"Waiting for explosions to decide the day"

Hey Folks,

A few of my players are getting frustrated with the combat dynamics of exploding dice. The criticism that’s been used is that, regardless of how good your character is, combat feels very random and that you’re just waiting for big explosions to emerge and decide the day.

I honestly have to sometimes agree. Being a GM with notoriously high rolls, it’s frustrating for me to constantly have to mulligan my insane rolls because it’s just not fun for my players to keep getting dropped to zero in battle.

Have others run into this issue/criticism? What are your thoughts? Am I just GM’ing wrong?

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It’s a valid criticism, but it’s intentionally built into the system to keep combat from dragging on for too long. I tend not to be too concerned about dropping players to zero; 0HP is really forgiving for players, and even if they all get knocked out I usually have something interesting planned for that eventuality, though I understand it can be frustrating for them.

I strongly disagree with your players saying that explosions happen regardless of how good your character is. Increased advantage hugely impacts how likely explosions are, and higher attributes increase the average size of the explosions. Tactical decisions might not be able to eliminate sudden knock out from explosions, but they can certainly mitigate it. It may be random, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not under your control.


Yes, combat is inherently random in Open Legend, I think most of us would agree with that statement, but different characters should still excel in their chosen field of expertise. So if a “buffer” consistently puts out more damage than a “damage dealer”, than I would check their character builds and see if they maybe went wrong somewhere, although that seems unlikely to me.

To me, this feeling points to a specific problem, namely setting defenses too high for NPCs, so that it feels like only big swings matter. If your PCs only have a low chance of hitting, than the small hits feel not very impactful.

As a GM that’s a problem that should be easily fixable: By lowering your average rolls. If you bring your PCs on consistent and regular basis to 0 HP, than I’d say you are probably "stat"ing your NPCs and encounters too highly.

We’ve seen this criticism a few times, but most often from people who hadn’t actually played the game at that time. I think there are two sides to a solution here:

  • Firstly maybe the party could try working more banes and boons into their arsenal, because there are many ways to improve their chances to hit and to hit harder. Tactics and strategy are very important in Open Legend, as it is often more dynamic than other TTRPGs.

  • Secondly, I’d recommend to you to maybe look at the way you set your encounter difficulty, because it sounds like it might be to high and try to challenge the party in different ways, other than with high numbers. As a GM you can also “force” strategic combat onto the party, with introducing other aspects to them than just the enemies: Terrain, objectives and time pressure, for example are good ways to force the party to adapt, raising the difficulty with having to raise any stats or defenses.

  • Last, I’d like to point to the Core Mechanic in Combat. Maybe your players would like to try that, because that way even their misses matter. I know it’s not for everyone, but your players might like it.

If you provide a bit more information and details about your game, like character builds and actual encounters, etc. than we could review the situation a bit more thoroughly, but maybe these points are enough to help you out a bit.


All very good advice! I think I have two issues that I can immediately fix:

  • I’m making encounters too difficult, especially with using high numbers. I appreciate the suggestion to think of ways to make encounters interesting/difficult other than just increasing numbers. I also sometimes forget that players have fun just beating the crap out of easy enemies ( as long as that’s not all the time).
  • We’re currently using the alternative bane resist mechanic - mostly because we found it made more narrative sense. But sometimes a well placed bane can take a player out for way too many rounds - which just isn’t fun.
  • I also like the idea of just lowering the defenses of enemies. I’ve been using the simple NPC generator, and definitely find the defenses to be a bit high sometimes.

I’ll implement these and see how the complaints go from there! Thanks so much for your useful responses and great suggestions.


Don’t forget about using the suggested superior bane resist (focus action) to get advantage to d20 on resist roll for the alternate, or any of the other suggestions for advantage.

And feel free to provide feedback on it, curious how it works in others games.


Question about superior actions as boon resists - as I read it the description the incapacitate bane doesn’t seem to leave room for the resisting character to be able to do a superior action to resist it. Incapacitate is already insanely powerful, and this seems to make it even more powerful. I would almost argue that an incapacitate bane resist should ALWAYS be a superior action (i.e. the character literally can’t do anything else). Thoughts?

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Well, that’s of course up to the GM, and if they feel it is that powerful, I’d say ok, but partially b/c it is powerful my default thought would be no. Unconscious, so can’t “focus” type of thing. For me it would be situational (as nearly everything is) b/c it would depend on:

  1. the world
  2. the person being afflicted (background, species/race, etc)
  3. the way things work in the world
  4. HOW the incapacitated was inflicted
    • “magic”, tech, strike temple, song, etc etc

So no way for me to give a straight answer on that one (as is often the case). The GM, as suggested in that post, can always give advantage if they want.

And if incapacitated is a real problem in your campaigns:

  1. don’t do it so much to your players
  2. allow spending of legend point to either give advantage to the resist bane roll, or just straight up resist the bane without a roll (might be more than 1 to do so)

Makes sense. This was actually on behalf of one my players. One of the players blows poison darts that incapacitate, and she has potent bane feat on incapacitate. It’s insanely powerful. But hey - power is good in the hands of players :wink:

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indeed, and if they’ve invested in the feat points for potent bane too, makes sense.

Can always have an enemy that has a friend with restoration.