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Road of Trials


Disciplines > Storytelling > Campbell's 'Hero's Journey' > Road of Trials

Description | Discussion | See also


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Having left home, the pathway to and through the adventure now lies ahead for the hero. The die is cast and the future lies in wait.

The road may be long, but it is not dull for long as the hero faces many adventures along the way. Each trial may be more difficult than the last as the hero grows in confidence and capability.

Two common battles are the Brother Battle, against a familiar foe with whom the hero has some affinity, and the Dragon Battle, against some terrible an alien monster.

The road is not all battle and the hero may well find moments of respite along the way as well as gathering information, weapons and useful allies and party members, particularly as reward for overcoming each trial.


In Star Wars, Luke fights his way forward to save Princess Leia and then to destroy the Death Star. When Obi-Wan fights Darth Vader, it is a form of Brother Battle.

In the overall story arch of the whole set of Sherlock Holmes stories, each story acts as an episode on the road as Holmes seeks justice and a match for his great intellect.

In Lord of the Rings, Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring face many trials on the way to the final goal of destroying the ring.


Without the road to the final destination, many stories would be disappointingly short. The trials along the way are used both to steadily build tension and also develop the character of the hero and other key characters.

Brother Battle symbolizes a fight with other aspects of the self, perhaps an dark side of the hero's persona and may be found in any inner struggles.

Dragon Battle is a symbol of fighting against the unknown and a superior and terrible power.

The road of trials is widely used in computer games, where the player complete a 'level', beyond which is a harder level. Eventually, they get to the 'boss' for the final trial.

The road of trials can be a metaphor for the whole of life as the hero is reborn into a new role when passing the First Threshold and faces either death or another transition as they face the villain in the final showdown.

See also

Three stage story, Testing: Hero is challenged to prove heroic qualities, Reaction: Hero responds to test, Acquisition: Hero gains magical item


Campbell, J. (1949). The Hero With a Thousand Faces, New York: Bollingen

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