Matthew Mercer and Ed Greenwood Bring You a New Adventure in Open Legend

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Within three hours, Open Legend, an open-source RPG, and its companion book, Amaurea’s Dawn, funded thrice over on Kickstarter. This shouldn’t surprise anybody, especially since gaming legends Matthew Mercer and Ed Greenwood are the driving forces behind the project. On top of its “legendary” (sorry-not-sorry) pedigree, it’s also just a really good system, well worthy of the hype. Let’s check it out…

The game might be called a “deconstructed RPG” as many of the familiar mechanics are present, but not necessarily locked together. This allows for multiple ways for characters to create the same result from different methods. A lightning bolt and a laser gun are both just game mechanics that combine damage dice with secondary effects. Thus spells, weapons, or whatever the player has crafted can add secondary effects from a pool of options. These secondary effects are “Banes,” which add nasty side effects to attacks, or “Boons,” which are buffs or attributes that benefit the character.

A typical character attribute array gives access to many of these effects from the start, but leveling up and increasing your attribute score can provide additional, more powerful Banes and Boons. If you qualify to use an effect, you can explain how it goes off however you’d like. “Blinding” can be achieved by throwing sand into someone’s face, casting a blinding spell, or outright stabbing them in the eye. Success is determined by a roll of the dice.

This creates an interesting leveling-up dynamic since putting points into a certain stats can really open up a world of options. Just leafing through the rules, I found out that by reaching level 4 in Agility give me access to Banes like Blinded, Demoralized, Disarmed, Immobilized, Persistent Damage, Stunned, Slowed, etc. Of course, I would have to explain how I used my Agility to create these effects pending the DM’s approval, but I could use any of them as needed in the right situation.

Also, the dice explode, which means you get to roll again and add that new roll to your previous total. Exploding dice are always a good mechanic because they promote daring roleplay and heroic actions. Exploding d20s are rare, but interesting. It keeps everyone active and on their toes. You can find more on the game system itself by checking out the open-source rules on Open Legend‘s  website.

Illustration by Ilse Gort (C) Seventh Sphere Publishing LLC

The other big draw here is the companion book written by Matthew Mercer and Ed Greenwood. Amaurea’s Dawn Campaign Setting offers a genre-blending game world centered around a heavily industrialized, resource-stripped civilization called Schlectenberg and the wild jungle world of Amaurea. Using an ancient portal, the beleaguered Schlectenbergians have created the Moondew Watch outpost on Amaurea, but are opposed on all sides by great elven houses, dark magic, political machinations, and savage genetically-engineered beasts. Players can build characters with a wide variety of backgrounds and story elements. High or low tech, magic or mechanical.

Illustration by Ilse Gort (C) Seventh Sphere Publishing LLC

With such adaptable rules, the potential for a Rifts/GURPS-style fleet of sourcebooks might just be in the game’s future. As long as they keep the same amazing creative team behind it, Open Legend has potential to become… well, legendary (nope, still not sorry).

Psyched about Open Legend? What are you looking for in your next RPG? What rules or mechanics attract you to a new gaming system? Would you fund a cocktail napkin with “game” written on it if Matthew Mercer was involved? (I would.) Leave the details in the comments. 

Header Illustration by Randy Vargas (C) Seventh Sphere Publishing LLC

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