A few years ago I wrote and published The Hero's Journey Fantasy Roleplaying. It was idea that began on a lark and was written to be nothing more than "James's ideal version of White Box." Much to my surprise, Mike Herrmann took my writing and turned it into a genuinely beautiful product. That little experiment took me on quite an adventure. It was nominated in 2017 for a Three Castles Award, which lead to me attending my first ever North Texas RPG Con. It was there that I met several of my heroes and met strangers who have since become dear friends.
But even with the unexpected adventures that came with the success of The Hero's Journey, I always felt like it wasn't quite the game it could be. I love White Box. It's my favorite OSR game out there. It's simple. It's clean. It's an infinitely versatile chassis upon which to build a game. I'll forever be both in awe of and in debt to Matt and Marv for their creation. Follow me for a second on a bit of a tangent, OK?
Anyone who knows me for five seconds knows I love Lord of the Rings and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Naturally, I gravitated to a Middle-earth based RPG. I was just a bit out of time to play MERP and instead was introduced to Tolkien RPGs through Decipher's Lord of the Rings RPG. I loved it nad hated it. It was almost perfect. It was almost awesome. It was almost Tolkien. It is a great game. But instead of bending the game's rules to fit the conventions of Tolkien's subcreation, Tolkien's subcreation was bent to fit Decipher's in-house CODA system. It was a great game, but it wasn't quite Tolkien. And it always felt a bit disingenuous because of that. Fortunately, years later Cubicle 7 Entertainment would publish The One Ring -- a game specifically designed to fit the conventions of Tolkien's world. I love that game so much that it inspired me to become a publisher in hopes that one day I could be a part of that game and by extension, that world.
I guess that's what was bugging me about The Hero's Journey. I love that game, but in many cases I chose to bend the genre conventions it was designed to emulate in favor of making it compatible with White Box. And, to be frank, I got a lot of praise for the game. I was (and still am) proud of it. Oddly enough, it was never received as a "White Box game." It was seen by the community at large as a kind of thing in its own right that stood apart from White Box.
That was a bit disappointing back then. Now, it's freeing. People recognizing it as its own game (along with some encouragement from a dear friend) has given me the permission and freedom to do exactly that: To make The Hero's Journey its own game. And it's a helluva game. I haven't felt this personally invested in a game since I was writing the original White Star.
I'm going to try to be more active on this blog and the next few posts will discuss some of the changes coming to The Hero's Journey, Second Edition. I hope you'll join me and more importantly, I hope you'll enjoy the game when it's released. For now, I'll leave you with the new cover art. It's by a personal hero, mentor, and friend, Jon Hodgson. He was the art director and a lead artist on The One Ring and has done art for Paizo, Wizards of the Coast, and countless other companies. He's worked on game lines the likes of Beyond the Wall, World War Cthulhu, Dragon Warriors, Pathfinder, Crypts and Things, and Pathfinder.