Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hero's Journey: Legendary Artifacts

Well, I'm about 190 pages into the first draft of Hero's Journey. Now, before you say "Holy crap! This guy's writing like a madman," let me say that it is built on the frame work found in Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox by +Matt Finch and draws a lot of text from the third printing of it. That's not to say I haven't been writing like a crazy person - just its important to remember that Hero's Journey began as and still is my house ruled version of S&W WB - even if there's a plethora of house rules.

Speak of house rules - let's talk magic weapons. And by talk I mean "Here, look at the first draft of magic weapon rules for Hero's Journey..."

Legendary Artifacts
Magical weapons, enchanted armor, empowered garments, and arcane trinkets are extraordinarily rare in Hero's Journey - more so than in most fantasy roleplaying games. Most normal people are lucky to see one such amazing object in their lifetime. This is because such items cannot be crafted by the hands of mortal men and women who now walk the earth. In the ancient days wizards and clerics may have been able to call upon the primordial powers of the universe to make such amazing items - but those days are something that is now part of history and myth.

Instead, characters hoping to wield such long-lost power must perform heroic deeds worthy of legend. Swords must slay great monsters. Shields must be raised against a thousand arrows. Dark cloaks must aid in efforts of mercurial stealth and jewelry must be given under oath or curse to those who would bear them.

Magic Weapons
All magic weapons begin as mundane tools of warfare. But if a hero is able to perform amazing feats of valor on the battlefield and still live to tell the tale, magic may be born in that moment. Whenever a player character succeeds in rolling an unmodified ("natural") 20 on a "to-hit" roll, that weapon gains a Myth Point.
When a weapon accumulates three Myth Points it ceases to be a mundane weapon and becomes a +1 magical weapon. If any of those Myth Points were earned achieving the killing blow on a monster, the weapon becomes a "bane" to that type of creature. This could mean goblin-bane, dragon-bane, spider-bane, or any other type of appropriate creature. The referee has the final say over whether the creature type is appropriate to the weapon or not. Weapons with the Bane quality ignore the Reduction Value against that type of creature. At the referee's discretion a different enchanment may be substituted instead of the "bane" effect.
If a weapon earns three additional Myth Points it becomes a +2 weapon and gains a minor magical ability. This is typically the ability to detect a specific kind of creature within 120 feet or allow the wielder to cast a 1st-level Wizard or Cleric spell once per day.
Finally, if a weapon manages to earn a total of nine Myth Points it becomes a +3 weapon and gains an additional quality, depending on the race or class of the wielder. This can include exceptionally powerful abilities like extra attacks in a combat round, an increase to Reduction Value or Armor Class, immunity to both magical and mundane fire or a bonus to Saving Throws against broad effects like "magic spells."
The referee is encouraged to develop specific abilities based on the events of their individual campaign and the personality of the wielder. Examples might include a Barbarian's axe that provides an additional attack each combat rounds on the condition that he has already struck a killing blow that round or a Thief's dagger that doubles triple damage when performing a backstab. Perhaps a halfling has a sling that can richochet stones, allowing them to ignore a target's armor class bonus provided by a shield or a dwarf whose war hammer automatically returns to their hand when thrown - the possibilities are endless and should be tailored to both the character and the campaign.
Finally, all weapons must be given a name by their wielder upon becoming +1 weapons - by this name they will be recalled in song and deed for all time.
Ammunition cannot earn Myth Points, but any magical properties gained through Myth Points remain present forever - even if a new wielder takes up arms with the weapon. These blades and bows are a part of legend, now and forever.

So that gives you a sense of how magic items will be handled in Hero's Journey. I'll leave you with my favorite line from favorite book. The line that inspired this mechanic.

"I shall give you a name and I shall call you Sting."


  1. I liked the goblins reaction to Orcrist/'Biter' - how the mere presence of the sword shocked and enraged them gue to it's history

  2. Simple. Logical. Gameable. I like it.


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