to plants, animals, and natural phenomena such as puddles of water, and the ability to see through an animal's eyes.
  • Dungeon-Based Economy: Not entirely true, but they do provide a lot of magical items and material conveniences.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The gods are based on various mathematics concepts.
    • Bixzotl, God of Copies
    • Garos, God of Symmetry
    • Kesbin, God of Nothing
    • Oeyr, God of Emmergence, aka God of Disorder, aka God of Asymmetry
    • Qymmos, God of Sets, aka God of Knowledge
    • Xuphin, God of Infinity, aka God of Increase
  • Magitek: Many real life conveniences are replicated using magic items scrounged from dungeons.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The party members are all a little out of step with the rest of their peers in one way or another.
    • Alfric: An ambitious and single-minded new adventurer left scrambling to set up a party after his first carefully crafted group was poached by a rival.
    • Verity: A bard chosen by a god for unknown purposes that resents the distraction from her music.
    • Mizuki: An aimless young woman whose status as a sorcerer makes her something of a pariah among other mages.
    • Isra: A druid orphaned at a young age who didn't realize her natural abilities weren't shared by others.
    • Hannah: A Cleric whose true-believer religious convictions are viewed with disfavor by her more bureaucratic superiors in the church.
  • Reality Warper: Sorcerers are a minor version, with an emphasis on Warper. They're able to affect the magic around them, but they can't produce any on their own and need some pre-existing magic to work with. This makes them generally unpopular with other mages whose workings they harvest and alter.
  • RPG-Mechanics Verse: Downplayed, with the only overt RPG elements being a party and guild system.
  • Slice of Life: The story is much more down to earth and character driven than the author's more well known works, with the plot largely concerning the drama and day to day practicalities of setting up a new adventuring group.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Dungeons get more powerful from nearby magic, be it from mages, magical items, or natural features of the environment, making it easy to find one of an appropriate level. Just starting out and need a relatively risk free test of your abilities? Find an out of the way town and clear out the nearby dungeons. Have some experience and looking for something more lucrative? Head to a larger town or find an area naturally high in magic. Repeat as many times as you like, with the main complication being that you can go into each dungeon only once.
  • Verbal Tic: Hannah likes to end her sentences with an inquisitive "ay?".
  • White Mage: Hannah is a Cleric in the service of the god of symmetry, whose priests are known for their facility with healing magic.