I’m and Indie Writer that enjoys writing for fun and hope to at one time to actually become a professional writer. A common dream of almost every writer in the world, since it would be awesome to be able to do what you love as a job. My first two books were completely original as I came up for an idea for a gamer-style Paladin living in a modern-day world and how that would turn out. I learned a lot of lessons writing the story, but then found myself with too many plot lines and not being sure how to bring it all back into just a few storylines as I received feedback from my readers.
Once I cleared my head and got back into writing, I wrote out an Outline to a new LitRPG series that I had the urge to write. I’d been reading a slew of LitRPG novels and thought it would be fun to write about gaming and decided to do a LitRPG genre outline for my storyline in August and September, which I posted on my personal blog http://www.thecheekyfellow.com/home-blog/new-fivr-mmorpg-litrpg-the-world Even though the post is dated January 10, 2017, I talk about sitting down to start write my new story arc in October 2016 (meaning my Outline was already completed by October) but I was having trouble focusing on writing because of my wife’s major health issues that put her into the hospital for nearly three months. I was able to get two and a half books finished by January 2017, but the last half of the third book took nearly another two years to finish due to life complexities, my wife’s health issues and my desire to have three books to release all at once.
I bring this timeline up because Ascend Online, the book that I’ve been accused of stealing part of the story arc where the hero appears at the start of the game in a town due to a glitch and saves the NPCs from Goblin invaders. The story proceeds from there and is centered around saving the town and the hero’s group of friends. An excellent story from Luke Chmilenko that was released October 3rd, 2016.
The storyline I came up with has the book start out at the end of another Online Game where the hero and his guild of friends are battling a group of PVPers who are bullies in the game that love to grief other players. After that battle ends, the new game starts with a P&E exam for the actual player to bring upgraded stats into the game. There is a training time period before the game starts so players understand how to actually function inside the new FIVR technology and then the game start. My character chooses a Nightmare start, which is an option for any player that chooses to do a hardcore start with increased pain to make the game more real.
Here is where I’m accused of stealing part of a story arc. “The hero appears as a group of refuges are being wiped out by Goblin raiders.” (Remember the Outline was already finished before the release of Ascend Online.) The rest of the action and reasons the hero is there is unique, but the fact that he appears in-game to save these NPCs is what I’m accused of plagiarizing. (I won’t even go into how many LitRPG stories have something like this at the beginning of their storyline. It’s very basic MMO style theme which fits LitRPG)
The rest of the storyline is again unique and proceeds from there. The hero has one chance to save them or restart his character. After saving the refugees, his quest is to recover the castle that the NPCs have been pushed out of and take over the guild leader’s crystal. There is a temporary structures build by the hero while he focuses on keeping the refuges alive and retaking back the overrun castle to push out the invaders. In-between that part of the story there is a dungeon dive and a major run-in with his previous antagonist from the first game as they bully the players in the new game. While his gaming group is in the game and their adventures pop up in discussions, he hasn’t had a chance to meet up with them by even the end of the third book in the series. The character, spell, and weapon progression is the same general type in any LitRPG storyline. There are a lot of components borrowed and tweaked for the story, just like in any LitRPG novel. I did my best to put my own twist to the specifics: bringing in skill types for 1handedge and 2handedge type of weapon skills, the ability to learn in-game skills on your own without a trainer, the ability to learn the general skills of any class if you just to spend the time practicing or learning other skills like a Red Mage instead of sticking to a base RPG character-type of build and the ability to advance other base character stats for the actions you participate in doing within the game world.
My wife was released out of the hospital at the end of January, which was when my ability to continue writing the last half of my third book stopped, since I had to take care of her and everything else. After almost two intense years of dealing with my wife’s on-going sickness after her multiple surgeries, my dog dying from cancer, my house being broken into, getting my green cards completed for my family, dealing complexities at work, getting new dogs and needing to train them, I finally was able to sit down and complete the last half of the third book and get everything published.
I was excited to see how my writing had changed from my first two books and was thrilled to be part of the LitRPG community, since it had helped with my stress during my wife’s sickness. I was able to officially join the https://www.litrpg.com/ community as a fellow writer and was looking for feedback to my story when I was instantly accused by a group of members for plagiarizing Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko.
It didn’t matter that my storyline was different. It didn’t matter that the specifics of my LitRPG progression was tweaked to be different as the other LitRPG writers before me. It didn’t matter that other writers saved NPCs from monsters in their intros. The use of my hero coming to save a group of NPCs from Goblin Raiders at the beginning of the game obviously meant that I’d plagiarized the entire manuscript from Ascent Online? Wtf is that all about was the only thing I could think of at the time? It didn’t matter how many other stories has the same start “save people from Goblins and rescue the town” type of theme that have come out before and after Ascent Online. It didn’t matter that every LitRPG writer have taken huge chunks of AlterWorld: Play to Live. A LitRPG Series (Book 1) by D. Rus, Publication Date: July 18, 2014 and tweaked the author’s use of game progression into their work. For my accusers, that wasn’t plagiarism, that was writing under the LitRPG header.
Hell, look at google’s description of the genre: LitRPG is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy which describes the hero's adventures within an online computer game. LitRPG books merge traditional book-style narration with elements of a gaming experience, describing various quests, achievements and other events typical of a video game.
Look at the rules for writing LitRPG from our group https://www.litrpg.com/: What is LitRPG you ask? It's a scifi or fantasy story that follows the two Commandments of LitRPG:
1) A LITRPG SHALL involve some type of expliticitly stated progression (ie leveling, report of item finds, quests, etc)
2) A LITRPG SHALL involve a game-type world of some kind that the main character has been involved in.
The rules of the Facebook LitRPG group is pretty simple: GOLDEN RULE: Have FUN, No Drama! Drama gets das'boot!
1) This is a READER based group, not a WRITER based group.
This is NOT a group to crowdsource ideas (ie asking questions of the group) for stories, writing, or publishing tips. LitRPG will only grow as a genre based on unique ideas and no one wants to see the same ideas recycled. Posts like this will be deleted. There are dozens of author groups out there for that.
NO ADVERTISING for other groups, blogs, sites or personal pages without permission of an admin
2) No politics
3) No hate mongering or bigotry. Callously questioning someone's manhood is encouraged, however.
4) Perfectly okay to say if you do or don't like a book, but don't be a dick about it. And do not go after anyone personally, authors or readers! ZERO TOLERANCE!
5) Posts on general coolness are always welcome, but please try and limit book posts to LitRPG, except for Brandon Sanderson... you know, b/c he's the MAN!
6) Feel free to recommend a newly released litrpg BUT, if it's by a new author please confirm with the moderators beforehand that it counts as litrpg or it may be removed.
Did any of these rules apply to my post about my book? Did the moderators come to my defense when a group of friends got a bug up their ass and decided to accuse me of plagiarizing Ascend Online? No, my post was removed. What about the rule: (4) Perfectly okay to say if you do or don't like a book, but don't be a dick about it. And do not go after anyone personally, authors or readers! ZERO TOLERANCE!)? The people blasting me for plagiarism were allowed to do so without the moderators stopping them. These same people made it even more personal when they went to my book on Amazon and left reviews saying the same thing. Is this just? Is this right? It’s like being assaulted by a group of bullies as a kid in the playground who then do their utmost best to savage their victim.
When I finalized my book, just before publication, I did my ‘author thanks’ page and listed some of my favorite LitRPG writers, which was again used to justify the accusations against me for plagiarism. I have to say, I feel betrayed by the community I’ve enjoyed for so long and so much that I felt motivated to write a novel within the genre.
Taking general idea from a genre and tweaking it for your storyline is not plagiarism. For those of you who are interested in the timeline for LitRPG as I know it from my reading and the similar ideas that have been borrowed from D. Rus’ work AlterWord by other authors, I’ve listed the novels below: (aka if an author in the LitRPG community is not listed here, it just means I haven’t read your work)
AlterWorld: Play to Live. A LitRPG Series (Book 1) by D. Rus, Publication Date: July 18, 2014: the first LitRPG writer that I became aware of and is the oldest published book in the list. Book is about a gamer going into a game, game-style character progression, dungeons within the story, PVP in the story, creation of guild and taking over a piece of land, purchasing unique NPCs for the player’s land/guild, raising undead, spell progression, sword attacks, spell attacks, and first monster enemy animals and knolls.
A Virtual Dream (The Dragon's Wrath #1) by Brent Roth, Published April 12th 2015: gamer going into a game, game-style character progression, spell progression, sword attacks, spell attacks, taking over a piece of land, purchasing NPCs for their land, first enemy animals, NPCs and Goblins.
Survival Quest (The Way of the Shaman #1) by Vasily Mahanenko, Published April 20th 2015: gamer going into a game, game-style character progression, spell progression, sword attacks, spell attacks, taking over a piece of land, and first enemy animals.
Patch 17 (Realm of Arkon #1) by G. Akella, Published September 22nd 2015: gamer going into a game, game-style character progression, spell progression, sword attack, taking over a piece of land, and first enemy demons.
The Land: Founding: A LitRPG Saga (Chaos Seeds Book 1) by Aleron Kong, Publication Date: November 20, 2015: gamer going into a game, game-style character progression, spell progression, sword attacks, spell attacks, taking over a piece of land, first enemy animals and saving NPCs from Goblins.
Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwe, Publication Date: July 23, 2016: Gamer joining a game, game-style character progression, undead aspect and progression, spell progression and sword attacks, and spell attacks.
Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko, Publication Date: October 3, 2016: Gamer joining game with friends, game-style character progression, spell progression, sword attacks, taking over a piece of land and first enemy saving town from Goblins.
Last Horizon: Beta by Daniel Schinhofen, Publication Date: October 2, 2016: Gamer joining game with friends, game-style character progression, spell progression, sword attacks, taking over a piece of land and NPCs, first enemy was PVP and saving a town from Goblins.
Unbound Deathlord: Challenge (Unbound Deathlord Series Book 1) by Edward Castle, Publication Date: November 1, 2016: Gamer joining a game, game-style character progression, undead aspect and progression, spell progression, sword attacks, and first enemy saving NPCs and hero from skeletons and Goblins.
Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm: A litRPG Adventure (The Viridian Gate Archives Book 1) by James Hunter, Publication Date: December 23, 2016: gamer joining a game, game-style character progression, sword attack progression, spell attack progression, taking over a piece of land.
The Trapped Mind Project (Emerilia Book 1) by Michael Chatfield, Publication Date: January 23, 2017: gamer going into a game, game-style character progression, dungeons within the story, creation of guild and land, spell progression, swords and other weapons progression.
Eden's Gate: The Reborn: A LitRPG Adventure by Edward Bro, Publication Date: February 6, 2017: gamer going into a game, game-style character progression, dungeons within the story, creation of guild and land, spell progression, sword, and first enemy animals and saving NPCs from goblins.
Gamer for Life (Alpha World Book 1) by Daniel Schinhofen, Publication Date: February 27, 2017: Gamer joining game with friends, game-style character progression, spell progression, sword attacks, taking over a piece of land and NPCs, first enemy was saving a town from Goblins.
Scout (Blades VR Book 1) by Terry Schott, Publication Date: June 7, 2017: gamer going into game, game-style character progression, dungeons within the story, spell progression and sword progression.
The Legacy Builder: The Chronicles Of Lincoln Hart (Barakdor Book 1) by Ember Lane, Publication Date: March 3, 2018: About a gamer joining a game, game-style character progression, building process of land ownership, spell progression and sword progression.
Temple of Sorrow: A LitRPG and GameLit Adventure (Stonehaven League Book 1) by Carrie Summers, Publication Date: April 24, 2018: About a gamer joining a game, game-style character progression, spell progression, sword progression, building process of land ownership and first enemy animal and Goblins.
Underworld - Level Up or Die: A LitRPG Series by Apollos Thorn, Publication Date: November 6, 2017: Game-style character progression, undead progression, sword progression, first enemy Zombies and Skeletons.
Guild Master: A LitRPG adventure (Tower of Power Book 1) by Ivan Kal, Publication Date: August 28, 2018: Gamer style progression, sword progression, spell progression, building and land ownership and first enemy saving NPCs and town from Goblins.
First Login (The World Book 1) by Jason Cheek, Publication Date: September 3, 2018: Gamer style progression, sword and spell progression, building and land ownership, first enemy saving NPCs from Goblins.
A friend of mine said this much better than I did with a lot less words:
Well I haven't read ascend online but reading the blurb at least for book 1 the premise does sound similar but even that book is not anything new in the genre as well, you could say it was derivative of heaps of things. Ascend online is pretty similar to aplha world by Daniel Schinhofen, and there are SHITLOADS of UF litrpg series that could be classified as derivatives of other novels without being plagiarism.
So no I wouldn't say it is plagiarism of any sort, whilst you aren't doing anything revolutionary and there are quite a few similarities, there are heaps of stories floating around that are similar, and those people on the lit rpg page are just being dicks, they probably complain about everything that gets posted.
Most of the stories I've read like this have been on royal road and like translated novel sites.
1. In previous post I write that I started my book in October 2016.
2. Images 1 & 2 below dated November 17-30, 2016 is the request for the LitRPG bookcover for my first LitRPG novel, First Login.
3. Image 3 which is dated March 9-20, 2017 is the request for the LitRPG bookcover for my second and third novels.
4. Image 4 is when I first read Ascent Online on Amazon Kindle, which is dated November 11, 2016. This is six days before the request for my book cover which was ordered for the completion of my first novel.
5. Image 5 is when I first read Dragon's Wrath on my Amazon Kindle, which is dated November 1, 2016. At this point my first LitRPG book has been nearly completed.
6. Image 6 is taken from my post on January 10, 2017 about how it took me a little over a month to write my first LitRPG book, First Login.
Unfortunately, due to my wife's sickness, I was never able to get the books out in May of 2017. It wouldn't be until September 2018 that I was able to get back on track to complete the last novel in the series and get the books published.