Almost a year has passed since this discussion, and I have actually worked on a deep modification to the rules. At this point I feel that I have some interesting ideas, which I would like to run by the community to see if I can get some feedback.
In the following I use the term “exhaustion” instead of “damage” and “damage” instead of “lethal damage”.
1) Defensive Rolls
I remember some discussions about huge NPC hits against PCs, knocking them down immediately due to d20 explosions or whatnot. This can be changed, if the NPCs have fixed attack and defense values, and only the PCs roll for attack and for defense. This way there is a maximum amount of damage the NPCs can inflict in a single attack. This skews the combat statistics in favour of the players, but since my players love to roll dice, I think it might add fun to the game.
So, characters have no defense stats any more, and attacks go against attributes (e.g. fortitude, will etc. as determined by the attack) instead. PCs always roll, NPCs use a fixed value determined by their attribute level and advantage, or otherwise determined by the GM. I came up with the following values by calculating a 50% hit chance for an attack against an equal defense attribute level:
adv.: | -5.00 | -4.00 | -3.00 | -2.00 | -1.00 | 0.00 | 1.00 | 2.00 | 3.00 | 4.00 | 5.00 -------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+------- AL 0 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 12.00 | 13.00 | 14.00 | 15.00 | 16.00 AL 1 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 11.00 | 13.00 | 15.00 | 16.00 | 17.00 | 18.00 | 19.00 AL 2 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 11.00 | 12.00 | 14.00 | 16.00 | 17.00 | 18.00 | 19.00 | 20.00 AL 3 | 10.00 | 10.00 | 11.00 | 12.00 | 13.00 | 15.00 | 17.00 | 18.00 | 19.00 | 20.00 | 21.00 AL 4 | 10.00 | 11.00 | 12.00 | 13.00 | 14.00 | 16.00 | 18.00 | 19.00 | 20.00 | 21.00 | 22.00 AL 5 | 12.00 | 13.00 | 14.00 | 15.00 | 16.00 | 18.00 | 20.00 | 21.00 | 22.00 | 23.00 | 24.00 AL 6 | 14.00 | 15.00 | 16.00 | 17.00 | 18.00 | 20.00 | 22.00 | 23.00 | 24.00 | 25.00 | 26.00 AL 7 | 16.00 | 17.00 | 18.00 | 19.00 | 20.00 | 22.00 | 24.00 | 25.00 | 26.00 | 27.00 | 28.00 AL 8 | 17.00 | 18.00 | 19.00 | 20.00 | 22.00 | 25.00 | 28.00 | 30.00 | 31.00 | 32.00 | 33.00 AL 9 | 20.00 | 21.00 | 22.00 | 23.00 | 25.00 | 28.00 | 31.00 | 33.00 | 34.00 | 35.00 | 36.00 AL10 | 23.00 | 24.00 | 25.00 | 26.00 | 28.00 | 31.00 | 34.00 | 36.00 | 37.00 | 38.00 | 39.00
2) Defense Action
A character can describe how they react to an attack and choose a different, appropriate attribute for their defense roll as a defense action, which is a minor action. Since it is a minor action, just like the attack of opportunity, you can defend yourself (or someone else) only once per turn.
The demotion from major to minor action means, that the battlefield retribution feat should not simply apply to defense actions. Instead I plan to change it into a “Duelist” feat, where instead of performing a defense action, the character can spend the next turns major action and enter a duel with the attacker, which would work just like the battlefield retribution defense action from vanilla.
3) Defining Gaits
The knockdown bane mentions the effects of being prone. However, it is not mentioned in the core rules. I thought it might be beneficial to defined different ways of moving. To this end it is helpful to introduce the concept of movement points (MP). If a character takes a move action, they get an amount of MP equal to their speed (normally 6, or even dependent on agility and might attributes). They can spend these points in order to move across the battlefield or switch gaits.
Running - 5’ costs 1 MP
Sneak - 5’ costs 2 MP, advantage to challenge rolls against being discovered
Crawl - 5’ costs 3 MP, advantage against ranged attacks, disadvantage against melee attacks
A character can switch from one gait into another as part of their movement by spending MP equal to a 5’ move in their current gait. Example: If you are running, you can move 25’ and then throw yourself to the floor so that you are crawling now. Then you can stand up again, and move another 15’. As long as you have one MP left, you can do any movement, even if you can’t fully pay.
4) Effects and Actions
Finally, the biggest point. Attacks, Boons and Banes become Actions and Effects. So, a character chooses an Action to perform against one or more targets (possibly including themselves). Every target chooses whether to let it happen, in which case their defense value automatically becomes 10. Then the character and any non-willing target roll the appropriate attribute (or in case of NPCs the value is looked up), and the difference between offense value and defense value is the number of action points (AP) available for the target.
An Action is basically a recipe, which says which Effects are applied for a certain number of AP. Effects have a name, an infliction- and power cost (both in AP), associated attributes and a description of what they do. An Action lists Effects and possibly power enhancements, and when resolving an action, they need to be paid for in order, until you run out of AP. The last effect or power enhancement, for which you have at least one AP left is still applied even if you cannot pay it fully. An effect starts at power level (PL) 0, and for every power enhancement, its PL is raised by 1. What an effect finally does depends on its PL.
As an example, we could define the effect “exhaust” with infliction cost 3, power cost 1, and description “Target receives 3 + PL exhaustion” in order to recover the standard attack from OpenLegend (minus bonus bane for critical hit). The Action “punch” would consist of “exhaust” followed by an ever repeating power enhancement of “exhaust”.
The idea is to provide several standard actions, that every character can perform, just like boons and banes with non-extraordinary attributes right now. But beyond that, players would be able to describe inventive actions and string together Effects into an Action on the fly, just as the situation demands. Then, they could prepare special martial moves or custom spells at home and bring them to the table. Feats like Boon Focus would be replaced by feats supporting specific actions, which might be player’s own creations.
Effects can be instantaneous, sustained, or independent. A sustained Effect needs a sustain action in order to persist, just like boons. Independent effects last until they are broken (by the target or another effect), or until they naturally expire (after about 10 minutes, if not specified on the effect).
5) Breaking Effects
If an enemy inflicted some nasty Effects on you, you might want to get rid of them. You can do this by breaking them, which costs a move action. You choose the Effects you want to break and describe how you want to alleviate their effects. The GM chooses an appropriate attribute, and you roll with disadvantage equal to the number of Effects, unless it is only one. All chosen Effects with PL at most your roll minus 10 stop.
A character’s damage is always a number between 0 and the character’s hp, inclusive. A character’s exhaustion is between its damage and hp, inclusive. If the exhaustion equals hp, the character is unconscious, and cannot perform any actions during their turn. However, instead of simply passing over to the next player, they perform a fortitude roll. If the roll is lower than their damage, they receive one death marker. If it was the third, they die. If the roll is higher than their hp, their exhaustion (and if necessary their damage) is reduced by one and they regain consciousness.
Each creature has a major sense (standard: sight) and up to three minor senses (standard: hearing, smelling, feeling) with which to perceive their surroundings. Every perception roll is based on one of the target’s senses. If it is a minor sense, it suffers disadvantage 3. Likewise, any target of an Action besides the creature itself needs to be perceived with one of the senses. If at least one target is perceived only by a minor sense, the action roll suffers disadvantage 3.
8) Hidden Attacks
If all targets of an Action cannot perceive the Action by a major sense, you can perform a hidden attack. For this, perform a deception roll. Every target then needs to at least match your roll with a perception roll of their own (probably suffering 3 disadvantage). Every target, which fails, doesn’t see the attack coming and has an automatic defense value of 10. The rest defend normally. The action roll for your hidden attack suffers disadvantage 2.
Anti-Feats are simply feats with a negative cost (and negative effect). For example, wealthy increases your wealth by one and costs 3 points. There could be the feat “poor”, which decreases your wealth by 1, but gives you 2 feat points to spend on other feats. Taking both feat and its anti-feat (if exists) will be a net cost, however. So you get less out than you put in.
If you stayed with me until now, thank you very much for your patience. I would love to hear if you like some of the ideas, or dislike others. I have started to collect all the Effects from Boons and Banes in a Google Spreadsheet, which I will post as soon as it is in a representable status. After that, I will work on a list of feats, moving along the OpenLegend feat list.