Giving Enemies Weaknesses and Strenghts

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Some enemies you might want to throw at your players just have weaknesses. The Ice Golem is easily molten using fire, the Fire Lizalfos might have a grudge against the cold, the Undead Shadow may be weak against bright light. Whatever it may be, there are many ways to approach and model this feeling, each with its up- and downsides.


Double/Half Damage

This is just that: If an enemy gets hit by an attack it is weak against, it takes twice (or any other factor you find suitable) the damage. This is pretty straight-forward and does not require you to keep track of additional defense scores. It does mean, however, that the power of exploding dice is amplified once more and the enemy might die in one hit. This may be desirable or undesirable, depending on what kind of feeling you want to go for. A similar thing can be done if you also want to model strengths of an enemy: If the Undead Shadow is attacked using Dark Magic, it only suffers half the damage it usually would. For this, you need to determine if you round the damage up or down and if you still have the minimum damage of 3.

Anti-Resistance / Lower Defenses

This functions like a reverse Resistance Boon. It reduces an enemies defenses against a certain attribute or element by a given amount. You can stick with the values from the Resistance boon (i.e. -3, -6 and -9) or can also assign intermediate values (i.e. -1, -2, -4, ...). This is a very simple approach, yet it might require you to write down two sets of defenses for an enemy: One default set and one if they're attacked using their weakness. One thing to keep in mind with this approach is that if you reduce an enemy's defenses by 3, it may have a bigger effect than you might initially think because the probabilities for the various rolls are not uniformly distributed. Especially in mid-ranged defenses (around where the average DC of the PC's highest attribute lies), reducing defenses by 3 can significantly reduce the difficulty of an encounter.

Resistance Against Strong Attributes

Another thing to consider additionally is the idea of added resistances. While the Fire Lizalfos might be weak against Ica Attacks, it is more resistant against fire-based attacks. This might mean that while its defenses are lowered by 3 against cold-based attacks, it has them highered by 3 against fire. This, while sometimes sounding better and/or more realistic, can overcomplicate things since now the enemy has three sets of defenses that you as a GM have to keep track of.

Persistent Damage

Banes like Persistent Damage can also be approached in different ways when dealing with weaknesses or strengths.

Double/Half Damage

Again, you can simply double or half the damage an enemy would take from any Persistent Damage roll. It keeps things simple and straight-forward.

Advantage and Disadvantage

You may also grant advantages or disadvantages on Persistent Damage rolls depending on the magnitude of the weakness or strength.

Things to consider


Whatever approach you want to apply to your enemies, I would recommend sticking to one approach within your campaign. If your players get used to you reducing defenses, they may be thrown off by an enemy suddenly taking double damage and misinterpret the situation.


In the spirit of Open Legend, try to keep things rather simple. Things like reducing defenses by 15% or giving 40% more damage just makes things more complicated than they need be. The same goes for reducing Guard by 2, Toughness by 5 and Resolve by 1. It will jsut result in more paperwork for you and longer delays in fights.

Other Banes or Boons

This does go towards the overcomplicated side so you may want to stay away from this approach if you're either a rather new GM or prefer to keep things simple. Not unlike Persistent Damage, you might want to amplify or reduce the effect of certain Banes or Boons if they're invoked with certain attributes or elements. Do be careful with things like this though, as the Boons and Banes have been tweaked a lot to be jsut right and they can easily be thrown out of balance and become too over- or underpowered. It is not advised to tamper with the original Boons and Banes too much without at least some play-testing.

Additional Comments

Feel free to add your own approaches of dealing with enemy weaknesses and strengths to this article. If you want to add experiences you made with certain approaches, don't hesitate to open up a new section in this article for that.


This article is the compactification of a discussion on the Open Legend Discord server

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