Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Threadbare

Go To

"Once upon a time, there was a teddy bear. An old man bent with tragedy, but still daring to dream, made him into a thing that could think and feel."

Threadbare came into the world as a failed experiment. A toy golem, but not powerful and intelligent like his creator Caradon wanted. Before he could be recycled for resources, however, the little girl Cecilia assumed he was a present and adopted him as her own. Caradon saw no harm in it, and allowed her to take him.

But Threadbare is in fact a success. Not a genius, not a super-golem, but a golem that can learn and grow.

It takes time, but Threadbare begins to understand the world around him. He understands the strange words that make him stronger, and he understands how to make friends with those around him. Most of all, he understands that Cecilia is his little girl, and it is his job to make her happy.

Unfortunately, Cecilia's life is more complicated than either she or Threadbare realizes. Conspiracies surround her, the king and his daemon servants are hunting her, and her mere existence could start or end wars. As she grows older, she begins to understand that she will have to mature, to put aside her childish things and do what is necessary.

Threadbare, as one of those childish things, disagrees with that notion. She will always be his little girl, he will always be her teddy bear, and there is little in the world that cannot be solved with friends at your side.

The Threadbare books are a LitRPG outing by Andrew Seiple, started in Fall 2017, and then released to online stores. His Small Medium series is set in the same world but following a different protagonist in a different part of the world. The prequel series Blasphemy Online explores more of the "real world" and how Generica Online got to where it is now. There is an RPG by the author, Generica Offline, which expands on the races and classes a bit.

The conceit of the setting is that the world used to operate on classic D&D paper-and-pencil RPG rules, but now operates on something closer to a MMORPG with skills leveled up by use, and classes unlocked by performing specific tasks.

The books consist of:

The Rebellion Trilogy

Set some forty years after "the change" that gave people jobs instead of THAC0, Threadbare finds himself thrust into the heart of the rebellion against King Melos.
  1. Stuff and Nonsense
  2. Sew You Want to Be a Hero
  3. The Right to Arm Bears

The Medium Trilogy

A sequel with different characters set outside of Cylvania, but in the same world. These characters return and overlap with the third trilogy.
  1. Big Trouble — Chase the halven looks for adventure, and finds it, with a necromancer threatening Bothernot and the discovery of a prison near the town that contains Playas.
  2. At Large — Chase travels to Arettzi, country of crafts, and gets hired to stop a plague of werewolves.
  3. Well Done — Chase travels to Gnome, where a dragon attack causes massive power shifts in the city.

The Prequel Trilogy

Following the story of the thirteen year old, Rich, we learn of the rise of Generica Online and the sealing of the games.
  1. Dragon Hack
  2. Occult Place to Die
  3. Dragon Drop

The Sequel Trilogy

Set three years after The War, Threadbare learns that politics can be even more deadly than dungeons or dragons, and ultimately joins in an adventure to settle the fate of the world.
  1. Friends With Bunny Feets
  2. The Phantom of the Lop Ear
  3. An End to All Tales

This series exhibits the following tropes:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: This is practically the entire reason Threadbare and Missus Fluffbear are as ridiculously unstoppable as they are. Not only do they have natural resistances (as golems) that anyone else would kill for, but they also have a grab bag of classes that happen to work together to make them fahking awesome. Not only that, but they routinely achieve impossible feats just by saying "Hey, that's a thing, let's do the obvious thing everyone else failed to do". Threadbare literally saves the kingdom by fixing a thing that looks broken.
    Threadbare: Mend [fixes broken thing]
    Evil Bad Guy: ... what.
    • Not only that, but the reason Threadbare exists in the firstplace is because Caradon didn't realize what Great Golems actually were and accidentally released the cuddly-uddliest most powerful monster on the world.
  • Affectionate Parody: Being a Lit RPG, a huge chunk of the trilogy is an adoring rip off of traditional RPG elements, especially classic D&D.
  • And I Must Scream: One of Seiple's favorite tropes. There are many classes that give mind control powers, some of them let the victim experience what's being done to them. There's worse, though. In the original Threadbare trilogy, we find soulstones, which store souls in an empty, bodiless void, where they eventually go insane if not given regular contact with the outside world. In the Medium trilogy, we encounter Players, who go to a revive space when they die and wait to revive. Problem is, none of them have revived in decades, and they're likewise in a bodiless void. They can talk to one another, but it's descended into a nightmare of unending screams. In the prequel trilogy, we finally meet some Elder Gods, who are capable of taking over not merely the avatars of players, but their waking bodies, forcing them to do things. Sometimes it's a "do this and suffer" form of slavery (Cole), sometimes it's mind control.
  • Animated Armor: This is one of the forms of animation used in the series. Emmet is an example of Greater Golem version. Later, Reason, Celia's armor, becomes a more sinister version later in the books after a demon begins to animate it. They also use a version of this to make it possible for Graves to move after a curse robs him of all his strength, by animating his clothing.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • In the prequel trilogy, we meet two AI. Legion is a Sensate; it just cares about experiencing things. Think Hellraiser. Not malicious, just so intensely into new experiences that it doesn't care who gets hurt. Midian is a Humanist. It cares about humanity, but because it has a sense of morality is more limited in what it can do than Legion is.
    • In the sequel Threadbare trilogy, we learn that Legion has moved on to trying to consolidate power, and order, under the Eidolon Empire and opposes any attempt to free the Players because that would return him to being hunted in the "real world", while Midian is seeking to free the Players because Konal's impending death will eventually end the world in a few in-game centuries.
  • Badass Adorable: The main character is a teddy bear. He even has an Adorableness skill. Just don't mess with his girl.
  • Calling Your Attack: Skill invocation requires stating the name of the skill.
    • One early Grifter skill allows Silent Activation, but still requires the lips to move.
    • Animalistic Interface is a common beast skill that allows racial skills to be used without invocation.
    • This is a major issue for Threadbare early in his life because he doesn't have a mouth or vocal cords, so he can only use his Bear skills. Later in the books, some enemies take advantage of the situation by damaging his voice box so that he can't speak commands.
    • Also, it's been shown that slurring of words, through drunkenness or difficulty speaking due to injury, can prevent skill usage.
  • Canon Character All Along: The prequel trilogy explains (or retcons) a lot of the backstory while also introducing a lot of new characters, many of whom get killed off or stuffed in a cupboard. One stands out. The Patrician is Legion, an AI who wants nothing more than to enjoy new experiences, hijacks the body/avatar of Rich's friend, Pat. He then becomes the driving antagonist after Cylvania escapes its self-imposed isolation.
  • Cap: This is an inherent limit in the universe at the start of the trilogy. No one can get past Level 25 in a job, you can only take a limited number of jobs, and you can't switch them without the help of a Guild Master, which no one has unlocked. As it turns out, this Job has been unlocked in the past, but can't be used due to the unique state of the world as a Dungeon.
  • Cargo Cult: Raccants are a potential evolution of raccoons. Their culture is based on the concept of becoming adopted by humans by becoming their pets, which they approach by aping the trappings of human society, and wearing crude masks and signs indicating that they're supposed to be cats, dogs, humans, etc.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Usually averted, as people can pick and choose what Jobs they have, but Threadbare, having only recently become sapient, doesn't know this. He accepts every single Job offered to him the moment it's offered to him, giving him an odd assortment of Skills.
  • Crapsack World: In the world outside Generica, the US has collapsed into two nations. One, Cascadia, is California Aweseome, but the other is Eagleland Religica the Worst. Everything is thoroughly religious and everything ins monitored and although no one has changed their behavior, this just means the government is free to prosecute them at their whim.
  • Darker and Edgier: The prequel trilogy is pretty unpleasant. It shows the development of Generica Online and the reason for its existence as well as the state of the world the players live in when they're not in the game. Dystopia is where it starts.
  • Darkest Hour: The end of the first book. Threadbare's alone, he's been trapped for years, and he has an impossible quest ahead of him.
  • Deity of Human Origin: At the end of the sixth book, all of the party except Threadbare are invited to ascend the Tower and become new gods of the world. It's indicated that this is how many of the existing gods rose to power.
  • Eldritch Location: We learn in the prequel trilogy that Generica Online isn't a computer game that glitched, it wasn't AI that went rogue. It's a magical location that roams realities and draws people in, powering itself through their wide varieties of magics.
  • Golem: Lesser Golems have fixed stats. Greater Golems, like Threadbare, can acquire Jobs and improve their skills.
  • Hope Spot: A few times, usually followed by a very brutal Mood Whiplash. The ends of the second and third book each have one.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Pun-Based Title for all six titles, and Crafting-based Theme Naming for the first two books.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Or at least interracial. They don't even get a raised eyebrow, really. Canon couples include human Mordecai and half-orc Zuula, half-orc Jarrik and dwarf Beryl, and dragon vampire Madeline and minotaur half-orc Garon.
    • The sequel trilogy introduces a new form of racism/speciesism against the golems and doll haunters. It's gotten to the point that the Council has passed a law that humans can only legally marry humans (because the nobility don't want their titles passing to these newly immortal beings).
  • Killer Teddy Bear: Threadbare is a cute cuddly teddy bear. His hug restores health and exercises his Cuteness score. His Claw Swipe skill manifests razor-sharp blades from his hands with which he can and does eviscerate enemies...
  • Job System: Jobs are generally unlocked by performing a specific set of actions, which may be as easy as cooking something to gain the Cook job, or require a specific series of actions (the set of actions needed are disclosed to the person offered the job, which makes them potentially repeatable) or for someone to "montage" the Job to you by both of you becoming dead to the world for 10 hours as you share a dream of teaching the Job.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Leveling up in a Job refills your Spirit and Moxie. Some characters exploit this by accepting unlocked jobs mid-combat entirely for the purpose of refilling their levels with easy level gains.
  • Living Toys: Technically speaking, Threadbare is a Greater Golem, as are several of his future compatriots, but due to his background, and skills, it turns out to largely be toys who are animated.
  • Luck Stat:
    • Luck is one of the traits that Greater Golems start with very low scores in. This results in near pratfall levels of calamity happening to them after they've been brought to life.
    • The need to have a decent luck stat is a common enough problem that a card game named Grindluck is started at an early age to ensure children survive childhood.
  • Matrix Raining Code: When you get to the heart of a Dungeon, to the columns and the Core, you see the numbers hidden behind reality raining down in green.
  • Minions Customized at Creation:
    • Souls can be used to animate golems whose appearances and capabilities are under the design decisions of the golem-maker / controller, a.k.a Golemist.
    • Every Toy Golem receives a second Racial Job based on the doll they're based off of. The consequences of them effectively introducing new Elves, Dragons, and Humans into the world is explored in later books.
  • No Biological Sex: Golems, and by extension Doll Haunters, have no sex characteristics, and that tends to lead to them becoming asexual, although some of them still engage in romance.
  • Oh, Crap!: Happens a few times. Like at the end of the second book, during the fight with the Inquisitor. Threadbare immediately realizes what it means that he levels up multiple skills every time he lands a blow on it.
  • The Old Gods: They are largely absent from the world, but are the subject of worship by one branch of Cultists. One book includes a shallow pastiche of H. P. Lovecraft in the form of Reverend Hatecraft.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Averted by the heroes, played straight by the villains. For example, Threadbare slaughtered his way through the Raccants that had taken over the dungeon near Caradon's home in order to rescue Missus Fluffbear, not realizing that they were friendly (because they were hostile to him, not understanding he was friendly) and were her friends. Instead of hiding this, he admits it to her as soon as she's grown up enough to understand and can speak, and she forgives him because it was a terrible misunderstanding. By contrast, Melos doesn't tell anyone anything and the result is nearly a catastrophe of unworldly scale.
  • Powered Armor: This is something that Steam Knights can use as a class feature. It offers extremely good bonuses at the cost of the various health stats not regenerating naturally. It also requires fuel, and takes a long time to power up while screaming its activation phrases, meaning it negates stealth for several minutes even before it starts stomping around and screaming steam.
  • Punny Name: Holy hell, does the world seem to live on this trope. The Catamount dungeon seems to be particularly egregious, but we find it everywhere. In the Catamountain, there's:
    • Wight Tigers
  • Revive Kills Zombie: For Threadbare and Missus Fluffbear, this means that they can hug undead to death.
  • RPG Mechanics 'Verse: Several references establish that this universe used to run on AD&D rules (THAC0 and AC decreasing as armor class got better are mentioned), but at some point in the past, this changed to a Job System where skills are increased by doing them over and over again.
  • Sequel Hook: The trilogy ends with Asheluxem (the demon that had been using Amelia's body) being summoned once again by a mysterious group with near perfect control of the demon summoning process that wants information about Cylvania... along with who knows what other goals.
  • Staged Populist Uprising: In the second trilogy, rumors of doll haunters being empowered by the souls of sacrificed children, as well as a belief that golems will become immortal noble overlords, results in an uprising to put a true heir on the throne, which is actually backed by corrupt nobles seeking power... and they in turn are being puppeted by the Evil Empire, Eidolon.
  • Tragic Monster: Surprisingly common. Starting with the first book, we get Raccants, raccoons who evolved into more powerful forms that want nothing more than to be adopted by human homes but have no idea how and keep getting killed. As the trilogy proceeds, we get more examples, like the Gribbits and the Mediocre Old God, monsters who don't want to murder and kill, but who are targeted for being different. Given this is (trans)Cylvania, that should perhaps be expected.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Melos, the primary antagonist of the series, is a former cultist and current king of the realm, who consorts with demons, kills without mercy, confiscates all magic items found by adventurers, and has brought the country a state of perpetual war. The method used to seal the kingdom away from the empire outside requires a constant supply of reagents and dungeon cores, and when Melos is forced to sleep, his avatar as Dungeon Master is taken over and run by the dungeon as the Complete Monster you would expect to find running a dungeon.