A Few Mechanical House Rules

Here are some house rules I’m currently playing around with. I’m curious to hear other’s thoughts.

Full Withdraw
As a focus action, a player can move up to their movement speed out of combat without invoking any attacks of opportunity.

Rationale: Other systems allow players to get the heck out of dodge when things get super rough. My group has found this to desirable in some situations, so I’m now allowing it as a focus action.

Alternate Defend Action
(replaces the current defend action), player can defend with an appropriate attribute (agility, might, protection, etc). To do so, they roll their attribute dice (i.e. not the d20) and add this to their targeted defense (needs to make narrative sense). As with the current defend action, doing so means the player loses their next major action.

Rationale: We’ve found that the current defend action is fairly weak. If the “defendee’s” defenses are already fairly high, the current defend action does nearly nothing for them (even with fairly high attributes for the defender). Also, attack rolls, very often have advantage, so it’s rare that a defend action can help all that much with reducing much, if any, damage. Doing this allows a defender to be a bit more robust.

Defending against AOOs
You may make a single alternate defend roll to defend against any number of attacks of opportunity. Doing so means you lose your next major action.

Rationale: If you’re surrounded and don’t want to take a full withdrawn (perhaps you don’t want to lose your boon sustain by taking a focus action), you can risk it and try to defend against the AOO’s at the risk of losing your next major action. This is similar to an acrobatics check/throw in other systems.

Nerfed "Swift"
Swift weapons only gives advantage 1 (instead of 2) to initiative rolls.

Rationale. Swift just seems too powerful (and somewhat arbitrary) to us. In real combat, a knife does not make you faster than someone with a katana. In fact, the katana is most likely to get to you before you have a chance to pounce with those knives. We also may play around with which weapons give you swift.

I was actually just thinking about this. In this you are doing a Charge but allowing withdraw… I was debating on making it a focus or not, but honestly, I feel like it can just be a Major Action to disengage instead of also using you minor action to do. I could see it argued both ways though.

I’d be very much against it. If you want better defend action there’s feats for that already, and it can be an extremely powerful build. In fact I’ve had characters that absolutely crush with the current rules as is.

It makes sense that a player who hasn’t invested in Defending isn’t as good at it.

The problem with this is it messes with other things. If you don’t like it, just remove Swift and remove Slow. The reason for it giving Advantage 2 is b/c of the cost. It just isn’t worth it for a whole wealth level increase for only advantage 1 on weapons.

Also your “speed” has nothing to do with initiative, it is how fast you are reacting and drawing your weapon. Two daggers can be drawn or brought out much faster than a katana (for 2 equally skilled individuals with their chosen weapons).

If you aren’t liking initiative, instead allow your players to roll with something else, an attribute that makes sense, or just a flat amount, like d12. Remove swift & slow from weapons.

Players coming from systems like 5e and PF often feel like this should exist in OL, but I think introducing this feature would be a design mistake. Let me explain why: In other systems AoOs have a much higher chance to occur more regularly and have a much bigger impact and on the battlefield. So introducing a simple “disengage” action, however many actions it’s going to cost, is going to disincentivise tactical positioning, because it makes it even easier to avoid AoOs and not worth it going for them. This also impacts feats that interact with AoOs, like Evasive Footwork, Battlefield Opportunist and there are already ways to deal with AoOs, but more on that later on.

I think your group heavily underestimates Defend Rolls and this change would totally screw with the math for Defend Actions. For most character builds, defend actions are meant as last resort options, for heroic saves or to get away from deadly blows, but builds centred around defend actions can put out massive amounts of damage with it and can amass easily as much or even more advantage on defend rolls, than offensive builds can on attacks. This change would highly favour these defend builds, so I’d advice very much against that change.

This change seems mostly superfluous to me, because it already exists and is already embedded in the defend action:
Once per round as part of your defend action, you may also move up to half of your speed at any time during your action. If you are defending an ally and are adjacent to them at any point during your defend action, they may also move up to half of their speed. Neither you nor your ally provoke opportunity attacks with this movement.

Besides the concern that @Great_Moustache voiced, I would be fine with that change. It also raises the value of the “Lightning Reflexes” feat, because it’s harder to come by advantage on initiative with that change.

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All I’d like to comment on is this statement:

For people who aren’t invested in the feats associated with defending, this is true. But if we look at Battlefield Retribution, Battlefield Punisher, Defensive Reflexes, and Sentinel, we see something else entirely. Something that takes some crazy fenagling to beat.

Just ask @Vrenshrrg! He can vouch for me on that as well!


I have to agree with everybody regarding your changes to defend. We have a fully specked defender in our current campaign (Sentinel, Battlefield Retribution, etc) and he doesn’t only consistently save the team, relieving pressure of our support character, the return damage he is dealing is also fairly good. With the various advantages on the defend action(s) (from Sentinel and “Defensive” from his shield), when an enemy attacks a low Guard character, the defender can deal some nasty counter damage. You really need to see a fully specked defender in action to believe it, trust me.


Defend action
For sure, if you invest in the associated feats, then defend becomes crazy powerful. However, without these feats, the defend action becomes essentially non-functional.

Are we saying that a party essentially requires a tank (i.e. someone willing to take the defend feats) in order to do any effective defending of each other? I feel like the base defend action should be useful without the feats.

I get it that it increases cost, but knives, fists, and some other basic weapons are inherently swift. Having swift be so powerful is a serious disincentive to choose a katana over a knife, even if the katana is more in line with the player’s vision for the character. As the GM, I can just make the katana swift to keep this from happening, but I think that generally the system is a bit imbalanced on that point, requiring me as a GM to make up for it.

This leads to more general questions about skill progression in OL. Using feats to give players “skills” makes it difficult to have a steady progression in said skills. Defend is a good example - you either aren’t that great at it, or you’re pretty amazing at it (if you take a couple feats). Climbing is another good example, you can either climb at half your movement speed, or for a single feat point you can climb like a lizardman. Again, not much progression there.

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The issue here is that your change pushes it way out the other side; the base Defend action becomes always useful (in a way that not even Boons are without feats) and with feats it becomes ridiculously overpowered. If you ban the defensive feats then I can see this change working, but if you don’t then you’re going to end up with some serious balance problems with Battlefield Retribution. Also be aware that any change to encourage Defend actions will slow down combat significantly by reducing both outgoing and incoming damage. If that’s what you want and you’re aware of the consequences, then I’d say to go for it.

I’ve personally never had any issues with Swift being so powerful. In fact, it was boosted from advantage 1 per tier (weapons used to have Swift 1 to Swift 3) because it didn’t seem worth adding a whole WL to the cost of a weapon. That being said, I don’t think this is too major a change from a balance perspective. No complaints about your change here, just different experiences.

It’s a fundamental and intentional aspect of the system with how valuable feat points are, levelling up is supposed to make you feel like you’ve levelled up rather than just a 5% increased chance to hit, for example. Extremely situational feats like Climbing are hard to add progression for, because each step of the progression would end up feeling like it was worth less than 1 point and therefore not worth investing in. There’s some give and take though, because the value depends heavily on the setting and style of gameplay.

As far as the defensive feats go, the progression is a lot slower than “not great” to “pretty amazing” within a couple of feats. From experience I’d say it goes from “okay” to “good” with a couple of feats carefully chosen, and progresses upwards from there. Just like any other build.

I don’t want to come across as dismissive here, because I understand your concern, but this is a thing which many people like about Open Legend, myself included. I can’t even offer any suggestions to improve your experience on this front, because it’s so deeply embedded in the level economy of the system that it would take extensive rewrites and playtesting to fix. I wish you luck if you decide that’s something you want to do.

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Defend - totally understand that the proposal pushes it the other way. In this particular game, there will be no tank, therefore, no one taking any of the defend feats. The general idea is to give the possibility of a defend action to possibly guard against a massive explosion - again, if there were a defender, then I wouldn’t need this, so I totally agree.

For swift - I hear ya. I think I’m just going to decide that no weapons are inherently swift. If you want it, you have to spend 1WL to get it. Done.

For Progression - I’m a huge OL fan, so I don’t want it to sound like I have some major gripe. I understand it’s a balancing act - just wanted to express some feedback.

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Firstly, I agree with Sam here: This change makes the pendelum swing way too far in the other direction. Even if you don’t have a defender (don’t like the term tank) in your party right now, as soon as your party figures out what return they can get for a 2 point feat in battlefield retribution, they’ll be all over it, as it sounds like they are mechanically quite aware of good build choices. But it also raises another question: Does this apply to NPCs as well? What if you want to throw a defender NPC at your party? Because at that point jig is up and they’ll notice how potent this change makes defending.

Yes and the same applies to attacking, buffing, debuffing, etc. In fact defending offers still more utility, even if it fails, than lets say for example attacking, because it allows you and potentially an ally to move up to half your speed without provoking attacks of opportunity. I’ll also bring up once more the Battlefield Retribution feat, as with the investement of 2 feat points, you not only become a defender, but also often enough a very respectable damage dealer.

I don’t understand the point you are trying to make here, so can you maybe rephrase that? From what I read, you not satisfied that some aspects offer progression while others don’t? That still isn’t a question though, but more a statement, so I think another angle might help me breach that problem differently.

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This is one of those things where you have to be aware of the setting, the player, and the way things work in the world you are playing. Like @SamWilby mentioned, it is hard to make climbing be more than 1 feat point. In fact, it used to be a 2 tier feat, but the cost just wasn’t worth it. So the 2 were combined together and made 1 feat point cost. It was left from there for the player and GM to decide just how far the Climbing feat affects the player given the players background, abilities, and how things work in the world.

So in a modern setting, this would just be a rock climber type of person, obviously they can just stand horizontal with their feet on the wall. That would be a limitation that makes sense for the Character and the setting.

I’ve seen players do a defend that have 0 investment in it and do a roll that completely stops an attack, and i’ve seen it where it doesn’t, but the added movement and ability to escape was worth it.

Defend is specifically made the way it is so you are making a conscious choice to either defend or not to defend. In some cases it is not worth it to players b/c of what they want to do next. For others it might seem like the only option.

I don’t think it’s a good houserule/homebrew to make a change to it simply b/c you don’t have any players that are currently building towards it. If your players don’t think it is worth it, than they shouldn’t do it. There are other players, who if given the same situation, with the same feats, would choose to do it, and feel it was 100% worth it. If you can already see that the Defend action, as it is, can be very powerful, than there shouldn’t be a reason to change it. What your players pick, and the roles they chose are just that.

I’ve run several different games, and some of them have Defenders, and some of them don’t. They still work, b/c even if you take a big hit, you can keep on going, and it isn’t that difficult to get you back up if you do drop to 0 HP. HP is a Defense as well just like Guard, Toughness, and Resolve.

I mean, sure, but that is actually how it is right now at this moment in the game. Swift costs 1 WL, so you aren’t changing anything.

If you are talking about what weapons are available to your players, again, that’s how it is designed, b/c the weapons table is just “examples”, or better put, some suggestions that you can choose to take or not take. So not having swift on any weapon is perfectly fine, and allowing some sellers to offer an upgraded one if players want it, cool.

Personally, and I think I already said this, I’m not a fan of how initiative works, and consequently how it works with swift or slow, but that’s another topic altogether.

Taking a couple of feats isn’t a small change, feats are costly, I’m not sure I agree with the difficulty of a steady progression in skills, it seems that way to me. You can choose to hyper-specialize in a thing, or you can branch out to be able to do a couple of things with the feats.

When it comes to progression in the story, that’s up to how you present the narrative and how the players explain their actions.

So just to re-cap, since a lot has been said in the thread so far:

Full Withdraw

Personally, I’m a fan, except I think I would make it a Major Action to Withdraw/Disengage instead of a focus action. There is a bit of thought on this being a bad idea since Defend Action can already cover this in a way.

Alternate Defend Action

Most of the talk is around this right now

Defending against AoOs

This wasn’t needed, as it is already in the Defend Interrupt Action, and in fact would be weaker than how it already is

Nerfed “Swift”

Not a big issue to do this, whether you completely remove it, or just make it a specialty upgrade the players have to commission to have done.

People - I’m dumb.

I completely missed the fact that the base defend action lets the defender and defendee (defended?) move at half their movement speed without provoking AOOs (as long as adjacent as per the rule). That negates any of my arguments that the base defend action is weak. I also agree that a specific defend against AoOs is needed. Sorry about that.

I can see the argument that you therefore don’t need a full withdraw. But then again, I can also see wanting to withdraw without wanting to wait for an attack to defend (eg - you’re hanging on by a thread and need to get the heck out of dodge asap).

Naw, you just have the Flaw: Human


we all miss something sometimes. You can achieve withdraw, though at the risk of maybe taking damage (but also getting extra movement)

You move to leave, the person in melee is next to you, so they take an AoO that successfully is higher than your Defense. You do a Defend Interrupt.

  1. You are successful, so you take no damage, you get to move half your movement, then you also have the rest of your initial movement you haven’t used yet.
  2. You aren’t successful, so you take some damage, but you still get to move half your movement, then you also have the rest of your initial movement you haven’t used yet.

So, the only downside of not having a “Withdraw/Disengage” would be that you might take damage.