"Legend is built to be understandable, to be learnable, and finally, to be something you can own and change and use without too much fear of making the game go boom."
Legend, Page 8
Legend first started on The Order of the Stick forum's Test of Spite arena as a series of house-rules to improve the flaws of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition. It soon became evident to the arena masters that the amount of house-rules that resulted - nearly 80 pages worth of material - was sufficient to reach a critical density and spawn an entire book. Development on a new game system incorporating their house-rules began shortly afterwards, which eventually culminated in a role-playing game that, while still based on the d20 system, was substantially different from Dungeons & Dragons. It aims to provide a sleek chassis for a wide variety of gaming styles and fantasy archetypes with an emphasis on quick, rules light play.Legend's most obvious defining feature is the Track system. Rather than taking levels in classes, characters are built by combining three or four tracks that each center around a certain ability and gain every ability from these tracks as they level up. Each class consists of three tracks, which center around different abilities - for example, the default Barbarian's abilities center around Raging (Path of Rage), Hitting Lots of Enemies At Once (Path of Destruction), and Blocking Things With Your Chest (Path of the Ancestors). Multiclassing is accomplished by switching out one track with another - to continue the above example, someone wishing to play a technically minded fighter could swap out Path of Rage with the Ranger's Iron Magi track and focus on stringing together precise sequences of blows, or switch Path of the Ancestors with the Rogue's Acrobatic Adept to focus on dodging and weaving through the battlefield. The sheer quantity of tracks (almost 60 and counting) allows for some rather unorthodox but 100% viable builds.There is no default setting in the book, though two settings (Hallow and Chion) are currently in the works. There has also been an adventure released called Osaka Street Stories, set in Japan in the early 1990's, and another called Comfortably Grim is being written.A beta version was officially released on November 25th, 2011 though the charity Child's Play, and updates to the beta came out in May 2012 and January 2013. The 1.0 edition was released on June 17th, 2013. Word of God is that more content is in the works.Not to be confused with the Mongoose Publishing game Legend.
Tropes appearing in Legend are:
After the End: One of the two official settings, Hallow, is built from the remnants of an entire solar system. It was likely destroyed by some massive catastrophe, and rebuilt by divine powers.
Back from the Dead: The "Phoenix Reborn" ability for Discipline of the Crane, and a few similar powers in the Dragon, Celestial, and Undead tracks. Also possible via a medicine check.
Bare-Fisted Monk: Monks and other characters with Discipline of the Serpent get a boost that cause their unarmed strikes to gain the same properties as any other weapon(with a few exceptions), except they gain some more properties. This can be used for some...unusual purposes.
Cast From Hitpoints: The Chirurgic Poet can do this, reducing his maximum possible hitpoints in order to heal others. Also overlaps with Heroic RROD, as they receive huge damage resistance and A.C bonuses when they do this, but lose some of their ability to recover from damage.
Character Customization: Pretty much the biggest draw of the system. Not only can you choose class, but each class has a set of three ability tracks it grants. You may swap out one of your class ability tracks for that of another, and may swap a second track with the Guild Initiation feat. Finally, you have the option to take an additional fourth track with the Full Buy In mechanic (though you trade away most of your magic items in exchange). In practice, this means that not only can you build almost any conceivable character, but there are usually several different ways to do it. Even better, the system's focus on balance means that all these builds will be equally viable.
Death Is Cheap: A side effect of having a high-level medic in the party; they can stand a dead person back up between scenes. Also the case for anyone with the seventh circle of Dragon, Undead, or Discipline of the Crane.
Drunken Master: Fluffwise, this was originally a dwarven martial art, but has been imitiated by barbarians of every race. Mechanics-wise, there is a set of feats based upon Livers Need Not Apply, which gives a ton of bonuses for drinking.
Dungeon Bypass: Pretty much the only reason the Earthsmasher Pickaxe exists.
Eldritch Abomination: The traditional Cthulhu-esque variety is present in Hallow, along with the setting's angels.
Elemental Powers: In two flavors, the separate Elemental tracks for the classical elements, and the Elementalist track. The Elemental tracks have circle abilities thematically appropriate for the element, while Elementalist provides blasting abilities (such as Shock and Awe, Playing with Fire, and An Ice Person) focused on a single element.
Empty Levels: Averted. One of the key selling points of the game is that every level gives you a significant power boost.
Now available as a weapon property alongside the other abilities.
Also in multiple flavors: You can have a regular weapon that's enchanted to deal elemental damage on top of what it usually does, a weapon that exclusively deals elemental damage to begin with, or a weapon that deals elemental damage enchanted to deal even more elemental damage, possibly even of a different type.
Flash Step: There are several ways to teleport in combat, but popping up behind you after a series of attacks is the signature move of Iron Magi.
Floating Continent: Hallow is made up of "constellations" of hundreds of massive floating islands (each one is 30 to 160 miles wide, but they average 80). Most of them are interconnected. Each constellation is centered around a massive semi-sentient divine machine that regulates things.
Also, dwarves live in massive floating strongholds which they pilot around for trade.
Friendly Sniper: En in Osaka Street Stories, who ends a very formally worded letter stating that her contract on the players has expired and inviting them to her house with the following:
Gambit Roulette: Can be invoked by a player with the "Arrangements" [Legendary] ability: if they can weave a convincing enough tale of how everything has gone All According to Plan, they outright win the current encounter (with GM approval of course). This can even devolve into a Gambit Pileup if there's another character with this ability: the two characters are forced to exchange counter-plots until the GM decides one is definitively better.
Hit-and-Run Tactics: Present, especially at high levels where the archers can fly. However, most melee characters carry a gun or bow with which to shoot back.
Or fly themselves. Or get a power that cancels flight. Or-
An Ice Person: Elementalists who have Cold as their chosen energy type.
I Know Your True Name: The Words of Power feat and the Runesong Scholar track both offer versions of this.
Implacable Man: The Utter Brute track operates like this. They have one of the highest H.P bonuses in one track, and as they grow in power they gain the ability to take a five foot step at the start and end of each turn, become immune to several conditions, and at their highest level becomes literally unstoppable until they're hit by the Chunky Salsa Rule, after which they can still take one last action before death.
Improbable Weapon User: All weapons are custom-designed by selecting a number of traits. You can pick up any object and treat it as a weak weapon, choosing whatever traits would be appropriate. The Spectactular Beats feat is for characters who specialise in this fighting style.
Kamehamehadoken: Thanks to a quirk of the weapon rules, it is possible for a monk to give an unarmed strike the "Thrown" property. Word of God is that this particular combination is meant to be treated as either this or a Rocket Punch.
Laser Blade: In both item and spell form. Just Blade Sages have it as a track ability.
Lightning Bruiser: Due to the track system, making someone who are reasonably good at everthing is easy. As an example, an Utter Brute/Smiting/Crane build has both high defensive capabilities from Brute, high-offense abilities from Smiting and a high mobility from Crane.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Averted. Balancing the classes against each other was a key point in Legend's development. The system provides good examples of what Quadratic Warriors look like.
Look Behind You: Clever characters can use the Bluff skill like this during a fight.
Magic Knight: Present due to multiclassing, and without the trope's normal limitations. Learning spells as a warrior is a versatility trade-off; they choose which of their martial abilities to sacrifice, and the spells themselves are the same.
A Red Mage type build is equally possible with the same trade-off - a melee character (Barbarian, Ranger, Paladin, Rogue, or Monk) with multiclassing and Late Buy In can acquire both spellcasting tracks while maintaining some melee abilities and weaponry. Likewise, a spellcaster can do the same thing to acquire their counterpart's spellcasting track and a melee ability, although the limitations of their base class may cause some problems.
Just Blade Sages are this by default, to great effectiveness- they channel curses (or elemental blasts, or necromantic energy, or...) into their "Grim Heritors," which are straight-up Expys of lightsabres, and stab people in the face to unleash the spells.
Monty Haul: The game goes out of its way to make running this kind of campaign physically impossible - there are very strict limits on magic item use, and there is no in game mundane economy. This is all in keeping with the philosophy that characters, not items, should be doing most of the work in the game.
Mooks: There's a surprisingly in-depth format for building them on the fly. They also have distinct classes:
Operatives are Elites who get their own unique abilities. You play as one in Comfortably Grim.
Minibosses are Minions with a full four tracks and two feats.
Myriads are the odd group out. They have the stats of strikers, but are essentially a collection of bodies that die instantly when hit. The tradeoff is that they don't have to roll for attack and will always do damage.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: One benefit of the track system is that it's possible to construct many of these, up to and including a Ninja Pirate Zombie Kamen Rider. Breakdown The tracks required for this specific combination are Swashbuckler, I Am Ten Ninjas, Undead, and Vigilante. Furthermore, the system's insistence on letting the players and GM create their own fluff means that there are very few hard limits on what can be assembled.
A literal one. Start as a Sentient Construct Shaman. Use Shaman's Path to get Swashbuckler from Rogue. Use your free multiclass to get I Am Ten Ninjas. Then opt for Full Buy-In to take the Undead track with Ghoul. Now you have I Am Ten Ninjas (Ninja), Swashbuckler (Pirate), Sentient Construct (Robot), Undead (Zombie).
Additionally, When asked if any of the devs browsed TV Tropes, the answer was "probably more than half."
Our Angels Are Different: Archons and other fluffy-winged celestial beings exist, and there's even a racial track for players with several options to make each character unique.
In Hallow, the Angels are enormous semi-sentient constructs of glass and metal that oversee parts of the world. The only job that is mostly understood by humans is that they handle what happens to people and things that fall off of plates, including turning rainwater back into clouds.
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Played with. Dwarves in Hallow are highly logical beings who often become irritated when dealing with less rational creatures (ie, anyone who is not a dwarf) and come across as rather Vulcan in nature. Then you have a subset of dwarven monks who prefer to get drunk and beat the living daylights out of their enemies.
Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Hallow gnomes have low-level mind control and emotion-reading abilities, and like to be ruled by non-gnome monarchs (with the idea being that a ruler without mind control powers, when surrounded all day by creatures with mind control powers, will inevitably be on his or her best behavior). Furthermore, some of their weirdness is in the form of Obfuscating Stupidity - the core book's examples of gnomish technology include a garish set of decorative rainbow armor (that turns into an active camouflage system when one more piece is added) and high-quality opera glasses (that happen to make excellent sniping scopes).
Our Orcs Are Different: Hallow Orcs were originally the shock troops of chaos gods, kept stupid and unquestioning to serve their gods' purposes. Once introduced to Hallow, they were freed from their mental shackles and started their own (still militaristic) society, becoming Hallow's most prominent mercenaries.
Power Fist: Possible with the weapon rules. Monks' Discipline of the Serpent can also be fluffed this way.
Power Gives You Wings: High-level characters are outright expected to fly or have a way of dealing with fliers.
Promoted Fanboy: Pretty much everyone on the dev team aside from the core members is one.
Rage Quit: The Tell Them, Still Angry feat is essentially an in-character version of this - you explode on death, inflicting damage on everyone in the vicinity. The flavor text reads "No table will remain unflipped."
Ring of Power: Several, whose effects range from making you smarter to making you teleport.
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Averted by the "Rocks Fall" trap, the description of which states that "[r]umors of its lethality have been greatly exaggerated."
The aforementioned "Fistbeard Beardfist" is a reference to a popular CharOp build; the original creative lead is a well-known D&D 3.5 optimizer, and the creator of "Fistbeard" was until recently one of the writers.
Throw It In: Due to the open nature of the system's development, if a player points out a problem to the devs, they will either fix it ASAP or just say "Sure, why not?" Examples include the aforementioned Kamehame Hadoken ability for Monks.
Unstoppable Rage: Still the Barbarian's calling card; available to any class via multiclassing. Notably, it gets legitimately quite unstoppable as the character levels up - a higher-level Barbarian's rage includes features such as counting as one size larger (whether or not the character actually grows in size is left to the player), being able to intimidate enemies in combat, and gaining immunity to mind-affecting attacks. At the highest circle of the track in question, the Barbarian never stops raging.
Urban Fantasy: Osaka Street Stories specifically, but any modern-day game with this system pretty much has to be this.
Warrior Poet: There is an item called Band of the Warrior-Poet.
Was Once a Man: The transformative races enable a somewhat strange variety of this.
Weapons Kitchen Sink: The rules are designed to enable the assembly of quite literally any weapon imaginable simply by putting together three properties and declaring, for example, "This weapon is a chainsaw."
Wuxia: Discipline of the Crane has been called "Wuxia In A Can."