On introducing OL design philosophies to a six year old

For some time now, I have wanted to simplify the Open Legend rule set. For serious players I would of prefer the original OL rules, but I would also like to have an alternative for younger players, or for a known one shot group which will never meet again.

My cousins for example, have a short attention span, no experience with video games, little to no experience with ‘traditional’ games, and absolutely no experience with role playing much less tabletop RPGs. I feel that while such players can learn OL, they would likely loose interest long before they realized what they were missing. My sister is another example, she works with younger kids, and would benefit from having a rule set simple enough for a six year’s attention span.

In spite of this desire for simplicity, I couldn’t find a way to simplify OL without drastically altering the balance. Also in my view, my clumsy attempts only succeeded in shattering the elegance of design Open Legend has achieved. So for a time, I shelved the idea.

Then, while I was searching for monster manuals and loot tables on Drivethru RPG, I ran across a ruleset called, Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying.

If I had read this rule before I found Open Legend two years ago, I would have interpreted it differently. So many game systems are focused on their rules, that the narrative is almost secondary. Open Legend’s emphasis on openness, and narrative has given me a new understanding of how games can be run.

As I read through USR’s system I found a set of conflict resolution rules that I felt matched the ideas behind the design of the Open Legend system. That the same way any narrative can be hung onto the structure of Open Legend, they could also be hung onto the structure of USR. And that the use of specializations would give players an advantage in understanding banes, boons, and feats when they ‘graduated’ to the Open Legend system.

Over the past month or so, I attempted to rewrite USR a bit, adding in more of the Open Legend design features, and philosophies. I also took the opportunity to write out a sort of introduction to the campaign setting I have written.

I am hoping that this merged rule set can function as an introduction game to Open Legend. As a player learns this system, they will also learn the game philosophies OL teaches. Then once they realize the limitations of this system, and want a more robust one. They will only have to learn a number of simple mechanics; And because they are already familiar with the underlying ideas the transition will be easier.

Mostly I wrote this for me to reference; as I introduce my game, and guide players through character design. There may be a few players who actually read it, but I don’t expect it to happen often. The ones I expect to actually read thoroughly it are concerned parents, wondering what in the world their kids are getting involved in.

Due to these expectations, I haven’t tried to simplify the language used to describe things, rather I plan on being available to explain things when needed. I am also less concerned with the implication of the conflict resolution rules, the USR system is simple enough that think I can modify it as I find need; or if I fail, that is on me.

This brings us to the reason for this post. Would you mind reading or skimming through the first six pages of this document? Have I succeeded in preserving and communicating the core OL philosophies? Did I miss something crucial?

The page size is increased to save on cost of printing, so fair warning 6 pages has about 12 pages worth of content… After two years of design, and upwards of five years of writing… it is difficult to condense.


Thank you in advance, and I hope you enjoy the read. The game is set in an odd (non)reality which I hope is at least a little bit unique. Who else has tried to merge epic fantasy, cyberpunk, and space opera all in one story and setting?

A ‘mage’ can try and ‘detect life essences,’ a scientist can use a tricorder to ‘scan for lifeforms,’ and a hacker can infiltrate the enemy’s wireless network and hack their security cameras… all in the same party at the same time.