Basic spell conversions

Hello! I’m relatively new to Open Legend (picked up the Backer Kit back in November, had looked before) and I’m starting up a campaign. The problem I’m currently having is that while I love the freedom that OL gives, I don’t know where to start with spells. Maybe I haven’t read things well enough, maybe I missed something, I don’t know.

So, before I go on, if there’s already a place something like this exists, I’ll be thrilled to use it. If not, well, maybe here’s a good place?

Regardless, I thought it might be nice to have some basic spell conversions from other systems. For instance, how would you put together a Magic Missile? Or a Fire Ball?

So between my 4 players there’s the desire for the following spells, initially. I just haven’t been able to figure out how to make them work:

  • Fire ball (area effect, energy)
  • Magic missile (energy, traditional MM always hits)
  • Fairy fire (I think that’s it…) (enchants target with a glow)
  • Grasping vines

I think that would be enough to get me started, because i think a few examples would help me figure the whole thing out. But again, maybe it would be nice to collect a few more of these.

Thanks so much! And thanks to everyone who has contributed to OL, both here and in the official rules (@brianfeister, I’m looking at you!).


Hey there redbeardcreator! Welcome to the community!

I’ve got a secret for you that I think your players will love:

They can cast all of those spells with their basic Attribute rolls!

  • Declaring that they want to make a Fireball would be an Energy roll with Area Attack modifier (disadvantage based on the size and shape of the attack).

  • Magic Missile could also be a generic Energy Attack roll. If they want multiple targets, use Multi-Targeting rules, and if they want to hit the same target multiple times, they can take the Multi-Attack Feat.

  • If they want to enchant someone with a fairy glow (i.e. D&D’s Faerie Fire) to give them disadvantage on sneak rolls, they could make a generic Energy roll vs. the enemy’s Resolve, and you, as the DM can decide how effective their efforts are.

  • Grasping Vines, I believe, would be a Creation roll, but there are arguments to be made for Alteration, Movement, or even Learning/Logic if they are “casting” Grasping Vines from a device their character has created!

The power of Open Legend is in the freedom of the generic Attribute rolls, which can also be a bit confusing, especially for players coming from highly structured RPGs like D&D. I encourage you (and your players) to check out the Attributes and Action Rolls in Play section for examples of the powerful abilities your players can unleash with the power of their imagination and creativity. :smiley:

There are infinite possibilities for the Attribute rolls! Exploring just how far you can customize your abilities before the GM decides to cut you short is half the fun! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Personally, I try to limit my players to tasks that would make sense for their character description. For example, I had a player that built a robot ninja mage…thing. He wanted to use Fire magic for “wrist rockets”. Later, he wanted to utilize electricity for “Attribute Substitution (Energy -> Might)” and I allowed it because he described it as “overloading my power core to shoot more power to my legs so I can lift a boulder, or something like that”. When he wanted to use his Energy to freeze a bunch of water, however, I asked him if he thought that fit his character’s theme, and he agreed that it did not. Instead, he used his Alteration rolls to alter the structure of the water to make it solid, which I allowed, as his Alteration had not been “themed” the same way that his Energy had.

Generic Attribute rolls are the Wild West of Open Legend: they are fun, full of potential, and full of excitement and adventure, but they also require the “sheriff” (i.e. GM) to make some calls about what makes sense in the time and place.

Hope this helps! I really hope your players enjoy the freedom of Open Legend! Having narrative freedom as a player takes some getting used to, but in the end everyone I have played with finds that they enjoy themselves so much more because they have the freedom to tell their own, unique story. :slight_smile:


To add to @Hassurunous a little (since what he typed was spot on):

Everything is in the FLUFF. That’s it, that is all you have to remember. It is just all description.

##Energy vs Guard
###Single Target

  • Solomon raises his hand, palm extended towards his enemy, and unleashes a blast of fire.
  • Basic fire bolt type of spell attack
  • Tracy unleashes a primal war cry. The sound waves shooting out from her mouth at the Balrogothic that stands before her friends.
  • Elemental Air/Wind attack, or even Sound (for bards and other)
  • Lidvic snaps his finger with a grin. The force of the snap seems to generate an electric spark that then shoots out like lightning at the grimloathic.
  • Lightning/Thunder attack
  • Sydney glares at the armored man threatening her from the doorway. A swirl of wind seems to come off her eyes at him as cold air lashes out at him.
  • Ice attack
    ###Area Attacks
  • Tracy cups her hands around her mouth and screeches out at the group of gorblids in front of her. The scream sends sound waves in a cone outwards.
  • Cone attack with Sound/Air/Force
    ###Multi-Target Attacks
  • Solomon takes a deep breath, palms out toward the 3 advancing mechlinoids. As if striking the air with Palm Strikes, his hands pump out three times, a blast of fire coming out of his palms as he does.
  • Fire bolt vs 3 targets

And that is just exploring a very small selection of energy types.

##But Magic Missile can’t miss
This is true, however you also have spell slots that get spent. In OL, you can cast as many times as you have actions. That’s why there is so much you can do.

##Grasping Vines
Might also look at the Barrier boon for this, or just a straight Immobile Bane attack with Alteration.


I’d like to address the point about Magic Missile always hitting.

The interesting thing about converting Magic Missile to Open Legend is that the rules already allow for it to always hit. Here’s why: every roll matters. Check out this link for the explanation behind this in the core rules, but when a player fails an attack, it isn’t simply a miss. There is no thing as a simple failure in Open Legend; if you don’t succeed outright, you either succeed with a twist, or you fail forward (the rules list this as failure, but the story progresses).

If the player talks with the GM about this, the GM is free to always rule using the “success with a twist” option for the “Magic Missile” attack. Take a look at the examples in the combat chapter. The basic idea here would be that on the “failed” Magic Missile, something still happens, but it happens to both parties. Obviously, the GM is not limited to the list, but the suggestions are that the player and GM each pick one of these options:

  • Deal 3 damage - damage is dealt, but not tons of it
  • Inflict 1 bane of power level <= 3 - no damage is dealt, but there is still a definite result of the magical impact
  • Move 10’ w/o opportunity attacks - no damage is dealt, but the shock of being struck by the attack affords the caster a chance to escape

If I could like this response twice I would! Thank you for bringing up the “success with a twist”! This is a perfect example of a time to use this core feature of Open Legend!


FWIW (which is not much right now since I have no resource to offer yet), I’m in the early stages of putting together an OL spellbook/techbook to help my crew wade in to OL.

I am taking several pages of inspiration from Zadmar’s Savage Spellbook ( which does a similar thing for Savage Worlds–i.e. provide a base catalog of defined spells that provide both fluff and definition for SW’s unstructured effects.


Thanks to everyone! I haven’t read all the responses yet (not in a comfortable position to do so) but so far they’re awesome!

Of course, the night after I posted I was reading the alpha for the main rules. And i discovered I had skipped the page that explained everything! :confused:

1 Like

Thanks for the specific examples. That helps a lot.

The biggest struggle I’ve had (until reading these replies) is getting my head around the fact that anything can happen, if you’ve got the attributes for it.

I was considering the Barrier boon, for grasping vines. That makes sense.

As for magic missile never missing…well the truth is, I’m the only one with a lot of tabletop experience. It’s actually my four kids that I’m running. So they are familiar with trading card games like Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh! and with various video games, but they’ve never done much tabletop.

1 Like

Ok…so Discourse suggested a single reply…

@Hassurunous, I’m definitely doing the themed concept. If the player can’t describe how or why they’re able to do what they’re asking, it just doesn’t happen. For instance, the player that’s using a Magic Missile-type power was originally a hunter, good with a bow. Since she discovered her magic, she’s able to use the same action without the bow using energy. Initially, all of her magic-based actions will be based on what she would do as a hunter.

With regard to fairy fire, energy definitely comes into play. But I’m also wondering if a variation on the Light boon would be appropriate. If I understand correctly, sustain persists means a minor action is required to keep it active. That would seem to work well in this situation.

@carl, thanks for all the examples for success with a twist. That really helps!

@GartLarissa, that sounds great! It’s the type of resource I’m looking for. Overall, I think OL affords so many more possibilities than other game systems. But it’s something of a decision paralysis situation, in that it’s hard to decide how and what your character would do. Having a brief “conversion” chart (much like @Great_Moustache’s listing of examples, but with attributes, boons, and banes listed) would go a long way to helping players (and GMs!) decide how to do things.

Again, thanks to you all. This has been very helpful!

1 Like

One… last bit of madness to add here.

When you say “anything can happen”… take that to heart. In my most recent game, I had two brand new (to Open Legend) players. Both of which are hardcore Pathfinder players. One had a Protection/Energy>Might build, the other had a Protection/Creation/Alteration build.

They woke up from unconsciousness and found themselves bound in intestines (not theirs) and in pitch darkness. Alteration guy wiggles himself free from their bonds and helps Energy. They use Energy to create Light and find themselves in a 10x10x10 room with a solid granite door that had no inside handle.

They hemmed and hawed for less than a minute before Energy Guy says: “wait, I can do anything if it makes a bit of sense right? Then I’m gonna use Energy to create sonic vibrations to dislodge the door.” (Mind you this is a level 1 character with 2 xp and an Energy 4).

He rolls low (like an 8) and I tell him the vibrations don’t break the door, but he hears a thunk and feels the door shift off its track and away from the structure.

Alteration Guy (level 1, 2 xp, Alteration3) says “wait, I got it! Can I use alteration on the door to change its molecules to gravel?” Sure you can, bub!

Needless to say, between the vibrations and transmutation, the door explodes in a gravel shower of vibrating stones, and in less than 10 minutes of game play these two grognards are sold. Screaming and excited chanting persist for a few minutes after.

I never thought to ask them if they wanted to just try and… slide the door. Where’s the fun in opening it in a normal way?!


@ConradCurtis, great story! With the help of everyone here, I’m very close to getting my game going.