Limits of superpowers

Hi all, long time lurker here.

My friends and I have been trying out Open Legend, and as a GM I’ve created a superhero world and campaign for them (very episodic of nature, kinda like a tv show). I’ve dug up some modules from other systems to get things going and established the world and its rules with the players, so we’re all set.

Well almost…

Using the Open Legend system my players came up with quite some nifty characters;
A shapeshifter who augments his abilities by changing parts of himself into that of animals (high alteration),
A big defender who always seems to know where to go and what to do (a precog and telepath without actually realising it) (High presience which he uses to block)
An Ice Mage type character who saps the strength of his enemies with his cold powers (High entropy which he fluffes as sucking out the heat of things)
An engineer who suddenly started generating energy form within, which he uses to power his crafts (energy and logic extraordinary item crafter)
And a guy who can put people to sleep with his mind (high entropy incapacitated specialist).

Now what I’m struggling a bit with is how to allow them to use their powers outside of combat. The rules are clear enough, but how should I handle creative uses of my players’ super powers? We’re new to the system so all players just have a list of all the banes and boons according to the rules they should be able to do, and have been invoking them even without making sense for their super powers

An example was using bolster for stats his powers couldn’t possible influence, which he agreed to when we talked about it together). How would you handle this? Just talking about which banes and boons makes sense for his powers beforehand with every player or making them do it themselves? Or is that already being way too rigid?

A more concrete example might help, how would you handle the ice mage using his entropy ice magic to put out fires (making an entropy roll compared to a DC I choose?)?
And should that mage even be able to generate ice? He has no points in energy, and I can see the heat sucking link with entropy, but allowing him to just create ice at will might be too much?

I’m sure the other players will come up with all kinds of nifty things, and while writing this I do realize that the answer: do what’s fun, or follow the rule of cool, will probably constitute my main approach. So long story short:

tl’;dr: doing a superhero campaign, should I try to limit the powers of heroes beforehand, make rules on a case by case basis (as in well that doesn’t seem to make sense for your powers now, would it), or just always let them try to use their powers in any way they can think of and let it succeed depending on a roll, or succeed with a twist?

Not sure if this is the best category for it, moderators, feel free to move it to where you think this thread should be!

Don’t feel the need to talk about the mechanical limits before you play, but absolutely do talk about the narrative limits. What’s the actual source of their power? Why can they do what they do? Then when it comes up during play, ask them “how does your power let you do that?” If they can’t come up with a satisfactory answer, like with your Bolster example, then they just can’t do it no matter how much the rules say they can. I have a superheroes game myself, with an illusionist who uses Influence to invoke Phantasm, but can’t do Charmed because it doesn’t make sense.

Your ice example is a little trickier. You’re on the right track though. For things which don’t have a Bane or Boon associated with them, just decide how difficult it should be and then have them make a roll against a Challenge Rating of your choice. However, if they’re trying something which seems a bit beyond what the attribute should be able to do then it’s entirely up to your judgement. It’s perfectly fine to allow things like that occasionally, and it’s unlikely to break anything (especially if they’re limiting themselves elsewhere) but you should be careful not to allow one player access to too much stuff through one attribute or the other players might feel left out.

Hope this helped, let us know if you have any more questions.


I ask my players what they’re doing, and then we figure out what to roll. The fiction always comes first. That also goes for character creation. Figure out what the characters do, and then apply whatever mechanics are needed to make that so. With that in mind, I’d approach your ice mage a bit differently.

Your ice mage concept is that he creates cold, which he uses to drain the strength of his foes. Weakening people is the domain of Entropy, but creating and manipulating ice is the domain of Energy. When someone tells me they want to use an attribute unusually, I take that as a sign they probably need Attribute Substitution to make their concept work correctly. Instead of taking Entropy, I’d suggest your ice mage take Energy and use Attribute Substitution II [Energy → Entropy] to gain access to the Entropy boons. That resolves the issue of using cold to do cold things while also allowing cold to do draining and weakening things too. The same could probably be said for the mind-sleep guy as well. It comes down to what Entropy means in your setting and what the PCs are conceptually.