I’ve had a lot of success running Open Legend campaigns since backing the project. So far, they have been based on modern horror, Buffy / Highlander action dramas, and modern fantasy and the rules work incredibly well.
My local group now wants to convert our superhero world over to Open Legend and I’m looking for advice. It’s a world I’ve created years ago and have adapted it to Marvel Super Heroes (both TSR and MWP), DC Heroes (Mayfair) as well as M&M and Icons.
It’s a 4 color world that mirrors the Marvel and DCU in that it can have street level heroes but also Kryptonian / Asgardian / Titan / New God level threats and heroes.
Does anyone have experience making Open Legend work with that level of cosmic play? I’ve started to create new levels of super feat tiers of flight / super speed and defenses but don’t know I’m on the right track or making things too complicated.
If superhero loving members have any advice on this, it would be greatly appreciated.
You shouldn’t need to adjust anything honestly. Superheroes works great, even at legendary levels.
It’s just a matter of comparison. Just like if you have a mega star ship that has huge canons. Vs other star ships its a normal attack, but that same attack vs people would be an order of magnitude larger in both area and damage.
A superhero with Might 5 is able to lift cars. A normal civilian with Might 5 would be able to do well in a weight lifting competition, but no where near lift a car.
The only time distance and speed will matter is in combat, out of combat you can do things at different magnitudes, and in combat use the rules as are to keep balance going.
I agree with @Great_Moustache, I’ve run a superhero campaign from levels 3-10 and the simplest way to handle it is that if the character is powerful enough they just succeed at any task which wouldn’t cause them to struggle. “Every roll matters” after all. This especially matters outside of combat. If your version of the Flash can circle the world in a matter of seconds, then just let them; explain to the player that the rules in combat are an abstraction and describe how blisteringly quick they move (even if it’s only 30’ more than their allies) and they shouldn’t have any issues.
When you have two characters of vastly different power in opposition, you can just say that without any outside factors to level the playing field the more powerful character wins. They don’t necessarily win overall, but if you have Daredevil trying to take on Hulk in a fist fight it’s pretty obvious which one is going to come out on top so there’s no point in rolling for it regardless of what their stats look like (on the other hand, if Daredevil is trying to sneak past or trick Hulk then that might be a good time to break out the dice).
If you have two different but not incomparable power levels clashing (e.g. Captain America versus Hawkeye) you can look to the Tech Levels for inspiration and give advantage and disadvantage appropriately when the difference in power is relevant. That’s about as complex as I’d go in terms of bringing mechanics into it.
That pretty much covers how I’d do it. I’ll just wrap up with a warning that these kinds of characters are often very hard to challenge while still remaining fair to them. There’s a reason Superman stories need Kryptonite, and why most powerful villains are either brutes than can take on a whole team at once (and usually overwhelm any defensive powers of the heroes) or masterminds who the heroes never meet until the end; if that wasn’t the case the heroes would likely deal with them as soon as they met, and as the GM you can’t just write into the narrative that the villain escapes, because the heroes have agency and want to be able to act to prevent it. No fair telling them their ideas won’t work just because you’d planned for this to be a recurring villain. This isn’t a reason you shouldn’t run this game, just something to be careful of.
Thanks for both your quick feedback on this. Although the world I’ve created can accommodate Kryptonians and New Gods, the groups I run are more of the X-Men / Titans level of play. I fully agree with Sam on challenging players in Cosmic level campaigns. I’ve done it before but it’s a totally different level of play.
My struggle has more to do with certain powers that should be always on or a character having to take an action (of some level/sort) in order to do certain things. Boons, Banes, and Feats and the RAW have been perfect for my Modern Fantasy and Horror campaigns but Superhero campaigns have a different feel to me.
In the RAW, Wolverine has to “turn on” his healing power and “use up” his minor action to keep it going from round to round. Those should be automatic for him and should not chew up actions during combat. However, having him “turn on,” his super senses makes sense since he has to perceive what he’s sensing. In your Supers games, how do you handle characters that have something that ‘just happens’ but the game mechanics have fairly hard rules that it must be turned on and then maintained?
I really appreciate this thread and am finding it helpful.
Wolverine would absolutely have Boon Focus 3 in Regeneration, making it always active and sustaining as a free action. Most characters who have an effect that “just happens” can be built this way, which is incidentally why I recommend starting a supers game at level 3, to allow powers to be developed like that. If there’s a specific effect that a player wants which can’t be built with Boon Focus, then you could consider homebrewing it to work in a similar way. Be aware though, it’s a spectacularly poor idea to let effects “just happen” on attacks, because that leads to some really boring and repetitive gameplay.
Good advice. Thanks.
My group really wants our Supers world to work in Open Legend. Most recently, we played Season 1 of a Teenage Teen Titans equivalent story line using the Valiant Universe RPG from Catalyst. We chose to house rule it to make it a little more crunchy as it is an incredibly rules light system but we’ve taken the system as far as we think we can and really want to have a good time using the Open Legend rules for season 2.
I fully hear you on allowing too many effects just happen. Valiant has a lot of powers and actions that just happen and it did get boring.
Since these characters have had a very successful 1st season, it makes sense to put them somewhere between 3rd and 5th level. I’ll keep my house rules to a minimum and see how it goes.
I actually like doing wolverine’s healing via Boon Focus 2, minor action to Heal. It does more healing that way, and sinc eyou don’t always need to recover it works too.
Though things like Die Hard and Perk Divine Agent work for Wolverine as well, since HP isn’t actual health and wounds.
though if you really wanted to go down the rabbit hole, I suppose wolverine would have Boon Focus 2 (Heal) as well as Extraordinary Healing feat…
Many ways to go about any build in the system for sure. From Boon Focus 2/3, or various other feats.
Oh, and the most important thing to remember is that you don’t start out as Wolverine or Storm. You start out learning and figuring out your abilities and powers and improving on them, and getting them stronger as you go until you are at that level.
Thanks again to you both. This really helped me flesh out the campaign I’m running for season 2 and it’s getting me very jazzed to play. We are test running some characters tomorrow night.
I think Open Legend will be the best Supers rules I’ve found to date.
I’m very happy to be part of a helpful, responsive community like this one.
Don’t forget Extraordinary Items. The Properties; Augmenting, Autonomous, Cursed, & Sentient could help you make your heros.