Scaling Banes and Boons

I recently had the idea, that while the efficiency of damaging attacks scale with the result of the roll, the same cannot be said about boons and banes. There is a kind of cap there, which often makes dice explosions irrelevant. You made a bane attack on someone and rolled an 80? Guess what: had you made a damage attack, he would be out by now, but you chose to knock him prone and now he is just lying there, grinning at you…

In order to have the possibility of very powerful boon invocations or bane attacks, it would be necessary to change the current system. My idea is to reduce the fully fleshed boons and banes to a list of possible effects: basic, atomic changes to stats, and more complex effects like shape changing or mind reading. Then, there would be only one type of attack. When this attack succeeds, you can spend damage points as damage or as effect invocations. If the target is an ally and willingly accepts you targeting them, the “defense score” is 10 instead of the usual value. Lasting effects could be modified in that they need concentration or in that they can be resisted, which would modify the cost. There would be no free banes for exceptional success.

Do you think such a system can be balanced? Do you see any fundamental flaws or aspects I have not addressed yet?

True, but it’s rather easy to reward players for big explosions as a GM. Make a bane potent, apply a boon at higher Power Level, etc. The reason this isn’t already in the Core Rules is because it was impossible to codify all possible options, because they often depend on the situation, character and setting.

The magnitude of the changes you propose are rather huge, so while I don’t think the idea is necessarily bad, I don’t think you might up playing Open Legend in the end.

It could be, but I don’t think you’ve considered how much work and balancing such a big change would be.

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I have an idea about how much work the changing process would be, since I went past the trouble of making small cards for feats, boons and banes in German, so that my parents can join in our game. I am aware that this change would affect basically all three of them plus the core rules. I wanted some input before I set out on the task of doing it.

I would like to think that “merely” the banes and boons would be handled differently. More finely grained. As it is, the options for effects are quite limited: you choose damage or one of the boons or banes. If you invest some feat points you get to combine two specified banes in a single attack. Sometimes it feels like none of the options fit quite right.

In our current game, there is a fisher who uses a net as combat utensil. I modeled it as expendable item granting access to the incapacitated bane. I could have chosen PL 5, but then a small disruption would have ended the bane. It feels more like cutting the net should be more difficult for a third person. Also, the character is not unconscious, they are just entangled in the net, thrashing to get out. So they should get the possibility to resist the bane and if they make it, directly take the remaining actions, but with the incapacitated bane, they get one try at the end of their turn and after that the turn is over.

The system I envision makes it possible to combine different effects, conditions, durations and other modifiers to build your own custom banes (you should in principle be able to recover the current ones), just like you can build your own weapons and extraordinary items.

Sounds like this would add a lot of complexity to the system, which OL tries to largely not have when possible.

That is already how the bane is suppose to be implemented. Unconcious is more of a “status” in this case.

Examples of possible causes of this bane include a martial artist’s paralyzing strike, an enchanter’s magical song of sleep, paralysis by poison, fainting from extreme heat, suffocation, and the gaze of a medusa.

You add the flavor, such as a fisherman’s net, that results in the effect. The person is so wrapped up in the netting they can’t move to avoid finishing blows. However, with your description, it sounds more like Immobile than it does Incapacitated.

This is only true if you the GM choose to make it true. In all the games I’ve played in, and GM’d in, large explosions on Boons and Banes do things. Like VanGo already mentioned, this isn’t as codified as damaging attacks b/c it relies greatly on the situation, narrative of the moment, and how the world works in addition to the character background and way they are doing the bane of boon.

However, from a balance perspective, the exceptional success should be higher for both of these things. It is far easier to do boons and banes than to hit with a damaging attack.

  1. Damaging attacks and Banes both target the Defense of the target, no a CR based on your skill with the attribute
    • Banes are more powerful in this regard, b/c all you have to do is meet the target’s defense and you auto inflict at the highest PL of the bane. Whereas with damage, it starts at 3 and then scales up based only on the roll.
  2. Boons are easier to invoke b/c it is based on the score you have in the attribute and you already have a higher than 50% chance to get the highest PL. Plus the various feats which allow auto success.
    • In addition, having effects for exceptional success for boons can easily take away from players who go the route of Boon Focus

For this reason, in my games, if you get 15+ on Bane attacks, and generally 20+ on Boon invocations (again, depends on the specific boon/bane and the situation of the game), then I allow exceptional results. For a Heal boon, it might jump and hit an additional target. For Banes, usually adding potent, or depending on how it was inflicted, possibly damage as well (though rarely), sometimes even jumping and having it hit more than 1 target, or causing demoralized on the targets that see it happen. Something different makes sense for each bane and boon, and even for each bane and boon something else might make sense for the given narrative of battle or scene.

Overall, doing a system like you are describing doesn’t sound like it would be balanced. It sounds like it would add a lot more power to a single action, as well as complexity that could easily slow the game down.

Also, I’m never a fan of these arguments. Guess what, you rolled a 5 instead? Guess what, you invoked incapacitated against that big boss and now your team still gets to do a finishing blow against them.

Yeah, you exploded, but you could have not, maybe if you had made a damaging attack. What if this or that? Anything could have happened.

Like already mentioned, it’s up to the GM to decide how epic that is, and the effects it could have in a game if it explodes super high. Allowing it to have greater effect, such as Potent bane, or even having the 1st resist be an auto fail, etc.

This way you are making a moment for the player rather than them having to sit there and figure out how to add up points to do a few more things that may or may not make a big difference compared to you as the GM creating a narrative right there that spotlights them.

The way you’ve described it, it wouldn’t be “merely” changing banes and boons, but rather combat as a whole. Maybe I’m misunderstanding how your idea is supposed to play out, but it seems to me that there would be quite a few interactions that would have to be considered.

I don’t understand what this example tries to illustrate or how it factors into the new system that you are proposing, but I agree with Mister Mustachio that this doesn’t sound too much like the Incapacitated, but rather like a Multi-Bane Attack combining Immobile and possibly Knockdown. If you wanted to make it harder to get out of it, you could also give the Fishnet the Potent propriety.

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Thanks for guiding my attention to the complexity of gameplay. In order to keep it flowing, a player would have to decide which action they want to take before the roll. Action in this context means a collection of effects and modifiers, which as a whole represent an attack choreography, a spell, etc.
These moves can be chosen from a list of standard moves like simple “attack” (only damage), “knockdown” (3 points for throwing target to the floor, rest damage), or they can be designed by the player before the game (I know that I would take pleasure in that sort of thing). For each action you can write a table with the effects, and the total amount of damage points needed to activate this effect. Then, after the roll you can quickly look up all the effects that go into effect and continue with the game.

Only as much complexity as the players want. If they just want to play, they could choose some actions from a precompiled list.

To be honest, I don’t like this part so much. I would like if more powerful effects were harder to produce.

I agree, but I don’t think that immobile is fitting either: if you are thrashing about, entangled in a net, it must be very difficult to attack somebody. With immobile that’s still possible. So neither immobile nor incapacitated really fit. That is why I thought about changing the boon and bane system.

So does that mean you could declare, for example, Knockdown, Immobile and Damage?

Something like that. However, if your roll only is enough for knockdown, target is knocked down and nothing else happens. If you roll, let’s say 20 more than the target’s defense, target will be knocked down (-3) and immobile (-6), and gets 11 damage. The numbers in this example are just arbitrary and need to be balanced correctly.

So that effectively eliminates the need for the Multi-Bane Specialist feat. Also, how does this interact with multiple sources of advantage? Lets use the example from before: What if a character has Attack Specialisation with that weapon, but the weapon also has these banes as their propriety? Do they get 3 advantage by default anytime they use that combination, even though Attack Specialisation only applies to damaging attacks and weapon propriety to bane attacks? Also how does this interact with Bane Focus? Do you get the advanatge from the bane attack or do you apply the bane when the Damage part is succesful?

I think the banes on weapons and multi-bane feat would not make much sense. Also, some feats would need to be changed. For example boon focus and bane focus would merge into a single feat where you choose an attack action (could even be straight up attack) and have a guaranteed minimum: you roll your dice every time, but you take 10 + attribute score ± advantage/disadvantage as result if it is higher. For attack specialization you would need to choose an attack action as well as a weapon.

Furthermore, any feat which mentions bane attacks, damage attacks or boon invocations would have to be reworded. One instance of a feat that might be removed is heightened invocation, and the mechanic could be moved to the design of an attack action (such that making an effect permanent requires many points, and you can increase the number of points with a longer preparation time).

Well, this is what I meant before; The way you described your idea, it sounded like you want to change the basic mechanics and fundamentals of Open Legend, which means that many aspects that revolve around those need to be reworked.

Obviously you can do that if you want to, but as I mentioned before it will take alot of work and that’s even before having any testing done, to figure out how to balance that system.

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