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The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey

Monday 9 May 2022
In May 2022 we presented the Hero’s Journey Bundle featuring The Hero’s Journey, Second Edition, the Barrel Rider Games FRPG of danger and magic inspired by timeless folklore. Designed by James M. Spahn (White Star), The Hero’s Journey is a standalone hybrid FRPG, originating in the Old School Revival tradition (based on Swords & Wizardry) and now enhanced, in its 2019 Second Edition, with modern design elements like advantage, flexible spellcasting, and Myth Points used to customize magic items. And, more important than its updated design, the 2019 edition of The Hero’s Journey focuses and reorients the game’s central themes.

In a March 2021 blog post James Spahn took pains to distinguish The Hero’s Journey from ordinary OSR tropes: “It’s a game built on the bones of classic fantasy adventure games: six attributes that, along with a Lineage and an Archetype, define the bare bones of a character. Combat, along with much of its conflict resolution, is resolved with the toss of a 20-sided die. Characters earn experience points, level up, and earn magic items. But that’s simply the ‘how’ of the game. It’s not what the game is. […] At the core of all these wonderful stories I’ve loved for my entire life are a few central themes: The forest is dangerous, and you shouldn’t wander from the path. There are dragons beyond the edge of the map. Magic is wonderful and inspiring. Fairies are strange and dangerous. Heroes, as long as they have a pure heart and a few good friends, will triumph over evil.

“Somewhere deep down in our hearts, when a cynical world tells us just to kick in the door, kill the monster, and take its treasure, we still believe Good is more powerful than Evil, and the True Love’s Kiss see us through. That’s what The Hero’s Journey, Second Edition is. It’s a game about hope and faith, the belief there is a happily-ever-after to be found at the story’s end […] where friendship matters, wizards are truly strange and magical, a farmhand with a sword can save the kingdom, and the dragon’s voice still roars like thunder.”

The Hero’s Journey journey from Swords & Wizardry to faerie-and-friendship involved tweaks to Lineages (adding the mysterious Changeling) and Archetypes (removing Cleric and adding Yeoman, a Sam Gamgee-like protector who is “the personification of the ordinary and its importance“); magic (a small list of 21 spells, each with three levels of effect); plus Despair rules, Myth Points (that empower magic items and bind them intrinsically to your own legend), and bonuses for characters who bond while camping at the end of a day’s travel.

This all-new offer presented the entire Hero’s Journey line as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete The Hero’s Journey Second Edition rulebook, The Hero’s Companion expansion, the standalone companion game Skaldic Sagas: Heroic Journeys in the Viking Age, and the supplements Adventures & Interludes, Hero’s Grimoire, Of Beasts Brave and True, and The Hero’s Journey Narrator’s Screen.

Ten percent of each payment (after gateway fees) went to this Hero’s Journey offer’s pandemic-related charity, Direct Relief. Direct Relief sends protective gear and critical care medications to health workers, with emergency deliveries to medical facilities across the US and Canada and to regional response agencies around the world.

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