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A roleplaying game of gods and heroes, set in a modern world full of ancient myth.
A roleplaying game of gods and heroes, set in a modern world full of ancient myth.
213 backers pledged $21,003 to help bring this project to life.

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Start of the Summer Update 2018

Hey everyone! We hope you're having a great month of May(King of Months). We wanted to get you an update on all parts of the project.  

1. We're gonna start with the big one. We know the project is running 4 years behind. We aren't upset about reminders from you, but please don't believe for a second that we are somehow able to forget about this. It is a constant weight on our mind. There is rarely a week we aren't planning scheduling and working. I wanted to make sure we started with that because we know its on your mind. Please don't think we're ever able to push this to the side and stop working as hard as we possibly can on it.  

2. With Anne waylayed the team has been helping me with getting the Call to Adventure out. Its going to have pregenerated characters, a short digestible version of the rules, and a prepared one game Saga. We have a complete draft of everything at the moment. Royce is currently working on mock-ups of one shot character sheets and I'm finishing up the final draft of the Saga. Its been looking fantastic so far, but I'd be hesitant to talk about a timeline of completion(even though it seems soon). Both royce and I have some business travel at the end of May, and I'll be able to talk to you specifically about our timetable for that in June. 

3. For those of you who don't keep up with the blog on our website, we've been concurrently running three playtest games. They each have about 20 games under them and I have two notebooks full of playtest notes. Its been exhausting, but I've gotten a lot of great feedback and fixed some problem areas in the game(and gotten some good ideas about where additional fixes are needed). They're all winding down soon so that I can use that weekly time on making the changes. As our playtests wind down the Call to Adventure should be out. And I'm sure many of you will have feedback for me from your games. 

4. When is the game done? I wish I had any real answer for you. We're working as hard as we can, but I'm just terrible at reasonable estimates. If I were you, I'd probably take any estimate given with a HUGE grain of salt anyway. Everything feels a lot closer. I've been having a blast playing this game so far. I want so badly for it to be done and for others to have fun with it. 

5. Anne's Health: Without getting too specific, Anne's health is something we'll be dealing with for the foreseeable future. We're doing the best we can with it. Our move to Miami last year was partly because they offered her AMAZING health insurance. She's in for tests every month and she's an absolute trooper. Its not something that is curable, but hopefully with the right treatment she can be back to a fairly normal life. For now though, the amount of time she can work on things is very limited, but she writes and works on HJ whenever she can. We're always hoping that will change soon, but we don't know when. 

That's all for the update. Feel free to hit me with any questions you have. I'll do my best to answer them. 

 If you would like more frequent updates on how the project is going, please follow us over at our blog. 

If you need a quicker or more direct answer to a question, please feel free to email me 

 Thank you, 


Update: Back to Work


This post brought to you by John the systems dev.

Here we are, two weeks later.

Old Man John At Work
Old Man John At Work

What's Up With Writing/Completion

What's up currently is: I'm working on things and Anne's helping me whenever possible. Since a lot of things have already been through a few drafts, it's lots of cleanup and confirming that numbers still add up and systems still balance against each other. I think we are all aware that when it comes to writing/editing and the English language, I'm not Anne, I'm the systems guy. Slower and generally worse, in other words. I usually do a lot of design and testing and numbers stuff, but she's the Head Writer, so this is slow and she is assisting to keep me from wrecking anything she already wrote. Mostly it's the double duty of making sure there are no holes in the system, but also that the copy actually explains the systems right so that readers understand what's going on.

This phase will hopefully not last very long, but it's important to make sure we know exactly where everything is as we return to the project so we don't duplicate any work or accidentally waste time to fix something we already fixed a different way.

Archival Footage of Anne Being Better Than John
Archival Footage of Anne Being Better Than John

What's Going On Outside of Writing

I'm currently working on setting up a new playtesting group (as of this moment, they're in character creation). It's important that this isn't something that will slow things down or anything. We won't be waiting for the playtesting game(s) to conclude before printing or anything like that, if the timelines don't line up. But it's just smart to have people testing things while we're still working - the playtesters have time to look at it while it isn't yet finished, and new tweaks can get a field run. Live testing will also be a good way to get back into the swing of things.

Amicable Playtest Discussion About Group Makeup
Amicable Playtest Discussion About Group Makeup

The Personal Stuff

Recent hospital visits were good but not as good as we hoped. We're both still pumped about doing things and we'll keep you posted. Thank you to everyone who commented with kind words and encouragement, we both really appreciated all of them.

Right now we're planning to try to do an update every two weeks or so, even if it's just to say "hey, we're still here and still working on it", so there won't be a long silent stretch again. For the most part we'll probably do those updates on the Hero's Journey blog so we don't spam Kickstarter peoples' emails, but we'll put them here as well if there's important information. Anne is also better at updates so I hope to give them back to her someday.

Salutes to you warriors, back to the trenches!

Update: Clearing the Mists

Pictured: Last Known Communication from HJ Dev Team
Pictured: Last Known Communication from HJ Dev Team

What Happened: The Long Silence

This post by John Ruthven, systems developer for Hero's Journey.

Way back when we started this project, our somewhat tongue-in-cheek Risks and Challenges section said, "While we are absolutely committed to Hero's Journey for many years to come, someone integral on the production team could still get hit by a bus tomorrow..."  What we meant was that since we're a very small team, one person getting seriously taken out of play could cause major problems for finishing the game.  And, as some of you may know or have guessed from the long silence, that bus did come along.  Happily, it wasn't a literal bus, but it was a bus in the form of a sudden-onset severe medical condition - and it hit our head writer and coordinator, Anne.

We're not going to go into details, because it's a private medical issue and not only do we not want to talk about it, you probably don't want to hear about it. Suffice it to say that it incapacitated her for the better part of two years, and between hospital and doctor visits and the accompanying struggle with life maintenance, the pace of work on Hero's Journey slowed, then crawled, and then had to be put on pause completely. (For those of you not aware, HJ is mostly generated by a married-couple team - I (John) am the systems and design lead for the game and Anne's my wife.) We had already been slowed way down from our original plans by the initial stages of the health problems, which we didn't recognize for what they were at the time, and once Anne was down, the game stalled as a result. Things like playtesting feedback and rewrites dragged on because we weren't able to work directly on them as much as we wanted to, and updates for the community also fell by the wayside.

Artist's Rendering of Understandable Backer Feelings
Artist's Rendering of Understandable Backer Feelings

The Long-Overdue Apologies

We very deeply and seriously apologize for the long break, the long silence, and the long-running pace of this project.

Anne getting knocked over by the Crosstown Episode-of-House-MD Express is an explanation for what happened, but it's not an excuse. We didn't communicate with the backers or the rest of the community about why the project went dark or what was going on behind the scenes, and we should have; the piecemeal updates and occasional answers to individual PMs didn't cut it. There were reasons for that, and the first one was that Anne didn't want to tell anyone she was sick; it's very personal and for a long time she fought it and fought mentioning it to anyone except close friends. We kept hoping the problem would get cleared up quickly so we wouldn't have to talk about personal issues, and we kept putting off doing an update because we wanted to have something to show, like a PDF or a solid time estimate or even just new previews, before we made another update that just said "hang in there" - but those reasons still don't excuse failing to communicate with all of you for so long. We should have done better, period. Our Risks and Challenges section for this project also said "If [a setback] happens, we'll not only let you know what's happening and why things have been delayed, but also keep you updated on our plans to move forward and any new projected times we set," and we did not follow through on that pledge the way we should have. Plenty of you folks have let us know you're frustrated and angry here or on our blog, and you have a right to be upset with us and to let us know it. We appreciate how passionate everyone has been about the project, and how many of you have kept up with looking in on it even during the long period of silence.

Example of a Totally Comprehensible HJ Work Chart
Example of a Totally Comprehensible HJ Work Chart

Where We Are Now

Hero's Journey is not, as understandaby worried about by some folks online, dead.  In yet another quote from our Risks and Challenges, "We'll see this game brought to life if we have to do it from cardboard boxes while leeching off of coffeeshop wifi."  Anne is (sort of, mostly, if you listen to her) back upright and able to work again and the team is settled and stable. All our previous work - which represents the vast bulk of the completed game! - is still there, all your already-created and purchased backer rewards are still safe in storage, and all your pledges are still safe in their account.

We would like - so much! desperately, in fact! - to give you all a projected date to be finished, but given how this has all played out and how unsure we are of how quickly we can get back up to pace, we don't feel like we could do so and be honest.  We're also frustrated and pissed off about how long this has taken and about the fact that it isn't finished yet, and we're keenly aware that we owe you all something awesome.

In the coming weeks, we have some important doctor's visits upcoming for Anne, and we're hopeful about the results. We'll be posting another update two weeks from today to let you know where we are with everything. In the meantime, we're STILL working our butts off to finish this damn game. (Which we still love and cherish and want people to enjoy, but when we're talking about how long production has taken, it's always "this damn game".)
Pictured: Productive Team Meeting to Discuss Small Detail of System
Pictured: Productive Team Meeting to Discuss Small Detail of System

Thanks and Acknowledgments

During the long silence, we added some additional folks who have been helping a great deal behind the scenes but who you may not have heard about yet, so here's a shout-out to Tanay, our fabulous Hinduism consultant who provides invaluable context and religious information and regularly saves us from missteps that plain research does not, and to Katie and Stewart, who joined the playtesting pool for about a year and provided their additional valuable insights into the sorrow of playing magician characters and the joy of murdering the bad guys, along with all the other playtesters who have been along with us for this long ride.

And, most importantly, as always: thank you all.

End of summer update



Update: The Votes Are In!


Okay, everyone! It's been a few weeks, so we're officially going to call the Kickstarter voting.  The final tally looked something like this:

Votes for Option A: 22
Votes for Option B: 2
Votes for Option C:

Those following along from the last update may notice that there's an option C on that list, which didn't actually exist in the original post, where we offered options A and B. That's because a startling number of people here at Kickstarter (but very few over at our official blog) suggested "option C", which was essentially "just keep doing what you're doing and let us know when it's done, we're not bothered about it", which was very excellent of them. (Salutes, you folks.) Not represented on this table are also a large number of votes of "C, but A I guess if that isn't an option," which started popping up around the same time as well. 

So, without getting into it too greatly: you're all fantastic, and we love that backers offered a new option of their own organically to let us know what they thought about the process. When we offered options A and B, it was because we were hearing from various backers and followers of the project that they really needed to see something concrete sooner rather than later, and since we agree that this project has gone on much longer than anticipated and you folks deserve to see some return on that investment, we came up with a few ideas for how to do that. Option C, nice though it would be for us because we wouldn't have to do anything extra, wouldn't help those folks whose voices we were responding to in the first place, so we're going to have to decide not to go with it. But of the original two options, A clearly won by a landslide (even more so if you count the "C, but I guess A" votes, which jump that 22 up to a 35), so A it is! We will be working toward fulfilling that plan! 

 First Important Thing: Everything we're working on to implement Option A is stuff that had to be done before the book was finished, anyway. That means that those of you who voted C, or who aren't voting at all but were worried about delays, can mostly rest easy that we're not stopping to do things that make it take longer for you to get the final product. What we are doing is mostly redirecting the specific things we're working on so that the things Option A needs done get done first, and everything else will be done later after it's out the door. There will still be a small delay, I won't lie to you - at the end we'll have to stop to proofread everything and then put it into a form we can release to backers - but it won't be a very big one. 

Second Important Thing: As we have all discovered together on this winding journey, date estimates have been difficult to come up with and often don't reflect the actual final completion date. So, instead of taking a guess (educated, but still a guess) at when Option A will be finished and ready to rock, we've put together a checklist of all the things that need to get done before that, so you can follow along as they get completed. 

Since obviously you folks aren't in our workroom watching progress on these things, that may be a little opaque, so here's a quick rundown on what each of the things on those tables means!   

  • Augments we've talked about before on the HJ blog: these are essentially "boosters" that Heroes can get through the Web of Fate that allow them to enhance their other powers or gain system advantages as they go forward. We're just doing the Mortal-level Augments at the moment, in pursuit of getting Option A packaged for all of you, and will go back to do the Immortal and Divine ones afterward.  
  • The Hunter Endowment, Persistence, has been a mechanical thorn in our sides for a while, but as you can see, it's finally finished! It's in playtesting now, so hopefully we'll be able to call that done soon, as long as no egregious problems crop up from it.
  • Character Creation Tweaks refer to a few notes we've been collecting over the course of playtesting, mostly referring to making sure starting characters are appropriate in power level and start with their most essential tools. We have a few old legacy rules to go back and update, which hopefully won't take long.
  • Divine Favor Selections are an appendix item, and are essentially a list of sample forms Divine Favor can take that a GM can use for inspiration or just lift and put into their own Saga without worrying about having to balance or design themselves. We aren't including everything that is an "example" type of material in the Option A PDF, since some of them aren't essential to beginning to try the game out, but DFs are noticeable enough to characters that we think it's worth taking the time to do it for them.
  • The Hero's Journey Structure is so close to being done that we almost crossed it out, but there are a few edges we'd still like to smooth. This item refers to providing a sketch of what the HJ is in terms of this game, how it's used, and a few helpful asides to give GMs examples or visuals to move it along.
  • The Magic Item Table is exactly what it sounds like: there are magic items in the game, and sometimes players might find some (or, if they're Creators, make some!), which means the GM can use some guidance about what they do and how to stat and roll for them. We couldn't really be fair to the Creator Aspect if we didn't include this in the Option A package, but happily it's both required for the book to be complete anyway, and something that will probably come up even for Creator-light games.
  • Odyssey Event Selections are another appendix item of suggestions or examples that can be used by a GM, this time referring to Travel Episodes and all the glorious problems they bring with them. It's been under organic development as part of the playtests for a while now, and we don't anticipate it taking very long to complete once we buckle down on it!
  • Prophecy Effect Testing is an ongoing thing we're doing in both rewriting some powers for clarity and watching them play out in playtests; essentially, many mythologies and religious have tales of people who can see omens of the future, read portents of things to come, or experience visions of foretold events, but this is hard to model in a tabletop game where none of the players or the GM actually have precognition, so we've had to play with different approaches a lot over time. Our current powersets are working on twin options of "the player foresaw it, so the GM makes it happen later" for things that are not too disruptive to the game, and "the player immediately triggers it, but it was something they foresaw/knew, and it should be clear that they did not actually cause it".
  • Time/Downtime System Tweaks refer to a few places where the system needs clarification as far as realtime vs. gametime and how to manage the passage of both in actual play. A few things from our original chapter need to be altered based on playtests, but shouldn't be a big hardship.
  • The Volatile Item Table is similar to the Magic Item Table, except, as you might expect, worse for everyone involved; volatile items are a special class of things in the game that are unstable and may be great and useful, or may cause a random effect, or may blow up in everyone's faces, depending on how destiny feels like treating you that day. These are again very necessary for the Creator players, who may create or affect these types of things, so they're a final entry in the "lists of stuff" column that needs to be addressed.
  • XP System Tweaks are another thing that we already know the issues with and just need to write up alternatives to; playtesting has suggested some problems with advancement in the original setup that we need to solve with some quick fiddling. This will be a quick one in terms of us doing it, but may need a little time to get crossed off as we make sure it holds up under testing.

Since we don't want to flood you folks with notifications, we'll be continuing with updates over at the official HJ Blog, where you'll probably see that checklist popping up several times (hopefully with an increasing number of items crossed off!).  We'll stay focused on character creation and Mortal-level hijinks for a while in order to get the Option A PDF done and ready to send to backers, and then we'll move on to finishing the higher-level stuff while you check out the base!

Thanks again to everyone for your input and feedback - it's important to us and we hope we can use it to keep doing better.  Until next time!