Hey guys. I’m trying to run a very primitive campaign. No magic whatsoever, tech is almost nonexistent, and even metals are rare. Most weapons / tools are made of wood / stone / bone / hide and other natural resources.
My question is, how should I portray the Extraordinary Attributes in this setting? Or should I simply remove those attributes all together?
Please, I’m having a blast designing this campaign setting and any help would be greatly appreciated.
In general, Open Legend is most fun in a world where the extraordinary is possible, whether through technology, magic, divine power, or similar.
About 10 years ago, I got really excited about running a “Land that time forgot” type campaign that involved the characters as primitive hunters, some of them shamans, and a very gritty and grim feeling of struggling to survive amidst dinosaurs and a volcanic wasteland.
The concept for the campaign was amazing and I loved it, but I discovered when I started running the campaign that it didn’t go as well as I had hoped because it was difficult to keep the players interested since there were no obvious ways to reward them or have them advance and become more powerful. What are your plans for new abilities, items of power, or interesting progression as they move from low level to high level with their characters? You’ll need to make sure you have a plan in place for that in order to keep the game fun.
That being said, Open Legend does offer more diversity for non-magical characters than most other systems, but I have a feeling that no matter what system you play, this will probably be best suited to a fairly short story arc so that they don’t get frustrated by lack of character building options.
So, I suppose the more helpful thing for me to do here is point out that you’re removing, maybe 70% of what makes up the interesting “high points” of an RPG. So, if you’re removing alot of content, what compelling and interesting content are you planning to add in it’s place?
Honestly, I apparently didn’t think that far ahead. My plan was to have hunting and basic survival be a lot of the gameplay, mixed with warring with other tribes and civilization building. I was going to make stronger and better weapons/loot an incentive, as well as attribute points and developing a knowledge of the land / animals / people depending on what each character wanted to focus on. My idea for making weapons stronger was simply finding (or crafting) weapons that were of a much higher quality craftsmanship wise, thus could do a bit more damage or perhaps have different properties than a lesser weapon.
But now that you’ve provided your input, I’m questioning all of that.
Perhaps I could add in a slight psionic system, something natural and from within each individual. Perhaps no world-changing abilities until very late game, but maybe using will to add damage dice to weapons, or other attributes to do things like psionically track animals /enemies or the like.
Dang, I’ve got a load of thinking to do.
Anyway, here was my title and subline, or whatever they are called:
“From Dust: An Open Legend RPG Campaign Setting”
Looks like the title was the only thing I had going for me, haha!
So, another thing to realize about the Extraordinary system in OL, it is not CRAZY OVERPOWERED compared to regular melee. It actually works pretty much the same, b/c it is based on your attack roll, not damage dice.
That’s something I sort of realized after doing some more reading after seeing Brian’s response. I haven’t played a game of OL yet, so I’m at a slight disadvantage for knowing the system. I’ve watched every YT video I could of gameplay and such, and got a basic idea from doing that.
I think I’ve got it sorted now, there will be innate magics that can fit the bill of everything in the core rules, I think. Both arcane and divine (there are only 3 gods in the pantheon) to account for whatever flavor the characters want to do. I do think I’ll restrict all magic as to coming from within, even magic granted by the gods, etc. No somatic requirements or components or anything like that, unless the character chooses to make them necessary for themselves.
This solves my question of what to do with the Extraordinary attributes. I’ll keep them and use them, but try to minimalize their impact wherever possible.
To be clear, not requiring components (be they verbal, somatic, material, or something else) is the default behavior. One of the neat things about Open Legend is the way it enables players to flavor their character how they want. This means that someone could, as you suggest, decide that they want to need components. However, it isn’t a requirement that the GM needs to waive, because it isn’t a requirement. In fact, there’s a feat (Extraordinary Focus) that could be used to add it as a requirement.
Side note: I like the idea of a primitive campaign. Before I discovered Open Legend, I was looking at running a game using the Cavemaster system. I still think that system is cool (or at least novel), but the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t think that it was a campaign that I personally could keep interesting for a long time. I’m sure someone could, but I’m not that person.
if you want to make it more “primitive” use of Extraordinary abilities, this might help: Spirits and primordial magic.
Alteration: Mutations, and asking your players to pick a set number of boons/banes and sticking with those if possible.
Creation: its a primordial world. “finding” new things, or having a bit of a chance to just “create it with your mind” is possible. Using spirits to “create” things helps.
Energy: elemental spirits, doing damage or being summoned by chanting and dancing.
Entropy: the world is young and unstable. again, harnessing the spirit world and making pacts with spirits to accomplish a lot of these would be awesome.
Influence: using certain spirits to “possess” or creating illusions.
Movement: Air spirits for flight/telekinesis, rifts in space-time because the world is new to accomodate for haste and slow.
Prescience: undoubtedly the easiest to do with spirit magic. Using bones, augury, and spirit talk to get what you need from this Attribute.
Protection: various elemental spirits (especially earth spirits), physical protection, spirit banishment, etc.
A lot of redundancy in this one, because again you’re trying to keep it “primitive”. Also, adding creatures that are obviously fae or possibly otherworldly would allow your players to “learn magic” and gain more normal ways of using Extraordinary abilities. Just because they start primitive, doesn’t mean that you can’t add a dash of mystical in here or there, and limit it.
Maybe take a page from the TV show “Heroes” and only allow 1-2extraordinary attribute per player, and let them build on those. Learning new abilities could come from pacts with the spirit world, capturing fae creatures for study, or pure happenstance.
The way I imagine it, keeping the Extraordinary attributes would serve you better. One thing about the Stone and Bronze Ages that should not be ignored is that they were ages of mystery, of the unknown, a time when mankind did not need to know the distance between stars to understand the voids in their collective knowledge. Some touch of the impossible and some gifts of power from sources the characters barely understand could work towards this theme.
But don’t go too far into giving them power. I recommend tying the power into a Perk or a cheap Feat that describes their attunement, pact or friendship to some sort of spirit, god or ideal. Like a shaman with “Spirit Favor - Storm Winds” being able to use Movement to inflict Forced Move or invoke Haste, but not to manipulate objects precisely or teleport, and using Alteration to shapeshift into a bird, but not a bear.
Other alternative that you could use with or instead of my first one is Limiting a characters to two Extraordinary attributes at most, or if you want magic to be really rare, make Extraordinary attributes only accessible through Attribute Substitution. I prefer mixing my first suggestion with the two attributes one, so you could have something like a high-priest of a Sky-god calling winds to disperse his attackers and turning into a bird to escape.
On rewards for your players, not all spears are equal, even if they are all made of bone or stone. Speaking of bone, how about incorporating certain power to things made with the body of powerful beings, or to weapons wielded or crafted by heroes of tales? Maybe even add a chicken or egg question of whatever the object is legendary because of its power, or if it gained power from its legend being told and retold across generations?