Revised: Powerful combo using darkness bane at level 1

Edit: title was originally “Problem with the wording of the Darkness Bane” but as Great_Moustache pointed out, this was not a mistake or problem with the wording. Title changed to better represent my argument which was a very powerful ability with the darkness boon I noticed that may need to be kept in check by a GM.

I was looking into making an illusionist character with high influence and noticed the darkness boon.

Choose a space or object within range. Darkness emanates from the target to a radius equal to five feet per power level of the boon. The effect cancels the effect of all natural light within its radius of effect and creatures that depend on light for vision suffer as though they have the blinded bane while in the area of effect.

It does not specify any requirements for the object unlike the spell from 5e with the same name. Therefore, one could invoke darkness on an enemy’s clothing or armour and effectively cause a blindness bane that can not be resisted and could take multiple turns to remove. Assuming that the NPC or player was even able to figure out the cause of the blindness. This wouldn’t work on natural foes without equipment or clothing or enemies with blindsight but I still think this ‘boon’ is particularly nasty.

You could easily multi-target up to 5 enemies with influence 5. Sure you’d take huge disadvantage but you would only need to roll a 12 total to get the 5’ radius darkness. This would only require rolling average on the d20 as you’re guaranteed at least plus 2 from the 2 d6s. So an average roll would get you an effect equivalent to multi-targeting blindness which requires beating a defense stat (likely higher than 12) with disadvantage 5. With the added bonus that removing the blinders would likely require at least one turn or losing a valuable piece of equipment.

Now before writing this I misunderstood how the darkness covered the targeted area. With a 5’ radius at the lowest level, this would still imply that the darkness was spreading into the adjacent squares meaning attacking these foes in melee would resulted in you being equivalently blinded. However, you could mitigate this by attacking with ranged or area attacks. The ranged attacks would likely still take a penalty but you’d be more or less safe from counter attack.

If you want to abuse the rules as written be my guest, but I would suggest as GMs that you change the targeted object to be specifically those not being held or worn by unwilling subjects as a house rule.

Edit: typo there, I had “worn by willing” when I meant “worn by unwilling”

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This wouldn’t be a house rule at all, as that is the intended nature of nearly everything in Open Legend.

Does it make sense for the world/setting, the Character (their background, ways of doing abilities/magic/technology), and the narrative of the moment.

For some campaigns and settings it can make perfect sense that you can target a clothing and object, and for others that you can’t. Boons are for willing targets, and whereas objects are not necessarily willing or unwilling, that they are on a thinking person, their willingness can extend to the objects within their control.

The blindness would affect ranged attacks the same, as you can not see the target. You can make arguments that you know the center of the target, but you are still unable to see. Leaving you to using guess and sound or other senses to aim (same for the target inside the darkness). Area multi-targeting is where it would be more beneficial actually.

With Open Legend, pretty much any bane/boon/feat/perk/flaw can situationally be more powerful than others.

Hmm, I don’t think I made my argument clear. I was pointing out what could be a dangerously powerful combination easily achievable at level 1. A player could create a PC with the ability to invoke darkness as I described and follow it up with area attacks to effectively defeat any humanoid enemies they encounter.

This could limit the GMs available enemy types as many traditional enemies have equipment and not blindsight. Additionally, to maintain realism, I would expect a logic or perception check to see if the affected character even realises how to remove the darkness surrounding them in many settings. Finally, if used on someone with something they can’t easily remove (such as heavy armour) then it would effectively take them out of the fight with no way to remove such a powerful bane like blindness.

I realize that I may have come off arrogant in my original post but that was not my intent. If the GM is okay with the players having such a strong ability (or using it against the PCs) then that’s totally fine. However, I think that such a strong ability should probably be kept in check. If a GM thinks this ability is going to be a problem, I would suggest changing the wording for darkness to not be able to target objects held or worn by unwilling subjects.

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Indeed, but there are many such combos that can be achieved in OL at level 1. Invisible plus boon focus (tier 1 or 2), Strong defend build with equipment, etc etc.

It can certainly feel OP on paper, but in actual play it can vary greatly in effectiveness from the environment (tight space vs open space, obstacles, etc) , to the nature of the creature/NPC (ones that go by sound and/or smell just as easily) it is being targeted on, as well as if the GM would allow it in the first place as I mentioned above.

Always good to point these things out to be aware of for others of course.

Player creativity is always something to look forward to when I run games, so I like to see how they will use it. From the players that were an 2-headed giant and used blindsight + darkness boon on their own weapon (which sometimes the blindsight failed and they just swung weapons or charged anyways).


I think the default that a lot of people use is that items on the person are an extension of their “will” in terms of determining willingness for a boon invocation. And at that point, it would be a bane blindness attack that flavor wise can be an area of darkness for the person afflicted.

Just like you can’t teleport a weapon out of someone’s hand, but you can use disarmed flavored as teleporting. And just liek you can’t teleport someone over a cliff or up in the air, but you can force move them, and flavor as doing it via teleport, but restricted by the distances of forced move b/c it is more difficult to get past their “will”.

I didn’t consider how easily it was to make an OP build. I guess in reality you have to work with the GM for any build so my argument is a fairly mute point regardless. I was considering it a negative that this ability would limit the GMs choices, but I suppose that one could also consider it a way to make the GM more creative with their enemies.

I had not considered the possibility of using banes and boons with attributes outside of the written ones, but I guess there’s nothing stopping us if we can flavour it correctly. I could have easily said that the illusionist put an illusionary box around the head of his foes to cause blindness.

While an oversight on my part, this is exactly why I love OL. The mechanics have been provided to us to create any character we desire and have it be functional. I can see why you are the supreme overlord. Thank you for the discussion

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I think this is where the whole scenario falls flat for me, pretty much at the get-go. The boon does not specify these details because those are meant to be worked out by the GM in conjunction with the players. There are too many settings and possibilities for the system to detail out all of them, so this is where the emphasis on good storytelling comes in: Is armour an object? Yes. Is armour worn by an opponent part of said opponent? I think most people would also answer this with a yes. Can you target and invoke boons onto opponents? No, unless the GM makes an exception. This is where this discussion would end pretty much for me.

Now, if the players want to do something awesome and creative, for example, preparing objects with darkness, then pin and hide these objects on their foes to disorient them, surprise ambush them, then that would be perfectly fine by me, and I would guess with most GMs. The other scenario just sounds like using semantics to cheese and game the system.

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The boon does not specify these details because those are meant to be worked out by the GM in conjunction with the players.

This is exactly what Great_Moustache explained and why I changed the title and added the first line edit. I forgot this was one of the main features of OL and as such didn’t account for it when thinking up this combo.

Can you target and invoke boons onto opponents? No

I actually couldn’t find mention of this fact. The book only seems to say that boons are meant to help your allies with lines like…

Boons are the opposite: helpful effects that assist your allies by allowing them to fly, shrug off damage, or move with extraordinary speed.

From chapter 3 or…

You can invoke boons in order to aid yourself or allies.

From chapter 7.

Correct me if I’m wrong but it doesn’t say you can’t invoke boons on enemies, just that it isn’t suggested. If I am right, it should stay that way since (as already discussed) that allows for more situations and more settings.

The other scenario just sounds like using semantics to cheese and game the system.

This was my original argument, although I don’t think I made it very well. I thought this ability could be very powerful and GMs should be aware of it to nip it in the bud before it becomes a problem (if it were to become a problem).

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an enemy is not yourself or an ally, thus you are unable to do a boon on an enemy as they are neither.

An enemy could choose to allow the boon in theory, but boons are meant, as mentioned, to be helpful. Darkness that blinds you is not helpful in the sense of how you mentioned its use.

Just as Banes are meant to be harmful. Thus people have mentioned using Silenced on allies to make them sneak better. This is an inccorect use (especially since targetting a defense rather than meeting a PL). You would instead do a Generic Alteration (or other) action roll of a similar PL to the bane silence (or see the modified Concealment boon in the forums here).

Boons = helpful
Banes = harmful/attacking

Using the Bane Silence, and just choose to not resist or defend against it would be getting around things in the system.

EDIT: The exact thing you quoted is saying you can’t use it on an enemy yourself or allies

I don’t think that’s true at all. You took my quote out of context. The exact quote was

Which implies that boons are meant to aid yourself or allies not that it can’t be used on enemies. Certainly in this darkness example, a blindness bane would be a much more apt than using the darkness boon on them as I initially suggested but who’s to say I can’t cast boons on enemies.

You say it yourself,

I can think of many examples of boons that I might want to cast on an enemy. Healing someone I intend to capture instead of kill, buffing a hostile creature while it is fighting another, any number of boons on a dominated friend, etc…

I think you are aware of this based on your second paragraph but you’re wording made it sound as if this would never happen. Moreover, I don’t think the book explicitly says anywhere that you can’t invoke boons on enemies and I don’t think it should.

I don’t understand what you are arguing at this point. You quoted all the relevant passages and still arrive at an extraordinary conclusion. So, let me highlight the part that I think should hold all the answers you need:

  • “Banes are negative conditions that you inflict upon your foes, such as by stunning them, demoralizing them, or setting them on fire. Boons are the opposite: helpful effects that assist your allies by allowing them to fly, shrug off damage, or move with extraordinary speed.”

This looks pretty clearcut to me, and I don’t see all that much wiggle room here. Anything that falls outside of the purview of this simple rule should be handled at the table between the GM and the players, as it might fundamentally change how the game works, just as you illustrated with the Darkness example. Invoking a PL1 boon is easy compared to beating an enemy’s defence, and that’s why it’s not intended to work that way under the rules.

Are there possible exceptions, like healing the enemy of my enemy, and they might end up becoming my friend: Sure. But the crucial operative word here is exception.

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This just says that banes are debuffs and boons are buffs. This doesn’t sound like a rule at all but rather an explanation of what banes and boons are. I don’t see why I can’t buff my enemies or debuff my allies if that’s exactly what I’m intending to do (although banes on allies is another can of worms I don’t want to open even if the argument is similar).

Great_Moustache already explained the better way to deal with the situation I had with darkness or other boon casting for ill effects.

And I agreed with him that was a much better solution than what I was suggesting. Using a bane to do the intended effect (even if not done with a written attribute) makes much more sense and is more balanced.

This is my argument, of the last post at least. In Great_Moustache’s last post he seemed dismissive of using boons on enemies at all but I think these situations can come up a lot. All the lines I’ve read in the book explain what banes and boons are, and how to use them, but I don’t remember reading any that explitcly say you can’t cast boons on enemies. I also don’t think there should be a rule stating that, as that would suggest there shouldn’t be these exceptions.

With regard to whether or not one can use boons on enemies or banes on allies: it’s a matter of subtext. It’s implied that Boons are for yourself and your allies, Banes are for enemies. At no point does the implication stretch beyond this.

As a GM, that’s how I’d hard read it and I agree with what VanGo and Great_Moustache have elaborated on here.

I haven’t read the full thread here, so apologies if any of this is repeat. I did scroll through this and see a number of well-respected community members including @VanGo and @Great_Moustache who were part of the core team that helped meticulously forge the rules that are now published and final.

This game started as an idea in my head about 10 years ago and maybe 8 years ago began playtesting. Core to the philosophy of the system is this:

Every Gamemaster must at some point in their career learn to deal with rules lawyers. No amount of clarification of rules will ever satiate the void that is the desire of people who want to “win” Tabletop RPGs in their never-ending quest to beat the system via loophole.

What I see described is classic “Rules Lawyering”. An inanimate object is neither a willing individual (the stated legal target of boons), nor is it an unwilling individual (the state legal target of banes). Open Legend is chock full (on purpose and without regret) of these kinds of grey areas that are left intentionally open-ended so that the GM gets to decide what works best for the story.

If a person came to me with this nasty little trick I would post a new sign on the table for a few months until they got the idea :

“Objects in the possession of intelligent targets are considered an extension of that target. Thus, objects on an ally can only be targeted by boons, while objects on an enemy can only be targeted by banes.”

Hopefully me emerging from the shadows to clarify this after years of not much involvement with my creation doesn’t feel heavy-handed or shame-laden, but please understand that every GM must ultimately go toe-to-toe with their first Rules Lawyer, and Open Legend rules are written in a way to constantly emphasize that the GM should be the final decider of what story is the most fun for everyone. A character with a powerful loophole is not typically something “fun” unless the GM wants to encourage the idea of players “defeating” the GM, rather than cooperative storytelling, which is the ethos of Open Legend.


This is precisely what I was attempting to say in my original post. Thank you for putting it in such an elegant way.

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