EPK Review 3_part1: OPEN LEGEND, an Open Source RPG to tell Stories of Legend!

Pictures in the interreview posts are from Open Legend’s homepage and community. At least several of them are, originally, from an artist named Saryth. Brian Feister, the author of OPEN LEGEND, owns the copyrights of the pictures. You can find more of Saryth in Deviantart!

Hi to all of our readers,

if you follow us, you noticed that we spoke of commercial and non commercial projects, we do not care, they only have one thing in common: since we have a lot less time and space of the projects out there, we speak only of what we like and, also, unfortunately of a small part of what we like!

Even so, it is rare to speak of such a worthy project as the one of today, a very interesting Open Source RPG, complete but always growing! We decided for an “interreview”, that is a mix of review and interview, the best thing, for us. The questions are reserved for the most important points, the ones the authors care more for, so we ask them straight!

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Open Legend, is an Open Source roleplay game (if you don’t know what it is, I feel it is better than ‘free’) with a prolific development board and an ever-growing community (all addresses in the homepage), that helps to create new projects based on this nice RPG system. If you are interested, the authors gave the permission to produce both commercial and non-commercial works, based upon this system!

Recently, the Open Legend team published a long awaited module, A Star Once Fallen, a beautiful and clever learn-by-play adventure that serves well as an intro module to Open Legend. With it, you can start to play with almost zero-time preparation, so if you are already curious about the game, go there, download it and play. Well … no, at least finish our post(s) before!

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Open Legend is a game that emphasize the story above all and uses a sleek and never cumbersome system of rules, to tell Stories of Legend! To use the words of the authors: “the players take the part of mighty heroes and wicked villains in order to tell stories of epic proportion. Every game of Open Legend revolves around intrepid characters performing heroic deeds. They will fight mythic beasts, break ancient curses, solve mind-boggling puzzles, discover untold treasures, and more.”

Open Legend has no preset setting, the rules are written to be open too, and adapt well to many rpg genres: classical fantasy, sci-fi, horror, superhero, survival and, in practice, the setting that you prefer.

But let’s stop and start with the first questions!

1)      Hi Brian and Open Legend team, do you care to tell us something more about you? Maybe some trivia about you, like what is your gaming experience, how you did start to play and where you are based. Do you only play Open Legend nowadays?

I’m a lifelong tabletop RPG gamer and GM, an engineer, and an artist / creative director professionally. Being birthed into the cruel world of gaming at the age of 13 as a Gnome Illusionist in a 2nd Edition (AD&D) Skills and Powers campaign. I was reluctantly adopted by a group of fanatical Talos worshippers (Chaotic Evil, of course) in a Forgotten Realms campaign, I quickly learned how to fend for myself – casting an illusion that saved the party from being mauled to death by a Bulette in the crypts of Undermountain.

I play 5th Edition very rarely, but creating Open Legend and all the work that goes along with it has left me with very little free time to play in other people’s D&D games these days. Your guess was right on – I do, in fact, play almost exclusively Open Legend. After 20 years of D&D there were certain things that I just got so tired of, I fixed those things in Open Legend and I’ve not been this happy playing a game in a really long time! I am constantly thinking about the game and how much I enjoy it.

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2)      Nice! Gnomes! I like them! Not only my today character, Glimreen Lodestar, but also my old BECMI Gnome Wicca with six assistants, the bare minimum to recharge the screw powering his big mechanical walker … but I digress! So … what about the start of Open Legend? Where did this idea come from?

The start of Open Legend was my frustration with a number of things in D&D, which I have played since I was 13. I struggled with the idea that we’re playing a game where the story exists completely in our imagination, but yet there are these very specific limitations around what abilities your character has and how you’re allowed to use them. I wanted something more open-ended. I played Dungeon World, and felt very much liberated by the open-endedness of it, I also felt dissatisfied with the lack of strategy. I wanted something that was “in the middle”.

The very simple explanation of what I wanted as I told it to myself was “A system where, given the right rolls, it could be used as the engine to tell any story you see in a book or movie.” In books / movies, you don’t see Wizards saying “Oh, but wait! I haven’t rested yet, I need to study my spellbook. I’ve forgotten the spells I have memorized each day for the past 6 months”. I wanted something more cinematic, open-ended and with less resource management.

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3)      I agree with your vision! Mana-based systems can overcome this limitations or other games which limit in other ways spells, but not in numbers, like Earthdawn. In general, the limitations, are necessary but often quite absurd. You found a good way, for me. Another question. How long did it take to develop your idea? Did you do it all by yourselves or did you also have some external collaborators? Is it difficult, today, to write an Open Source product, with no funds?

I started writing Open Legend about 5 years ago. Some of that time I was less active than others, so I wouldn’t say 5 years is necessary, but I did it as time allowed over that period. I did some early playtests in the beginning with my long-time gaming group and closer friends. I think they were intrigued by the idea but it was clear that to really demonstrate the system, I needed to invest alot of time into creating the options that the game needs in order to be fun. So, I spent years crafting and changing and tweaking the banes, boons, and feats until the game design and mechanical elements became very clear in terms of how the pieces all fit together.

About a year ago, I launched into a more public phase where I went to Public Beta with the rules, hired my friend and longtime gaming companion Ish Stabosz to do the editing for the Core Rules. Ish is a College Professor and an excellent writer. He helped breathe life into the rules, make them clearer and easier to read, and offered a number of important design elements that have helped the game.

I own a number of small businesses and I have some specific ideas around how I like to do things, whenever possible I really like to pay very talented people for the work they do. I am often uncomfortable working with someone if I’m not paying them for their time. Other than those who have helped me just by testing the game and offering feedback, the core development team has been paid for their time. The reason the game is Open Source is because I believe that gives it the best chance of being used by the largest number of people. If the game isn’t being played then it has no value. So, my philosophy is that I’m happy for people to read the rules on the website and play the game for free – no strings attached. I believe that I can earn their trust over time by demonstrating how much I believe in the game. When they see that, they will also become believers in the game and when they believe in it, then they’ll help out by buying products to help the company be successful. And if not, then we believe they will probably be telling their friends about the game, and eventually someone who hears about it as word spreads will be interested in buying one of our publications.

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A B S O L U T E L Y  commendable Brian. I knew the game was worthy and I admire Open Source authors but you went even more far than many others, I really like the birth of your game and we are really happy to give you a bit a space to speak of OPEN LEGEND!

So people, wait a few days and you will have another morsel of Open Legend story! Stay tuned and see you soon to EPK Review 3_part2.

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  1. Pingback: EPK Review 3_part2: OPEN LEGEND, an Open Source RPG to tell Stories of Legend! – Entire Party Killed

  2. Pingback: Amaurea’s Dawn & Open Legend RPG Kickstarter! – Entire Party Killed

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