Our little homebrew rule to reel in explotions

In my gaming group, we’ve encountered a few instances where some amazing explosions killed the dramatic tension and made the story at hand worse. I’m not sure if this rule has a mathematical chance to go higher than the normal rules, but it does feel like it reels the explosions a little bit in. An exploding d20 just adds a whole lot to a roll. We wanted to combat that, because some of our players felt it was too swingy an effect.
We’ve decided to use a small house rules that reads as follows:

  • Whenever the d20 rolls a natural 20, then instead of exploding itself, you roll an additional attribute die, which can explode as normal.

What do you guys think of this? We are still going to use it, but I’d like to hear your opinions =)

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Does this prevent untrained action rolls from exploding the d20 itself?

No, we let an untrained check roll an additional d20.

Out of curiosity, could you describe one of the instances where an amazing explosion killed the dramatic tension?

If you allow an untrained check roll to do an additional d20, I’d say there would be no reason to not do it for the rest. I’ve seen an untrained explode to 50+ before.

If you really want to stick to this, then I’d suggest an untrained gets to roll a 1d4 instead.


The +1d4 is a good idea. I will suggest it before our next session.

The dramatic tension mentioned was when we played the introductory adventure A Star Once Fallen. The players faced the boss of the Ziggurat, and two of the players killed him before anyone else could react. The boss didn’t get to do anything, he just died. It was a bit of a let down, because I had build the tension up till that point, and it felt like a flat experience to just 2-shot the big bad boss.

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I can understand killing the boss fast might seem like a loss of dramatic tension. I would suggest, instead, using the Tenacity House rule. Taking away the awesome story and narrative that can come from a huge explosion takes away from what OL is about. Making a boss tougher, however, isn’t too difficult. With the current rules you can give a boss Die Hard, Divine Agent, Resistance/Immunity to damage types.

Here is the House Rule that Brain even made for people who were concerned about quick boss deaths like yourself. This isn’t core, but an easy addition:


Also, moved this to House Rules section of Rules Discussion

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Just a matter of personal preference, but this didn’t feel like it goes well with the spirit of Open Legend


I get how you feel. It’s not one of my rulings by the way. Right now it’s one of our less experienced players that are DM’ing, and he is houseruling and handwaving a lot of stuff, just to keep everything flowing. It works okay, but sometimes I get the feeling that we are just playing a homebrewed system, instead of OL.

I’d personally go with whatever my group decides on, despite what the rules say.


less experienced



are dangerous words to use in the same sentence! Haha. But as long as everyone is having fun, I guess it doesnt matter.


@Jayparion I love house rules and am all about them. This is a rare situation where I feel like the house rule is going to create more problems than it solves. It’s just doesn’t work to prevent d20s from exploding, a lot of the system mechanics assume this and you’re going to have problems with a variety of mechanics that just don’t quite work right anymore

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Brian, could you elaborate on the variety of mechanics that this would adversely affect?

Also, I’m curious how many folks use the lethal damage rule. That followup d20 has been utterly ferocious to our group, and we even had means of healing lethal damage outside of combat. It always rolls high, leaving low level characters unconscious and half-dead when brought back over 0 HP. We were angsting about how to mitigate the damage as well, since we all agree having some lethal damage presents an interesting shading to the story.

This is one of those areas where we just have to move forward with some people homebrewing things. I finally found a fix to the “Bosses can die too easy” problem via a new Boss Finale rule, but mechanically, keeping a rule simple that allows Lethal Damage to work, but prevents you from getting brutally TKO’d is kind of contrary to the point.

Just house rule that it does “lethal damage equal to the attacker’s attribute score” and be done with it. But that doesn’t really allow for a one-shot-kill, so you and the system are having a disagreement about what you want out of the relationship.

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