Chapter 10: Traveling East
“Avg Lv9 already?! Nee-chan, how? How?!”
Toru stuffed his face with food.
Ah, because Mom insisted, I sent him a text, If you don’t get off in 5 seconds and come eat…, and left what I would do to him purposefully ambiguous.
I suppose that was enough to threaten him, because several minutes later, I heard,
Bang, crash, thud thud thud
as the chibi hurriedly came down the stairs, careening into the wall.
Ah, he’s having problems walking in a straight line. Played too long, has he?
He hasn’t logged off, just gone afk.
What an enduring gamer, ne.
By the way, in this game, like in most VR games recently, going afk means that your avatar isn’t removed from the VR world and the sensations are dialed back considerably until you remove the afk status. It also puts an “Invincible” status on your avatar for a maximum of 30 minutes, so you won’t receive PK or monster damage. The amount of aggro you draw is also set to minimum.
Maa, as with everything, there are people who try to exploit that. It’s not very easy to do, since the sensation from the player to the avatar is so faint that even movements and telling what is going on is very difficult. Still, certain “cheat heroes” were able to manage it, although even then I’ve heard many of those guys prefer not to fight while afk.
They mostly just like doing so to prove they can do it, ne.
Even using an afk player as a meat shield is pretty impossible. They can’t be moved, and since their aggro draw is so low, monsters will change targets much too quickly for them to be any use.
On the other side, PKs have gotten skilled in figuring out how to ambush an afk player coming back. They choose to strike in the instant or disorientation (or several, depending on the person) that occurs when someone leaves afk.
In this game, apparently using any Skill will automatically take you out of afk. There is also a Skill icon that pops up in your view called Afk: Repulse. It knocks back everything around you 40 meters away.
I assume it’s just a matter of time before PKs learn to cope with that, but it should reduce casual PK.
Well, I haven’t gone afk yet in this game yet, so I don’t really know how well it all works, but if Toru is willing to come down by only going afk, it shouldn’t be too bad.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full, that’s bad manners.”
Mom chided the chibi.
Just because there’s a new game doesn’t mean we can neglect to eat as a family all the time – so I think, but Dad’s still working overtime … even though this is supposed to be a day off for him…
Being a project manager seems like a lot of work, na.
Toru swallows before he continues.
“Nee-chan, you have to be in the rankings then, if you’re almost Avg 10. There aren’t many people past Avg 5 right now, and basically nobody else past Avg 8. Since the leveling is weirdly slow in this game.”
It’s true, it really is. In other games you can get to level 10 in an hour or two. I’ve been playing for nearly a full day (realworld), but I’m still at Avg 9.
“Un, maa, you know I’m always in the rankings for, like, the first few days, and then I drop out of them just as fast. You only level quickest by killing monsters right at the beginning of the game, so … Anyway, the first day I had to have killed close to 50 monsters, and then I fought that continuous monster train on the second day, and then went on a never-ending wolf defense escort quest.”
“Uwaaaaaaah. Nee-chan, how are you able to do that? We keep having to rest for HP and MP to restore.”
“Umu, that’s true… I didn’t have to take any of that kind of down time. Maybe because I’m completely melee, and I have high strength and high endurance?”
“Then it’s really because of that orange Talent… you cheat.”
Toru kind of sulked into his omurice.
“Hmph. I’ll have you know I’m 100% sure my own abilities had a lot to do with it too.”
“Hmph. You say that, but stats are gods in games in the end.”
“How about you get out and move your body more too? Since it seems like those virtual games seem to go better when you train your actual body. Isn’t that why Narumi does so well? She even went out this afternoon.”
Mom said. Mom is an amazing mom. To keep up with her 2 gamer kids, she reads articles about VR games, although most of those articles are the ones that discuss how healthy VR is or isn’t.
But sorry, I didn’t go out running or to take a walk or anything earlier; I was tinkering with things in the garage.
“Wasn’t she just playing with things in the garage? Nee-chan, you smell like motor oil.”
… He’s too sharp, this chibi.
“Well, you can’t be too far behind, right? And since you’ll be prioritizing leveling, you’ll get stronger even faster soon.”
“Ah, yeah. Me and the other 4 guys in my party are all Avg 7 now.”
I expected it wouldn’t be by too much, but I was kind of hoping I was a lot higher than them…
“Then what are you going to do now?”
“Mn… head to the big city, Karolstrem first, I guess? We want to start heading out to other areas, and that seems like the best place to start looking for quests that will lead us to other places.”
Hm… Come to think of it, I haven’t gone into the main city yet. But you know,
“Huh? Then why didn’t you come with me to do the escort quest? We’re heading out kind of far to the east to a frontier town.”
“Huh?! What?! You didn’t tell me THAT!”
Eh? I didn’t? I did … not? I guess I didn’t.
“Mou. How did you even find it?”
“A drunk NPC in the northern town told me about it. Maa, to make up for accidentally not telling you the details, I’ll warn you about traveling east.”
“Nee-chan’s giving out information!? Are you feeling alright? Do you have a fever?”
“Oh, I see, Toru-san isn’t interested in what I have to say.”
“Nooo! I didn’t say that!”
Mom laughed as we 2 siblings argued.
Fumu, I’m really ranked 1 for both Damage and Avg Lv…
It is SO not going to last, though. Once players start crafting more, once they start doing more quests and PvPs more … I’ll fall behind because all I want to do is hunt and explore without caring about efficiency.
Among my friends, I’m known as the Top-Ranker(Temp) because I’m usually only the top for the first 10 levels.
… I can’t deny I still feel a sense of pride in this accomplishment…
I close the Ranking Board and walk around the town.
By the way, this isn’t the first town we stopped at, where we rested for nearly half a day.
I had logged in and done delivery quests while Jemino traded his wares for the 3 in-game days, and today is the 2nd day of traveling.
Half an hour in, we’ve stopped at a tiny village, where Jemino will spend an hour trading.
Like hell you can do anything in an hour!
Although, the village is REALLY tiny, so I’ve already talked to all the NPCs…
Now I’m just fiddling around while waiting for the caravan to take off again.
Haa … come to think of it, I have 9 Talent Points now. Even having to reserve 2 TP for the [Scribe] Talent, I have enough to take another Talent.
Which~ one~ should~ I~ take~
Actually, before that, I have another question:
Would a bear be more terrifying if it had a two-handed axe, or if it was dual-wielding axes?
N-no… it’s not like I’m making that decision purely for that reason…
Oh what the heck.
Yes, I think it would be way funnier to choose my style based on how terrifying I can be as a bear.
Have I mentioned I don’t care about efficiency?
It wouldn’t be funny if I took [Dual-Wield] but ended up unable to get used to it, you know.
5 TP wasted, right when it starts getting harder to level …
That’s not even good as a joke!
Ah. I know.
I’ll just try fighting with 2 axes even without the Talent. Sure I’ll get some penalties, but it’s ok~.
Lol, Toru and the others get mad at me for pulling this kind of crap, but you know, my combat style comes a lot from natural movement, so this kind of development is a matter of course~?
No matter how much I can justify it to myself, I decide to keep this decision a secret and just say, “Yeah” if they ask if I had taken [Dual-Wield].
But anyway, it’s decided that I won’t take [Dual-wield] just yet.
So which~ one~, which~ one~.
Should I go with crafting, or should I go with enhancement, or should I go with combat~.
I’m totally lost.
Usually I take something like enhanced damage, or critical, or strength or something, but you seriously level slower in this game, so I shouldn’t rule out picking something that sounds fun just because I want to get stronger faster.
Anyway, [Inheritance of the Forest Guardian] kind of covered ALL the enhancement things I usually take right away.
While deep in thought,
I sweep out my hand and catch the small back of the girl falling backwards.
“Sorry about that, I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
The girl blinked while in a daze. She seems unable to understand what was going on right away, and just remains leaning backwards in my arms.
Mint green hair in a short bob cut, cherry red eyes with red-rimmed glasses…
A glasses character has come! (lol)
All kidding aside, her spaciness is worrying. It’s ok if that’s just how she is, but if it’s an equipment malfunction, it might be better if she logged off for a bit.
“Are you alright? Do you feel unwell?”
“Eeee… um … kya! Oh, s-s-s-sorry!”
She got all flustered and flailed about, trying to stand on her own.
Glasses plus clumsy-girl character, huh?
Although she’s still unsteady on her feet, I somehow get the feeling this girl is about as steady in the real world as she is here.
“Are you ok? Your sensors aren’t making you feel sick, right?”
I ask that again, just to be sure.
If it wasn’t completely apparent, she’s a player, not an NPC
“I-I-I I’m fine! I just tripped! Sorry!”
I quickly help her get steady on her feet, and she bows deeply.
It wasn’t really something that needed so much apologizing, right?
“Well, don’t worry about it. I’m surprised to see another player here, honestly. Did you come with an earlier caravan?”
I’m pretty curious.
The OND doesn’t display level, after all, but I didn’t see her name on the rankings, so she has to be under Avg 5.
How did you get all the way over here like that? Those wolves weren’t easy to deal with, you know?
By the way, clumsy glasses girl’s name is Juri.
“No… I was avoiding monsters all the way over here, since they’re less likely to be hostile at mid-day, I just ran over here during those times, and then camped in safe zones when it wasn’t mid-day.”
Is that so?
I’ll remember to try to hunt during other times then.
But how many days did it take her to get over here?
Even moving faster than the caravan, it should take her at least 2 days, right?
“But now … I guess I have to find a caravan, huh? I ran into a rabbit earlier and it almost killed me. If I want to go any further east… Although I wanted to get to Nortius…”
The rabbit? The rabbits around here aren’t all that strong though…
“Um, Juri-chan, just wondering but … what Avg Lv are you?”
“It’s way too reckless to go out to Nortius. The quests out there start at Avg 5, you know. A cute girl like you is just going to get eaten up.”
And that’s quests beginning in the starter areas at that.
“Mou-! I’m 32 years old you know!”
I swore you were, like, 16.
“Sorry, Juri-san! Your avatar just looks so youthful, and it doesn’t look at all out of place on you.”
I’m definitely not going to say that I thought you were younger because of how you acted; definitely not!
“Mou. It’s not edited much from my real-life self, though…”
This 32 year old woman is standing here, going *pun pun* and sulking cutely.
It’s a lie, right? It has to be a lie.
“I know I’m under level, but I thought if I waited here, I could find a caravan that had a strong party already to head east. Then, even though I have a low level, I could get to Nortius quickly.”
“Hm… It’s not often that someone admits to wanting to mooch off of people that bluntly…”
“Eh-! No, that’s-!”
As I start laughing, she realizes I’m teasing her and frowns and puffs her cheeks out a little bit.
“Sorry, sorry. Well, there isn’t a party, but I’ve taken the caravan quest from the east starting village. I’m not sure when the next one will come, since I don’t think that many people know about the quest.”
“Uuu… what to do…”
Hm. There’s something…
Maa, iya, whatever. She’s cute as she tilts her head and nibbles on her lower lip, and as certain gentlemen can be found to say, cute is justice!
I’d totally want a little sister like her.
“You seem troubled, so I’ll just say, I can probably power level you fast if you join the caravan. Well, not that fast, but at least you’ll be Avg 5 by the end of the journey.”
“Yeah. I’m a vanguard-style dps, with my main combat Talent as [Axe]. What are you?”
“Uuun, I’m rearguard-style support. I have [Heal] and [Wind], but … [Heal] is Lv1.”
Fumu fumu, I see. She’s completely gone the support-style, huh? If she leveled up a bit, everyone would be going for her for parties.
Because most players don’t go full support.
[Wind] does have some attacks, but it has the most Buff Skills of all the elemental magic Talents, as well as being the weakest for damage.
Normally, if you were going for support, if you took [Heal], you’d take [Water] or [Dark], which are better offensively as debuffs to your opponents.
That way, if you can’t find a party, you can still play without dying.
Like that, I understand why Juri-san is having a hard time leveling, and why she would prefer to run away from monsters.
But you know … that kind of support is the kind that works best with me.
Stay in the back if you don’t want to get hit-! That kind of thing has been yelled too many times…
Well, that’s what Toru gets for inviting me to raids hahaha!
“That’s actually perfect. I haven’t had much trouble yet, but as we go further in, I’m sure I’ll need someone keeping track of my HP. That way, you can take your time to level [Heal] as we go further in.”
By the way, the reason I don’t take [Heal] myself is because I’m not going to take many MP boosting Talents. There’s nothing worse than a sub-par healer who runs out of MP halfway through.
If you play enough of these random skill/talent type games, you realize pretty soon that you can’t just take what sounds fun. You have to take skills/talents that build your stats the way you want them, or else you become impotent pretty fast.
Right now I have enough MP to spare while using melee attacks, but if I use heal Skills, just [Heal] by itself won’t bring my MP up enough to use them freely, and what if I run out of MP in the middle of combat?
It’s not just [Heal], I won’t be able to use my melee Skills either.
That’s what a lot of beginners don’t realize right away.
In a way, the Origin Story Talents help support beginners by giving them Talents that boost the stats they prefer to use, but I’m sure I’ll still see plenty of teary-eyed players begging to be helped to level as they try to correct their Talent choices and earn TP.
And in this game, the TP needed for further Talents will increase, so it’s going to be even harder to correct your stats if you take a bunch of mis-matched Talents.
Maa, if you’re just playing leisurely without exploring areas or doing party or raid quests on level, it’s not like it matters all that much, honestly. You’ll eventually get to a stage where you can handle it … but that kind of ultra laid-back play style doesn’t suit me well.
Anyway, after discussing it with Jemino the Trader, Juri-san joined our merry caravan.
Although Minas got irritated.
He’s a lot of fun to mess with, although he’s scaring Juri-chan.
Nii-chan, you won’t be popular with girls this way!
Was his only response.
“Toru, your ane-chan is seriously something else… How does she always manage to level so fast right at the beginning?”
Yoh groaned as he sat down, setting down his shield to wait for his HP to be restored.
“Eh? The top ranker is Toru’s older sister?”
Saya said, idly playing with her grimoire.
“Woooow, a ranker… will she share the spoils she gets with you?”
Potato grinned an exaggeratedly greedy grin.
How serious he was, no one was sure.
“Nee-chan never stays in the ranks for too long. And she doesn’t care about maximizing rare drops, so don’t think she’ll ever have anything to hand over.”
Well, even if she did get something good, there was no way Toru was going to beg for it. If anything, Toru much preferred to get rare drops on his own. If Narumi ever got something he wanted, he’d be way more likely to ask her the method to get it on his own rather than ask her to hand it over.
Besides, Narumi and Toru were both vanguards that prioritized dealing as much damage as possible as quickly as possible. The equipment both of them would use overlaps too much, so anything that Narumi got that Toru could use, chances are that Narumi would be using them.
Further besides, Toru has yet to measure the worth of rare drop equipment against crafted equipment.
If, like most games, high-quality crafted items out-performed dropped equipment, there really would be no use quibbling over rare drops.
“Hm…? Is she not actually that competitive or something?”
Sylvestre asked, testing his bow. Bows felt the effects of durability decrease a lot more than other weapons.
Yoh snorted and said,
“No way, no way. She doesn’t care about the rankings. Although if you ask to fight her, she really hates to lose.”
This is the conversation that Toru’s 5-man party was having, as they were resting to replenish HP and MP.
Toru’s party consists of, of course, Toru, a werewolf who dual-wields short swords, his high school friend Yoh, a shield and short-spear construct user, Saya, a siren fire and heal magic user (although she claims to want to learn all the magic Talents later), Potato, a werewolf thief-type utility character who strangely decided to use a modified pitchfork trident, and Sylvestre, an elf short-bow archer.
Of the group, only Toru and Yoh have partied with each other before. But Saya is in their high school and had randomly partied up with Sylvestre right at the starting village they both started in, and so Toru and Yoh invited them in. Potato ended up joining somewhere along the way, and no one’s entirely sure how he ended up with them.
The last spot in Toru’s regular party is reserved for a dedicated healer, since Saya prefers to deal damage, but it’s not good to rush that type of thing. If you can’t get along with either your tank or your healer, you’re going to have troubles.
Anyway, it’s hinted that you’ll have to master [Heal] multiple times to master all the branches of the healer’s talent, but since you can’t double up on Talents, you’ll have to wait until you override [Heal] with a higher level Talent in the [Heal] tree to take [Heal] again … in other words, to master all branches of a Talent, you will have to do everything from scratch again, over and over and over.
Picking up a healer right now, when everyone’s a new player, it’s impossible to know if a healer will end up following through with such a tedious Talent set up … is what Toru and his party thought, so they decided to hold back and wait a few more days before trying to recruit a healer.
Potato laughed, thinking over what a mysterious person Toru’s sister was.
“Gahaha! Does she think she can slack on her equipment and Talents and still be able to take everyone in PvP?”
““If it’s Narumi][Nee-san, then…””
Yoh and Toru said, at the same time.
Potato’s face froze at the unexpected response and he tilted his head.
“Nee-chan has really good instincts in combat, so she can do stuff that you usually need high stats to do, while she’s still low level. Like consistently dodging attacks, getting close to the enemy in a second, and instantly changing directions when she has to. So that’s why she’s invincible at low levels, but as people level up, they’ll eventually catch up and she’ll lose her huge lead.”
“… Is your sister a normal human being?”
Potato was really shocked. He knew people who trained their bodies had a slight advantage in VR, and there’s the popular trope that expert martial artists could bring their expertise into VR and become invincible, but that was still just a rumor.
“It has to be because of that, na.”
Sylvestre asked, glancing over from where he had been trying not to appear interested.
“Toru’s aneki used to go to a boxing gym.”
“That was only through middle school though … would it really have that much effect?”
Although he’d never admit it to her face, Toru was proud of his older sister, to the point where he’d sometimes get called a siscon by Yoh.
Although he’s not. Really, he’s not!
When we reached the next town, which is the last town before the canyon, and the last town before Nortius, Juri-san was exhausted.
Today there were less wolves, but more boars.
That being said, we only ran into 1 large herd of boars. The rest were stragglers.
I’m starting to get cooking material drops~.
When she saw me attacking the herd of boars, Juri-san went,
And stood in a daze near the wagons. She could hardly believe how I barreled through them.
My HP is going down, you know?
Keep it together, Healer-san!
By the way, Juri-san easily leveled up to Avg 4 by the time we reached the next town.
She’s probably near Avg 5.
[Bolstered Endurance]Lv11 (+1)
[Sharp Senses]Lv11 (+1)
[Spirit of the Wild Hunt]Lv10 (+1)
[Inheritance of the Forest Guardian]Lv7 (+1)
Avg Lv: 10
Hidden Parts of the Game Pt1
- Using stats that are boosted by the Talent: almost negligible ExP
- Using equipment associated with the Talent: minor ExP increase
- Entering new areas: minor ExP increase for all Talents
- Using skills from that Talent: moderate ExP increase
- Killing an opponent: moderate ExP increase for all Talents except crafting Talents
- Successfully crafting: moderate ExP increase for all Talents except combat Talents
- Completing quests: moderate ExP increase for all Talents
(Certain quests specify Talents that are prerequisites to obtaining the quest. In that case, the specified Talents will either receive an ExP boost, or be the only Talent(s) that receive ExP. These types of quest will list this information in the quest description in the quest log)
- In combat, Talent ExP gain is increased to 1.3 times the normal ExP gain.
Of course, these things are not disclosed to the public, but it’s actually quite simple, ne?
<A/n: Thanks Egg and Junior1210 for your donations! Hm. Naru didn’t have much stage time to be awesome this chapter. Ah well, let us reserve the action for next time.>