Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Forged in Legends: Magical Items in The Hero's Journey 2e

One of my biggest pet peeves in so many fantasy roleplaying games is the "upgrade factor" of magical items. In traditional D&D-style roleplaying games, characters are pretty excited to find a magic item - at least at first. A +1 Sword is awesome and they're thrilled to find it! That is... until they find a +2 Sword. Then the once coveted magical blade gets cast by the wayside as little more than obsolete technology that's either sold off for gold or simply left by the wayside. Perhaps worse is that when a weapon is described in mere terms of being a "+1" or "+2" weapon, it loses all sense of mystic. It's simply a mathematical improvement over its predictor. In essence, these two factors make magical items the worst thing they could possibly be: Mundane.

Magic items should be part of a character's mystique, part of who they are. They shouldn't be a tool to be discarded when a better one comes along. That mindset undercuts the very nature of magic by removing the fantastic and the sense of wonder. Yet, as characters grow in power they're going to want magic equipment that is more able to handle the challenges they face.

The Hero's Journey attempts to avoid this problem through the use of Myth Points, Aspects, and Heirlooms. Myth Points are earned each time a character gains a level. Every level earned means the character earns one new Myth Point. So at second level, the character earns their first Myth Point, at third they earn their second Myth Point, and so on. Additional Myth Points can be earned by specifically questing for them and performing heroic feats that are... well... worthy of myth.

Aspects are descriptors applied to weapons, armor, and shields. So you might have a Feycraft sword, a Valiant shield, and a Renowned set of armor. An item earns its Aspect or Aspects by the owner spending any Myth Points they've earned to permanently infuse the item with that Aspect. But characters can't select any old Aspect. They have to earn, through play, the Aspect they want. So if a character slew a Goblin King and saved a village, they could choose to apply the Aspect of Goblin Bane to their axe. Or if their shield saved them from the grievous blow of that same Goblin King, they might choose to apply Goblin Bane to their shield. Want a Dwarf-Forged weapon? Well, find a dwarf to reforge your sword. Itching for a Feycrafted shield? Well, you might have to cut a deal with the Fey...
Some example Aspects

Heirlooms are a bit more miscellaneous in nature. The Hero's Journey, Second Edition core book includes over thirty Heirlooms to serve as examples for creating your own to suit your legendarium. It is a magical item that is neither a weapon, a shield, nor a suit of armor that has gained magical properties through legendary deeds committed by an individual using the item or by a its valued place within a Lineage's culture and/or history. So, for example, dwarves as a people may know the secret of crafting Fireworks, but Bingo's Book of Rhymes and Riddles was written by a famous halfling adventurer and its pages sometimes contain surprising answers to fit just the puzzler perplexing perturbed player characters. Using these Heirlooms as guidelines, player characters and Narrators are free to create new and unique items to suit their own legendariums as the story unfolds!

This also means that every magical item a player character finds has a rich history and is not something simply to be disposed of. Magic is rare, fantastic, and flows through the history of The Hero's Journey - it's something far greater than simple "pluses" to a stat.
An example Heirloom

The Hero's Journey, Second Edition goes live on Kickstarter on January 7th, 2020. All art in this blog post is by Nic Giacondino and appears in the game's core rule book. Art is owned by Barrel Rider Games, Copyright 2019.


  1. Fantastic stuff, James! I can't wait to back this on Kickstarter. THJ2e looks like it will be a knockout!

  2. Happy New Year James. I like that aspects have to be earned - sidequests beckon.

    Can Myth Points be used for other purposes ?

    1. There will be variant uses for Myth Points in future supplements.

  3. Every new piece that you post only serves to whet my appetite more.

  4. Ive tried this once before and it worked well. As part of the characters background, the player added that he had his fathers sword, a heirlooom passed to each son for generations. After the first adventure, and heroic deeds by the character, the sword awoke. The player was shocked and thrilled. As the warrior gained in experience and deeds, the swords powers grew....


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