But I tried not to just throw it all in a blender and pop out a fantasy heartbreaker. Like any other gaming author, my inspiration came from a blend of fiction, films, music and art. While White Star drew from classic sci-fi pulp films and art, The Hero's Journey was created with the literature of high fantasy in mind. Not Lieber, Moorcock and Howard - but Tolkien, Lewis, and even a bit of King Arthur thrown in. These were the novels I had read as a boy and that had launched my imagination when I couldn't get to a gaming table. As a boy, I had a nearly two-hour bus ride to my school and I spent much of that time in these and other fantastic places.
But, much to my surprise, music inspired me more than anything in the writing of The Hero's Journey. OSR gaming seems heavily influenced by metal these days, and understandably so. I listened to plenty of metal as a young gamer and still do as a man. But The Hero's Journey wasn't built on the axe of metal. It was built on the strings of a more melodic, but no less epic sound.
I'm reluctant to use the term Progressive Rock or Folk Rock, but that's probably the most accurate term when it comes to the "sound" of The Hero's Journey. There's a sense of wonder and of hope present in this music that really captures the game. I find it inspiring and uplifting.
Now, I already know that folks will call The Hero's Journey a game that simply reskins Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox and a game that's "too deadly." They're not totally wrong, but I feel like they're coming at it from the wrong point of view. Yes, The Hero's Journey holds characters at a lower hit die than even Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox. Yes, heroes stop getting hit dice after 3rd level. But the heroes of these stories were just that: Heroes. They were not super heroes or gods. They were men and women, still bound by mortal limits. A horde of goblins was still a threat, even if they were "high level." Creatures like dragons and giants were fantastic and terrible, to be feared and faced at a risk of certain death - yet still there was hope of victory. A fool's hope. A hero's hope. If only someone had the courage to take up the sword against them.
So if you're kind enough to pick up The Hero's Journey, please keep these design considerations in mind. If you don't like them, change them. Modify the game to suit your table. I wrote this game to weave stories I wanted to tell, the way I wanted to tell them. I just hope you'll come along for the ride.