Stacking buffs and debuffs

A ruling I’ve made and we’ve stuck to from the beginning of our gaming of the Open Legend RPG system… Has finally come to bite me in the ass.

First, context. So therefore… Story time.

It was a session like any other.
The party is level 10.

And now due to reasons you don’t need to know,
we have a 1 on 1 duel against 1 player, and a big bad boss.

Both of them knew this fight could very well be decided by who rolls the higher initiative and lands the first strike.
As both of them had like tier 9 attack specialization or something and advantage 15 on their attack rolls.
Both of them could easily deal 100 points of damage as both have an average attack roll of 173 or something and thus could knock each other out on 1 attack roll. Player has like 30 HP while bosses have like 120 hp or something. So yeah, 1 hit wonder.

So, both of them, prepared Resistance 9 to each other’s attack type.
So both of them were completely immune to each other’s strongest attacks.

It was like straight out of those anime’s
Protag-kun: “HAH! I knew you were going to do that! So I did this! Checkmate! You have lost!”
BBEG-sama: “Hmph, so you think, but I KNEW that YOU KNEW that I KNEW! Therefore I came prepared as well…!”
Protag-kun (expositioning to the viewers through internal monologue): “MASAKA!!!”

So, it lasted a little while. The player and the enemy both in futility, kept hitting each other with attacks that did literally nothing on either of them.

It apparently took round 5 of that fight for the last of our 2 brain cells to come up with the 50 IQ play of…

So they did! They finally dealt damage!
It didn’t knock any of them out, but THEY DEALT DAMAGE!!!

In response, they used Resistance! Again! On the new attack type!

The rules very clearly state that Banes and Boons do not stack!
A character cannot have multiple of the same thing inflicted on them.
However, being new and innocent that I am when we were playing our first ever game of TTRPG and OL.
When my illiterate player eventually asked how banes and boons were ruled, I gave them the rules word for word.
“You cannot have the same bane or boon inflicted on you more than once!”
They wanted to gain more advantage from Bolster by putting it on themselves more than once.
But then they asked if they could do Bolster but on a different attribute instead.
and I allowed it.
And ever since then, we have ruled the stacking of banes and boons as such
“You may have multiple of the same bane or boon active at once so long as they have different properties and such”
So you could inflict Persistent Damage of different damage types, Bolster on different attributes, and non buff/debuff type boons I simply allowed to be cast as many as you could with multi-targeting and superior concentration. Things like Barrier, and Summon Creature.
And of course… Resistance.

So, thanks to them having Boon Focus and Superior Concentration, they could invoke Resistance at themselves at max PL, and they can have up to instances active at the same time.

So, after casting resistance, they once again used a different attack type, which led to them using resistance AGAIN.

Eventually, both of them could no longer cast Resistance. But both of them couldn’t hurt each other either.

It led to us awkwardly asking “Now what?”
As they both stood there. In a stalemate.

The battle eventually ended, miserably.
Both of them were now using their Presence attribute to target their Resolve and badmouthing each other as their attack.
It was pitiful… Disgraceful!

So now I ask…
But not really 'cuz I feel I’m most likely simply venting at my own stupidity.
How do I deal with this?
Changing a rule we have been using for years now…
Though I’m blessed with kind and understanding players… Err player, that a change in rules would be something they kindly accept.
But should I?

How does banes and boons actually work? Was how I’ve run them actually proper rules as written?
Should I overhaul the stacking, or should I make it just a specific case for Resistance where Resistance is the only boon you can only have 1 at a time of, regardless! Maybe 2.
(Which is what I plan to do)

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There are other concerns with things you posted, but I think they have been talked about in other posts before, so just focus on the main subject of this one.

Indeed, you done messed up.

It’s 1 instance period, regardless of different type of it. Simple, straight forward, and helps balance things (as you have seen).

I wouldn’t make a specific case for anything. No Bane or boon stacks. Especially at high level play, this is where it really compounds and gets messy for things.

I know there are some that allow it for Persistent Damage, but even that I honestly wouldn’t do.

The only way I would allow some form of stacking, to allow multiple of bolster on different things, or resistance, would be the form of a Legendary Item or something along those lines.

As far as players, youc an just point to the most recent battle and say, “Ok, so I’ve messed up on how this is suppose to work, and we’ve seen it in play. Going forward we will do it this way from now on.”

And now, you have ways to challenge your players again that you probably haven’t in awhile.


I’m actually quite surprised that it took up to level 10 for you and your players to notice the potentially busted interactions created by this ruling. As @Great_Moustache said: One instance of a bane or boon per target. No ifs and buts. Everything else throws any semblance of balance out of the window, and I have to admit, I would have probably cheesed you much earlier with some silly character build. :stuck_out_tongue:

To put it simply: Yes, you should. In these cases, the easiest and least painful way to handle this is to do a mea culpa and walk it back. Sometimes a GM has to admit that they’ve made a bad ruling and it happens to most of us at some point, believe me, and even if you ran with that ruling for quite a while, retconning rulings is sometimes the best option.

This is why we encourage any newcomers to run OL, and honestly, this applies to any system, as written. Generally, there is a good reason why the mechanics were implemented as they were.

So, in this list of examples, there is mainly one that is different than the others. I’ll help you to spot it: Summon Creature doesn’t target anything, thus characters can keep up as many instances as they possibly can with the help of feats like Boon Focus and Superior Concentration. The barrier boon is a similar case, as long as you don’t target the same squares or space that is already affected by another barrier.


Feels kind of bad but if I must I must. Loss aversion or something like that.
Even the potentially just harmless boons like Bolster, regardless of what, only 1 of the same boon at a time is allowed per character, as rules as written and as intended.
Got it.

But boons that aren’t inherently buffs like Barrier and Aura, you can have multiples of.

Also, with Persistent Damage, I just forgot and thought I should mention.
I think I got the ruling idea with allowing multiple of the same thing was due to a post I read a long time ago regarding stacking Persistent Damage.
I can’t find it though but I know it’s here.
But how we’ve ruled stacked Persistent Damage was that only the highest PL of Persistent Damage would actually deal the damage, the only benefit of stacking Persistent Damage was that, even if you remove one instance, another maybe lower or different damage but same PL instance of Persistent Damage would still continue dealing damage.
Doesn’t matter since I won’t be allowing this anymore anyway…

Quite simply, we are indeed idiots. Thankfully? Heh. It took way longer than level 10 actually. We’ve had several other campaigns that reached level 10 as well and this has never happened before.
Again, both of us were idiots. Turns not spent dealing damage is a turn wasted, was how we thought back then. Why do buffs or debuffs? It doesn’t deal damage!!!
Uhh, using Pokemon as an example, I’ve been playing since Gen 1, but never used attacks like burn or metronome and other gimmick attacks like that until Gen 6 when I realized, hey, they kinda good but game’s so easy why even bother?
We were all like this at some point, some just took longer to realize than others. heh.

I’m re-reading the whole rules website again and read through our list of homebrews again to see if I have other stupid things I can do something about before they become a problem now.


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I have to ask, as if almost out of some form of morbid curiosity, how do your players average around 173 (assuming you aren’t over-exaggerating)? Cause I just… I mean at stat 10 (by Extraordinary Focus/Martial Focus) and 15 advantage, the average is a much lower 42ish. That’d be a 131 number difference in average, so I’m morbidly curious.


I am not over-exaggerating.

My player is apparently secretly a halfling. Giving him exceptional luck, as well as an infinite amount of luck points to use.

It’s not rigged dice, we share and use the same dice. I’ve checked those dice, they are absolutely normal.

The probability I believe seems greatly favored towards them anyway due to their build.
They went with high DPS build, so they can really only roll this high when attacking.
So here’s how their level 10 character be:
Attack Specialization 5-7-ish
Battle Trance
Destructive Trance
(No martial focus/extraordinary focus btw, literally just a score of 9.)
Couple this with their equipment; specifically their weapon, which has unfailing and deadly 3. Oh they also usually invoke Bolster to their attacking attribute before fighting.
That’s not even the end of it. They also have Haste, and plenty of other stupid things that make me wanna cry and question how I allowed them any of this?

So, totalling that, we get the total advantage for their attack roll to be…
Advantage 14!!!
+3 from Bolster
+4 from their weapon (dual wield/deadly)
+1 from Battle Trance
+7 from Attack Specialization
= 14
That’s not the end, remember that they also have Destructive Trance and Unfailing!
So with that 17d10 and 1d20, it’s pretty much nearly guaranteed all of those d10 end up being a 10. So even if the d20 is just a 2, they still get to roll a 32!!!
With an insane 30% chance of explosion on each individual d10’s, and a 15% for the d20…

I convinced them to try martial focus one time just to see how much higher they can roll and oh boy, I regret it!

I can barely roll above 3 digits with the exact same advantage count and dice count and it’s the norm for my player!

That’s how that whole Resistance battle sort of began I guess.
It’s also why I asked how to deal with high level players too that one time! But it is only 1 of the many reasons.
One of my ideas on how I could still maintain interesting combats for my overpowered players.

Another factor potentially but I highly doubt it
is that we have a special homebrew about advantage dice so that it was still rewarding to have lots of advantage.
When 3 of their advantage dice rolls a natural maximum (4 for a d4, 10 for a d10, etc)
They get to roll advantage on their explosion roll for every consecutive 3.
Another ruling I made when I was young and new and I’m kinda regretting it too.
My thought process when I made that was “What’s the point of getting Attack Specialization past tier 3? You’d be getting pretty high rolls at advantage 5 or so and the returns on higher advantage are diminishing! All those extra dice are wasted!” I realize now of course that… That’s the point. You shouldn’t encourage advantage hoarding.
Statistically speaking, based on my math, it should be very rare for them to get advantage for their explosions. But because they are my players, of course it wouldn’t be the case.
I say this homebrew doesn’t have anything to do with them rolling 3 digits on average is because it really doesn’t. Just like I mathed out, it’s very infrequent for them to get advantage on their explosions. Which is why i’ve kept the ruling, so that they would continue hoarding advantage in vain. Mwahahahaha!!!
It’s simply their luck and the fact that they have a 30% chance of rolling more explosions anyway with each explosion…

(P.S. for ease of writing, I treated Destructive Trance as if it also acted like unfailing but I know this is not the case. A 9 or a 19 on a d10 and d20 is still just a 9 and a 19. But they still explode.)

So there you go.
The answer to the mysterious 150 average.
Honestly the real mystery is why my player be spending all that luck points on rpg’s when they should be using it on lottery tickets! lol.