Open Up New Worlds Of Gaming With The Open Legend RPG
  • Open Up New Worlds Of Gaming With The Open Legend RPG


    Many RPGs promise to let us do exactly what we want, but few of them achieve this goal quite as well as Open Legend. With a bit of effort this setting-free system can allow you to build everything from a band of medieval knights to off-brand X-Men, though this comes at the cost of a little more complexity than you'd expect from the average d20-based game.



    The core mechanic of the game is a twist on the traditional "roll a d20 and add a modifier", with extra dice taking the place of static bonuses. For example, a low-level character specialising in agility might get to roll a couple of d6s, while an epic-tier enemy gets to add as much as 4d8.

    This really gets to the heart of the Open Legend approach to things, creating a system that's fun and flexible but requires you to be red-hot on the rules if you want to keep the pace up. There's no doubt that getting to roll tonnes of dice is more enjoyable than just adding a flat number, especially as every single one of them explodes on the maximum result, but you also need to keep swapping out dice and double-checking charts when you're called on to make a persuasion check followed by a fortitude roll.

    You can also see this in the mechanic that arguably forms the heart of the game – Banes & Boons. These are the powers and abilities that allow characters to do all the cool stuff you can imagine, from slinging spells and shape-changing to disarming foes and inspiring allies.
    These all key off various core attributes, which include the usual physical, mental and social skills as well as more unusual elements like 'entropy' and 'prescience'. This means that you can invoke the 'stunned' bane on your enemy using your character's might or agility, or by throwing out some energy- or entropy-manipulation.

    One of the great things about this system is that it leaves the flavouring of everything up to the players and the GM. Perhaps that enemy was stunned by a resounding punch to the jaw, a zap from a taser-baton or a blast of necrotic energy that sapped their energy.

    The fact that there are so many options out there, keying off so many different attributes, gives every single character out there a decent list of powers they can use at any one moment. Again, this is great fun for players who are invested in their characters and familiar with the rulebook, but the sheer range of options open each and every turn can be overwhelming.

    Even a level one character specialising in purely physical abilities is going to have access to well over a dozen banes and boons, all with their own effects and checks, and whether the thought of that fills you with excitement or dread probably sums up how you'll feel about playing Open Legend.

    Ultimately, the system is well-written and definitely has the potential to slot into any genre you could possible want, with the only real limitation on what characters can do being the level you start at – insane superheroes and anime rip-offs only really work once you get to spend a few more points. If your table loves messing around with builds and stretching their imagination around rulesets, you should definitely take a look at Open Legend.

    On a final note, while the core rules of Open Legend have been out in various forms for a while and are available for free from its website, this review was meant to cover the final, printed version of the core rulebook. Unfortunately, this hasn't been possible as the vast majority of books shipped to Kickstarter backers outside the US seem to have disappeared without trace, and at the moment there's no real indication when – or if – they will arrive.

    While this doesn't impact the quality of the actual rules one bit, I'd be lying if the missing books – and the year-long delay that came before that – hadn't soured me on the system just a little.

    contributed by Richard Jansen-Parkes
    SaveSave
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Yaarel -
      I am interested in Open Legend. Is it too late to rethink the given attributes? The attributes are fundamental, and need to work better.

      For example. Agility needs to split into two attributes: Agility (gross-motor skills, gymnastics, locomoting) versus Dexterity (fine-motor skills, aiming, precise movements). Might needs to incorporate size. Give melee accuracy to Agility, but melee damage to Might. Similarly, correlate Fortitude with size. And so on.

      I see, there is a homebrew section. But because the attributes are so fundamental to all other rules that will come into existence, the only possibility of adopting the system is if the attributes work extremely well, in the first place.
    1. rknop's Avatar
      rknop -
      Yikes. Their license is a bit of a mess, and their advertisement as an "open source" RPG is a straight-up falsehood.

      First, I really wouldn't call this an "open source" RPG. It's designed to be as easy as possible to allow people to write compatible material, so, yes, good. However, it does not come anywhere close to the definition of "open source" as its defined in software. The OGL comes much closer.

      Were it really open source, people could take the text of the Open Legend SRD itself and use it in their own work, potentially modifying it. The CC-BY and CC-BY-SA licenses allow this. The OGL allows this (with "product identity" limitations). The Open Legend SRD does not. Indeed, it very explicitly says that you can *not* reproduce any of their text.

      I'm very disappointed that they are calling this the "Open Source" RPG, because that attracted my attention, and will attract the attention of others. But, ultimately, it's a false claim. There's nothing new in what they're doing, and it's far LESS open than D&D 3.0 was 20 years ago, and Fudge was before that.

      Second, their license seems to be saying that they retain the rights to anything you write. Look at terms 7 and 8:

      7. Seventh Sphere Entertainment reserves all intellectual property rights to Open Legend RPG, including but not limited to all copyrights, trademarks, ENTERTAINMENT, entertainment, licensing, and merchandising rights.

      8. Any subsequent works derived or adapted from products under this license are equally subject to the full terms and limitations contained herein. The failure of subsequent content creators to include this license does not limit its operability upon them and their product.
      In other words; yeah, they say that anybody can use their stuff to write compatible material but they own the copyrights. Meaning that they are allowed to do anything with what you write, not subject to the limitations that you have on their material. This is *not* open source as represented by something like the GPL, BSD, or Creative Commons licenses.

      It's a trap. The Open Source is false advertising. I like what they've done and am fine with it; it's an extremely fan friendly IP policy. But it's nowhere near open source, and I really do not like that they are misrepresenting it as such.
    1. RatzGoids's Avatar
      RatzGoids -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yaarel View Post
      I am interested in Open Legend. Is it too late to rethink the given attributes? The attributes are fundamental, and need to work better.

      For example. Agility needs to split into two attributes: Agility (gross-motor skills, gymnastics, locomoting) versus Dexterity (fine-motor skills, aiming, precise movements). Might needs to incorporate size. Give melee accuracy to Agility, but melee damage to Might. Similarly, correlate Fortitude with size. And so on.

      I see, there is a homebrew section. But because the attributes are so fundamental to all other rules that will come into existence, the only possibility of adopting the system is if the attributes work extremely well, in the first place.
      Considering that the books have been printed and shipped, I'd say, with some certainty, that the rules are quite set, so attributes won't change from here on out.

      I would be interested to hear your reasons on why these changes need to happen, because I think it's the first time I've read such a proposition like yours. Some people have argued about the extraordinary attributes, but I don't I've ever read an opinion like yours on the physical attributes.
    1. Dire Bare's Avatar
      Dire Bare -
      So, another fantasy heartbreaker that's "open" but not much really, and hasn't fulfilled Kickstarter obligations for over a year now . . . I'm not really encouraged to pay any more attention to this one.
    1. Jhaelen -
      I'm not particularly interested in generic RPG systems. Unless you really want to use a weird mash-up setting, like "Mechs vs. Ninjas!", dedicated RPG systems are almost always the better choice, imho.
    1. Yaarel -
      Quote Originally Posted by RatzGoids View Post
      Considering that the books have been printed and shipped, I'd say, with some certainty, that the rules are quite set, so attributes won't change from here on out.

      I would be interested to hear your reasons on why these changes need to happen, because I think it's the first time I've read such a proposition like yours. Some people have argued about the extraordinary attributes, but I don't I've ever read an opinion like yours on the physical attributes.
      There is much about Open Legend that I like.

      I like the way the system handles nonhuman ‘races’. Essentially, it is flavor, while choosing appropriate attributes and feats to mechanically actualize the flavor. This seems ideal, and more like building a superhero who may or may not be an alien species.

      Regarding the attributes, Open Legend separates Perception and Will, which is important. I care about attribute mechanics for many reasons, including tolerable verisimilitude, rules clarity, gaming balance, and gaming simplicity.

      Compare the Cortex system (such as Marvel Heroic, and Cortex Prime coming soon). Open Legend would be more ‘open’ if it was easier to customize the attributes, while making it easy to customize options and build characters.

      A strength of the Open Legend system is it seems feat-based, as far as I can tell. This works well. It is highly versatile, and produces flavorful results, where individual characters are known for distinctive assemblages of abilities.

      Example classes are available, that model D&D classes well, comprising builds of appropriate feats. And these classes are easy to customize.
    Comments Leave Comment