Today I’d like to talk about something other than D&D.
I want to talk about Open Legend RPG, an open source, streamlined system. And yes, I said open source. The core rules can be found in the Open Legend RPG website for free. There’s also going to be a Kickstarter from October 18th to November 19th so be sure not to miss it!
It’s my first time trying to review a whole system so I will tackle this matter like I tackle learning a new system, by checking out character creation. There are nineteen attributes which are divided in four categories, physical, social, mental and supernatural. The minimum attribute score is 0 and the maximum is 9. There are no classes in Open Legend RPG so the attributes define what a character can and can’t do. However, a few archetypes are provided but are mostly there to help understand the attributes and give inspiration so you can create awesome characters. At level 1 you are granted 40 points you can spend on attributes or you can use some quick builds that are provided. However, you don’t have to spend all of your point and can keep some for the next time you level up. This is something that I really like. The attribute scores also play another important role. They grant you attribute dice you can roll, depending on the score of that particular attribute.
Moving on we have defenses and hit points. There are three kinds of defenses that protect you from different kinds of attacks. All these three, plus hit points, are generated by the attributes of your character.
After that, we have the feats. At level one, you are granted six points you can use to buy feats. In order to get a feat you must have enough points to spend and also satisfy a possible prerequisite. That usually is having a certain attribute score but there may be others as well. Again, you can keep some of the points to use next time you level up.
Next, you can choose one of the eight available races and then one of the racial traits they provide. I like the fact that many of the traits aren’t tied to mechanics and can be used by cooperating with your GM.
Choosing your equipment is a pretty straightforward procedure. Weapons can have a variety of properties that either determine what kind of attribute dice you use to attack or grant different advantages or disadvantages. Armor has attribute prerequisites and can also impose a speed penalty, depending on how heavy it is.
Finally, there’s one more step that helps the players, and especially the ones new in tabletop RPGs, give more depth to their characters. It also provides some very good advice on how you should treat the other fellow players and GM.
And that’s it. You’re good to go. Character creation is pretty straightforward and very friendly to new players. The attributes may be a little too many but that’s not necessarily bad. It just makes you have to decide if you want to specialize on a few of them or be a jack of all trades.
Next, I’d like to talk about the core mechanics of the system. In Open Legend RPG you have a d20 and add attribute dice to it. Also, the dice explode. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, when you roll the maximum of a die, that die explodes and you roll it again adding the outcome to your roll. There’s no limit to how many times the dice can explode and that can lead to hilariously good or bad situations. It’s the first time I’ve used this mechanic and I found it quite fun.
Moreover, there is the advantage/disadvantage mechanic. In D&D 5e it’s a mechanic I really like and I do here as well. The big difference here, though, is that in Open Legend RPG advantage/disadvantage is mostly applied to attribute dice and also has a number. So if I have advantage 2 on a roll, I will roll two extra attribute dice and drop the two lowest. By the way, advantage and disadvantage stack, so if I have advantage 2 and disadvantage 1 on a roll, I end up with rolling with advantage 1.
I’d also like to mention one more thing here. It’s called “Every Roll Matters”. It pretty much means that even if a roll does not succeed the GM can either let the player succeed with a twist or decide that the player fails but the story progresses either way. I like this because it’s a tool that not only does it let the story progress faster when needed, but also lets the imagination of the GM run wild. I had lots of fun GMing the game and the best parts were the ones I let my players succeed but with unexpected consequences.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about combat. Combat begins with rolling initiative. Two big differences are that if a character is wielding a weapon with the swift property gains advantage on their initiative roll and that surprised characters act on a different order than the unsurprised ones.
Also, there is only one roll to determine if a character hits and the amount of damage they deal. This, combined with the fact that in combat all the dice can explode (yes, including the d20), is the reason I believe combat is fast and very dangerous. Moreover, if the damage dealt is more than 10, the player can inflict a bane, which I’ll talk about later. Also, one thing I like a lot is that you can choose multiple targets for your attack by giving disadvantage 1 to your attack roll for each target.
During a turn, the basic actions are one major, one move and any number of minor actions. However, you can’t take more than a minor action of the same type each turn. There are also the focus and interrupt actions that can be used in certain situations.
At the end of combat, you can get all of your hit points back by resting for ten minutes. This also helps the story progress faster and does not limit the amount of combat encounters during an in-game day.
It’s time to talk about boons and banes. Boons are helpful effects that assist your allies and banes are negative effects to inflict upon your foes. Anyone can use them as long as they possess the prerequisite attributes. This simplicity, combined with the variety of them, makes boons and banes a very refreshing and easy to use mechanic.
Finally, I’d like to mention the section of the rules that talks about running the game. It contains amazing advice for new GMs, creating adventures, monsters and NPCs, and handling combat and its consequences. No matter if you’re going to use the system, this section could be very useful to GMs, new and old.
Ultimately, Open Legend RPG is a straightforward and easy to learn system. It’s very flexible and can be easily adapted to any kind of setting you want, be it medieval, sci-fi or even horror. My players and I really liked it and we’re definitely going to keep it around for when we want to take a break from heavier systems, like D&D. Also, it’s an excellent system to use when you want to introduce someone to tabletop RPGs. I suggest giving Open Legend RPG a try. It may surprise you.
The art in this review is from the Open Legen RPG website. The artist is called Saryth.