Suggestion: Hero Points


Running the Game

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Hero points are an interesting system but appear tacked on, they don’t interact with enough of the rest of the game to shine.

The guidelines for handing them out favor Good characters (selfless acts are called out as hero point rewarding behaviour). It entirely rewards “encounter mode” moments or out of game behaviours (I have no problem with that part).

But if you want to really put the RP into RPG, there are better methods of rewarding Hero Points and it exists in the class section of the book.

Each class has a: “Roleplaying your class” section, a list of common tropes for each class a player can use for roleplaying hooks and challenges for their character.

What if players received a Hero Point if they play up to those roleplaying hooks?

For example:

Bubblin Squeek, Halfling Alchemist has finally perfected a formula for a more potent acid. During the next foray into the Dungeon of Many Doors, he insists on using the new acid formula on every monster at least once to test its effects on multiple creature types.
This fulfills:

PF2E Playtest wrote:
Enjoy tinkering with strange formulas and alchemical reagents, often with single-minded dedication and recklessness that give others pause.

The GM hands Bubblin’s player a Hero Point for the good roleplay.

He notices however that he hasn’t handed many points to Amiri, human Barbarian. So when the PCs return to town to rest and restock the GM puts an arrogant merchant in the shop the Barbarian wants to pick up healing potions from. Playing up the preconceived notions of barbarians they have:

PF2E Playtest wrote:
Believe you have bizarre superstitions and poor education and might be illiterate.

Amiri’s player can reject or reinforce the merchant’s notions, but it provides her an opportunity to feel like a barbaric outsider in civilised lands and will get an opportunity to earn her hero point.

You could place these same hooks in for Ancestries and Backgrounds as well so that each character will have a unique mix of methods for earning Hero Points from roleplaying in a session.

Players can accomplish heroic deeds via Hero Points, but they earn Hero Points by Roleplaying. It’s a good loop and will provide great moments for the table.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I am a fan of Hero Points, pretty much in any system, and I can agree that they aren't used the best in 2e, but I really don't want to see them tied to the "roleplaying your character" section of 2e. Not only do I think that section is fundamentally flawed, but even if it weren't so tied to stereotypes of those specific classes, I'd be far more excited to reward them for roleplaying their character, rather than roleplaying the limited aspects of class that are presented in that section (even if that section were better made).

For example, let's look at the Bard. Now, I don't like the lute strumming base flavor of the bard, but let's say I, as a GM, prioritized all bard archetypes equally, be they the traditional bard, or the grizzled battlefield commander (using performance oratory), Occult-lore bard, or any other sort of bard. Now, the "If you're a bard, you likely" section rewards, firstly, the traditional bard, secondly, the traditional bard (and maybe some flavors of the occultist lore bard) and thirdly either the occultist lore bard or the traditional bard. The "Others Probably..." section rewards, firstly, the traditional bard, secondly, the traditional bard, and thirdly, maybe the occultist bard, but more likely the traditional bard. Now, I can't help but think that this just limits characters largely to the boring stereotypes of classes, and I absolutely would hate playing that system.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I like this idea in theory, but as has been mentioned I think we need a better "Roleplaying Your Class" section first. Once we get that, I think that would be an excellent way to earn your Hero Point.

I'm a little more iffy about the idea of rewarding out of character actions with Hero Points. That feels like it courts the idea of favoritism. What if I notice the cool thing that Fred does for the group but fail to notice the cool thing Velma has done. I don't want to get put in that position. "Well Velma, you don't get a Hero Point because Fred bought me pizza."

Yeah I'll probably just give everyone the 'showing up' and 'being cool' Hero Points because I'm shy of implying in game terms that the player hasn't been cool or helpful. That seems kinda' crappy.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

An additional rule that says something along the lines of:

Add a roleplay aspect to your character - This should be something that helps you express your class, your race or your background in a way unique to you. Once per session you gain a hero point for finding a new way to express this idea. Your GM must approve this.

Add a reaction aspect to your character - This is a way the world reacts to your expression of your class, race or background in a way unique to your character. Once per session you gain a hero point if your GM uses this reaction aspect on your character. Your GM must approve this.

So players who are trying to experiment beyond the basic expressions of character concepts have a method to earn Hero Points for roleplaying.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If you want to see Hero Points done right, look to FATE. Their entire System is build around aspects that can be used to provide an advantage (costs Points) or is a Problem (earns Points) It is up to the Player to define the aspect and then up to everybody (including the other Players and the GM) to come up with good uses for the aspects.
To build on your Amiri example, her aspect of "Superstitious Barbarian" could be used by her as an Advantage (I know those sigils! They mean doom!) or disadvantage (Annoying Merchants, Problems in Society).

The most beautiful part of this is that it is up to Amiris Player if she wants to accept the Problem or not. To further built the example, if Amiri wants to earn a Point, she would make a Problem of the merchants slide remark, causing a ruckus. If she doesn't feel like this is an interesting roleplaying opportunity for her, she lets it slide and does not get a Point.

Before FATE enthusiasts join in, I know she normally would have to pay a Point to avoid the Trouble, but I never liked that, because it Forces some Problems on Players that they don't feel are interesting. It rarely leads to interesting developments.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

DerNils wrote:

If you want to see Hero Points done right, look to FATE. Their entire System is build around aspects that can be used to provide an advantage (costs Points) or is a Problem (earns Points) It is up to the Player to define the aspect and then up to everybody (including the other Players and the GM) to come up with good uses for the aspects.

To build on your Amiri example, her aspect of "Superstitious Barbarian" could be used by her as an Advantage (I know those sigils! They mean doom!) or disadvantage (Annoying Merchants, Problems in Society).

This! Fate points are amazing, and I was hoping that PF2 would do something similar. As it is, I feel like Hero Points will be few and far between enough that they will never be used for anything other than the 1-point avoiding death. That saddens me.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I do wish you could use a single point for any of the three functions (save your life, reroll or take another action). You get a max of three a session, that feels like a pretty tight lid to keep them from getting abused already.

That you have to burn all of them in order to do anything good, as well as needing to 'contribute to the group' out of character in a way overt enough to get called out by the GM for an in game reward as well as do something so amazing that session that you get called out for your in game action as well...and you need to spend all three points on one thing? I'd want that thing to be a heck of a lot more significant than to have an extra action in one round of combat. One point for that feels like plenty.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Grimcleaver wrote:

I do wish you could use a single point for any of the three functions (save your life, reroll or take another action). You get a max of three a session, that feels like a pretty tight lid to keep them from getting abused already.

That you have to burn all of them in order to do anything good, as well as needing to 'contribute to the group' out of character in a way overt enough to get called out by the GM for an in game reward as well as do something so amazing that session that you get called out for your in game action as well...and you need to spend all three points on one thing? I'd want that thing to be a heck of a lot more significant than to have an extra action in one round of combat. One point for that feels like plenty.

I agree. To me, spending 3 Hero Points at once needs to be worth something really significant, especially since most PCs won't have 3 at a time on any given session, and the ones who do are only likely to have it at the very end of a session. Taking a whole extra turn, declaring a narrative element, or Breath-of-Life-ing a dead companion all seem like the appropriate power level to me.


OP why not just implement your system into your game or ask your GM if your player. You seem to have a really good grasp of how the system could expand. It can be nice to have hard written rules, and codify everything. The limit here is Hero points need a low end requirement for PFS i think. Everything above the written rules typically would require GM and player buy in to use something unique.

So far i have several rules i use for hero points. Which do tarnish the truest form of playtesting, but don't really care about that.
You may only get hero points if you are a hero. Typically Evil characters may not gain them. I do this because it is hard to be a hero, Hero points can really help the good guys feel like they are hero's.
Hero points can have 3 effects in my games:
GM rolls 1d10 which is held and can be added to any roll in the game, including the GM's for any reason. When the player chooses.
The player may bank a reroll on any die they choose that effects them. GM, or Player rolls.
Fill in the blank requirement. I have had a player cast a spell 2 levels higher than their highest spell level this way. I typically do trade offs. He cast the spell, and took 2 levels of dying, and some con damage. The key was i gave him the choice, and let him know the consequences first. He saved they day and was useless for almost a week in game time.
I start all hero players with 1 hero per game.
You can gain hero points by either roleplaying well, or doing something awesome. Doing something awesome can just be a great character choice, but has also been one guy standing in the middle of the room a pretending to stir a crock pot and dancing to it.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I am more than happy to houserule once the playtest is over.

I’d just like to see Hero Points implemented better, because right now it’s like D&D 5e’s inspiration rule. It was a vestigial rule put in the core Rulebook because the designers weren’t confident in it, and now it basically never sees play because distribution is based on incredibly vague and subjective criteria.

All I want is for the criteria for gaining Hero Points to be tightened up, for a character to be able to act in the fiction and the player to be able to flag that action to the GM.

Also I’d like Pathfinder 2, have actual mechanical reinforcement for making Roleplaying choices in the game, because right now it’s another Tactical Game, with completely optional roleplaying.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

I am more than happy to houserule once the playtest is over.

I’d just like to see Hero Points implemented better, because right now it’s like D&D 5e’s inspiration rule. It was a vestigial rule put in the core Rulebook because the designers weren’t confident in it, and now it basically never sees play because distribution is based on incredibly vague and subjective criteria.

All I want is for the criteria for gaining Hero Points to be tightened up, for a character to be able to act in the fiction and the player to be able to flag that action to the GM.

Also I’d like Pathfinder 2, have actual mechanical reinforcement for making Roleplaying choices in the game, because right now it’s another Tactical Game, with completely optional roleplaying.

I'll agree with this, pretty much completely. In fact it's pretty much how I run Hero Points in any system. But I think a good way to do it would be character specific complications. Each character has some number of player-defined complications (An ardent follower of Sarenrae, for example might never take one that they never take a life of another, with the exception of irredeemably evil foes, like demons or undead, or a character might choose a complication where they're especially repulsed by slavers and might take impulsive action to stop them, or stuff like that), and whenever their complication drives them to make a non-trivial decision, that's worth a hero point. But to me the core to this is that it has to be personal to the characters. My guess is that they're trying to eliminate ambiguity, as evidenced in a number of rules changes/additions in 2e, so they're wary about giving too many opportunities for something a bit less standardized, that a more freeform system for gaining hero points might bring, but honestly, that's one of the big draws of hero points for me: the ability to have a system for resolving things outside the strict rules, for a cost or benefit. Want to do something cool that the rules don't necessarily allow for? Sure, just spend a hero point. Need the bad guy to get away by GM fiat? Just say, "Listen, I'm invoking GM fiat here, everyone gets a Hero Point."


In PF2, Hero Points disappear at the end of a game session. Therefore, I need to give them away like Halloween candy for my players to have enough to use. I thank you for all suggestions on how I can meaningfully provide them.

While I am busy running enemy combatants, I don't have the attention to think about rewarding the players. Hence I seldom give out Hero Point during combat. My wife established a system to remind me at the end of the game session, but that won't work when Hero Points don't carry over to the next game session.

Hero Points before combat, especially since my players use roleplaying to gather information and scout ahead, will come more easily to me.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My biggest concern about Hero Points: game sessions are not a fix mechanical measure. In some groups, game sessions last between 6 to 8 hours, in others, game sessions last at maximum 2 or 3 hours.

The "fix" Hero Points concession should be based on some game mechanic, not something as random as "game session". Maybe 1 Hero Point per level, plus extra Hero Points per heroic deeds and the like, just like it was in APG. APG's way to give players hero points is very good so there is no need to change it.


They should straight up write down that their idea of a session is 4 hours, aka PFS. They bring it up again and again as a yardstick, and I am absolutely fine with it. Let's just write it down.

I am going to use HP as written in my playtest, and opened a thread for suggestions how to incentivice the "out of Play" HP without it being a "bribe the GM" measurement.


I'd rather see them drop Hero Points from the rules. They're far better done as house rules by DMs that want a Hero Point system. Those DMs will tailor those rules to their goals and do a far better job with it that Paizo can generically. The saved page count could go to something more widely used.


I have been thinking about more reasons to award hero points to that my players can reach 3 hero points in a game session. I talked this over with my wife and we went over the events in the part of Doomsday Dawn chapter 1: The Lost Star that we already played to see if they were worthy of a reward. I will avoid spoilers here, except at the very beginning.

Her goblin paladin Wallbanger talked to the goblin Talga before going down to the sewers. I realized Wallbanger would do that, so I began the adventure in the vault rather than the sewers. This was commendable. In addition, since Wallbanger was a Paladin of Alseta, god of doorways and we decided the her anathema forbade illegal entry or denying permitted entry, Wallbanger was careful to ask Talga for permission to enter Mudchewer territory. Also commendable.

Wallbanger rolled a natural 1 on her Diplomacy skill to reassure Talga, so another PC, the elf wizard Orizion, stepped in to be diplomatic. That was commendable.

The dwarf druid Longspike had a backstory that his family had built the vault and that was why he was involved. When he prepared his spells--on game time since he had not finished his character before the game session, grumble--he prepared spells for repairing the vault rather than adventuring. That would have been commendable if I had set this up as he did not know he was going into the sewers. Instead, I had to correct him that Longspike knew that his mission was to find the stolen items. The reward has letting him re-select his spells in mid-combat.

The basic principles I see in these commendations was that (1) the player was roleplaying a known aspect of the character, and (2) the action was story-enriching, good-hearted, or heroic rather than self-serving, bothersome, or obstructive.

The Pathfinder 2nd Edition system of Ancestry, Background, and Class can mark the known aspects of a character. Wallbanger was a goblin, so he saw Talga as an equal. He carefully followed the rules of the anathema from his Paladin class. Orizion was a Scholar, so using Diplomacy was natural to his background. One commendable piece of roleplaying by Longspike was saying that he would take a spear along, using it as a walking stick. That fit his Scout background, to let his weapon blend into the scene yet have it ready. Once he threw the spear at an enemy, it became heroic and could earn a hero point.

Playtest Rulebook wrote:
Your character earns Hero Points for performing heroic deeds or tasks and can spend these Hero Points to gain certain benefits. Your character starts each game session with 1 Hero Point. The GM can award Hero Points when PCs perform further heroic deeds or tasks, or when players do something special for the group. For the characters’ actions, this all comes from the story. A character needs to do something selfless or daring beyond normal expectations.

The rulebook says a character needs to do something selfless or daring to earn a hero point, yet the hero point lasts only one game session and a single hero point is weak, able to change dying into waking up with 1 hit point. I hope that dying does not come up every game session, so most of these hero points will be wasted unless the player can earn two. Weak rewards are more embarassing than effective.

In contrast, non-character actions easily earn hero points, such as one point for showing up to the game session and another point for promising to take notes. My players are not college students with limited time and budget. John, the player of Orizion, does not simply bring snacks; rather, he cooks dinner for everyone. Would that be worth 2 or 3 hero points? He does that for most of us anyway, since four live in the same house and he is by far the best cook.

The contrast does not seem balanced. Hero points for commendation-worthy roleplaying seems better balanced.


Mathmuse wrote:
non-character actions easily earn hero points, such as one point for showing up to the game session and another point for promising to take notes. My players are not college students with limited time and budget. John, the player of Orizion, does not simply bring snacks; rather, he cooks dinner for everyone. Would that be worth 2 or 3 hero points? He does that for most of us anyway, since four live in the same house and he is by far the best cook.

That's why they will be the first system dropped if I ever switch to PF2 (which, after todays session seems unlikely), I gave my players for playtesting's sake 3 Hero points, the one obligatory per session, one for making the character and one for participating in the playtest. next time, I'll give them two and see how their behaviour changes if I tell them no one brought snacks

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Playtest / Game Master Rules / Running the Game / Suggestion: Hero Points All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.