Not a Fan of the Resist Banes Mechanic

After playing OL for over a year, I have to say that every time we get to a Resist Bane check, it feels really unsatisfying to just roll a d20 and resist on >= 10. Feels too easy, too random, and has nothing to do with the character’s design.

I know I can house rule it, and I am leaning toward that for future games, but was wondering if anyone else has done anything to spice it up? You can’t really do a defense “roll” based on Toughness, Resolve, etc, but maybe an attribute based roll (fortitude against poison, etc, whatever makes sense) against the 10 + (2 x PL of the bane) Similar to how heals work, but in reverse. I know OL tries to get away from the saving throw concept, but I also think this is more in line with the “every roll matters” concept and gives the player some narrative control over how exactly they resist a bane.

Interested in feedback…


I can see how people might find it frustrating, but then again I am wondering the perspective on this. Are you looking at it from the Player’s perspective of resisting banes on them, or how NPCs resist.

You say it is too easy, and more than a 50% chance is true. I have seen 3 failed resist rolls happen, but it is rare, and that is part of the design.

Unlike other systems that have resist/save throws, those systems also have a limit to how many times you would be able to invoke things that require a resist/save throw. In OL, you can have a bane thrown on you every round, in fact, you can have several banes thrown onto you in a round.

And then there is the fact the “saving throw” is already built into the bane being inflicted on you. They have to beat your Guard/Toughness/Resolve for it to even happen. So by adding another “saving throw” you are actually making them do it all over again, vs their body resisting and throwing off the bane.

Combat is also designed to go faster in OL.

That being said, I have done a few things in combat, but usually only for making something more epic b/c of the narrative that was in play at the time for the scene or over-arching story.

I’ve made the CR for a resist be 15+ (instead of the 10+) b/c a goddess had “empowered” a player temporarily. This, again, was solely for the narrative and story-telling part to give it more umpff.

There are also things like Potent Bane to make it harder to resist.

Banes are a tactical thing in combat when used well, helping to control action economy. Though I have had both players and NPCs choose to just not roll a resist against something and keep going.

So, going back, I am curious if you could elaborate some more on what exactly you find vexing about the current Resist Rolls, and maybe an example or two.

Feels too easy, too random, and has nothing to do with the character’s design.

Again, I think you are saying only from the Player’s side here. That it is too easy for a player to resist a bane given to them by an NPC. Also, are you more of a player, or more of a GM in most situations? How often do you have banes done to you (or you do to players) in combat?

The character’s design comes into play with the Defense scores. And you can also do a defend interrupt to increase that defense score vs a bane, or someone do an improvised interrupt to give you resistance vs a bane being targeted on you.

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Banes are supposed to be easy to resist, given how powerfully they scale into the late game, and how bad it is to fail a resist 3 times. Resisting is supposed to be quick, easy to determine and not slow down the game. You roll and then move on, to prevent “every roll matters” from having to intervene in what is narratively a fairly boring event.

If you want to reduce randomness, attribute rolls might be a possible way to replace this system; just make sure to use a static number (15 seems reasonable) rather than a number that scales based on power level. This will result in resist rolls being harder for some characters than others, and resist being very easy for certain characters at higher levels, but it prevents high PL banes from being monstrously powerful. Take for example, PL 9 Death, or Persistent Damage; if you set the target at 28 (calculated from the PL formula) then most characters are going to seriously struggle with that unless they have 9 in an appropriate attribute. After 3 rounds, your PCs will either be outright dead or taking damage every 6 seconds for a minute.

Resisting may not have much to do with the character design, but remember that whether a character is inflicted with a bane or not depends on their defenses anyway. A tough character is still more resistant to poison despite rolling the same dice to resist.

You also mention narrative control, which confuses me; players absolutely have narrative control over how they resist. If they want to pat out the flames, or mentally harden themselves against the fear, or take a deep breath and use Ki to purge the poison, then that’s exactly what they do.

In short, if you’re finding it boring then you’re probably putting too much focus on it. It’s a mechanically necessary part of the system that’s designed to be simple and easy so that you don’t have to spend any time on it.


Also, I eluded to it with this comment, but didn’t go into more detail.

In many other systems, you simply resist on your turn. What makes resists a bit harder/trickier in OL is the fact you have to choose to give up your Move Action to perform them (except in a select few cases that allow minor or remove only h alf your move).

So it might seem that the resist is easy, but you are giving up the chance to do a Focus (Superior) Action, and then have to choose if you are going to attack or move, as you can’t do both. For some (sustaining a boon) that isn’t as big of a deal, but it is still something that affects combat.


@Great_Moustache @SamWilby Some very good points, especially about increasing difficulty levels - I’ll have to play that out more. A little elaboration:

@Great_Moustache I’ve played in 3ish campaigns as a player, and run 1 multi-session game, and a few one-offs or abandoned games (trying to corral the family to play is harder than it should be!). I think the randomness and easiness of the rolls works both ways. I had a boss that was inflicting entangling vines on players and they resisted so quickly it was anti-climactic. Especially since the immobile bane doesn’t really do much except hold them in place, so they still had other options (not really looking to get into analysis of other banes/multi-banes I could have used, etc, just using it as an example) . Same goes for a player, they succeed in a charmed bane, but it lasts one round, because the NPC rolls a 10+.

@SamWilby Narrative control - I just mean, it’s way more interesting, IMO, to roll an attribute-based roll and say your character slips out of the entangling vines by contorting their body based on agility (or whatever) than to just roll a 12 and make something up. Just doesn’t feel connected to anything other than luck. In my experience, players didn’t feel connected to those rolls, it was more like "flip a coin, bane resisted! " (or not).

But, I really do understand the points of not over-complicating combat, and not overpowering banes. I think personally though, I might try the attribute-based approach and if it becomes too under/over powered in practice - and/or slows down combat - I can always “succeed with a twist” etc and always go back to the old rule if it just doesn’t work out.

P.S. I’m not sure a PL 9 Death Bane shouldn’t be super hard to resist, but maybe that’s because I’ve never played with any characters with that level of power! :slight_smile:

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I do agree with this at least partially.
Currently I see 2 main issues with banes.

  1. As long as you succeed on the invoke bane roll, all is good. Dice explosions don’t matter. Rolled a 50 on your knockdown, it’s still as knocked down as it would have been if you rolled a 20. The player’s reaction will probably be disappointment, because if that was damage, it might have instantly killed the creature, or at least did some good damage AND a bane.

  2. Everyone is equally resistant to them, with the exception of some specific feats that either give advantage or complete immunity. Once applied, that Dodo bird will shake off your illusion just as easily as the average Elder Dragon. And the illusions of that one guy who just happens to dabble in them a bit will stick just as good as the ones from the master illusionist duo Penn and Teller.

I would go with some kind of rule where depending on how much higher your bane roll was compared to it’s defense, you get a sort of critical success too, just like with normal attacks.

When the roll is 10 higher. Maybe 1 Disadvantage on the resist roll, or the first resist is an automatic failure.
Perhaps even scaling it for when you roll 20 higher. 2 disadvantage and 2 automatic failures. Considering normal creatures, this would at least be half their HP in normal damage, and they get a bane on top of that, I don’t think this seems unreasonably overpowered. (but this should only work when invoking banes normally, not the banes granted from a critical success).

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@Arisu Your 2 points are great, and clarify some of what I was trying to say. Not sure what the right mechanic is, and don’t want to bog down in crazy math or stat/duration tracking, but it seems like it’s too simplistic/random as-is.

This isn’t actually true. While it is true that everyone has the same chance of resisting after getting the bane, not everyone is equal at getting the bane. Different defenses play a roll. So yes, the dodo might be just a likely to get the bane shaken off than the elder dragon, however, it will be harder to get it to stick the dragon in the first place.

And then there is the defend action (which is pretty much a saving throw @Daranar ) to increase your defense vs a bane if it happens to exceed your normal defense.

Rolled a 50 on your knockdown, it’s still as knocked down as it would have been if you rolled a 20

This is true, and it is left that way in the Core Rules to allow GMs to decide to do things like what you have suggested. I do this for both banes and boons when exceptional success happens. I decide on that based on the campaign setting and the situation where it happens. For some settings, the exceptional success of banes and/or boons might not fit thematically.

And there isn’t any one cookie-cutter way to do exceptional success for banes or boons b/c of the variety of ways they can be used. What makes sense for Heal on an exceptional success probably doesn’t make sense for Darkness.

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@Great_Moustache The Defense Action is a good option, and one that isn’t immediately obvious (or wasn’t to me) to use against a bane attack. I still just don’t love that after that it’s up to little more than a coin flip how long the bane lasts, or how hard it is to resist, which I think is more what @Arisu meant.

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Overall, I think there’s some valid concerns here; however there were also valid reasons for making the system the way it is. Unfortunately there’s no easy way to satisfy both demands, but I’ll be keeping an eye on this thread in case anything pops up (because I’d like to try a solution in my own games).

I am aware, hence why my posted started with:

This isn’t actually true. While it is true that everyone has the same chance of resisting after getting the bane, not everyone is equal at getting the bane.

Trial and error is something to do for sure. I personally haven’t experienced people feeling bad about the resist roll mechanic, but doesn’t mean people won’t.

I would say, if you are going to try and do a house rule for the resist roll, to keep it as the d20, but change the CR (as I mentioned I myself did when an epic [goddess] individual “powered-up” a player temporarily.

I would just do something like 8 + PL (so 9~17 CR range). Also get feedback from others about it, not sure if you mentioned other people commenting on this, or if it was only your perception.

And of course, remember it is a 2-way street. If it works against NPCs, it works against you as the player.


Well yes, poor wording on my part. The initial attack is indeed harder to hit. The issue is in many cases however, that the resist is rolled before any of the effects take place. Sometimes even as minor action. So with these, you have at most a 50% chance of something happening, since even if for some reason you have a 100% chance to have it hit, there’s at least a 50% chance for it to be resisted before it has an effect. There are a few that take effect at least once before the resist takes place. And some may require to spend a move action, which depending on circumstances can indeed be quite an investment.

While I apreciate you and some of the GMs already doing this, there’s not even a hint about this in the core rules. Many of the newer players and GMs may not even realize that this may be even an issue, and will play without such house rules assuming things are balanced as they are. Seeing how many experienced GMs have house ruled something for this, I think it’s fair to suggest at least some kind of mention for critical bane successes.

As for the many things that may or may not apply to the banes and boons, I would suggest having a small list of which the player can choose. After all, with a critical attack, they get to chose what bane to apply (within the parameters of the attack), so why not have them chose the critical effect of the boon/bane ?

Some suggestions I’ve come up with/stole from others:
Double the effect.
Disadvantage on resist rolls.
Automatic fail on the first resist roll.
Chaining to other characters.
Free sustain.

Wouldn’t be possible to have a small list because of the huge variety of banes and boons, so I repeat what I said above:

For some settings, the exceptional success of banes and/or boons might not fit thematically.

And there isn’t any one cookie-cutter way to do exceptional success for banes or boons b/c of the variety of ways they can be used. What makes sense for Heal on an exceptional success probably doesn’t make sense for Darkness.

And that is exactly why it isn’t addressed in the core rules directly. Core rules are meant to be light, and in many parts of it, there are mentions to the GM having the power to change things, that is the whole point of it being Open. None of that is spelled b/c for balance, the way it is right now is balanced. Adding a bunch of things for exceptional success could easily out balance things.

I think people keep forgetting how much banes impact the flow of combat even when they are resisted on the first turn. I’ve seen just 1 bane completely change an encounter, either b/c it wasn’t resisted, or b/c the person couldn’t do something they were planning b/c they had to take care of it.

Also, I believe there are only 2 banes that can be resisted as a Minor action (at least off the top of my head), which are Provoked and Demoralized.

Others that can be resisted with a free action or minor action are only after the bane takes affect or goes through until the end of the player’s turn.

If we ended up including every little thing in the core rules, it would make it a lot longer, and lot bigger, and a lot more complex. Things that aren’t critical are left out on purpose in many cases. And yes, a GM, the first time through, or first couple of times through might not do some of the things others are doing. Heck, they might never do them. That doesn’t make the game they are playing bad, ro mean the players aren’t having fun.

We jokingly (and somewhat seriously) talked at one point of having a watermark on every single page that said, “The GM as the final say”, or something along those lines. The power is in the GMs hands on what happens. That’s how it has been since day 1 in Dungeons and Dragons, but a bunch of people started to get crazy about rules instead of what the focus was suppose to be on: fun.

A few things from the core rules:

The only limit is your imagination (and maybe the GM’s veto power).


Open Legend is a game designed for players who want enough rules to make a game fair, but not so many that the rules interfere with the fun or imagination. Open Legend provides a way to make sure that the game is balanced while adjusting the story of character abilities on the fly. The rules should be robust, but their only value is in telling a story.


Open Legend was designed to provide enough rules so that players have a clear framework to guide their play, but not so many rules that the game gets bogged down by them.


A good GM doesn’t let the rules slow the game down. Even though the rules are important, they are never more important than the fun being had at the table.

I unfortunately have poor luck with that all powerful D20… Most of my high rolls often come from attribute explosions, I have even rolled a 50 with a 1 on the d20. I have lost characters due to not being able to stabilize in time with the d20 rolls, and even had several banes stick to me due to 3 failures. I am in line with those who feel attributes should play a part in resisting banes, though I am unsure of the best way to empliment this as the way the banes are currently just makes it easier to do the d20 roll.

If I were to do something like this with attributes, I would probably use a system like this:
PL1-3: DC = 15
PL 4-6: DC = 20
PL 7-9: DC = 25

this gives people who specialize in certain banes the powerful feeling of knowing their bane will be harder to resist, but not impossible. Alternatively, if you feel these values are too high, you could just reduce each stage by 5, 10-15-20. On top of this, it gives attributes like fortitude and will a bit more time in the spotlight other than just defensive HP stats.


@John_L I like it, a little more generous than my formula :slight_smile: I’ve been mulling this over and trying to take all points into consideration, but definitely feel like I’ll be playing with the mechanic in my future games to make banes tie in better with strengths and weakness of both attacker and victim… I see the point about banes getting too hard to resist at some point, but then, if someone throws a PL9 Death Bane at you, maybe you should have a really good chance of dying…

even with a 25, there’s still a decent chance of dying because most people don’t put a lot into fortitude, which is what it theoretically would take to resist instant death.

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No doubt - wasn’t criticizing your scale, more just saying it shouldn’t be a 55% chance you resist at that point :slight_smile: On my scale it would only be 3 more at 28, so you’d need an explosion to survive, which doesn’t sound too crazy to me. And if you’re using fortitude, and your fortitude is weak, then :skull: :stuck_out_tongue:

Plus, they get three tries!

out of curiosity, what would your scale be overall?

@John_L I still think I might try what I said in the original post - 10 + (2 x PL of the bane) similar to how heals work. If banes become too powerful I can back off it or have them “succeed with a twist”