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Christopher

OpenLgends RPG - and what we can learn from it for Hero

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OpenLegends is a OpenSource RPG System. I stumbeled over this only last year. But reading it I think there is some interesting ideas in this RPG System. Both for itself, and for similar mechanics in Hero.

Indeed OpenLegends might even be a good learning/demo RPG Systems for Hero. A less granular way to learn a point-buy System. You can find the full rules here:

https://openlegendrpg.com/core-rules/00-introduction

 

But I will try to give a bit of an overview and talk about the particulary interesting parts. It it'score it is a cross-setting, point buy RPG system that has systems for social and physical combat.

 

Powers, Talents and Co:

Damaging powers come directly from Attributes. You can use more or less any Attribute to cause combat damage.

Banes are a set of common ... Status Effects I would say in lack of another word.

You can explicitly attack to inflict a bane. But you can also cause a bane as a side effect of a exceptional attack roll.

Boons (the good side of Banes) includes stuff like Animation/Summon Creature (Summon), Aura (Damage Shield), Barrier, Aid and even Movement like Teleport. Also a Taunt Option

Banes and Boons are unlocked via high Attributes and generally they are unlocked several ways (Agility via Sneak attack and Entropy via Necromatic Power can be used to inflict the "Death" bane)

Feats have an odd niche. They have outright powers (Alternate Form is Multiform, Attack Redirection is Deflection, Battle Trance is various D&D Class Abilites), Advantages (Area Manipulation is Basically Selective, Combat Retaliation is a form of Trigger), and some Stuff not in Hero (like Attribtue substitution)

Perks incldue stuff like Ageless/Disease Immunity, Attactive/Extraordinary Presence/Famous Bloodline. Mostly they map to Hero Talents

Flaws are kind of like Complications, except the player actively invokes them. Usually to get Legend Points.

 

Give or take, any Hero power and Complication can be mapped to a OpenRPG Mechanic

 

Granularity:

Now the one thing that OpenLegends lacks compard to Hero is granularity. If your attack vector calls for using Entropy, you will get Boons that do not fit. If you got Entropy on a high level you get the "Animate" Boon, even if your concept did not call for "summon undead". Ther is no way to "sell it back" or Limit Entropy. You can freely choose not to pick it, but you get nothing back.

In a similar direction, you can spend 1 or 2 Feat points on one "Alternate Form". There is no way to limit the power or add advantages (like Multiple Forms or Focus).

However there is a limited set of "Weapons and Implements", wich kin

 

Character building is a whole lot easier.

10 Basic Attributes (Physical, Mental, and Social Ones)
8 Special Attribtues (think Magic or Superpowers).

4 Derived Attributes (HP and 3 Defenses)

3 Feat Points

Up to 2 Perks and Flaws

Noting down the Boons and Banes might well be the longest part of Character Creation

 

Wealth and Equipment:

This system reminds me of equipment pools, just way simpler

You have a wealth Score from 0 to 9. Every item has a wealth score.

It defines what stuff you can get for free (no issues), with limited issues (can not do on that level again the next 2 weeks) and big issue (burning 1 wealth)

 

Progression:

You start with a Stat Cap of 5 for Attibutes and 40 points to spend on them

Every XP you get +1 Feat and +3 Attribute points

Every 3 XP you get a Level, wich can increase your Attribute Cap and your Wealth

 

The GM can always award Wealth, Perks and Flaws as part of game progression

 

Combat Resolution

The same combination of half and Full actions we got in Hero, D&D and Shadowrun, etc.

Boss NPC just get extra actions. Called "Boss Actions" On top of increased general Attributes

Damage is attack roll vs Static Defense (think D&D). However, all effects are generally short lived. Most HP damage regeenrates in 10 minutes rest. And most banes have multiple resist rolls and are removed on first success

There is something called "Lethal Damage" for lasting damage - stuff like landmines wich would have no effect with the 10 minutes rest rule.

 

Failure is not an option:

Remember those times you needed a Character to succeed with a Roll to progress the story, but the Dice were just cursed? Or those times a Character failed, despite it being a core stat and a easy challenge? This does not happen in OpenLegends. If you do not make a roll the results are usually:

  • Success, with a twist
  • Failure, but the Story continues

The one big downside is: Nobody else get's to retry. If the halfling rogue fails to open the lock, the Barbarian does not get to try using Strenght until after the GM has interpreted the result (and that one has been handeled).

 

This rule is usually waived for combat. In large parts to speed up resolution.

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Now OpenLegends would be a good learning case for Hero. In part becaue the Combat Resolution is similar. In part because give or take, any HERO Power can be mapped to OpenLegends.

It also only has a fraction of the Chracter creation time cost, so it is good enough for one-offs. That also makes the rules easier to learn.

It is also very close to MMO and Computer RPG combat resolution, so this is another shortening of hte learning curve.

At the same time it does not make Hero redundant, because open Legends lacks the granularity that only a deep point Buy system can provide.

Especially that last part is really important if it is supposed to be a Demo for the Hero System, not OpenLegends.

 

The idea that attribute caps increase over Levels is a vector of progression that Hero seems to lack natively. It mgiht be worth exploring. And I actualyl saw someone mention it just recently.

 

It deals with Boss Monsters by just giving them more Actions and Attributes. And boss monsters are a problem that HERO GMs often face.

 

It might be possible to build a Character in OpenLegends first, then port it to HERO. Would help getting a concept roughly balanced

 

The no failure thing is intersting, because just recently I had a situation were 3 characters failed 3 chance to notice a detail. A detail that was crucial for story progression. "Success with a Twist" would have easily solved that.

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I have always had a problem with the "Boss Monster" concept anyway. The "Boss Monster", is  not "The Big bad", but the "Boss Monster is a left over concept from early video games.  For HERO, it's for me always been the climactic battles have been about composition and numbers of opposing teams, rather than one big, laughing, roaring punching bag at the end of an adventure.  In 5e, and Pathfinder is this concept of "Legendary actions" which give them an extra slot on the Initiative list, which being the victim of it, feels like the GM is cheating. Not a fan. I really don't see the attraction of this as a GM, and even less as a player.

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I agree with you, Scott. The trend in FRPG design, starting with D&D 4e, has been to make the table top experience as much like an MMORPG experience as possible, presumably under the assumption that players--especially new ones--would be more interested in playing with paper and dice if they recognized all the video game tropes they were familiar with. I love MMORPGs (I was an 8-year addict to City of Heroes after all), but I'm not a fan of mutating the table top experience to resemble the video game one.

 

Back in my earliest Champions experiences (early 80s), the format of play usually was such that the evening ended with the Big Fight with the villains, but it was rarely the Big Fight With the Mega-Villain. That was reserved for the climax of a multi-session mission plot. And we didn't categorize the opposition into minions, lieutenants, bosses, and archvillains. We categorized them as (villainous) agents, supervillains, and megavillains, and the way these adversaries were grouped together in any given mission was based on comic book tropes, not video game tropes. Frankly, that's the way I'd prefer to keep it, at least when it comes to the superhero genre. For fantasy (which I generally avoid due to complete burnout), I would prefer a completely open-ended approach to composing adversaries. Strict categorization feels too limited and not well aligned with the genre's source material.

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Having scanned through some of the OLRPG material, I have to say I'm quite intrigued by the "Success with a twist" option. I've done something similar in Champions games I've GMed before, but I've never really thought of it as an operational procedure, a decision on how to handle blown dice rolls. That's something I'll probably incorporate into future adventures (when/if I get a gaming group again).

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1 hour ago, Scott Ruggels said:

I have always had a problem with the "Boss Monster" concept anyway. The "Boss Monster", is  not "The Big bad", but the "Boss Monster is a left over concept from early video games.  For HERO, it's for me always been the climactic battles have been about composition and numbers of opposing teams, rather than one big, laughing, roaring punching bag at the end of an adventure.  In 5e, and Pathfinder is this concept of "Legendary actions" which give them an extra slot on the Initiative list, which being the victim of it, feels like the GM is cheating. Not a fan. I really don't see the attraction of this as a GM, and even less as a player. 

Unless Pathfinder totally reworked the Combat System, I can see how extra actions would be Unbalancing. But that is just a implementation msitake, not a general issues with the idea.

 

I also do not see the similarity to Comptuergames, but to cartoon shows. Consider all these marvel fights:

Avengers vs Loki (any version)

Avengers vs Graviton (2010)

Any X-men fight against Magneto

Any X-Men fight against Apokalypse or any of his 4 Horsemen

 

Those are clearly cases were a single villain had to challenge a whole group. and extra actions ia pretty decent way to go about it. Asuming of course it is not D&D full attack actions.

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Sure, megavillains are single villains powerful enough to take on an entire team. That is a tried and true comic book superhero trope. But not every encounter was with such a villain. Hell, not every issue was with such a villain. The idea that each encounter should lead to a Boss Fight is a video game trope. In fact, 90s cartoons might have been influenced by arcade fighters in much the same way that TTRPGs have been influenced by MMORPGs.

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2 hours ago, zslane said:

The idea that each encounter should lead to a Boss Fight is a video game trope.

It is also something that nobody here said.

 

Unless you seriously missinterpreted what I wrote here:

6 hours ago, Christopher said:

It deals with Boss Monsters by just giving them more Actions and Attributes. And boss monsters are a problem that HERO GMs often face. 

 

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4 hours ago, zslane said:

(I was an 8-year addict to City of Heroes after all), but I'm not a fan of mutating the table top experience to resemble the video game one.

 

 

 

Oh my _God_ did that hurt!

 

I think you just punched me right square in the geriatric....  :rofl:

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6 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

I have always had a problem with the "Boss Monster" concept anyway. The "Boss Monster", is  not "The Big bad", but the "Boss Monster is a left over concept from early video games.  For HERO, it's for me always been the climactic battles have been about composition and numbers of opposing teams, rather than one big, laughing, roaring punching bag at the end of an adventure.  In 5e, and Pathfinder is this concept of "Legendary actions" which give them an extra slot on the Initiative list, which being the victim of it, feels like the GM is cheating. Not a fan. I really don't see the attraction of this as a GM, and even less as a player.

I like Boss battles. Why? Because as a GM it’s way easier to have one character to run than a team.  

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22 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Because as a GM it’s way easier to have one character to run than a team.  

 

Oh tell me about it. This is precisely why I have always declined to GM Champions. It is just way too much work to do properly (and if I can't do it properly, I'm not going to do it at all.).

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1 hour ago, zslane said:

Yeah, I may have misinterpreted what you wrote. You used terminology that comes from video games, not tabletop RPGs, so misinterpretation was perhaps inevitable.

I used the Terminology that was used in OpenLegend and that properly described the concept.

 

Comptuergames are a art and media form as books and P&P RPG's. MMO's included.

If they have a good term, I will not hesitate to use it.

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Yeah, the indirection has muddled things a bit. I really didn't mean to make you feel like the target of my comments. I was ultimately aiming them at OpenLegend, which seems to be perpetuating a design motif that feels (to me) too heavily influenced by video game design and video game culture, rather than the design conceits and traditions of tabletop RPGs and the genre conventions of, say, comic book superheroes or epic fantasy fiction. The mere fact that they use "Boss" as a term is all the proof I need.

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21 minutes ago, zslane said:

Yeah, the indirection has muddled things a bit. I really didn't mean to make you feel like the target of my comments. I was ultimately aiming them at OpenLegend, which seems to be perpetuating a design motif that feels (to me) too heavily influenced by video game design and video game culture, rather than the design conceits and traditions of tabletop RPGs and the genre conventions of, say, comic book superheroes or epic fantasy fiction. The mere fact that they use "Boss" as a term is all the proof I need. 

The introduction for this subkind of NPC is this:
"Boss NPCs

A Boss is a single enemy NPC that is capable of taking on a group of characters due to its extraordinary prowess in combat. Bosses could be epic villains that the party has been pursuing for the entire campaign, such as the Lich King Akrakus, or they could be monstrous beasts with little backstory that simply serve as a dramatic milestone in the course of a larger adventure, such as a bridge troll that must be defeated before the PCs can progress. Other examples of bosses include the Kraken, a legendary gunslinger, a dragon, or the general of an alien armada.

When you decide that one of your NPCs merits boss status, use the Boss NPC Build Table to generate statistics in the same way you would if using the simple build rules described previously. You’ll notice that bosses have more hit points, higher defenses, and better attributes in order to account for their ability to take on entire parties of PCs alone. When using the complex build, you can alter your villain’s hit points and defenses based on this table to better represent the appropriate strength of a boss."

Also the Wikipedia description of Boss is:
" (video games) An enemy, often at the end of a level, that is particularly challenging and must be beaten in order to progress. "

A lot of "master villains" are implicitly bosses, both in power and in their Narative Purpose.

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6 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

I like Boss battles. Why? Because as a GM it’s way easier to have one character to run than a team.  

 

 I did do them on occasion. However, it wasn't for me so much that the boss battled occurred, but that they get special rules/ actions that , to me, completely mess up the flow of the battle. Hero doesn't do that, you just shovel more points into them to match the opposition. Extra actions, and dropping special powers at peculiar points on the initiative order was mostly what I was complaining about. seems , well unfair. it's like in chess if the opposing King developed Laser weapons, or something.

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4 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

 

 I did do them on occasion. However, it wasn't for me so much that the boss battled occurred, but that they get special rules/ actions that , to me, completely mess up the flow of the battle. Hero doesn't do that, you just shovel more points into them to match the opposition. Extra actions, and dropping special powers at peculiar points on the initiative order was mostly what I was complaining about. seems , well unfair. it's like in chess if the opposing King developed Laser weapons, or something. 

Chess is a 2 player sport. P&P RPGS are multiplayer. And boss battles are 4v1's. So the analogy does not work.

 

"Shoveling more points into them" can also mean increasing their SPD - wich gives them extra actions.

It can also mean increasing defenses, wich results in them not wasting that many phases on abort. Wich is again extra net actions.

And well, "shoveling more points into them" is itself cheating. So you are at best arguing "my way to cheat is better then their way to cheat" :)

 

To get an analogy that works:

It is like black has to fight several chessboards of white pieces. So it did a quick fusion with the black pieces from those other boards.

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The idea of having a single powerful villain (usually accompanied by his minions) take on an entire team of heroes is a familiar (super)hero action trope which can be very exciting to play out. It isn't the basic concept that I find objectionable in a TTRPG context, it is the notion that every adventure should lead to one, as if it was the canonical conclusion to every session/mission/quest. That kind of thinking comes from video games, which is evident simply by the terminology used ("boss fight"). It is also an indication that other video game concepts are likely shaping the intended tabletop experience (and ruining it IMO) the way they did in D&D 4e.

 

Now, if OpenLegends is not borrowing from video game play structure in any way except terminology, then I would simply recommend that the author ditch the video game terminology and switch to terms carrying more traditional TTRPG inflection. In this case it is the presentation that is undermining acceptance, not the substance of the material.

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6 hours ago, Christopher said:

Chess is a 2 player sport. P&P RPGS are multiplayer. And boss battles are 4v1's. So the analogy does not work.

 

"Shoveling more points into them" can also mean increasing their SPD - wich gives them extra actions.

It can also mean increasing defenses, wich results in them not wasting that many phases on abort. Wich is again extra net actions.

And well, "shoveling more points into them" is itself cheating. So you are at best arguing "my way to cheat is better then their way to cheat" :)

 

To get an analogy that works:

It is like black has to fight several chessboards of white pieces. So it did a quick fusion with the black pieces from those other boards.

 

 I can see why people  have been reacting poorly to your comments recently,  when you are taking down analogies for imprecision, rather that understanding the intent of the comment, as a whole.  In the future, I know I will have to cite specific incidents, then. On to the comment, then.

 

The difference is that in HERO, all of the tools to build the Boss, are available to the players within the rules. The Boss would need the same sorts of considerations that one would use to construct a player character. There are no special rules, there are no "Villain Only Abilities", the Boss, and the players have the same options available, with the only difference being points. Now there are probably GMs that "make up shit" like off book abilities and powers, so their precious story or favorite Big bad is preserved from a  beat down by the team. I would prefer not playing with those GMs, and Myself, as a GM I prefer to be fair, play by the rules, and let thedice fall where they may.  It's also why I tend to play "heroic level games" where you don't see a lot of Boss fights, and where clever planning can rout, or avoid the opposition as they choose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, zslane said:

The idea of having a single powerful villain (usually accompanied by his minions) take on an entire team of heroes is a familiar (super)hero action trope which can be very exciting to play out.

If they have minions, of course they do not need those buffs. They already have enough extra actions from the Minions that are around. I thought that went without saying.

But not every villain is likey to have minions. For those, these extra actions are needed instead.

 

The bossfight with add (spawns)

The bossfight that is just one strong character with many attacks

The bossfight that is 2-3 strong characters

For me those are all just "bossfights", differently implemented

 

5 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

here are no special rules, there are no "Villain Only Abilities", the Boss, and the players have the same options available, with the only difference being points.

There is actually a whole host of abilities GM will not allow for PC's. Or not on the levels that mater:

Takes no STUN (a lot of headaches in PC's)

Damage Reduction on the levels that Boss NPC's need.

SPD/Defenses on the level you allow the Boss NPC

The sheer point total you allow for boss NPC/bossfight

 

For me those distinction went without saying.

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54 minutes ago, Christopher said:

 

There is actually a whole host of abilities GM will not allow for PC's. Or not on the levels that mater:

Takes no STUN (a lot of headaches in PC's)

Damage Reduction on the levels that Boss NPC's need.

SPD/Defenses on the level you allow the Boss NPC

The sheer point total you allow for boss NPC/bossfight

 

For me those distinction went without saying.

Damage reduction as a GM was always a stop sign for me, as the only rationale for it were questions of scale. Kaiju have DR. Dr Unpleasant doesn’t.  Speeds were also an issue with speeds of both Heroes and villains clustered at SPD6 and for heroic level around SPD 3-4.   But  at the end of the day, I do not like Grundy, giant punching bag fights with no tactical flavor. I much prefer fights where the good guys may be overwhelmed by numbers, and/ or have to defuse the reactor before Dr. Unpleasant runs the timer out.

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1 hour ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Damage reduction as a GM was always a stop sign for me, as the only rationale for it were questions of scale. Kaiju have DR. Dr Unpleasant doesn’t.

The thing is that Damage Reduction is ideal for Solo Boss Combatants in Hero, Giant monster or not.

 

On the one hand it only affects damage past defenses, so you leave those mediocore. That way everyone in the team can chip in to bring the enemy down.

On the other hand, it affects the check if you are "Stunned". Wich makes it a ton less likely that the Villain is getting stunned. And getting stunned is a huge issue if you are literally the only character on your side.

And it is also easily "slapped onto" any existing villain, if you decide Ogre should be buffed by the plot to become the Solo Villain for today.

 

Actually "Kaiju" are a perfect example of enemies that:

  1. Have to fight a whole superhero team on their own
  2. Do not have minions

For me DR is just a mechanic like everything else. You already made half the connections by giving the Solo Villains called "Kaiju" DR. Now you just need to generalize it for all Solo Villains (that actually act alone in this adventure) :)

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1 hour ago, Christopher said:

The thing is that Damage Reduction is ideal for Solo Boss Combatants in Hero, Giant monster or not.

 

On the one hand it only affects damage past defenses, so you leave those mediocore. That way everyone in the team can chip in to bring the enemy down.

On the other hand, it affects the check if you are "Stunned". Wich makes it a ton less likely that the Villain is getting stunned. And getting stunned is a huge issue if you are literally the only character on your side.

And it is also easily "slapped onto" any existing villain, if you decide Ogre should be buffed by the plot to become the Solo Villain for today.

 

Actually "Kaiju" are a perfect example of enemies that:

  1. Have to fight a whole superhero team on their own
  2. Do not have minions

For me DR is just a mechanic like everything else. You already made half the connections by giving the Solo Villains called "Kaiju" DR. Now you just need to generalize it for all Solo Villains (that actually act alone in this adventure) :)

 

 

Well for Dr. Unpleasant, following his numerous Comic Book appearances, if he was solo, I would usually build his LMD as an automaton, without stun, high defenses, and a lot of body (and acting skill), so the brick can toss and throw him around.  The mentalist will discover he's a robot at some point quickly, though, but they can't just leave this running around free, now can they?

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Scott two of my Boss battles off the top of my head were for Fantasy/Heroic level. Now the group all have Speed 3-GM fiat. The Bosses were Speed 4. The Bosses were a Hobgoblin, as in a greater Goblin and a Were Rat.

 

Side note the Rat attack was to frame the Dwarves as they were getting friendly with the local Noble.

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