Great moment in my Open Legend one-shot

I ran an Open Legend one-shot for my group this weekend. We’re wrapping up a Pathfinder campaign, and we wanted to see how Open Legend worked for our group before making the switch. I have to say it went pretty well. There was a bit of a learning curve grokking the different boons and banes in play and the options they opened up for improvisation, but it went well, and I think we will get more comfortable as we familiarize ourselves with the system. Anyway, the point of this post is one of the funnier moments that happened during our game.

One thing I wanted to try in our one shot is something I have been doing with my NPCs, so I asked my players to write down an impulse for their characters after they picked pregens. For those who have played a PbtA system like Dungeon World, it’s that sort of impulse. One of my players picked the druid pregen and wrote “to save the animals” as his impulse.

During the session, the party encountered a group of creatures who were trying to steal a particularly large and valuable crystal. After they killed one of them, the other tried to flee. One of the PCs tried to immobilize it with a well-placed shot, but he didn’t roll well enough to succeed outright. However, even though the creature got away, it still dropped the crystal—down through a grate into the sewers.

The druid and one of the other PCs went into the sewers after it. Unfortunately, it had been washed away. The druid turned himself into a crocodile (the player had been enjoying turning into various creatures just because he could) and proceeded to go looking for the crystal. I ask him to roll Perception, which he does, but he rolls less than he needs. I decide he finds it but with a twist: some rats have found something shiny (the crystal) and are incorporating it into their nest. The druid is conflicted. He wants to save the animals (i.e., not disturb the rats’ nest), but he also wants to get the crystal back. He decides the rats win and returns to tell the party member he couldn’t find it. On top of that, he tries to lead the other PC the wrong way. It was obviously the wrong way because the water was flowing in the wrong direction for where the crystal could have gone. The other PC picks up on this soon enough, so he goes back the other way to look for himself. He finds the rats, but the druid asks him not to bother them. They think for a bit, and then they both leave to figure out what to do next.

The party ended up tracking down a glassmaker in town to make them something suitably similar to the crystal, so the PC with Movement could use his telekinesis to teleport and swap the crystals. He succeeded, the rats had their shiny, and the party had recovered the crystal they needed.

All in all, it was quite the hilarious end to the one-shot. I’m excited that we’ll be switching to Open Legend for my next campaign. Once everyone started to get how you could pretty much do anything and then resolve it with an action roll, they started getting really creative. It was great! :smiley:


Sounds awesome!!

BTW, the “impulse” could be written up as the Flaw: Compulsion potentially, getting a Legend Point whenever they pursue it type of thing.

Love stories like that, and the wiliness of the players to work together to work around that impulse!!


Potentially. I think it would have to be debilitating. It may be that there’s a better name for it. Everyone has an impulse. I think of it as a baser form of a motivation.

I can’t wait until we’ve got a campaign going, so I can start working their secrets into play too. :smiling_imp:


Only can get 1 Legend Point for a Flaw per session (typically).

You won’t tell a lie or engage in deceitful speech, even to save your own life or the life of another.

Nothing really debilitating about that one.

Flaws are very easy to create, as they simply represent situational triggers that hold your character back. Because the PCs decides when their flaws take effect, there is no need to consider balance when creating new flaws.

The way you described what happened caused a complication to the story. Would have been easier to just grab the thing after all.

To activate a flaw, you should intentionally make a disadvantageous choice based on your flaw that creates an interesting or tense moment in the plot. When you do so, let your GM know that you are activating your flaw and describe how it is hindering your efforts or influencing your decisions. If the GM approves that your flaw is creating a significant disadvantage and advancing the story, you receive one legend point.

Of course I’m just relating how that impulse could be a flaw, not saying it has to be, or that all impulses should be flaws or anything like that. Just wanted to relate a mechanic of the system to you :smile:

Thanks, I appreciate it. We didn’t incorporate flaws into our game because I wanted to get things moving quickly after we picked characters, and everyone was still new to the game. I think it was helpful your pointing out that an impulse (or presumably other things like your secret) can also be the basis for a flaw.

As an aside, how tinkerable is the legend point economy? I like systems that refresh legend points at the start of the session. I find when I don’t do that (or have something functionally similar), players tend to hoard their points rather than spend them.

One thing I had considered was refreshing everyone’s legend points to one at the start of the session and providing additional ways of earning them (such as by opting to fail forward on an action roll). I also have a way to earn a bonus one at the start of the next session in the XP system I normally use that I’ll be adapting to Open Legend.

So, with Legend Points, there is a cap of 10. They can’t have more than 10, so if they horde them, they lose them.

I have 3 things I have my players do besides Flaws & Perks.

#Goals & Beliefs
You gain Legend Points from these if you RP in a believable way during the session. With Goals, as long as you do something to work towards the goal.

Think of short term and long term here. Make sure you include how you will know it has been accomplished.

What you believe AND what you will do about that!

#Instincts (and Flaws)
If you RP these at it creates a complication or gets you/your party into trouble, then you earn a Legend point.

Think of these as ways to bypass the GM. “You didn’t say you had your weapon out” “My instinct is to always have my weapon out”

Think of “If…/Then…”, “Always…”, “Never…”, and many times tied to skills or gear. These don’t get Legend Points nearly as often, as they provide a bonus for the player more often than not.

As mentioned in Core Rules.

Typically I tell them a Max of 3 for each, but 1 in each is enough. As far as Legend Points, you can say there is a max of X per session if you want. Or just you can only earn 1 Legend Point from each category a session (max of 4 from that).

Unless you have some heavy Legend Point hunters, you wont’ see them get all of those in a session typically.

The other thing I do is:

#Group Goal
This is usually pertaining to their current “mission” or “arc” of the story. Something they can accomplish in 1 or 2 sessions. Depending on how big/important it is, you either award everyone a Legend Point or an XP.

I sometimes award more than 1 Legend Point depending on what the goal was, how many sessions it took, or other factors.

I ask the players if they have someone they want to recommend for good RP during the session. You can also let this be the MVP or something along those lines if you only want 1 person to get this per session.


Interesting. Beliefs and instincts seem similar to what I am doing with impulses. Maybe I should give out a legend point (once per session) when someone’s impulse is used to fail forward.

My worry about the accumulating legend points over time instead of refreshing them is that my players aren’t big fishers of story points in other systems. My concern is they might not be using their legend points as liberally as they could be.

My idea with failing forward is that players may choose to fail forward once per scene. When they do that, they receive either a legend point or an XP (their choice).

XP seems like an obvious choise, but I’ll be tweaking the way progression works since I’m a fan of neither arc-based nor session-based XP awards. The system I use is based on some of my own ideas mixed with some things that have gelled well with my group.

Gaining XP
Characters gain experience pieces (or XP) two ways: at the end of the session based on what happened in that session or when opting to mark XP after choosoing to fail forward (once per scene). Once characters have accumulated enough XP equal to the attribute maximum for their current level, they may spend XP to buy experience points (now known as EXP). EXP otherwise functions like it does in core Open Legend.

Characters receive XP at the session for each of the following:

  • 1 XP for each end of session questions answered affirmatively as a group; and
  • 1 XP for completing one or both of their goals set at the start of the session.

As an aside, I renamed XP to EXP simply so I can say “mark XP”, a phrase I enjoy saying from running Dungeon World. The idea of splitting up XP this way comes from the idea of Beats in Chronicles of Darkness. In other systems, I typically replace the standard XP progression instead of using a layered system like this. For Open Legend, I wanted to keep the standard (E)XP progression since it ties into when players receive additional attribute and feat points.

Goals are a reminder to players of what they would like to accomplish during the session. They reflect the short term priorities and motivations their characters have. However, goals are explicitly a player tool. A well-written goal should be phrased as an action the player wants to take during the session. The idea is to do a little thinking in advance to provide a bit of inspiration and direction during the session.

The GM is not the arbitrator of goals. At the end of the session, the players will decide collectively whether they completed their goals. When they complete one goal, characters receive 1 XP. When they complete both goals, they receive 1 legend point and 1 XP. It is never possible to receive more than 1 XP for completing goals.

Goals are inspired by my experience practicing GTD. It’s generally easier to engage and do something when one pre-plans. Even though I run a mostly improvisational game, I still have things in my notes to riff on. Goals are there to do the same for players.

End of Session Questions
These are blatently ripped from Dungeon World. At the start of the campaign, we decide on three questions that we answer after every session. These questions reflect themes or ideas that we want to explore in the game.

The thing I like about these questions is they act as a canary. If we’re not always answering our questions, then we need to step back and decide whether to change them because they campaign has gone in an unexpected direction or to course correct back the way we wanted to go. Like everything else, this is done via dialog with the players and by group consensus.

One of the important thing for all of these mechanics is that whether anyone gets XP is decided by player consensus. The GM doesn’t have a say in it. If players don’t agree, they discuss until they reach a conclusion. That helps avoid players feeling slighted when the GM doesn’t agree that the thing they did should count as XP. It also gives me insight into their thinking.

One thing I don’t have well-represented is longer term goals. However, that may be handled by how we recap. At the start of every session, we go down a recapping checklist. The players tell me their short and longterm goals, high points and complications from the previous session, and any unresolved questions they have.

1 Like

If you are going that route, you could rename Legend Points to XP, and then the players can choose to use there XP to give them advantage on their roll (as legend points work), or save them to buy EXP.

I considered that, but my concern is that players would never spend XP to boost their rolls, and then characters would advance too quickly. Since I’d like to have both an XP economy (even if just for the canary effects) and a legend point economy, maybe I should just offer a legend point for failing forward. Yeah, I like that. Players get XP for contributing to the story, and they get legend points for making it interesting.