The Hero's Journey 2nd Edition, by James M Spahn #1 The Rulebook

Overall, I’ll start by saying I personally think it is an amazing game. Relatively rules-lite and the overall feel of the game is awesome. I don’t have any major nits about the game and I think you get pretty good bang for the buck for the game. As of December 9, 2022, the PDF is $14.99, the softcover is $29.99, and the combo (book and PDF) is $34.99, with the hardcover version $10 more on DTRPG. The purpose of this, for me, is to just flip through the book and highlight that which sticks out to me, whether good or bad.
I like the introduction as you get into his headspace and get a glimpse as to why he did the 2nd Edition, which is mainly because he could and not because the world needed, necessarily, another fantasy RPG.

The rules start with the Attributes chapter, and right out of the gate we’re told rule number one is the Narrator has the right to, and is encouraged to, modify rules as needed. The game does use the standard poylhedrals that most of us are used to, from the d4 to the d20.
Attributes are broken down to Might (STR), Finesse (DEX), Resolve (CON), Insight (INT/WIS), Bearing (CHA), and Weal (the wild card stat). One thing I like about the attributes is you can get a 5% bonus to your XP for meeting certain attribute minimums. These are stackable with other attribute bonuses, as well as archetype and lineage bonuses, up to 20%.
Professions are an interesting add, in my opinion. Some games include the notion, some don’t. Roll 1d100 for your profession. Alternately, the Narrator may allow you to pick your own off the list. Each profession offers starting gear and money. Also, shaded boxes are included along the way to introduce optional house rules. Another nice add in my opinion.

There are several different lineages, each with its own dice pool for attributes, and level limits for archetypes the lineage is capable of playing, as well as any specific skills.
First is the changeling, which is a human with a touch of fey. They experience time slightly differently from everyone else, can see the unseen, and have an unnatural presence, among other traits. They do best as a swordsman, able to achieve level 10 (the max in the game), while they aren’t so well known for bearing the mantle of knight, only able to reach level 4. They are able to achieve level 7 in the other archetypes.
Secondly, we have the dwarf. They have the inability to play a wizard in the game as they don’t trust it in this world, and will be most often found, or at least can achieve level 10, as a warrior. Like the changeling, they can only reach low levels as a knight (3).
The elves are next. They are known to be good wizards, and not so much for being knights or yeomans.
Half-elves come next and are the world’s bards (level 10 achievable), with the ability to hit level 7 in all other archetypes.
2nd to last we have the halfling. As each lineage is known, as in being able to hit level 10 in at least one archetype, the halflings are the games yeomans. With the lineage/archetype combo, what comes to my mind character-wise is basically Samwise Gamgee. They are also the only other lineage not able to play as a wizard.
Lastly is the human. There is also a variant lineage: the Errant. Errants are not native to the world; rather they come from a world where the normal events in this world are considered fantasy and not real.

Being an experience point based game, each archetype has an individual advancement table for XP, endurance (HP), attack bonuses, etc. There are also minimum requirements to play each archetype, which vary by archetype.
One can play as a bard, burglar, knight (the artwork is amazing throughout the book, as a side note, and for the knight’s picture all I hear in my head is Jamie Lannister’s voice “Brienne of f’ing Tarth!”), ranger, swordsman, warrior, wizard, and yeoman. The yeoman is basically that “every man” archetype, the one that is pulled out of their comfort zone, whether they want it or not, and have to go out questing.

The equipment chapter is pretty representative of what one would expect from a fantasy game, and prices are in gold pieces. Gold, silver and copper are the coins of choice in the game (1 GP is 10 SP or 100 CP).

How to Play
This is laid out wonderfully, and there are some rules that stick out for me. Whether these are good or bad, I’ll leave up to you, though I like them.
The first is about gaining experience. This game, by design, is not combat heavy and is not encouraged as the endurance scores at first level are mostly 6 - 8, with wizards starting at 4. So, unless you house rule it, no XP for letting the PC’s go murder hobo. Some XP rewards include (as in, receive a set amount of XP for these actions): accurately playing lineage and archetype; attempting a potentially deadly act of heroism; making everyone laugh; etc. And that does not include any bonus.
Another is advantage/disadvantage. Whenever one is declared, roll 2d20, and choose either the higher or lower number, depending.
The next to jump out is the notion of despair. Each creature in the bestiary has a despair rating, and each PC has to make a roll if the creature’s despair rating is 5 over the PC’s current level (so, if level 2, have to roll on despair of 7+). Failure of the saving throw hinders the PC’s attack ability. Also, if they are in a blighted area, a failed saving throw means most rolls are at disadvantage while in the area.
Lastly, is the concept of making camp. I think many of us (if not most or all) gloss over it. “Okay, sure, we set up camp, and we’ll get ours stats refreshed.” Here it’s assumed you are going to be searching for food, and lack of finding it in the long run has consequences (think not eating for a couple days in game terms). Same if there’s a lack of rest. If the group states they are going to “relax around the campfire,” a successful roll gets the party advantage on a saving throw the next day.

I particularly like how they handled magic here. There are 21 spells across 3 levels of spells: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master. When you cast a spell, a successful roll nets one of 3 possible results. For example: you cast “Breathed in Silver.” You can opt to “Befriend the Fool,” have a “Lingering Phantom,” or cause a “Slumbering Sting.” Each is a different effect under the umbrella of the specific spell.

The running the game chapter explains just that.

The Menagerie chapter offers a wide variety of baddies to choose from: avians, demons, dragons, elementals, and others. The other keynote point in the chapter is in regards to wandering monsters. The game is all about the story, and random encounters, it is felt, can seem jarring and out of place.

The last chapter is, to me, one of the most interesting. As you level up, you receive myth points. These are used to ‘purchase’ Aspects, which empower your weapons, shields, or armor. Examples include: Balanced, Cold Iron, Grievous, and Renown. There are also heirlooms. Each lineage has them, and you can spend myth points to get them as well. Both are nice additions to the game and add some depth and character to a game that already has a bunch of both.
Lastly, there is an appendix. In it, James M Spahn lists some inspirations of his from RPG’s to film and literature.

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