Crafter’s Passion

Written by Kris Schnee
Category: · Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Stan can’t afford to have his brain removed. The richest and luckiest players of the video game “Thousand Tales” get their minds uploaded to its virtual paradise world, while Stan can barely buy a handheld console. Instead of sulking he plays, and grows, becoming a skilled craftsman and seafaring explorer. The game’s ruling AI, Ludo, helps him find the hope and inspiration missing from his real life.

When the AI starts asking for favors and having him reach out between the real and digital worlds, Stan has a chance to turn his life into an actual adventure. But first he needs to earn the most valuable prize of all: his freedom.

“Crafter’s Passion” is part of the emerging “LitRPG” or “GameLit” genre, combining science fiction with the world of gaming.

—–

On Island East-2 stood Stan, in the dungeon, with the rickety raft. He dragged it out to the beach, scavenged more wood and some interesting shells, and paddled his way back west. The raft disintegrated just as he got within sight of East-1. He held onto a chunk of wood to help him float but couldn’t carry the rest in his pack. All he could do was start swimming! A scary fish swerved into his path but he managed to detour until it lost interest. Finally he sprawled onto the beach with a bunch of stat penalties for being wet and tired. Belatedly he realized, “I probably ruined everything in my backpack.”

A note said, [Nearly everything you’re carrying is safe, like coins and a sealed bottle, but that can be a problem with other items. There are several ways to get waterproofing.]

That sounded reasonable. He’d assumed that jumping into the water with a load of items was harmless, but that was his own fault. “Fine.”

He headed west to Central Island across the bridge. So far he just had that crude backpack full of loot, and he couldn’t carry much more without a better pack. He looked over the junky resources he’d scavenged, then the items he’d looted off his party members’ bodies. None of the equipment was listed as magical, and the item descriptions were starting to give him more serious labels like [Crude Wooden Bow] for Alaya’s weapon. Even he could probably make something better with a little practice.

He could make something better! That could be fun. Besides, he’d swiped this gear from people he’d agreed to help, so maybe he could replace or upgrade the stuff by way of apology. Stan headed over to the Crown & Tail’s workbench to give it a try. Along the way he jumped around for the fun of bounding up the sunny shore.

He tapped the bench of tools and tried to fix up some items, but it buzzed at him. [Equipment repairs require access to improved crafting stations.]

The bartender directed him to the “maker workshop” a ways inland from the beach. It looked like an old fort, a squat wooden cabin surrounded by a spiky wall of logs. Why not a giant golden palace? Probably it had been built by the players using the game’s own physics. That was pretty neat. He walked right in through the open gate.

Inside was a craftsman’s playground. Saws, drills and other tools covered some of the tables. A whole corner was devoted to colorful glassware and bubbling fluids. A green-robed figure was busy at that alchemy station, pouring beakers one into another and making puffs of steam. The only other person here was a smith in a leather apron and goggles, making a pleasant rhythmic ringing of metal. Behind him loomed a forge where slabs of metal were glowing cherry-red.

Stan looked around and asked, “Is this stuff open to the community?”

The alchemist turned around. He had deep violet scales like a dragon on his nearly human face, and waved with hands that were clawed and scaled like gloves that stopped near his wrists. “Yeah, but it’s expected that you pay five copper a day.” A sign on the wall called that a suggested donation.

Stan grumbled. “I’ve just started to get money.” But he could pay, and he’d gotten the money by fair play…

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