I began playing Open Legend the other day for the first time. An important rule in Open Legend is that:

every action roll should drive the story in a new direction, for better or worse. A failed roll should not let the story stagnate, nor should a failure be easily negated by a successful roll from another character.

More information on the Every roll matters rule can be found here.

This rule is very important, as there is no concept of spell slots in Open Legend, and you have to succeed on a roll before you cast cast a bane/boon. If this rule was not a thing, I could repeatedly attempt to cast invisibility on the entire party (disadvantage 3), which is unlikely to succeed, but eventually I will roll well on the d20 and then the entire party will have a higher guard, and the enemies will be easier to hit.

So, each failed cast of a spell needs to have a consequence.

My DM essentially gave me a migraine that heeded my ability to cast banes/boons whenever I failed, which gave me -2 to cast other banes/boons until our next Open legend long rest equivalent (whatever that might be).

I kind of felt that this was overly harsh, especially in combat, but I understand his need to punish me, as party buffs before combat is especially nasty in Open Legend.

So, how does one punish failed spells in Open Legend?


A failed roll should have story implications, rather than mechanical ones

You are correct in referencing the "every roll matters" rule in this case. In fact, there is an example of consequences of a failed spell roll on that very page:

The player finds an opportunity for success. Even though your magic fails to dispel the curse afflicting your ally, you discover during later study that a rare herb growing in a nearby forest would give you the power you require.

The danger snowballs can also be executed with a failed spell roll; for example perhaps a failed invisibility roll instead makes your party somehow more obvious to potential enemies, bringing more into the fray.

The important distinction between your example and the rule as written is a few more sentences down:

While some of these examples are harsher than others, they all share one common factor: they steer the narrative forward. (bolded for emphasis) Failure is never just a failure.

The essence of the rule is that Open Legend is driven by narrative, not mechanics. Failures should affect narrative first and mechanics secondarily, and even then only if it makes sense to do so.


Not every attempt in a series of repeated attempts get a roll

Just like the ranger saying, "I look around" doesn't trigger a perception roll if there is nothing to see, not every attempted spell cast doesn't triggers a roll. The dice are rolled when the player attempts to use an ability to move the fiction in a particular direction.

In this case, the player is attempting to "repeatedly try to cast invisibility until it works." That's the action which moves the fiction, so it gets a roll (and only one roll) to resolve it, not one roll per time invisibility is attempted.

That compound action can then be resolved just like any other roll. Here are some examples.

Success, with a Twist

The bottom line for this kind of outcome is that you did eventually make the party invisible, but it cost you something or had an undesirable side-effect.

Expend a resource (1) - You make the party invisible, but you suffer some backlash damage from your failed attempts.

Expend a resource (2) - You make the party invisible, but you accidentally disappeared some of your memories of magic as well. You temporarily lose access to some of your other your Boons/Banes (presumably ones which represent magic spells that you cast).

Overlook an important detail - You make the party invisible, but then get separated because you can no longer see each other.

Waste time - You make the party invisible, but it takes you all day (or several days) to do it.

Failure, but the story progresses

The bottom line for these outcomes is that you tried repeatedly to make the party invisible, and for some reason, cannot continue to do so because you've tried everything you can, or because something interrupted you, or because you think you succeeded, or for whatever other reason the GM comes up with.

The player finds an opportunity for success - You spend all day trying different incantations and different rituals to make the party invisible, but to no avail. That night, while you're ruminating on the problem, you realize that if you had some Unseelie Pixie Dust, you could cast a variant of invisibility that would do what you need. You're pretty sure you saw a trader in the last town you were in selling a vial of it.

The danger snowballs - After the third time you try to cast invisibility, the leftover magic from your spell accidentally creates some Shadows (or other world appropriate illusion-themed monsters, at GM's discretion), which immediately attack you.

The information is false - After a few attempts, your invisibility spell works. Unfortunately, it only works momentarily. You get halfway past the door guard at the front gate before your spell ends with a pop. You're in trouble now, but at least the guards are as surprised as you are!

A quick sidenote on Activation times

The Activation Time for Invisibility is one Major Action, which the Combat rules say can be done in "about six seconds of time". However, applying the rules for Activation Time outside of Combat will make it very hard to make Every Roll Matter (especially since one of the options for Success with a Twist is "It wastes time"), so I recommend treating Activation Time as a Combat rule and not using it for actions which are on a scale larger than a single Combat.


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