Monday, July 19, 2021

Wyrd of the Week: Mayfair Pub

 This time on Wyrd of the Week, we're going to explore the Mayfair Pub, a drop-in location that can be included in your legendarium. This cozy watering hole can be a place for heroes to relax, share a pint, some fellowship, and maybe get caught up in a new, unexpected adventure.

The Mayfair Pub

Looking for all the world like a cozy wooden cottage with an off-kilter chimney, log walls covered in ivy, and a small wooden door with a frosted glass window, the Mayfair Pub is a welcome sight to passing travelers and thirsty locals. A tiny lake, sometimes enjoyed by local children who fish or play in the waters is nestled on the path from the road to the Mayfair. Travelers who open the door and duck into the tiny, two room building are immediately greeted by a combination of raucous laughter and lively music mixed with the scents of home-cooked meals (try the mince pies!), dark ale, and a hint of pipe smoke hanging in the air. 

Unlike most pubs, the Mayfair doesn't have a bar. Instead, the proprietor, one Gilderoy Mayfair, pops in and out of a side door between the kitchen and the common room to hand out meals, meads, and good cheer. A scattering of tables surrounded by stools creates a cozy feel and a small corner stage hosts a performer or two on occasion. Rafters of wooden beams run barely eight feet from the plank floor with lanterns hanging from hooks to cast twinkling light about the place on even the coldest night with the aid of a large fireplace. The tables of the pub are old and well-cared, each featuring a small Tenstone set for patrons to play to pass the time.

Gilderoy Mayfair (2nd-level Human Bard) himself seems to operate the pub without assistance from additional staff, often to the amazement of his patrons. His flashing grin, perfectly kept facial hair, and the twinkling light that seems to catch on his spectacles combine with a simple style of dress to create a welcoming persona. Regular patrons of the Mayfair know that Gilderoy has a policy of offering the first drink of the night for free in return for a new tale of adventure for his ears. 

The tiny kitchen of the Mayfair has a small brick oven and a trap door to a chilled cellar where salted meat and wine are stored. Unbeknownst the patrons, Mayfair keeps the service of a Brownie (see The Hero's Journey 2e Core Rulebook, page 150) to help him maintain the establishment. The Brownie, named Crumpet, is quite friendly with Gilderoy and keeps a small bedroom in the cold storage basement. Gilderoy treats Crumpet as an equal and in spite of the former's encouragement, the Brownie refuses to let the patrons know of his presence. 

Gilderoy himself keeps humble quarters in a loft over the kitchen where there is little more than a straw mattress, stool with a writing desk and handful of books, and a wooden trunk.

The grounds outside the back side of the pub are speckled with opportunities for outdoor sportsmanship. Horseshoe pits for a friendly game, straw bails for archery contests, and even wooden target boards for ax throwing are all available for patrons to enjoy. 

A Night at the Mayfair Pub

Player characters who spend an evening at the Mayfair Pub receive Advantage on all roles to Relax Around the Campfire. In addition, if they become regulars at the pub (which takes about a month of regular appearances), Gilderoy becomes a bit of a patron to them and will provide them with news, rumors, and the occasional free meal. Though not a true inn, Gilderoy will sometimes allow regulars to sleep in the common room for the night.

Being a busy location, frequented by many travelers who might bring any manner of adventure to the very doors of the pub. On any given night where the players are spending several hours at the Mayfair Pub, the Narrator can roll on the table below to see if anything unusual happens.

A Night at the Mayfair Pub

Roll (1d12)



No special events.


A Goblin Merchant (see THJ2e, pg 171) wanders in and tries to strike up a bargain with the player characters.


In the middle of a heavy rainstorm a scared child bursts in and claims their parents have been taken by an ogre who lairs in the nearby wilderness.


A group of 1d4+1 Robbers (see THJ2e, pg 126) stumbles into the pub, drunk and claiming that Gilderoy owes them 1d6x10 gold pieces and will get violent if not driven off or paid.


A strange hermit enters the pub, sitting at a table alone and speaking to no one. If approached, the hermit speaks cryptically that the player character is either cursed (1-3 on 1d6) or blessed (4-6 on 1d6). The character wakes up the next morning with a one-point increase to their Weal modifier for the next 1d4 days.


Mayfair regretfully informs the evening’s patrons that the beer has run dry. If the player characters are regulars, he pulls them aside and asks them if they can convince the Clurichaun (see below) that has taken up residence by the beer barrels to depart.


A troupe of baudy singers enters the tavern to provide a night of raucous entertainment. Everyone present automatically gains the benefits as if they had successfully Relaxed Around the Campfire (see THJ2e, pg 90), but has  horrible hangover the next morning, imposing Disadvantage on any Insight-based Attribute Saving Throws made that day..

Clurichaun (Fey)

Defense: 17

Endurance: 8

Reduction Value: 2

Attack Modifier: +1

Attacks: Brawling (1d6)

Special: Bless the Brew, Purse Keeper, Suckerpunch, Vanish

Move: 4

Saving Throw: 18

Despair Rating: 3

Rare cousins to Brownies and Boggarts, the Clurichaun are tiny fey standing no more than six inches tall with withered faces. Their eyes twinkle with mischief, they wear leather aprons, and have silver buckles upon their shoes. Tough in the fiber and stronger than they look, Clurichaun are most often found in the cold storage or beer and wine cellars, if they are found at all. Though they do not tend to household duties like a brownie, they do always ensure that the beverages remain of the utmost quality - usually through ample sampling. If they find the supply to be lacking in quality, they will secretly work to improve its quality through their magics, though only if the kegs, crocks, and bottles are well-tended, the taps kept clean, and the patrons treated honestly.
  If discovered, a Cluriachaun tends to be abrasive and belligerent. They will typically scream and yell and threaten whomever discovered them in hopes that the individual will simply retreat in shock and awe - or simply look away as a stream of obscenities pours from the tiny fey’s mouth. All it takes is an instant of being unobserved a Cluriachaun can completely vanish from sight and become totally invisible. Strong for their tiny size, a Chluriachaun’s punch packs quite a lot of power and if they are able to suckerpunch a target unaware, they receive Advantage to their attack roll and they ignore the target’s Reduction Value. Finally, if cornered and unable to defend themselves or escape, a Clurichaun will offer its captors the choice of between one of two purses it carries. It will reveal that one purse contains only a single copper piece, while the other is filled with 5d4 gold pieces. Whichever purse is taken, after the Clurichaun has escaped their former captors will find themselves holding the purse containing a single copper coin.
Clurichauns enjoy a good brew and if player characters can manage to calm one down and share a story or two over a pint, they may learn the location of a long forgotten treasure or secret heirloom hidden away somewhere in some far off land. They are always solitary and if the tavern is treated poorly or bad brew is served, they are known to drag the tavern keeper from its bed into the basement, beat them senseless, and depart forever. Like most fey they are immune to most weapons, save those that have been Blessed or made from Cold Iron.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Wyrd of the Week: Victory from the Ashes

 In this week's Wyrd of the Week, we're going to discuss one of my favorite tropes in heroic fantasy literature. We've all read stories or seen movies where the heroes have been beaten and broken, laying defeated at the mercy of some terrible villain. Yet somehow, together, they dig down deep and find that final spark of courage that saves the day. They snatch Victory from the Ashes.

Victory from the Ashes

    If a player character is facing off against a foe with a Despair Rating high enough to require a Despair Saving Throw and that character is reduced to zero Endurance they can do one of two things to avoid defeat and death: Draw Upon the Strength of Fellowship or Find Inspiration from the Legends of Old.

Draw Upon the Strength of Fellowship:
 If the character has succeeded on a Bearing-based Saving Throw to Relax Around the Campfire (see THJ2e Core Rules, page 90), they can forgo the benefit of that effect in order to immediately succeed on the Grievous Saving Throw required when reduced to 0 Endurance. Moreover, the character's Endurance becomes 1d4 per level of that character. So, a 3rd-level character reduced to 0 Endurance who Draws Upon the Strength of Fellowship immediately goes from 0 Endurance to 3d4 Endurance. In order to use this ability, one other person who was present when the character succeeded in the aforementioned Bearing-Based Saving Throw to Relax Around the Campfire must be physically present.

Find Inspiration in the Legends of Old: Recalling the heroes that inspired them to take up the road to adventure, a character reduced to 0 Endurance can spend a single Myth Point. They immediately recover 1d4 Endurance per character level, are immune to the effects of Despair from Overwhelming Evil for the remainder of the encounter, and receives Advantage on their next Attack Roll and damage roll made against the villain who initially reduced them to 0 Endurance.

Regardless of which option is taken, a character can only snatch Victory from the Ashes once per encounter.

For more information on The Hero's Journey, Second Edition or to purchase a copy you can go to DriveThruRPG where the core rules and a line of supplements are available for purchase.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Wyrd of the Week: City Living - Urban Professions

 In the core rule book of The Hero's Journey, Second Edition, most of the professions found on page XX are very focused characters who lived as commoners or craftsmen before taking up the life of adventure. While this assumption is very common in classic fantasy and folklore, players may want to have their character be from a more urban environment or even grown up in a the security of a castle! 

Players, with Narrator permission, may select one of the following professions instead of those found in the core book. These professions are very focused on human character or characters that grew up in traditionally human cultures, so may not be appropriate for everyone or every legendarium. 

In addition to the professions listed below, there are several new pieces of equipment associated with some of these professions.

Urban Professions

Apothecary: You specialize in crafting salts, poultices, and solutions used to treat minor ailments. You are skilled at identifying poisons and liquid solutions, as the necessary procedure to craft mildly effective balms and medicines. Starting Gear: Three vile tasting concoctions that function as healer’s kits, a mortar and pestle, a small collection of dried herbs, 1d6 x 10 gold pieces. Artist: You are a skilled painter or visual artist, able to identify valuable art objects and forgeries with ease, as well as understanding the basic etiquette when interacting with nobles and other aristocrats. Starting Gear: A set of brushes and paints, 3 small canvas sheets in a scroll tube, one complete painting which can be sold to an interested buyer for 1d6 x 10 gold pieces, 1d6 x 10 gold pieces. Bailiff: You ensure that the lord’s proper taxes are collected and their laws are enforced. You are knowledgeable in both matters of etiquette and local law, with a fierce reputation in your home town. Starting Gear: Long blade, fine clothing, 3d6 x 10 gold pieces. Barrister: You speak in a court of law on behalf of those who stand accused of a crime. You are well versed in law in its myriad of forms, including the rights of the accused and accuser. Starting Gear: Quill, a bottle of ink, a blank journal, a book of law, fine clothing, 3d6 x 10 gold pieces. Blacksmith: You are trained to work iron at the forge into the tools of day to day life like nails, horseshoes, and hand tools. You can also identify quality smithwork for such items with careful examination. Starting Gear: Hammer (small), leather apron, a crowbar or twelve iron spikes (choose one), 2d6 x 10 gold pieces.

Brewer: You are skilled at the preparation, fermentation, and storage of grains for purposes of brewing beers, ales, ciders, and stouts. In addition to being able to identify quality beverages brewed from grains, hops, wheat, and oats, you are also able to recognize when such crops are healthy, of poor quality, or riddled with rot and mold. Starting Gear: A keg of ale, a wooden tankard, 2d6 x 10 gold pieces.
Butcher: You know how to carve, salt, and prepare meat for consumption. You can identify cuts of meat from various animals and easily identify a quality piece of meat or poor cut, as well as meat that has been fouled. Starting Gear: Carving Knife (damage as dagger), bag of salt, leather apron, 2d6 x 10 gold pieces. Crier: You walk through city and village streets, yelling out the latest news and events, as well as declaring royal proclamations, announcing festivals and market days. You can easily find your way around cities and castles, and know where to go to find the latest news and gossip. Starting Gear: A set of fine clothing, a hand bell, 2d6 x 10 gold pieces. Famulus: You were the apprentice or servant of a wizard. You grew up in a truly strange environment, handling unusual substances and helping your master in all manner of alchemy and study. You have a firm, but basic, understanding of magic and its principles. Starting Gear: Blank journal, heavy robes, 3d6 x 10 gold pieces. Falconer: You know how to train birds of prey, how to tend to them, and how to hunt with them. You know everything there is to know about avian wildlife, can easily identify each breed, and are knowledgeable regarding their basic patterns of behavior. Starting Gear: Trained falcon, falconer’s glove, falconer’s training kit, 2d6 x 10 gold pieces. Innkeeper: You spent some time running a pub or tavern. You know how to bend the ear of a stranger and can usually get a sense of a person simply by sizing them up. You’re good at identifying quality food and drink. Also, you’re not too shabby at whacking someone with a barstool if the need arises. Starting Gear: Hardwood chair leg (damage as club), mostly blank journal with a list of former patrons who still owe a tab, 3d6 x 10 gold pieces. Link Man: You worked in castles and cities, guiding nobles and wealthy individuals through shadowy streets at night, guiding them by torchlight. You are less disoriented at night and can easily find your way through winding city streets. Starting Gear: Torches (6), flint and steel, 1d6 x 10 gold pieces. Kennel Master: You know all the nuances of dog training and how to tend to them. You can turn groups of dogs into coordinated hunting packs and you know how to lead them in a hunt. You can determine their general state of health and mood. Starting Gear: Hunting dog, dog whistle, bag of training treats (with 10 treats), 2d6 x 10 gold pieces.

Minstrel: You’re a skilled musician and singer who travels from town to town making a living by performing on street corners, taverns, festivals, and even noble courts when the opportunity arises. You have a lovely singing voice and can generally find a cheap place to sleep and a simple meal in exchange for an evening’s performance. Starting Gear: One musical instrument of choice, a set of fine clothing, a set of traveling clothes, 1d6 x 10 gold pieces. Man-at-Arms: You’re a trained soldier, capable of holding your own in most combat situations. While you’ve not seen a lot of live combat, you still know basic military protocol and most common laws of the realm. You likely briefly campaigned for a lord or mercenary captain. Starting Gear: Long blade or spear (choose one), whet stone, helmet, 2d6 x 10 gold pieces. Messenger: You are a runner and horseman often hired by nobles and rich merchants to ferry letters and missives across vast distances when time is of the essence and carrier birds cannot be trusted. You have an excellent sense of direction and are likely to know the lay of the land for miles around. Starting Gear: Riding horse, belt pouch, saddle, two sets of traveling clothes, 2d6 x 10 gold pieces. Merchant: You bought and sold goods for profit. You’re a skill negotiator and know how to haggle for a good price when buying most mundane products. Dealing regularly with coins, you can often identify counterfeit coinage. Starting Gear: Wooden chest, lock (with matching key), 3d6 x 10 gold pieces. Physician: You are a medical professional that specializes in stitching wounds, amputations, and pulling teeth. You also know how to identify infection and wounds that are not healing properly. The job you do is a messy one, but you help keep your patients alive more often than not. Starting Gear: Bonesaw (damage as hand axe), healing kit, 2d6 x 10 gold pieces. Rat Catcher: You slither, climb, and wiggle your way into filthy places like castle dungeons and city slums in an effort to kill rats to control the spread of plague and disease. You know how to make use of traps and trained dogs to hunt and kill these vermin, and rarely lose your sense of direction in confined or dark spaces. Starting Gear: Trained dog, animal trap, lantern, 1 pint of oil, 1d6 x 10 gold pieces. Servant: You are a servant in a noble court or a castle, doing the bidding of the aristocracy. You typically assist in day to day tasks or mundane affairs they deem beneath their station. You are often ignored and regularly treated as little more than an afterthought, though are surprisingly knowledgeable about the day-to-day practices of courtly life. Starting Gear: A set of fine clothing, 1d6 x 10 gold pieces. Shepherd: You know how to raise and tend to sheep for their milk and meat, as well as shearing them for their wool. You can determine their general state of health and market value. You know how to train and work with a shepherding dog. Starting Gear: Shepherd dog, sling, bag of stones (20), walking stick (damage as quarterstaff), 2d6 x 10 gold pieces. Squire: You trained to become a knight, but never completed your term of service. You have basic knowledge of horsemanship and courtly etiquette, as well as the proper keeping of arms and armor. Starting Gear: Long blade, a set of fine clothes, 3d6 x 10 gold pieces. Stevedore: You spent years laboring on the shore, loading and unloading cargo, as well as performing manual labor to make ends meet. All that time on the water gave you a keen ear for gossip from foreign parts as well as giving you an opportunity to learn to swim. Starting Gear: Crowbar, two sets of common clothing, 2d6 x 10 gold pieces. Steward: You previously represented a noble lord or lady, speaking with their voice and authority in their absence. You are a keen speaker and skilled at navigating the subtleties and subterfuges of court. Starting Gear: A set of fine clothing, 4d6 x 10 gold pieces. Watchman: You walk the streets of a city or village, often at night, ensuring that law and order are maintained, and more importantly that the lamps stay lit to stave off the darkness. You’ve got a keen eye for trouble and often find it easy to bend the ear of the law-abiding citizens whom you protect. Starting Gear: Club or short blade (choose one), lantern, pint of oil, 2d6 x 10 gold pieces.
New Equipment Bag of Training Treats: Typically composed of small pieces of meat soaked in marrow gravy and then dried, they are used to aid in the training of dogs, owls, falcons, eagles, and hawks. Typically sold in small bags of 10 treats. Cost: 1 gp.

Dog Whistle: This small metal whistle that can only be heard by dogs and cats when blown. They hear a shrill noise that carries for a distance of 1200 feet. Cost: 2 gp.

Falconry Training Kit: This elaborate kit includes a perch, bells, anklets, leashes, hoods, jesses, and other basic tools necessary to properly train a hunting bird to follow commands. Cost: 35 gp.

Falconer’s Glove: This thick leather glove runs nearly to the elbow and offers fine protection from the sharp talons and beak of a falcon or other bird. It can even serve as minor protection in combat and if a character is wearing a Falconer’s Glove on a hand not otherwise occupied by a shield or through the use of a two-handed weapon, that character receives a +1 bonus to their Defense. Cost: 15 gp.

For more information on The Hero's Journey, Second Edition or to purchase a copy you can go to DriveThruRPG where the core rules and a line of supplements are available for purchase.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Wyrd of the Week: Between Heroes and Villains

Wyrd of the Week is a weekly column where I'm going to post optional content for The Hero's Journey, Second Edition. Optional rules, new monsters, new heirlooms, new spells, and the like, will be made available for your legendarium! We begin with 


 Tales of heroes and legendary stories often climax in a grand confrontation between the heroes and a great villain that has long been their adversary. The Hero's Journey, Second Edition should be no different. When your players have spent the entire legendarium chasing down the Bastard Knight or trying to keep Gorlathana the Elder Wyrm from rising to destroy the world, there should be a sense of investment in this final confrontation that is the climax of this grand tale.

But this tension should be built over time and to do so the Narrator should start secretly tallying a two pools of points: The Hero Pool and the Villain Pool. Once the villain of a legendarium has become apparent and will serve as the antagonist across the narrative, the Narrator may begin adding points to this pool. 

Each time the final result of any Attack Roll or Saving Throw made by a player character comes up an unmodified, natural 20 in a scene where the villain is present the consequences of that villain's actions directly impact the scene, then a point is added to the Villain Pool. This point is added in secret and the tally is kept private by the Narrator, continuing to grow over several sessions of play.

Each time the final result of any Attack Roll or Saving Throw made by the Villain or one of their prominent and powerful servants comes up an unmodified, natural 20 in a scene where the player characters are present, then a point is added to the Hero Pool. This point is added in secret and the tally is kept private by the Narrator, continuing to grow over the several sessions of play.

The Villain Pool and the Hero Pool are kept separate. 

Optionally, the Narrator may choose to add a point to the Villain Pool whenever the player characters thwart some plan of the villain through the course of the legendarium - typically no more than one point per session of play. Conversely the Narrator may choose to add a point to the Hero Pool whenever the villain thwarts the efforts of the player or inflicts some grievous personal pain upon them - this could range from inflicting an actual Grievous Wound to the slaying of a supporting character dear to the character or destroying some location that was important to the player character.

When the natural progression of a legendarium's narrative has lead to the final showdown between the villain (and any henchmen present) and the player characters, the Narrator can then reveal the secret pool of Hero Points to the player characters. This might be best done by providing them with a number of chits, markers, or glass beads equal to the number of Hero Points that have been accumulated. The Narrator will also secretly make note of their own Villain Points. 

During the final showdown between the player characters and the villain, any of the player characters can spend a Hero Point to grant Advantage on any roll made by another player character they like. This can include Attack Rolls, Saving Throws, Damage Rolls, whatever they like. They cannot spend them on themselves or to hinder the villain's rolls in any way.

Villains are not so limited. The Narrator can freely spend points from the Villain Pool to grant Advantage to any Attack Roll or Saving Throw made by the villain or any henchmen present, though Villain Points may not be spent to grant Advantage to Damage Rolls.

No more than 1 Hero Point or Villain Point can be spent on a single roll.

These pools of Hero and Villain Points will help create a dynamic, high-tension confrontation between the adversaries that has been empowered by the narrative that has developed over the course of the legendarium. Each small defeat the player characters have experienced along the way has empowered them ever so slightly and will reckoned for. Each slight done to the villain will be paid back... in blood.

For more information on The Hero's Journey, Second Edition or to purchase a copy you can go to DriveThruRPG where the core rules and a line of supplements are available for purchase.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Betwixt and Between Preview: Whisper Unto the Villar

 We're keeping busy behind the scenes at Barrel Rider Games and I wanted to give a taste of what's to come. Below you'll find one of the new spells included in Betwixt & Between: A Book of Fairie Lore for The Hero's Journey, Second Edition. You'll find this spell along with new Lineage Variants, Archetype Variants, Heirlooms, Creatures, as well as rules for crossing into the Realm of Fairie and the many Domains you'll find there - not to mention the soul-changing chance to become one of the fey-touched! Also, we've got Jon Hodgson back for our cover and the amazing Nic Giacondino doing all the interior art!

Kristof the Wizard becomes a Friend of the Villar

Whisper Unto the Villar (Apprentice)

Magic is as natural as sunlight, springtime showers, and the gentle winds of the west to the Villar of the woodlands. Some Wizards who hold the natural realm dear to their heart or earn the friendship of the Villar are able to learn a small bit of their uncanny magic. Whisper Unto the Villar allows the caster to commune and bond with the lesser creatures of the natural realm, harnessing the surprising power of humility and fellowship that allows these gentle creatures to survive in a realm where predators hide in every shadow and on every moonless night.


A Brief Whisper to the Meek: When this spell is cast, the caster can ask a single question to a small woodland creature or bird such as a squirrel, sparrow, or badger, that is not hostile. First they must provide the woodland creature some small gift, typically a tiny portion of food. Once accepted, the caster can then ask their new friend a single question. The animal will reply with a one-word answer to the best of its knowledge in its own woodland tongue to the best of its knowledge. This answer is always honest. The animal will then take its gift and depart, doing no further favors for the caster.

Beneath the Notice of the Mighty: When this spell is cast, the caster gives off an aura akin to a small creature that is easily ignored by humans and other large folk. For the remainder of the scene, as long as the caster does not speak above a whisper and does nothing to draw attention to themselves (such as casting a spell or attacking), they remain unnoticed by most any creature who is either 3rd level or higher (in the case of characters with an Archetype) or 15 or more Endurance (in the case of characters without an Archetype) as if they had the To Be Ignored Is To Be Forgotten lineage changeling ability, though its chances of success are increased to 1-4 on 1d6 instead of 1-2 on 1d6. Changelings are immune to the effects of this spell, as are all fey creatures. More information on To Be Ignored Is To Be Forgotten can be found on page 20 of THJ2e.

Kindred Spirit, Small and Simple: This spell may be cast on a single creature no larger than a small bird, little woodland creature, common housecat, or other tiny beast weighing no more than 10 lbs and having no more than 1 Hit Die. The caster must have naturally gained the animal’s trust and friendship. The conditions of establishing this friendship are determined by the Narrator. With that friendship established and the casting of A Kindred Spirit, Small and Simple an unbreakable bond is established between the creature and the caster. Both can sense the general emotional state of the other in a broad sense, such as whether or not the creature is afraid, injured, content, or happy. The caster may close their eyes and concentrate for one full round to strengthen the bond between themselves and their small friend and share senses. The caster sees the world through all the physical senses of the creature and vice versa. This replaces their own perceptions. While the creature and caster’s senses are exchanged, their own senses are muted. Both caster and creature always know the distance from and general direction from each other as long as both are alive. If either the caster or the creature are slain, the survivor permanently loses 2d4 Endurance, which can never be recovered or healed. A caster can only be bound to one creature at a time. Casting this spell while already under the benefit of Kindred Spirit, Simple and Small has no effect.


You can buy The Hero's Journey, Second Edition and all its supplements on!


Thursday, March 4, 2021

Old Enough for Fairy Tales

 The Hero's Journey, Second Edition is not an OSR game. 

Let me say that again: The Hero's Journey, Second Edition is not an OSR game.

Now that we've established what it isn't, I wanted to talk a moment to talk about what it is. It is a game built on the bones of classic fantasy adventure games. It's got plenty of those elements. Six attributes, which 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 twenty sided die. Characters earn experience points. Characters level up. Characters earn magic items. But that's simply the "how" of the game. It's not what the game is.

The Hero's Journey, Second Edition is a game about fairie stories and friendship. Those are easy words to use, but what do I mean? When we think of fairie stories we think of the Big Bad Wolf, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella. But fairie stories are more than Mother Goose and the Brothers Grimm. They're told and retold, reshaped and reformed, with the core essence somehow still as timeless and evident as ever. They're Tangled and Frozen, Farmer Giles of Ham and the Princess Bride. What makes them endure, what makes them timeless is that they resonate with us and have for hundreds of years, through thousands of retellings and reimaginings. But why? Why are they still with us after all this time?

Because at the core of all these wonderful stories that 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. 

Errants of Dunvegan
Errants of Dunvegan,
from the supplement Adventures and Interludes.

We believe that. 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 that 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 that there is a happily ever after to be found at the story's end. Once Upon a Time is now and it always has been. 

If you want to tell stories where friendship matters, where wizards are truly strange and magical, a farmhand with a sword can save the kingdom, where the dragon's voice still roars like thunder, then play The Hero's Journey, Second Edition. That's what it's there for. So you can tell those stories again and you can tell it with your friends. Because they matter and they endure.

C.S. Lewis once said "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." 

That's what The Hero's Journey is. Some day has come. 


Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Heart of the Halfling

 After addressing why Clerics aren't present in The Hero's Journey, Second Edition it got me thinking about another commonly asked question concerning my favorite lineage in the game: Halflings. Most folks who read the game seem surprised that halflings can advance to maximum level as a Yeoman and not as a Burglar. The logic of this seemed obvious to me at the time of writing the game, but continues to be another commonly asked question, so again, I wanted to address it.

First, let's start with how the assumption that halflings should be expert burglars came about. The answer is pretty obvious from both a rules standpoint and when one looks at the source material. The iconic halfling , especially when it comes to burglars is none other than the esteemed Bilbo Baggins, protagonist of The Hobbit. He's even literally called a burglar in the book - though he prefers the term expert treasure hunter. Fantasy roleplaying games, practically from the beginning, seem to have presented halflings as being quintessentially stealthy and rogue-like, so it makes sense that they'd be the most buglarious. Even in The Hero's Journey their high Finesse, natural stealth, and innate skill with ranged weapons seems to make them ideal burglars.

So why then, are they given maximum advancement in Yeoman and not Burglar?

The answer is simple: It's not about what they're good at. It's about who halflings are and what matters to them deep in their heart. Halflings value simple things: Family, home, food, simple comforts. They are, to my mind, the personification of the ordinary and its importance, even when on grand adventures. Halflings show their mettle when confronted with impossible danger, especially when in defense of those they love. They face these challenges with heart and hope. They are determined, dedicated, and resolved to give every last ounce of themselves to protect the small joys of the world. 

Most halflings aren't cunning, clever little thieves. They're not mighty warriors, nor are they uncanny arcanists. Yes, in some stories they can take up such roles - but it's not who they are. They're ordinary people, defending the ordinary world and ordinary joys. And in the end, they know just how important the ordinary truly is. They stand up for friendship, family, a fine meal, and the little happinesses that make life worth living - and they'll give their last breath to ensure that such things endure.