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Explore Mystic Worlds With The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey is a Swords & Wizardry Whitebox variant, the personal hack of James M. Spahn, author of the acclaimed White Star. The rules are simple and well-worded, and the book implies a humanocentric, mystical sort of fantasy backdrop, but you could also just rip the game apart for neat alternate rules for your own campaign.


The Hero's Journey is a Swords & Wizardry Whitebox variant, the personal hack of James M. Spahn, author of the acclaimed White Star. The rules are simple and well-worded, and the book implies a humanocentric, mystical sort of fantasy backdrop, but you could also just rip the game apart for neat alternate rules for your own campaign.

There are two extra attributes to complement the familiar six: Appearance and Luck. The former governs reaction rolls (so that Charisma becomes less of an overtuned attribute), while the latter provides save rerolls and the ability to check if blind luck helps out the character. Wisdom is also renamed Willpower, but it basically functions the same way.

There are six available races (Dwarf, Elf, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Hafling, and Human). Each race has their own formulae to determine attributes (for instance, Half-Orcs have 2d6+6 Strength and 2d6+1 Intelligence) and class restrictions, along with a couple special abilities (mostly small bonuses and extra weapon proficiencies).

There are a total of 14 classes to choose from (such as the Acrobat, Druid, Jester, or Thief). They have the usual abilities one would expect, although many work similar to skills in Lamentations of the Flame Princess (roll below the skill value on 1d6). Some classes have pretty steep requirements (Wizards need 15+ Intelligence!).

Combat is deadly even by OSR standards. Characters may only have a maximum of 3 hit dice, and above third level hit points increase only by a static amount. For instance, a 6th level Duelist has 3d6+7 hp, while a 10th level Thief has 2d6+11. Armor Class is somewhat worse as only shields, Dexterity, and class abilities improve AC, while armor provides damage reduction.

XP, by default, is gained for defeating foes and certain meta-game actions (such as performing well, making other players laugh, encouraging other players to contribute, etc.), but it’s easy to overrule if it’s not to your taste.

There are 128 monsters and a bunch of magical items described; pretty much what you would expect in a D&D-esque game. The rules for magic item creation are very restrictive (basically, only 10th level Wizards may try doing it), which is understandable considering the implied setting, but it still takes an interesting option away from the players.

Magic weapons and armor, however, can be created "spontaneously." Scoring a natural 20 with a weapon, barely surviving a blow because of your armor’s reduction value, or avoiding a hit by a single point because of your shield earns the item a Mythic Point. At certain thresholds the item gains magical properties. This is one of the coolest rules in the book, in my opinion.

The Hero’s Journey is a neat rulebook with a clear layout, offering multiple optional rules for basically everything. What’s missing? Random encounter tables, adventure creation guidelines, and substantial GM advice. You could use the player-facing rules and the bestiary as is in conjunction with your favourite GM-facing procedures, or just steal your favourite bits and merge them with your own old-school frankengame.

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Dire Bare

Legend
You're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but . . . . I might just pick that up based on the cover and the title. Sounds very interesting!
 

AriochQ

Adventurer
Very similar to a cover from The Hobbit

https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2015/06/the-hobbit.jpg

the-hobbit.jpg
 
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vivsavage

Explorer
It's a good game. At this point, I'm not sure that OSR games need things like GM advice or adventure creation guidelines. They're targeted at people who have been playing a while. IMHO, of course.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Yeah, I'd be concerned about getting hit by Tolkien family's lawyers about that. It's way too close a copy of Tolkien's artwork.
 





Banesfinger

Explorer
Has anyone played this game? Can you speak to the balance?
For example, the classes are limited to 3d6 HPs (3rd-level) plus +1 or +2 each level thereafter. So an average 5th level fighter might have 15-17 HPs. Yet spells like fireball still do 1d6/level. This seems to make spells even more powerful (as if the discrepancy between high-level Wizards and fighters wasn't high enough in OSR games...).
 

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