In his seminal book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” Joseph Campbell presents his grand monomyth theory. The theory is that all mythological stories and writing a good adventure story share one typical structure. Campbell referred to this as the “monomyth”. It is of immense help to someone writing adventure games.
The structure talks about a journey from the ordinary natural world to a special extra-ordinary or supernatural one. The hero meets with high forces in that supernatural world and emerges victorious in the struggles there. The hero finally comes back with the power to make the lives of his fellow-men better.
Campbell describes 17 stages that consist of the journey structure of the hero. As we mentioned in this blog post, it should be noted that not all the stages are prominently present in all the stories. But it does act as a guide to writing adventure games.
Campbell’s seminal work has influenced a high number of modern narrative artists. These artists range from filmmakers to game developers to writers to people writing a text-based game. The main stages of the journey are as follows:
The Experience in the Ordinary World
If you put in the time and effort to establish the ordinary world in the introduction, it gives more meaning and depth to your writing adventure games efforts. It is helpful to make readers or viewers acquainted with the everyday world of the hero. It gives them an insight into how they live and why they not satisfied with their lives.
2. Call to Adventure
Once you have expressed the hero’s current life and why they might not be that satisfied with it, it’s time for the call to adventure. This call to adventure interrupts the hero’s average life with an opportunity to go beyond their ordinary world. Often it is seen that the hero at first declines or ignores the offer. They are either afraid of the dangers or simply don’t believe that their destiny is higher than their present lot. They also perhaps feel like they have to stay right there in their ordinary world.
3. Accepting the call
The hero inevitably agrees with the call to adventure presented to him. This consent may come after deliberating the possibilities or as a compulsion arising from more significant stakes. His destiny calls to him, and the call of destiny is very, very powerful.
4. Supernatural help
Soon after the hero takes up the call to adventure presenting to him hesitatingly or with a resounding yes, he comes upon someone or something of supernatural origins that aids him. This mentor-like figure provides the hero with the training and powers he needs if he is to succeed.
The Unknown World
5. Crossing the Threshold
The threshold represents the door between the ordinary and supernatural world. This door might both be literal or figurative. So, crossing the threshold refers to the hero leaving his everyday life and start his journey to an unknown world. According to the motif’s customs, this act requires the completion of a difficult task by the hero. Usually, the mentor or supernatural help received by the hero helps in this. One should remember that the new world need not be a distinctly separate place. It just might be that the hero sees his own life and society in a different light.
6. Experiencing the Unknown World
Once the hero has entered the unknown world, he will meet with events that will acquaint him with the dangers of this new world and all its wonders. Usually, through these experiences, the hero inches forward to their goal. But the hero has not really committed himself to the fight till yet.
7. The Belly of The Whale
When the hero has just started to become used to the new world, is life meets with an event, after which there is no going back for the hero. This might be the first real danger that the hero encounters in the unknown world. It is in this part that the hero first meets the primary or secondary antagonists.
8. Trials and Tribulations
One the hero finally commits to the adventure journey, troubles start to surmount. He has to experience a series of trials and tribulations, which makes it really hard for the hero to inch forward towards their goals. The hero has to fight really hard, and he has to deal with fears and doubts that play into the hero’s psyche and the flaws in his personality. The hero must keep pressing forward at this critical juncture where his resolve is shaken. He must be determined to achieve his goals no matter how high the stakes are or how dangerous the conflict is.
9. The cycle of death and rebirth
When the hero is roughly in the middle of his journey, the hero must undergo death or resurrection or a significant transformation. This transformation is permanent and constitutes what the character really is and what he stands for.
10. Approaching the Innermost Cave
To complete the hero’s transformation, he must realize the enormous power exercised by the villain and the dangers to the hero’s life he presents. This fear of life may be an internal one that threatens the hero and his family’s peace and happiness.
This “trial by fire” of the hero is signified by him heading into the thick of danger with full awareness. But additional trials and tests or continued doubts and fears await them before the final face-off with the antagonist begins. This might also be a time for the hero to remember what he has learned until yet. This stage serves to build tension and the recognition of the epic moment as it approaches.
11. Facing the Great Ordeal
When the hero has completed the previous stage, he is tasked with meeting a complex problem of great importance. This might represent itself as a physical battle, a complex puzzle that can potentially threaten the hero’s life. It might also take the shape of an inner conflict ingrained deeply into the psyche of the hero. To overcome the difficulty, the hero has to build upon everything they have learned so far. Having to make a great sacrifice is another facet that often accompanies this stage.
The stage truly sets the middle ground of the story and is the most significant event to have taken place in the story so far. Usually, the hero is victorious in this battle but at a high cost. The mentor, with his supernatural gifts, often sees the hero through this great challenge.
12. Receiving Rewards
As a positive outcome of overcoming steep obstacles in the previous stage, the hero is rewarded with a sort of prize or reprieve. This prize or pardon may be meant for the hero himself or for his people as a whole. The prize typically is an object endowed with magical powers. It might also be a reunion with long lost ones or the acquisition of new capabilities or insights.
The Return Journey Begins
13. Atonement on the path
Once the hero has received the prize he had set out for, it is time for him to return home. At this point in time of the story, the original objectives of the hero’s journey have been achieved. But something is still missing.
The gap is filled in by the hero atoning for any wrong he might have done in his journey. However, grave danger still awaits the hero with his new reputation for being a hero of epical proportions. This often-final conflict is far worse than the challenge he had to surmount in the great ordeal.
14. Real Resurrection
This is the stage where the hero faces his last and most dangerous battle till yet. It is an encounter with death with little hope of coming out on top. This final battle might find expression as a final battle with the villain or great physical danger. It might also involve the hero having to choose between his own success and something with greater meaning. The stakes are usually the highest in this particular conflict. Failure could spell doom for the hero or his people in the ordinary world.
This stage is the actual climax of the story. The hero experiences a resurrection, unlike anything he has known before. Victory comes to him as he leads his people to safety and accepts his new self.
Returning to The Ordinary World
In the finale of the journey, it is time for the hero to come back to the ordinary world as a transformed person. He has learned so much and has shown tremendous growth as a person. This return leads to a moment of celebration or significant and profound realization of the self for the hero.
This stage bears out how the journey to the unknown world positively affected the people of the ordinary world. Often because of the great transformation of the hero, he must come to terms with his former reality and forge a new normal.
Well, that sums up the Hero’s Journey, I hope you can already link various parts of familiar stories in popular culture to fit in. Remember, not every stage is a necessity for every story. It should be adapted to your writing text adventure games narrative needs. Final words? It’s an excellent structure for writing text-based adventure games.Subscribe to our Email Newsletter