Sphere Attribute System

Here is quick sketch of how I am looking at changing the extraordinary attributes for use in my game. Decided to tighten the focus and theme to reflect a specific fantasy magic system, instead of the omni-setting mindset of the standard rules.

Also working on magical drawbacks to reflect that some powers may be physically taxing or chaotic.

I see the repeated suggestions to play the system without alterations before attempting homebrew fell on deaf ears :rofl:

If you’re really set on blind homebrew though, some advice:

  1. The limitations are potentially very dangerous for balance, and feat points are worth a lot more than you seem to think. A free feat point in exchange for taking a small amount of damage on 5% of your rolls with a single one of your attributes just isn’t equivalent. 3 bonus points at character creation is going to leave the character with these limitations essentially a whole level ahead of the character who didn’t take any.
  2. Burnout and Exhausting seem kind of unfun. Burnout makes the drawback on your super cool ability… the inability to use that super cool ability, which is a boring kind of penalty because it makes interesting stuff less common. Triggering Exhausting is similar, in that if they accrue too much Fatigue from it they will both not be willing to risk using that attribute and also be paying the penalty beyond that.
  3. A complete reshuffling of the Extraordinary attributes is actually a fine homebrew. It’s an enormous amount of effort (which I suspect you’re now realising having gotten about 5% of the way through a single attribute) but besides being a monumental task given all the work defining description, banes, boons and feats I weirdly have no problems giving this the go ahead. Just try not to overload any one attribute with too much power and you should be fine. Good luck, and do update us on the project as you make progress (maybe you can get some vanilla games of OL done while you’re toiling away :wink:)

I realize the issue with the limitations and I think they are a bit too powerful as yet. However, I think that I want to place some kind of limitation on characters just throwing around powers at the drop of a hat. I don’t want to do anything drastic and arbitrary like spells per day or even spell points, but I also want some consequence that makes characters think twice before solving all problems with their magic.

Yeah…I realize that retooling attributes is going to be a lot of work. Still, it is the biggest hurdle that my players are having with the system.

This is more a general rant not necessarily spesifikke to you document.

Will there be restrictions on using swords for fighting to limit overuse of the best weapon group and does rangers rack up something for staying back and shooting?

Does learning skill give headache and persuade the need to be alone for some time?

These are some of my questions if magic gets heavy restrictions. Because then it’s simply just bettre to not use them if I’m just getting punished for coolness factor.

The utility of magic far outstrips that of similar attributes . This is easily identifiable by the amount of boon/bane access that a given extraordinary attribute has in comparison to a mundane attribute.

Also: depending on the fluff you are using, there are often downsides/consequences to using magic. In my world, this also happens to be the case. So it there are flavor/mechanical reasons for such a system.

Finally, this is just an option based on specific GM preferences. If you don’t like it, feel free not to use it. I am just trying to give more options and test things out to see what can be done using such a flexible system.

The whole system is obviously a work in progress

The mage and druid and mentallist in my group could only dream of using their magical skills to solve all of the challenges thrown at them :slight_smile: Perhaps is just the campaign I am running, but we are five months in and getting past guards, negotiating with innkeepers, figuring out how to fly (and stop) an airship, uncovering hidden knowledge, solving puzzles and unlocking secret doors have all had better solutions found in the more mundane abilities.

However, your campaign is different to mine, and I look forward to seeing how your reworking works out. Good luck!

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Who decides on these limitations? The GM? The players? Because it doesn’t seem like much fun for players to have such restricitions imposed onto their characters and if it is an optional choice for the players, than it seems rather easy to game the system, if the players are familiar with Open Legend.

Just a quick correction: There are no resolve rolls, so I guess you meant Will.

In combat you get defencive bonuses from a lot of the normal skills, you can use leaning and perception as a minor. Learning and logic can heal, melee combat got best potensial damage.

Granted some of the high level boons seem strong but most of the banes you can do with agility and might.

Maybe it’s just me who are used to librarians being the power player class of choose. It does come a lot down to setting.

I do have limited experience plain the system and you might have more insight then me, but if I were to point out the best stat by far I would say agility

Shapeshifting alone can give you the might score and agility score of your choice as long as it is less than the than alteration score. Also, according to the rules of shapeshifting, you retain the use of your alteration attribute no matter what form you take so you are able to continue using all your alteration abilities while gaining all of the abilities of the new form. This is besides the fact that you can polymorph your enemies, turn yourself invisible and everything else you can do with that attribute. You gain access to whatever new banes and boons accessible to your new form and possible increase your health to boot.

Also, with multi-targeting rules you can give your entire team the attributes of your choice for specific missions, and while they lose their other abilities, the sheer versatility of options outshines any mundane attribute by a wide margin, and alteration was just the attribute that jumped off the page first.

Yes, Agility is really useful, and has the problem encountered with many systems where combining offensive and defensive abilities into one attribute often unbalances other attributes in comparison.

I am not trying to balance the whole system because that is kind of against what Open Legend is all about. Open Legend does many things well and I don’t want to shove it in the same box as another system to take away from its really interesting ideas. What I am attempting to do is to make a magic system for my world which is a bit grittier and more focused. You don’t have the same wide schools of magic as other worlds and magic has consequences. I am sharing this in an effort to get insight into what other players have done and hopefully provide inspiration for other Game Masters in a similar situation.

As for limitations, currently a work in progress but intended as a form of additional customization for a character whose magic is taxing. Currently the feat points are too powerful a trade-off, but it might evolve into a whole tradition system that requires components and elements of spellcasting. So, consider it a first draft that certainly needs improvement.

Can sound pretty intimidating, would for the sake of argument tho point out that polymorph only changes Might, Agility, Fortitude, and Perception, the rest they get to keep and they can resist like any other bane.

Shapeshift rly starts kicking in on pl 7 when you can get extraordinary, so that’s a level 5 character most likely. And it’s the GM that makes the stats for what you change into, and again you get only the Might, Agility, Fortitude, and Perception from the new creature with no feats from it.

I suspect it sounds a bit more powerful on paper then what reality is. Guess I’ll have a better understanding in a few months when I can weight the alternation player in my group better against the others.

Also the invisible in this game is predator style, not guaranteed that you will hide.

My main fear is that you spend a lot of time reworking magic only to have players not use it

Well happy brewing

Magic is a large part of my world. In my games, what magic users can and can’t do is controlled in the narrative. There are laws set down by a magical council. The players can ignore these but risk finding themselves on the wrong side of the law. Technically, my mage player could use fire spells all over the place but that is not how he was raised at the academy. All of my players know the lore prior to making their characters and so understand their ‘limits’. One of the things I love about OL is the freedom to control and define things using the narrative. Yes, technically my mage player has the energy stat and could use a frost spell, but he never learned ice magic at the academy so he would have to study it at some point in the future. I’ve probably misunderstood what you are trying to achieve but using the narrative and the setting can be incredibly powerful without needing to change the rules.

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“Shapeshifting alone” is kind of an unfair comparison to make, seeing as it’s the single most powerful and versatile boon in the game (I was the main voice arguing for it to be less powerful while the system was under development). You also seem to have missed a key phrase in the rules for Shapeshift:

“The GM, not the player, is responsible for deciding the attributes and abilities of creature”

So, yes it’s powerful; but it’s only as powerful as you let it be.

I’m sorry to keep coming back to the same point, but this seems like an awful lot of concern over the balance of a system you’ve never played. You’ve picked up that it’s versatility not raw power that is the key thing for balance, but you’re focusing way too much on the banes and boons. The Extraordinary Attributes give a lot of options so they can represent a lot of different things, but they are already balanced around this fact. Maybe in a setting where there is only one explanation for each attribute you could change this, but that’s a lot of work before ever sitting down at a table and seeing how it functions by default.

The attributes are not all equally strong, and that’s completely fine. As long as they have different uses and you don’t allow one attribute to do the work of another this isn’t an issue, because as the GM you’re in charge of what happens so you can always pressure players where they’re weak. Alteration might give you some powerful boons, but you can’t use it to convince the king to lend troops to your cause. Energy might allow for versatile attacks, but it’s no help when sneaking past a goblin camp. Influence can make a target see anything or treat you like a best friend, until they resist and then suddenly you’re in a lot of trouble. The only time I’ve ever had balance concerns over an attribute is when one of my players went all in on persuasion and logic; at level 2 he had a crate of illicit goods to sell, by level 4 he had leveraged that through a chain of exchanges into an orbital shipyard that was churning out small freighters capable of destroying capital ships. I’ll say again, some things about the system aren’t apparent until you play.

Good luck with your brewing, I’m still happy to help you work it out even if I disagree with your reasons for thinking it’s needed.

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I’ll mention something that hasn’t been brought up yet: How will you handle players who want to take extraordinary attributes, without the source of the attribute being magical? Obviously I don’t know your setting, but it seems like you assume that every extraordinary attribute is magic, and magic only in your world.

The extraordinary attributes are strictly magical in my world. I am not trying to do the omni-setting thing.

I know what you mean when you say I should play the game a couple of times but I just ran into a bunch of hurdles during character creation alone. This isn’t strictly a balance thing, I am not getting hung up on the balance, it is mostly how the rules as written jive with how I want to represent my world and one of the big problems is how wide open and unrestricted the magic is. I understand why Open Legend does this in order to be able to represent a wide variety of special abilities across multiple genres but it doesn’t work for what I am trying to do.

Plus: I am really looking for a system that provides a good framework to modify. The reason I chose Open Legend is because it offers a solid toolbox to build things with and kind of sets the sky as the limit.

Maybe we could stick our heads together at some point, because I’m also working on a magic system, with some limitations, but coming from a different angle than you. So if you are ever interested in talking things through, just hit me up on discord or in PM, so we can actually sit down in a voice channel, as I share many of @SamWilby’s concerns. While many of your ideas might make sense in terms of your world and setting, they are not well executed at the moment, as you might not know how to use the tools in your toolbox and probably will alienate players outside your player group (if I understood correctly you are aiming to publish this for a wider audience? ), as they come to this system with different expectations.

Is it, though? Open Legend extraordinary attributes provide the framework for resolving magical effects, but that’s not really a magic system in itself. The chapter on banes and boons discusses this a bit, and you’ll frequently see people suggest to self-limit, but I think it helps to be explicit: anything characters do or take requires narrative permission—to do something, you have to be able to do something.

Consider the examples in your Spheres document. For a druid to turn invisible or polymorph foes, it has to be established in the setting that druids do those things. If it hasn’t, then the players have to establish in the fiction that they (or just theirs) can. That could mean acquiring a magical item, receiving training from a sage, or doing anything that makes sense to confer that capability. If they don’t do or haven’t yet done that, then they simply can’t. It doesn’t matter how many points the druid put into Alteration, that’s not enough. It’s being a druid that matters, and it’s being a druid with an amulet of invisibility that lets them go invisible.

If you look at Open Legend this way, it becomes much easier not only to adjudicate magical effects but to do world building. It frees you from having to deal with creating and balancing crunch before you even get started. It’s easily my favorite thing about the entire system. When I created my setting, I just poured my ideas out into Scapple. It was awesome.


I think I have explained that the rules as written aren’t working for what I intend to do, and also, I want to have a system that I can play around with. This is nothing against the system, or its many strengths, but I am more looking for advice on how to modify things rather than just being told that I shouldn’t

I don’t think that’s the disconnect, honestly.

The system is designed to be flexible so it can be used in a wide variety of settings. Then it is up to those settings, the campaign authors, or the GMs to set some restrictions based on what makes sense for the setting.

OL is designed to be a base foundation to be built upon.

Having limitations for Spell Caster types, or similar things isn’t neccesarily a bad fit, and I"m even working on writing up an article on that idea. And as @VanGo mention, he is thinking about doing something similar.

The thing people are talking about is more the reworking of the attributes themselves (which again, IS something that can be done). It seems like the work you are doing is something that can be done with simple narrative rather than a complete overhaul of the Attributes that you are approaching with.

HOWEVER, I will say that what a lot of people are saying is b/c they are seeing an incomplete working of what you are doing as well, so there’s a little bit on both sides there.

I do agree on one hand that some of what you have put up seems like it can already been done exactly with the rules as they are, but I haven’t looked at it in a few days, so I’d have to look at it again more in depth.

So people are giving you Advice that maybe you are doing more work than needed to a degree.

(some of what I typed was based on your original post before you further edit it, so I apologize if it doesn’t make sense above fully).

Could you go more into detail about what specific things don’t work for you currently?

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For example, I’ve worked with people that are doing a post-apoc type setting (though in another world/universe than earth). The way some things work there are different, and they’ve created character archetypes so players can see what a typical person in the world might be, or a mutant might be, along with the information about their lifestyles.

This isn’t a complete restriction on Attributes (though originally they were looking at doing that), but ways to help players better understand what they can build that fits and makes sense in that world and setting. So your typical human isn’t going to be able to fly via Alteration,f or example. HOWEVER, creative players can come up with explanations for such things. Such as building a gliding suit. Then the flavor of the flying isn’t so much that they can literally fly, bu tthey can use that boon to glide or sail over canyons or buildings, etc.

So when a player does something, the GM would say “HOW are you doing that?” or “WHY can your character do that?” If it doesn’t amke sense for the Character backstory/background and/or for the setting of the world, then the GM can say that won’t work, let’s see what else you could do type of thing.