Character Creation for Gothic Fantasy

Today is character creation for my gothic fantasy game. Due to the fact that everyone is getting a phantom that provides 10 Attribute points and 3 feat points, I think I’m going with 30 stat points and 3 feat points for their core character. Perks are as normal, flaws optional, but the phantom requires at least one custom flaw that it enforces upon its binder. This is usually some unfinished business, phobia or taboo that is specific to each phantom.

Also extraordinary attributes are getting heavily limited on the core character but phantoms allowing access to the attributes

Thoughts on new extraordinary attributes for heroes:

Insight: the ability of the Haunted character to perceive the invisible world of Spirits, demons and dark magic.

Exorcism: the ability of the character to perform banishments and combat curses.

Alchemy: Thinking about making this an extraordinary attribute in it’s own right.

This is a very interesting idea, but I would do it differently from the little I’ve heard about your setting: I would stick to the standard character creation and any points invested into supernatural abilites (keep in mind that not every extraordinary ability has to explained by supernatural occurences, energy could just be weapons and explosives expert, etc.) and feats tied to that supernatural ability will go towards the phantom. Not every player might want a ghost buddy or some might want to explore that discovery slowly and if they choose to not invest any points in supernatural capabilities they don’t have to deal with that, at least at first. Also this saves you and mostly the players the trouble of having to manage multiple character sheets.

This sounds very much like Prescience. Maybe you can add a boon or two, or give some of the already existing ones a new coat of colour and just rename or reflavour them.

This sounds like a different name for Protection.

I had already a bunch of players who wanted to be Alchemists and they all went with Alteration and it worked very fine. Many of them put their own spin on it by combining it with Creation, the Create Extraordinary Feat or the Artisan Perk, etc. So I don’t know if that’s necessary as Alchemy is already quite embedded in Alteration.


I agree with @VanGo here, if you’re splitting the attribute points between two inseparable (narratively, not physically) characters, then you may as well just build them as one character and describe the difference.

I’m also a little wary of your wording about “enforcing” a flaw. Are you aware that flaws are entirely under the control of the player? The player chooses when the flaw becomes relevant, and the GM rewards this with Legend points. As long as that’s clear, an extra flaw from the ghost sounds like a great idea.

Your extraordinary attributes definitely sound like just renamed versions of existing ones. Insight and Exorcism could just be the names for Prescience and Protection. Protection even had “Banishment” as a Bane in earlier versions of the rules, it was cut because it only worked in a few genres and settings.

As for Alchemy, I would discourage you from making it a single attribute, because of the sheer variety of things it can do (setting dependent of course). I’ve seen Alteration as traditional “transmutation” alchemists and Jekyll and Hyde transformers, Energy can be alchemical bomb-making, Entropy can be poison. Craft Mundane can work for subtle alchemy with ointments and salves, while Craft Extraordinary can work for any of the above and more. Overall, by making Alchemy its own attribute you’re either going to miss out on some options from above or create an overpowered attribute that can do all of them. Not worth the complexity and the surprising amount of work of adding another Extraordinary attribute in my opinion.

There’s two things about Open Legend that make it really great for running unusual settings:

  1. It’s really easy to homebrew in
  2. Most of the time you don’t need to homebrew at all

We get a lot of new-to-the-community GMs who see the first bit, but miss the much subtler second part. Give it a go using just the core rules first, you’ll probably find that it works great! If there’s still something that doesn’t quite fit then revisit it and see what needs adding to make it work.

Best of luck


I understand where you are coming from, and I did end up just using prescience instead of insight, but I ran into several problems right out of the gate.

  1. The extraordinary attributes are too wide open at the moment
    I have a player who just wants to be able to take alternate forms using alteration and doesn’t want any of the other things it offers. He is going to willingly limit himself to be true to what he wants to accomplish with the character but I feel uncomfortable as a GM ignoring the rest of the attribute. Another player was concerned because he felt that as soon as somebody grabs up a couple different extraordinary attributes they pretty much have access to everything and there is not as much differentiation among special effects. I can understand why the system operates in that fashion, especially considering that it is designed to accommodate every possible system but at least for my group, I am probably going to subdivide some of the attributes as written.

  2. The Nature of Phantoms
    Players are going to bind with several distinct phantoms over the course of their adventuring career. Choosing which phantom to establish contact with is part of the nuance of the game world, and the interplay between the desires of the phantom and the player brings about unique role playing opportunities and story development. So, the player can’t just incorporate the phantom because he or she will establish contact with several phantoms over the course of a campaign and will be able to swap individual attributes in and out.

I really love the system as it is written, but I also have a distinct vision of what I want to accomplish. I want to test the flexibility and adaptability of the system. I know it isn’t all going to work but want to try anyway.


It should also be noted that I am playing with an older group that has experience with a wide range of systems, so I was dealing with different expectations when I brought Open Legend to the table.

This, this right here, is WHAT open legend is about. That is part of the CORE of open legend. Just b/c you have access to something doens’t mean you use it, you use what makes sense for the character.

You can have 2 players, who (though it would be hard to happen) pick the exact same attributes, and exact same feats, and they could be completely different in how they do things. Yes, they’d still be rolling the same attributes, but the flavor/fluff they use to describe what they are doing could be entirely different b/c of a character concept.

Open Legend is all about the narrative. I’ve had 2 players the both specialize in the same attribute, but they are very much different characters, and the way they use it is very much different. They don’t feel like they are robbing from each other at all.

This, also, is what Open Legend is all about. It is designed to be adapted and worked to fit into settings. When settings are made is when Open Legend really begins to work. Some settings will have limitations to fit the theme.

However, we always encourage to use the system AS IS before trying to make changes. This is actually a general recommendation for any TTRPG. That before you start to tweak and change things, see what it is, and how it is offered.

A lot of times, in your mind, you don’t see how something really works until you actually do it and use it. And people are often surprised that you really don’t need to homebrew that much, if at all, for different settings.

That doesn’t mean you won’t want to homebrew later. I’ve made some custom things, and it’s why I put the wiki up to help collect those things.

For me, I don’t really see a need for messing with the Attributes yet, at least nothing from the community that has really shown it was needed. Doesn’t mean that will always be the case, but I always encourage to use it as it is, and actually play with it so you understand it better before changing it.

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I understand where you are coming from but game design is also what I do, both for fun and as a profession. What I love to do is to take a ruleset, break it down and see what can be accomplished using its fundamentals. I think this is also a very helpful process especially with a fairly young game, as I post my trial and error to the community. They can then do whatever they want with that information.

I love the narrative design of Open Legend and the fact that it is most concerned about balancing the effects while leaving it up to the player about how they accomplish it. However, I do want to try adjusting a few things out of the gate to mold it a little closer to what I want to do with the setting.

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I’m also an avid game design hobbyist; it’s a large part of how I got interested in Open Legend to start with. Take it from me that Open Legend absolutely supports homebrew with minimal fuss, but there are a lot of factors involved in designing within this system that don’t come across very obviously from reading.

For example, your player who is willing to limit himself to only one use of an attribute is far from alone. I have a player who only uses Movement for Teleport, and an illusionist who only uses Influence for Phantasm and Invisible. From my experience GMing for both of them, I can tell you that the rest of the attribute never came up and nobody noticed the restrictions while we were in game.

Equally, I GM for a hard-light manipulator who uses Energy for Summon Creature, Barrier, Resistance, Persistent Damage, Blinded and more; splitting the Extraordinary attributes further would have massively reduced the effectiveness for her build, as well as making the already intimidating list of attributes even longer. Good game design isn’t about perfect simulation, it’s about achieving what you need for the players to have fun with the minimum amount of effort.

You description of the phantoms makes your decision make more sense to me now. I would recommend that you look at Companion or Sentient Extraordinary items to do this though. If those aren’t satisfactory, I’d suggest making the attribute and feat points they use additional rather than subtracting from the main character. 30 attribute points and 3 feat points is going to leave the starting builds feeling extremely starved.

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If going for a less heroic characters I could see this being ok. It would give the feeling that the player characters themselves are less capable without the spirits they are channeling.
Ash could never fight a charizard on his own, but with a pikachu by his side any thing was possible.

I was actually going to suggest using Tier 3 Companion Attribute points for the base character if you were really wanting to limit it.

So instead of 40 points to start with, you start with 36, and then instead of gaining 3 points every XP you only gain 2 attribute points. It’s not quite as harsh, but it is a little less.

For feat points, I was going to recommend the full amount, or at most 3 less feat points.

I don’t think you really need to, I think the phantom being an additive would work fine with a normal character.

Treating the phantoms as an extraordinary item I think would work really well too. Since they don’t need to directly interact a lot of times, and they are allowing the player access to something, it would make sense to work as an item too. Flavor wise you don’t treat it as an item of course.

Instead of using Wealth/money, you could allow them to increase an attribute over time based on their XP, or some other in game narrative, and just bump the item up as you go (instead of it actually having to be crafted, etc). I sort of do this with shapeships and mechs in a space setting I run. I have a full system for leveling/upgrading them.

Of course these are just suggestions, and the particular feel you are going for might be better achieved another way, that way just seems a simpler/stream-lined way to go.

I’m not quite sure what you meant by this overall. Perhaps if you expanded on what those expectations were? I have a group (the space/sci-fi thing I mentioned) that come very playing lots of different TTRPG, quite the wide range actually as I found out later. I took them there a fantasy campaign, and when we got to the end of that, we decided to change things up and do the space/sci-fi.

I always find the expectations are what you put them out there to be for a game.

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