This article will go over how we applied The Hero's Journey writing process to our lore development to create meaningful stories for player's to engage with during gameplay.
Too often, we have experienced games with generic or static characters that do little to engage the imagination. They don't stoke your interest beyond their gameplay features and neither do they encourage you to consider who they could be, nor where they come from nor what their purpose may be. We have played enough games to know that miniature characters especially can leave you feeling thirsty for more meaningful storytelling to illuminate the special abilities the character has and the reason for the pose of the miniature.
STORYTELLING METHODOLGOY APPLIED TO TABLETOP
We wanted to break from the norm and introduce a new level of storytelling that is engaging, exciting and above all else, meaningful. We looked to The Hero's Journey writing process for inspiration on our game's lore development because it provides strong story building blocks which create opportunities for characters with more depth than what has traditionally been explored in tabletop games.
The hero's journey is an ancient storytelling pattern identified and explored by key figures like Aristotle, and the mythologist Joseph Campbell in his book "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," then later by the screenwriter Christopher Vogler in his book, "The Writer's Journey." The hero's journey is based upon the theory that most stories can be boiled down to a series of narrative structures and character archetypes, described through mythological allegory. By using this process we have been able to create powerful stories that use elements from the typical hero's journey structure but provides them with names and faces of characters players can get attached to during gameplay.
We began by mapping out our overarching world stories for the races of our characters, then determined who was considered a hero within those races. Each hero was then given their own personal story guided by the confines of The Hero's Journey writing process. We wanted to provide players with characters that evoke a sense of purpose and encourage the players to consider who their character is as well as where they come from. Although the literary structure of any hero's journey are all the same, like meeting a mentor or going through an ordeal, the nature and order of these structures can differ in literally every and any way for the character in question.
For example, in one instance we introduced characters that were soldiers fleeing to the underground after having lost a vital stronghold to the enemy. This part of the story is a classic example of the "Refusing The Call" section of the hero's journey in which a heroic character attempts to run from their problems and refuse help. They immediately meet with another character who attempts to convince them that hiding has gone onfor too long, and they must take action before it's too late. When we use this narrative structure, we do our best to avoid creating cliches or following a formula to the point of being predictable. We instead want players to use their imagination and be inspired by our heroes' journeys, all while seeing familiar elements from stories they have heard in history or read in books come together in an original way that is both meaningful and exciting for them during gameplay.
Regardless of what story we are trying to tell, we have found The Hero's Journey writing process to be an invaluable tool for its ability to provide a map guiding us through unknown territory. We are excited about the future of tabletop games because it means more opportunities than ever before to tell stories players can connect with, learn from and experience together.
Adventure Together is a tabletop publishing and technology company dedicated to creating immersive gaming experiences for enthusiasts and casual gamers alike. Our flagship tabletop experience, TimeScape, is an accessible and family-friendly miniature wargame set in a captivating sci-fi and fantasy universe at the end of time. TimeScape's unique gameplay experience is enhanced by the Scape system, a modular board game system that offers endless terrain customization and replayability - so you can adventure across countless worlds. Discover the fascinating worlds of TimeScape and other exciting gaming experiences from Adventure Together by joining our community Discord or signing up for our monthly Kickstarter newsletter.