World of Yggdrasia, a world sustained by the World Tree and ninety-nine Saplings.
Tolldorre was a breathtakingly beautiful large country situated to the north of the Western Continent. People called it “the Gateway to the West.”
Inside a thick forest within the country, several monsters were huddling together. The rag-tag group consisted of beast-type, bird-type, goblinoid-type, insect-type, and more, all monsters of different races and ecologies. They were staying vigilant of their surroundings, exterminating the occasional stray monsters with unnatural coordination.
“So that’s everyone, pretty much?”
“Two or three haven’t shown up yet. Looks like they’re having a bit of trouble joining.”
“It’s fine, isn’t it? Not like all of us can show up every time.”
“Yeah. Besides, we’ll still be getting new members.”
“Alright, let’s get started. Everyone, make parties of five or six, then we’ll go leveling.”
They were normal players using monster avatars.
At first glance, they simply looked like a group of online friends playing together, but they hadn’t been setting up secret conclaves in the middle of a forest far away from human eyes just because their avatars were enemies of humans.
“What’s the level range we should aim for?”
“Considering we’ll be discovered by humans sooner or later, at least equivalent to Rank 3. We need one evolution and one rank-up, but honestly I prefer a bit more strength than that.”
“Man, the next evolution’s gonna be a long way away. But if I’m going to be seriously traveling the world, then I wanna get to Rank 5. Maybe one thousand total combat power or thereabout.”
These players were using ‘mods’ — unofficial modifications to the game — that allowed them to log in without going through the official channels and away from the developers’ watching eyes.
As they weren’t under developer observation, they wouldn’t be able to request developer help if their avatars met with bugs or glitches, and if something went wrong with their VR devices due to a bug in the mod, their warranties wouldn’t apply.
These players still risked the dangers to log in because they had begun to hold suspicions toward the developers, as well as toward the game world itself.
Everything began when a player attempted to use a simple mod and found out it didn’t work. They simply wanted to pretty up the status screen and other such visual elements to their liking. This type of mod didn’t affect gameplay, and other games generally turned a blind eye towards them, yet the mods that should have worked in World of Yggdrasia hadn’t. All of them.
The modders hadn’t been able to mess with the system of mana absorption that had replaced the normal experience system; the use and acquisition of special skills like [Identification]; as well as [Spells] and [Combat Arts]. They hadn’t been able to modify most aspects of World of Yggdrasia, as if the things happening there weren’t programmed.
Then one day, a player had posted the following words on a personal website:
“It felt just like I was going on a tour to another country in real life with my avatar.”
Debate erupted. People discussed the overly-wide game world, the too-realistic NPCs, and the things no one would’ve batted an eye to in the real world but wouldn’t make any sense in a game. As more and more people came to hold suspicions, the aforementioned personal website was abruptly frozen by the service provider. This only further fueled the speculations.
A group of players continued their discussions on private servers or on heavily-locked-down Asian servers. The programmers and hackers among them began creating a mod to fool the developers’ eyes. They planned to log into and discover the mystery of World of Yggdrasia.
Currently, there were 17 members in the group. They were thinking of inducting another ten-odd new people in their next recruitment.
Some were in it because they felt the corporation was lying to them. Some had been feeling guilty for hurting the demihuman slaves. And though their thoughts varied, behind it all, one single wish united the group.
“Let’s gain enough strength to travel as fast as we can, then we can meet up with the Dark Bunny Lady!”