It’s been several years since I last backed a project on Kickstarter. Since my initial spurt of enthusiasm for Fate Core (which I still consider an elegant little piece of RPG machinery, though a little too much toolbox for my currently low levels of creativity), I’ve basically ignored the crowdfunding site, maybe peeking in once in a while when one of my friends pledged to a project that caught my eye.
But a couple weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a mention of the “Open Legend RPG,” possibly from Geek and Sundry‘s account, and started digging into the rule set. Initially, I was less than intrigued. It seemed like just another d20 mod with grid-based miniature combat and a long laundry list of abilities and spells and feats and whatnot.
Yesterday, I stumbled across another post referencing the Kickstarter campaign for a print edition of the game and a new multi-genre setting for it, so I dove back into the rules to give them another shot.
And let me say, there are more things in Open Legend RPG, Horatio, than were dreamt of in my philosophy. 😀
Anyone who has read the other RPG-related posts on my blog knows that I’m a sucker for genre-spanning rule sets. I love the idea of using a single set of rules to play through stories in multiple settings. People are busy, and it’s hard enough wrangling a regular play time with a regular group, let alone getting them to carve enough time out of their schedules to learn yet another rule system when the current campaign ends and everyone wants to try something new.
On paper, having a single rule set for every genre looks great, but putting that notion into practice can be a daunting endeavor. Even my two favorite systems, Fate Core and Cortex Plus, require heavy modification to jump from setting to setting.
Open Legend’s approach to bridging this gap marries generic attributes and abilities to a simple, yet intriguing core dice mechanic that puts the responsibility for setting flavor squarely on the players and the GM. For instance, both a sci-fi psion and a high-fantasy wizard would use the Flight boon to float around the battlefield. The difference is that where the psion focuses his telekinetic powers inward and levitates himself, the wizard mutters a few arcane words and coerces a wind sprite to lift her off the ground. But both of them would roll 1d20 + the appropriate attribute die to make it happen.
That’s not to say that you wouldn’t need to tweak things here and there to fit the specific setting you’re aiming for, but it doesn’t seem like you’d need to cut things from whole cloth like some other multi-genre systems require. While some of the current rules text can be a little confusing, I’m very interested to see everything that comes out on the other side of the Kickstarter. (Especially since, according to Kicktraq, the project is trending toward over 2,000% of their fundraising goal. 🙂 )
It’s also important to note that this Kickstarter isn’t just for the rules; Seventh Sphere Publishing is also putting together a multi-genre setting, Amaurea’s Dawn, with the help of well-known RPG writer Ed Greenwood and actor and celebrity dungeon master Matthew Mercer.As the project stands now, they’ve blown through nine of their stretch goals, funding several pieces of fiction for the world of Amaurea’s Dawn, an expanded bestiary and multi-genre weapons and equipment list, extra NPC and environmental artwork in the books, and a mini-campaign setting that backers should be able to vote on soon. The few details I’ve seen on Amaurea’s Dawn look really interesting, and I’m looking forward to getting more information about the world as the Kickstarter progresses.
From what I can tell, Open Legend is a game to keep your eye on. Considering that I was able to rough out a friend’s shape-changing house cat character in under three minutes, I think this system has quite a lot to offer. 🙂
If you’d like to look the rules over for yourself, you can find the full core rules at OpenLegendRPG.com. You can find the Kickstarter campaign here, if you’d like to back the project. Delivery is estimated at late Q1 2017.