A couple of issues with dice explosions

I’ve been using the OL system for a while now, and I’ve noticed a couple of issues with dice explosions and their results.

  1. Massive Explosions and exceptional success devalue bane attacks. With a massive explosion, not only do you deal massive damage, you also get to apply a bane as bonus. With a bane attack, you don’t do more damage, the bane isn’t more effective, nor is it harder to resist. You could roll a 50 on a bane invoke just to have it resisted before it even does something. It’s not so much that bane attacks are useless (though I would argue some become obsolete once you reach higher attribute scores), but a massive dice explosion should feel good when making a bane attack, not give players a feeling of “damn, that could have been damage”.

  2. Same for boons. Like with banes, no matter how high you roll, boons always have the same effect (as long as it’s over the required PL). Sure it’s still a success, but every explosion here is accompanied by a feeling of “that could have been more”.

  3. They can escalate too much (in my opinion). I’ve seen it and I’ve heard it from other people, including GMs. You plan out a tanky character or an epic boss, only to have it get killed in 2 hits due to some ridiculous explosions.

Solutions I would suggest :

Exceptional success could use a bit of tweaking. Bonus banes could be limited to half the attribute score. (possible exception of bane focus). I might even go as far as to put an upper limit on how much damage a single attack can do based on the attribute score, but that feels a bit like a hamfisted solution.

Banes and boons could also use some rules/guidelines when it comes to exceptional success and bonus effects. I suggest something along the lines of invoking at a higher PL, a free sustain for a round, an automatic failed resist/disadvantage on resist rolls.

I remember a while back someone proposed making resist roles made on banes at disadvantage for every so many over the defense score. I don’t recall where this went however.

So a couple things,

Exceptional success DOES happen with banes and boons, but it is up to the GM to determine due to the nature of the boon or bane and the narrative of the combat.

For example, on some boons I will cause it to jump to another ally, heal for more, or sustain itself for 1 to 3 rounds depending on how strong final roll.

For banes I might have it become potent, giving disadvantage to resist, make it be unable to resist for a round, or affect an additional enemy. If might even set the CR to resist be higher than 10.

The fact you can be knocked out in a single hit is actually part of the design of open legend. Can represent that lucky hit getting in along many other things.

For bosses, there is boss edge and other things to combat this. Out of town or I would go into more detail, but I am sure others can.

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To expand on what our glorious moustachio said, we are very aware that bane and boon rolls don’t have set rules for exceptional success and don’t consider it a problem. We tried to come up with some possible options but couldn’t find anything that everyone was happy with, or even that made sense with every bane or boon, so it was decided that this was an area that was alright to leave up to the GM. It may be worth adding some more in-depth suggestions for that, but that’s a flavor writing issue rather than a rules issue. My favorite go-to for banes is to reverse the “exceptional success” for damaging attacks, and allow an exceptional bane attack to also do damage. For boons, I like to go for a more narrative approach and give little bonuses like confused or dismayed enemies, inspired allies, or just making them look awesome (which players tend to really appreciate even if there’s no mechanical benefit).

Some banes probably do become obsolete at higher scores, but thankfully as you reach the higher scores you unlock more banes.

Also, the chance for characters to die in a single roll is very much intentional (it’s a part of “Every Roll Matters”). For PCs, falling unconscious isn’t harshly punished and healing is easy to come by, so it’s not too much of an issue in practice. For bosses, the rule @Great_Moustache was trying to name was “Boss Finale” that mitigates this a lot. There’s also a Brian-endorsed house-rule that I remember called “Boss Tenacity” or something like that, where a boss with Tenacity 5 has to take 5 separate instances of damage before they can drop below 0HP.

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Here’s that thread.

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I find the “Leave it up to the GM” reason before. I dislike that reasoning. There’s a reason OL is not just 2 likes of text saying :
GM’s : Just do whatever.
Players : Just do whatever the GM sais.

You two have had a very close view on the development of OL. Other GMs will not have this experience. The mere fact that the rules don’t even mention extraordinary success with banes and boons implies that it doesn’t apply there. Meaning that for a GM to do so, would be considered throwing the players a bone, or when done for an enemy npc, giving the players a handicap.

As for PCs falling unconscious not being harshly punished and healing being easy to come by, while I agree with the healing (as long as the players are actually smart enough to do so), the unconcious part is something I very much disagree with. Which reminds me of a different thread I still had planned to make. Suffice it to say, the very reason boss tenacity even exists is to give a written rule to deal with the issue of dice explosions anti-climactically ending what should have an epic fight. A player character can die in one hit without anyone being able to do something about it.

Although this does give me an idea. Combined defense action.
In a heroic attempt to save an ally from a devastating blow, the party of heroes band together, combining their strength and deflecting the attack. Everyone participating in this defensive action will have to do so before any rolls are made. Once the participants have been chosen, they roll their usual defense action. The rolls will be added up and count as a single defense roll. (maybe require a legend point or something to initiate this ?)

You are completely right on this front, even though there is no reasonable way to make an actual rule for it there should at least be text explaining that this is a place where the GM should step in. As I mentioned before, this is an issue with the text rather than a rules issue. If you open a topic on the GitHub suggesting this then there is still a small window where we can ensure it is actually added to the print edition.

You’re slightly incorrect here, but it’s a very important distinction. An NPC can die in one his, a PC can go unconscious in one hit. Boss Finale and Boss Tenacity were written as rules because of this technicality. A player character who goes down is far from dead, and will in fact likely be back to full HP within a very short amount of time, which was written as a rule for exactly that reason. If you find yourself having issues with it in your own games I’m sure there are a number of possible solutions you could come up with, but you should know that we’re aware of this factor and consider it a feature rather than a bug, as it were.

This is a pretty cool House Rule, I especially love the idea that you have to choose participants in advance, which should prevent it from bogging down the game as people make their decisions one at a time. Provided you keep action economy balanced, and make extremely sure that everyone is aware that this doesn’t work with Battlefield Retribution, this would be a really neat addition to a teamwork focused campaign.

Nope. There’s not :wink:

Whoops! I didn’t realise that you were on final lock already, congratulations by the way @brianfeister :smile:

Ah well, chalk it up to unfortunate oversight then. I’m sure we can trust most GMs to see big numbers and decide to do something special with them :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve seen characters die in what technically was one hit, if it wasn’t for a lucky saved fortitude roll.
If a creature drops a character to 0 hp with one roll, and applies the persistent damage bane, the first thing that will happen is the character having to roll a fortitude save for the persistent damage. unless someone happens to come inbetween to get rid of the bane or heal a character back to full health, the character will have died in what technically was 1 hit.

The other issue is that this assumes enemies “go easy” on the players. If enemies go for the kill, a dice explosion that drops a character in one hit can easily be followed up by the next enemy to get the finishing blow.

I understand your issue perfectly well at this point @Arisu, but there’s not much I can offer you except to suggest you house rule it. The sudden swings of fortune, splashy combat and the possibility of any roll being lethal are 100% intentional and wouldn’t be something that’s up for changing if that was even a possibility.

I can see why you consider it a problem, what I can’t see is what you want done about it.

I don’t know, I don’t really think it’s oversight. Since boon invocations don’t have automatic consequences for failure as attack actions do, I think it also makes sense for there not to be a reward for a high roll. Definitely not for simply exceeding the CR by 10. As such, this area is intentionally vague and I would not change it even if other people thought it was a good idea.

In my personal GMing of Open Legend, I rarely award a special benefit for a high roll on a bane or boon invocation. Probably a roll of 40 or 50 higher. Sure, it happens but it just depends on whether there’s a clear way to reward them and a number of other factors that should never be codified in rules.

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I like that when you pass a DC for a non-damage roll, you can just stop rolling dice and move on.

@arisu I, also sometimes struggle with the bane mechanic specifically. If you have a week or two to kill :wink: you can read through this thread. We really went into depth about why it is how it is and how few good options there are to change it. Also lots of suggestions for house rules with the best ones at the bottom of the thread :slight_smile:

Most of these giant explosions foster themselves in Advantage Stacking. Playing Openlegend and trying to really min-max (despite OL not being tiered to min-maxing), you can force some very potent explosions with advantage. Numbers right here, in case you were curious. Melee attackers are the most potent characters in this game, as a very optimized build will look like this.

Deadly III: 3 Advantage
Bolster PL 8: 3 Advantage
Attack Specialization III (9 Feat Points): 3 advantage.
Two-Weapon Brute (3 Feat Points): 2 advantage. 1 from Dual-Wielding, 1 from using a Two-Handed Weapon.
Battle Trance (3 Feat Points): 1 advantage.
Destructive Trance (3 Feat Points): Explosion on numbers one lower than the natural max.
Prone Enemy: 1 Advantage with melee.
Focus Action: 1 Advantage.
That is 14 advantage. 14 advantage. That has an immense addition to the average roll of any Score.
At level 6, this entire build can be realized. At level 6, this build can reach 70’s and 80’s at a rate of roughly every 10 Rolls. I’ve seen a level 6 roll a 107 on an attack roll. Even at maximum health possible by attributes which is 74 with an average of 30 to 33 Guard, that would one drop that person if they didn’t get a 35 to negate that damage.

Explosions in this game are, quite literally, deadly. No other build can benefit from this hyper-optimization. Extraordinaries and Ranged characters cannot get to that rate. You are very much right in the sense than an explosion will Devalue a Bane Attack. A Boon itself though, is fine as it is. Over-rolling on a Boon is kind of hard to justify, because Boons don’t get the same advantage stacking as an attack will. It happens, but I don’t think it needs justification for exploding dice.

But my tests have proven your 1 and 3 points.

So, first of all, you would have to be or have someone in your party that is Level 7 to be able to get Bolster PL 8 (or Boon Access Bolster with 8 feat points).

Protection Character
Level 6
7 Protection
3 Agility

Defensive Reflexes IX (18 feat points): 9 Advantage
Battlefield Retribution [formerly Battlefield Reflexes] (2 feat points)

Bolster PL 8: 3 Advantatge
Defensive III: 3 Advantage
Focus Action: 1 Advantage

That is 16 advantage.

Also, that chart you are referencing isn’t accurate as it was using a roller that was found to have an error. I’m not sure if the chart has been updated since, but it is showing higher results on advantage than it should as I recall.

A ranged (Agility) character can have that exact same build, minus the two-weapon brute, and in its place take 2 more levels of Attack Specialization. The wouldn’t gain the benefit of a Prone enemy, but could easily gain advantage from the enemy not knowing they are there.

In addition, an Extraordinary Attribute can gain the exact same build as the Ranged character above, and could get a WL 5 item to enhance them a few more Advantage to the attack similar to Deadly III.

And yes, you’ll have lots of dice explosion happening, but that would be the point. 1-shot knock-outs are suppose to be a thing in OL, that is a key part to explosions and lower max HP.

The other part of Banes to consider is that you just have to beat the Defense on it.

For example, a PL 7 bane (that would be a CR 24 for a boon), just has to match whatever Defense score the target has, which would be anywhere from 13~24 in most cases.

A Defender with 16 advantage has an easier time stacking that advantage. Plus, the thought of that scares me.

Specials are nice and all, but the odds of coming across one in every game are kinda low depending on the GM. I want to go for something that could actually be given to a player, so to say, and be able to show where in the rules it states that. Specials are very subjective, where I am looking to be objective.

I would like to retract this statement however:[quote=“DaDurkShadow, post:15, topic:709”]
Ranged characters cannot get to that rate.

This is false. A ranged character could take nearly the exact same build, substituting Two-Weapon Brute with Reckless Attack and do better.Ranged Physical does get that attack specialization, and has less it’s weak to over all. I would prefer to roll with a Ranged Character with Destructive Trance, Battle Trance and Reckless Attack with Deadly III, Bolster PL 8 and more Attack Specialization than a Melee Character. But Extraordinaries? Unless we start going more subjective with Specials, there is only a ton of Attack Specialization they have to take. It isn’t worth to pool that much into it.