Sunday, January 5, 2020

Bonds of Fellowship: The Importance of the Group

Tabletop role-playing games are a group activity. It's a group of (usually) three or more people sitting around a table, working together to collaboratively share an experience that all present will enjoy. Often this experience involves overcoming an adversary or accomplishing a difficult task. More importantly, most folks who sit down to play RPGs together are friends - and if they're not, after a few sessions of play, they're likely to become friends. That's one of my favorite things about tabletop RPGs. It creates a shared experience for all involved, a shared memory, and often a shared sense of victory and accomplishment.

In the case of The Hero's Journey 2e, many of the sources which inspired the game are stories about a group of friends. Whether it's the classic Company of the Ring from The Lord of the Rings, the brotherly bond of Pug and Thomas in Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga, the unlikely friendship of Willow Ufgood and Madmartigan in Willow, or the iconic Companions of the Dragonlance series, none of these stories would resonate as they do without those bonds of friendship. As such, The Hero's Journey 2e has several rules to reinforce this theme.

Tucker, Human Yeoman, protecting
a dear friend in battle

One of its new Archetypes, the Yeoman, is entirely built around this concept. Mechanically speaking, a Yeoman is a supporting Archetype and functions primarily to empower other characters. Thematically, this is done through the use of their Promise ability. At the beginning of each day, the Yeoman declares a promise to one (or more, at higher levels) other player characters (or important NPC) and as long as the two remain within close proximity, the character (or characters) which have been chosen as the beneficiary of the Promise ability receive bonuses. In addition, should a character under a Yeoman's Promise ability become injured or wounded, the Yeoman becomes a truly fierce opponent, gaining Advantage on attack rolls and other abilities. In short, a Yeoman is the heart of an adventuring company.
Tucker, Willow, Flynn, Bandoras, Evelyn, Tesh,
Puckstone, and Kara relaxing around the campfire.

Secondly, while traveling on the road or resting at an Inn, the group can choose to Relax Around the Campfire. This action allows characters to enjoy the company of their fellow heroes and draw upon the strength of those shared good times to find strength of heart in dark times. In short, successfully Relaxing Around the Campfire grants a character Advantage to any one Saving Throw of their choice the next day. The bonds of friendship are strong indeed and can see heroes through the darkest times.

Finally, Chapter Seven: Running the Game features a section on creating player characters that begin play with a reason for those characters to be bound together in their adventures. There is little place for the "lone wolf" character in The Hero's Journey 2e and no one is an island. In short, it is our friends who will give us the strength to survive the horrors we must confront - and that is a theme that has resonated in legends through to the modern day because it is as timeless and universal as friendship itself.

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.
Heroes standing together against the evils of the world

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