Open Legend RPG character build: Israel Amadeus

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Israel characterOn Fridays at noon, the Nerdarchy crew as well as the writers here at the site have been playing an Open Legend tabletop RPG campaign live on YouTube. For those not familiar with the game, I thought I would offer up my own character, Israel Amadeus, as well as provide some info on his background and character creation. I also thought it might be interesting to see an Open Legend character sheet. For those who have watched the game, and especially those who have played with this character, I feel it necessary here to provide a spoiler warning. If you are interested in learning more about the campaign, please check out a sampling of the cities involved.

First off, the character came to me as I imagined someone unlikable but not evil, someone who is actually a good guy, at least to himself and in his actions. Also, despite his personal flaws and lack of charm, he had to be someone who would be willing to work with a party. My goal here was to play with perceptions of good and evil, to present someone that others might initially consider evil or at least bad in some ways. To those ends, considering there would be numerous typical fantasy races in the campaign, I decided to make my character less tolerant of those races, him being human, but that he would be willing to work with these other races for the greater good. I also want this character to grow as an individual, and perhaps he will learn a few things along the way.

I also wanted a bit of a swashbuckler, someone who could lead a charge into battle, sword swinging and gun blazing. In other words, I wanted this to be a fun character to play despite his lack of charms.

Who then came to mind but Solomon Kane, the Puritan character of a number of Robert E. Howard short stories from the early parts of the 20th Century. Kane wasn’t particularly likable, often not tolerant of those not like himself, yet he would work with others when necessary, and he wasn’t afraid of a fight.

Thoughts of Solomon Kane brought me around to thinking of religion, and that’s when I came to the idea of making my character something of a zealot. Combining his religiosity, his courage, his skills for combat, along with his lack of likableness, I also worked in the fact he would stand against much of what society in general and some of his fellow party members in particular would stand for, or at least what they would utilize on a regular basis: magic.

Magic in this particular campaign is a bit different, called aether, and it literally keeps afloat the 13 cities upon which everyone lives, everyone except for the beasties which are rumored to prowl the surface world far below.

So, my character doesn’t like the other races, he doesn’t like magic, but he loves a good fight and is more than willing to sacrifice to help others, all while trying to not only spread his religious beliefs, but to help further those beliefs by returning humanity to its proper place, the surface world.

Rolling all of that together, I came up with Israel Amadeus.

Israel Amadeus

Open Legend mechanics

Open Legend was new to me, so it took some time to peruse the website and become familiar enough with the rules to build a character. At first glance, all those attributes look somewhat daunting when compared to many other tabletop RPGs which usually only have six or so such scores for characters. However, once I familiarized myself some, I realized the simplicity of the Open Legend system, and character creation became a breeze.

Israel is mostly a combatant, so I focused his Attributes in that area, though I also wanted him to be mentally tough, able to shrug off most mental and emotional attacks as well as fear effects and the like, so I put some points into Will and Presence.

As for his Extraordinary Attributes, Israel is no mage. He does not use aether in any way, and actually considers it a sin to do so (though a relatively minor sin, thus allowing for association with aether-mancers and the like). He also does not have any special technical abilities or mutations, nothing like which would give him special powers.

But … and isn’t there always a but … you will notice Israel has a Prescience of 1 and a Protection score of 4. How is this? It’s all in his sword (more on that below). Israel’s saber allows him to detect magic (aether) and it allows him to Nullify the effects of magic, personally or with an area of effect. Possibly Israel might be able to put up a wall of protection of sorts against magic, but he has not tried such as yet. But even without a wall, the sword should allow him various personal protections against magic (Boons).

Because of his disliking for magic in general, he hesitates and does not enjoy making use of his saber’s special abilities, though as far as he knows such abilities are not magical in and of themselves, but are sort of a natural anti-magic. For the most part, he utilizes his saber as a melee weapon and depends upon it and his pistol to get him through.

Israel’s pistol.

As for the pistol, I have listed it as a sawed-off shotgun because Israel will usually have the weapon loaded with shot instead of a bullet, though he can load bullets if he wants. It is a black powder weapon with only two shots.

His Perks of Courageous and Extraordinary Presence make him practically immune to fear while allowing him the steely gaze of a gunslinger, not unlike that of the famous gaze of Clint Eastwood. His Flaws of Honest and Vengeful make him a forthright opponent, one most likely to attack directly but willing to go to lengths to right a wrong, especially a wrong deemed done to him or those for whom he cares.

I would like to add that the Actions listed are not the only ones available to Israel, or to any Open Legend characters. Those are simply the Actions which are most likely to be often used by Israel, and another character would probably have a very different list.


Coming from the city of Theopholis, Israel Amadeus is a product of his environment. Raised in a respectable though not necessarily wealthy or powerful family, he can be quite conservative in his ways. However, his apparent distrust of the non-human races and all things magic does not run as deep as it would seem to observers; after all, he is willing to work with all kinds, and though they might not know it or even appreciate it, he would be willing to lay down his life for any and all of his fellow party members. Also, despite the concerns of some non-humans, Israel (and those he associates with in Theopholis) might seem to hold a certain disdain for the other races, but that does not mean they wish those races to be annihilated; if anything, Israel and most of his people merely want the other races to know their place within the world at large and to pay the proper respects to their betters, meaning humans. Whether Israel’s attitudes will ever change, only time will tell.

Israel is religious in practice, worshiping what Theopholites consider The Old Ways or The Old Gods, though he is not an overly spiritual person. Religion and religious thoughts do not occupy every moment of his time, his background and training keeping his mind often enough on security matters.

Trained in the military of his home city, and having attended officer’s school, Israel feels prepared for whatever the world might throw his way. He is relatively young, only just 30. His training, experience, vigor, and attitude have brought to him being entrusted with his sword and a general mission in discovering not only what currently threatens the cities, but what lies upon the surface world far below, with the eventual goal of returning humankind to that surface.

Secrets (SPOILERS)

Here is the section you should not read if you prefer to remain in the dark. Israel’s past has tragedy and some elements which are unknown even to him, so if you don’t want to know about that, STOP READING NOW.

Okay, still here? Don’t say you weren’t warned.

The Sword

Israel’s saber (based upon an 1845 English infantry officer’s sword), though the scabbard would be covered in black cloth.

Being the sole representative from Theopholis to the Aethernati away team, as well as being the only human on the current team, Israel is tasked with much. To aid him in his endeavors, he has been gifted an ancient sword with powers to thwart the evils of magic. Legends say the sword is made of a unique metal that came from a star that fell to the surface world, and that it is ancient, crafted long ago when mankind still ruled the surface lands.

The truth pertaining to the sword is questionable, however. There is no question that it is old, but whispers of rumors suggest the saber might not be all it is supposed to be. Does the sword itself really contain the power to thwart magic? Historical texts and the general beliefs of Theopholis say “yes,” but some few historians, usually those on the fringes of belief (a few of whom have been excommunicated from the Theopholis church) have suggested the sword actually has no real power, though it is no doubt stronger than the average steel blade and more than a serviceable weapon. If there is any truth to this, from where do the powers to nullify magic come, if not the sword?

Possibly from the saber’s user. The same discredited historians suggest every few generations there is someone born, a special human, who has the innate abilities to warp magic, to shut it down, to delete it from existence. These historians also state that the powers-that-be in Theopholis, mainly the church, know this very well but keep it a secret as they have concerns such knowledge would undermine their faith and themselves, possibly leading the general populace to doubt the church because an individual with such power would not be considered natural, could even be considered something of a warlock or wizard. And the church can’t have anyone within its fold who is a wielder of magic, or more correctly, some form of anti-magic. If this sounds hypocritical, especially considering the saber’s wielder is still making use of this anti-magic regardless of its true source, you would not be the first to point such out; others who have voiced such thoughts have disappeared, so you might want to keep your mouth shut, at least in Theopholis.

Regardless of the truth, Israel has the sword. Are the powers within the blade itself, or are they within him? He does not know for sure. He knows the official line, that the sword provides him special abilities, but despite being not the most studious of individuals, he is an educated man and has heard some of the rumors. These rumors disturb him. He does not wish to use magic, or anti-magic. If he ever found out that he himself were the source of these anti-magic powers, he might not be able to live with himself.

Not that it matters. He already has a death wish.


Israel has not always been the solemn, dour individual he is today. He was never a happy-go-lucky kind of fellow (no one is in Theopholis), but at least he used to crack a smile every once in a while and was generally liked by those around them, nor did he seem to hold the other races in such low regard.

That changed some years back.

Despite the attitudes of the church and the human population of Theopholis, there are a number of non-humans who live and work within the city. No small number of these individuals are elves. One such elf was a young lady by the name of Emmavalene, older in years than Israel but not in maturity, for Emmavalene was still considered an adolescent by her own people.

After completing his basic military training, Israel arrived home for a brief stay before shipping off to officer’s school. During an outing one night to a formal dinner party, he perchanced to meet Emmavalene, who was working as a servant.

It was love at first sight.

Unfortunately, that love could not be made public. It was unthinkable that a human from a respectable family in Theopholis would have any sort of relations with an elf. Still, this added a certain amount of danger and thrill to their meetings, heating their feelings for one another beyond what they otherwise might have been.

This went on for a few years. Israel was often away at school, but whenever he was home he and Emmavalene would make sure to spend as much time together as possible. More than once they were almost caught together, but such was not to be their fate.

The gods had something darker in store for this pair of lovers.

Upon graduating, Israel returned home again, this time with thoughts of marriage on his mind. He and Emmavalene met late one night, their first meeting in some while, and he asked for her hand in marriage, promising they would move away to another city where they could openly show their love for one another, where they could become man and wife.

Emmavalene was ecstatic. The young elf threw herself into her lover’s arms while shouting, “Yes, yes, yes!”

Then she had a surprise of her own. She had been waiting for him to graduate before telling him, but she had been accepted into aether-mancer training at a school where a handful of candidates were chosen to attend each year. This school supplied the few powerful aether-mancers who kept the city of Theopholis afloat in the sky, but Emmavalene insisted she would be able to transfer to another city once her training was complete. Besides, what would be more natural for an elf than to study and use magic?

This is where the story turns. Israel flew into a rage. How dare Emmavalene study magic? Didn’t she realize how dangerous aether was? How much of a sin it was? The two argued back and forth for hours, him shouting and her pleading, but she could not be dissuaded from what she felt was her true calling. In the end, in a final bid to break Emmavalene’s resolve, Israel threatened that their marriage would be called off and that he would no longer have anything to do with her unless she would give up all notions of dealing in magic.

She fled from him in tears. Early in the morning, darkness still holding sway over the skies, she fled.

Never again would they see one another. At least not living.

The next day, after the sun had been risen for some hours, Emmavalene was discovered less than a mile from Israel’s ancestral home. Her body floated in a stream beneath a bridge. The death was deemed a suicide by the authorities, though they never had a guess as to why the young elf took her own life.

Upon the moment of learning of Emmavalene’s death, Israel became a different man, the man he is today. He does not know for sure whether her death was a suicide or something else, perhaps an accident, but he blames himself, regretting their final moments together, regretting his final words to her.

Only once more would he see her, through a side window where he peered into the church where her funeral was held. He could not attend, not publicly, nor could he openly mourn her death. No one knew. No one could know. Such was not allowed.

Even today, a few years later, no one knows but Israel himself. His career would be ruined and his family might very well disown him if the truth ever came to light. Emmavelene’s ghost haunts his memories, and his sleep.

So he volunteered for the Aethernati, for perhaps the most dangerous mission of them all. For what does he have to lose?

He misses his girl, and maybe in death he could see her again.

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A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. He is vice president of Rogue Blades Foundation, a non-profit focused upon publishing heroic literature. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, and bourbon. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.

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