Hero Points


Additional Rules


I'm a huge fan of Hero Points and would love to see them find their way into PFRPG in one form or another.

The best system I've come across so far is from Warhammer FRP. Basically, the PCs start out with a couple of Fate Points which can be expended to avoid death. As long as the PC still has points, he also can make one reroll per day per Fate Point. PCs gain Fate Points very sparingly, and only when they achieve some major success.

The result is a system that diminishes the amount of PC deaths but at a very real cost - every Fate Point expended means one less reroll per day.

Since WFRP is deadlier than D&D, beginning characters should probably start with only one Hero/Fate Point and never be allowed to have more than one at a time. They could then be given a chance to regain any expended points every three levels or so (once per PF AP module).

I'm going to playtest this in our next campaign, but in the meantime I'm curious what others think of such a system for PF.


In ages past I played a little Warhammer FRP, and vaguely remember the fatepoints...

More recently I've tried the action point system used in the Eberron Campaign system... For those that might not know this system, you add a d6 roll to your already rolled d20 (this is how I remember it, at least ;-)). That method almost always asured my players a success, which may be good, naturally, but it took away much of the sense of danger. "Huh? Is that thar thang a dwagon? Dunno, let's kill it and make sure. It's breath will most likely only singe us..." ( a bit over-simplyfied, but critical saves, attack rolls and such was soon easily overcome....)

But fatepoints where you get a re-roll could be nice (knowing how my monk just recently died from a Horrid Wilting spell, mostly due to massive damage, but failed the first save by one, and the second save vs massive damage i rolled a 3 where a 4 was needed, oh how I wished for a reroll :-)

If such a thing was to be, my vote would go to the re-roll model, but the re-rolls should have a limited availability, such as 1 per 3 lvls or so. It ain't fer me ta saggest dem numbers, see? :-)


Gworeth wrote:
More recently I've tried the action point system used in the Eberron Campaign system... For those that might not know this system, you add a d6 roll to your already rolled d20 (this is how I remember it, at least ;-)). That method almost always asured my players a success, which may be good, naturally, but it took away much of the sense of danger. "Huh? Is that thar thang a dwagon? Dunno, let's kill it and make sure. It's breath will most likely only singe us..." ( a bit over-simplyfied, but critical saves, attack rolls and such was soon easily overcome....)

Your players must have better luck with their action points than I do!

"Oh, I rolled a 4 on my saving throw. I better use an action point. <rolls> O.K., now it's a 5."

Sovereign Court

I don't know, I'm not really a fan of reducing lethality of the game. I think enough has allready been done in that regard. I'm fine with luck reroll feats and since this is a BCS I don't think we need to add a freebie hey this will increase survivability button and you don't need to do anything to get it.


Gworeth wrote:
That method almost always asured my players a success, which may be good, naturally, but it took away much of the sense of danger.

That's why I like the idea of hero points that once spent are gone forever as opposed to the action point system, where you regain all your spent action points when you level.


I think such a system would lead people to only spend the points to avaoid death. And since the point is meaningless when you are dead, you will immediately spend it when a death situation comes up.
So with not having to chose when you spend the point, I think the system becomes quite meaningless.

I also think about granting my players special points to increase their chances of doing extremely risky, but very rewarding things. But they would only get these points when they pull of really impressive and heroic things that show their particularly high commitment to a special cause. I think this really both encourages and rewards taking extreme actions that you would normally consider as too risky.

I also think about not telling the players when they get points and only inform them when they have run out of them. Could make the descision to spend one even more exiting. ^^


Neithan wrote:

I think such a system would lead people to only spend the points to avaoid death. And since the point is meaningless when you are dead, you will immediately spend it when a death situation comes up.

So with not having to chose when you spend the point, I think the system becomes quite meaningless.

I also think about granting my players special points to increase their chances of doing extremely risky, but very rewarding things. But they would only get these points when they pull of really impressive and heroic things that show their particularly high commitment to a special cause. I think this really both encourages and rewards taking extreme actions that you would normally consider as too risky.

I also think about not telling the players when they get points and only inform them when they have run out of them. Could make the descision to spend one even more exiting. ^^

sounds like force points from star wars.

Liberty's Edge

The rules from Unearthed arcana allowed a player to gain additional benefits with certain feats by spending their action points. While this might seem like a lot of work for the DM to decide and the players to track, it works best.

In general, a PC would gain double the benefit of a feat by spending an action point. This limits the use of an action point to something the player has already "purchased."

I allowed the use of action points using this system (and allowing them to be spent for re-rolls), with the stipulation that only one could be used per session. The player started with one, and gained it back at the end of the adventure; if it was used in an appropriately heroic fashion, it was regained at the end of the session. Conversely, a player that used his action point for only personal gain would lose the use of action points for the next adventure/quest (much like West End Games Force points!) The players tracked action points using a poker token, making it easy to know when the player had used it. The only problem I found was the players forgetting that they had the action point option.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I personally like hero points. However, I would like to see them put in an optional rule section rather than the main rule section.


Zavarov wrote:
That's why I like the idea of hero points that once spent are gone forever as opposed to the action point system, where you regain all your spent action points when you level.

I find that players are reluctant to spend their points even when they know they refresh. Make them a one-shot deal and I bet no one will ever use 'em.


Here are my home rules for action dice. Much of it is taken from the Unearthed Arcana/SRD action point rules, with additional inspiration from various other sources, notably Spycraft's action dice. One place where I differ from the UA though is that I don't have players roll multiple dice at higher levels.

Spoiler:
ACQUIRING ACTION DICE
All players get 3 Action Dice per session. All Action Dice are d6. The GM may opt to award more or less for a session that is expected to be shorter or longer than an average session. At the GM’s discretion, players may be awarded a bonus Action Die for particularly exceptional role playing that entertains the group and otherwise improves the overall game experience.

The GM gets 6 Action Dice for a typical session. In addition, the GM may assign 1 or 2 bonus Action Dice to particularly important NPCs (such as the primary villain of an adventure). Typical NPCs do not get Action Dice, other than whatever the GM opts to spend out of his own pool.

All Action Dice that are not spent are lost at the end of the session.

USING ACTION DICE
You can spend an Action Die either to add to a single d20 roll or damage roll, to take a special action, or to improve the use of a feat. Generally, you can spend only an Action Die in a round. If you spend a point to use a special action (see below), you can’t spend another one in the same round to improve a die roll, and vice versa.

When you spend an Action Die to improve a d20 roll, roll the die and add the result to your roll. If the Action Die comes up as a 6, it “explodes”…roll it again and add the new result to the 6. An Action Die keeps exploding as long as you keep rolling 6’s. You can declare the use of an Action Die to alter a d20 roll after the roll is made, but only before the GM reveals the result of that roll. You can’t use an Action Die to alter the result of a d20 roll when you are taking 10 or taking 20.

SPECIAL ACTIONS
A character can perform certain tasks by spending an Action Die In addition to the actions described below, some prestige classes or feats (see below) might allow the expenditure of Action Dice in order to gain or activate specific abilities, at the GM’s option.

Activate Class Ability
A character can spend an Action Die to gain another use of a class ability that has a limited number of uses per day. For example, a monk might spend an Action Die to gain another use of her stunning fist ability, or a paladin might spend an Action Die to make an additional smite attack. A cleric may Channel Undead an extra time or a wizard may cast a spell from his arcane bond item an extra time.

Activate a Threat
When a character rolls a threat, he may use an Action Die to turn it into a Critical Hit without having to make a second roll.

Activate an Opponent’s Fumble/Error
When an opponent rolls a natural 1 on a d20 roll, as an immediate action a player may use an Action Die to cause him or her to fumble, with results as determined by the GM. Likewise the GM may use his Action Dice to cause a fumble when a player rolls a natural 1 on the d20.

Boost Defense
A character can spend an Action Die to get a +2 AC bonus for one round. This stacks with the bonus from Fighting Defensively (Beta pg. 136 & 139) resulting in a +4 AC (the player still takes a -4 to all attack rolls for fighting defensively). Likewise it stacks with the bonus from Total Defense (Beta pg. 137) resulting in a +6 AC bonus (a character using Total Defense can’t do anything other than defend that round). Characters trained in Acrobatics will have a +5 AC bonus when Fighting Defensively and +8 AC bonus using Total Defense when using this boost.

Emulate Feat
At the beginning of a character’s turn, he may spend an Action Die as a free action to gain the benefit of a feat he doesn’t have. He must meet the prerequisites of the feat. He gains the benefit until the beginning of his next turn. The various improved combat maneuver feats (Improved Grapple, Improve Bull Rush, etc.) are prime candidates for this use. The GM may rule that some feats can’t be emulated (edit: such as metamagic feats).

Extra attack
During any round in which a character takes a full attack action, he may spend an Action Die to make an extra attack at his highest base attack bonus.

Refresh
A character can spend an Action Die to refresh himself, healing hit points equal to the result of the Action Die roll.

Spell Boost
A character can spend an Action Die as a free action to increase the effective caster level of one of his spells by 2. He must decide whether or not to spend an Action Die in this manner before casting the spell.

Spell Recall
Spellcasters who prepare their spells in advance can spend an Action Die to recall any spell just cast. The spell can be cast again later with no effect on other prepared spells. This use of an Action Die is a free action and can only be done in the same round that the spell is cast. Spontaneous spellcasters such as sorcerers and bards can spend an Action Die to cast a spell without using one of their daily spell slots. This use of an Action Die is a free action and can only be done as the spell is being cast.

Stabilize
Any time a character is dying, he can spend an Action Die to become stable at his current hit point total.

IMPROVING FEATS
The use of Action Dice opens up a whole range of possible feats. However, it’s easier on characters simply to improve existing feats to take advantage of Action Dice—that way, characters needn’t spend their precious feat slots simply to gain the ability to use their Action Dice. Below are a few examples of how Action Dice can be used with existing feats. Unless otherwise stated, each effect requires a free action to activate and lasts 1 round.

Blind-Fight
You can spend an Action Die to negate your miss chance for a single attack.

Combat Expertise
You can spend an Action Die to double the bonus to Armor Class granted by the feat. For example, if you take a penalty of -3 on your attack roll, you gain a +6 dodge bonus to AC.

Improved Combat Maneuver Feats (i.e. Improved Bull Rush/Disarm/Grapple/Sunder/Trip)
When using any of these improved combat maneuver bonus feats, you can spend an Action Die to increase the bonus to your check to +4. The DC for an opponent to improve this type of maneuver against you increases to +4 (instead of +2) until your next turn.

Improved Critical
You can spend an Action Die to double your critical threat range. Since two doublings equals a tripling, this benefit increases your threat range from 19-20 to 18-20, from 17-20 to 15-20, or from 15-20 to 12-20, including the effect of your Improved Critical feat. This benefit stacks with the benefit from Improved Critical, but not with other effects that increase threat range.

Improved Initiative
You can spend an Action Die to double the bonus on initiative checks granted by the feat, from +4 to +8.

Metamagic Feats
You can spend an Action Die to add the effect of any one metamagic feat that you have to a spell you are casting. The spell is cast at its normal level (without any level adjustment because of the feat) and takes no extra time to cast.

Heighten Spell automatically raises a spell’s effective level to the highest level of spell you are capable of casting. For example, if a 7th-level wizard with the Heighten Spell feat casts burning hands and spends an Action Die to heighten the spell, the spell is treated as if it were a 4th-level spell in all respects even though the wizard prepared it normally (as a 1st-level spell).

Power Attack
You can spend an Action Die to double the bonus on damage rolls granted by the feat. For example, if you take a penalty of -3 on your attack roll, you add +6 to your damage roll. If you are using a weapon two-handed and already have double the bonus, you triple the bonus (not quadruple it).

Spell Focus
You can spend an Action Die to double the increase to save DCs granted by the feat, from +1 to +2.

Spell Penetration
You can spend an Action Die to double the bonus on caster level checks granted by the feat, from +2 to +4. The effect lasts for the entire encounter.


I love the idea of a metagme mechanic. I find that players feel a little less cheated when a bad roll determines something crucial.

Star wars had force points, ebberon and D20 modern had action points. True 20 has conviction (which I love and is particularilly relevant to the system)

I could go with an action points option.

Batts


So... Eberron and 4E have action points, Arcana Evolved and Mutant & Masterminds have hero points, Star Wars has force points, True20 has conviction points, Warhammer has fate points. I see a trend...

Will Pathfinder have any such system, maybe as an optional rule? Are you good folks at Paizo even considering it?


I'm using the action from from unearthed arcana (which is OGL), and I think they work very well. They don't really change the power level, since they're a limited ressource, it's not as adding permanent bonuses to the classes. They don't change stat blocks. You can use them when you really need them. I think that's great, and my players really enjoy them.

Dark Archive

I'd certainly *love* to see Action Points (as re-rolls, maybe with a +2 bonus or so?) introduced to the PF RPG. They'd help with a lot of problems (e.g. high DCs vs. low saves) at least a bit.

BTW, in addition to Fate Points, WFRP 2nd Edition uses 'Fortune Points' (plain re-rolls ; one per round max.) that are a daily resource derived from your 'Fate Points' (i.e. 2 Fate Points, 2 Fortune Points per day). Fate Points still work as before, i.e. to completely negate an effect.

Grand Lodge

I have to vote the other way. I'm not a fan of action points or any points used to tweak up a die roll apart from what is provided by the mechanics (BAB, Ability modifier, synergy, etc). I feel it creates a disruption to the game flow and mechanics. I don't understand why players have such a hard time accepting the outcome of the dice. If your PC doesn't make the roll for a successful attack, save, skill, etc., well, that's the outcome - accept, live with it, and move on. The game is fun. Why damper the excitment when things don't go the way of the PC. Why is there a need to add points? Leave Eberron, 4e, and all those other games mentioned, to what they've done without seeing the need to copy it in Pathfinder. An incessant number of point sources to tweak a die roll isn't, in my view, the end all of a successfull game session. It creates imbalance to the mechanics.


I'll vote with the "keep it optional" crowd.

I did once use "cool points" in one high-fantasy campaign. If a player did something really cool, like a risky maneuver, or something really heroic or original, they got a "cool point."

It allowed one reroll anytime during that gaming session. You could only have one at a time, so no hoarding them, and only good for that session.

It made for some theatrical moments, which is what I was aiming for.


A points system is an idea I'm fond of, and I've been using the UA Action Points for a few months now. Of course, I think that's a little overboard, both in what it allows you to do and that my players, due to a mix of luck, pack-rat mentality, and my inexperience as a DM giving them easier adventures than normal, have in the neighborhood of 20 to 51 (!) points stored back. If I recall correctly, Eberron put a 'use them or lose them clause' (i.e. lose unused points when you level up and gain new ones) which helps the latter issue, though. If only I'd known that before so I wouldn't have to wrench the damn things out of the player's iron-clad fists if that hoard becomes too much of a problem.

(The raw irony is that the unlucky player (i.e., Mr. roll three 1s in a row) I instituted the rule for is one of the worse hoarders, but that's another topic entirely. And my evil DM side does giggle with glee whenever someone opts to use an AP on an attack that would have hit without it.)

Anyway, I'd posit that a narrower range of uses than that system would be a good thing. What I'd like out of it is a limited ability to hedge out catastrophic failure combined with an ability to let the heroes do the occasional awesome thing. I like the 4th edition idea of trading in an AP for a standard action; just that nifty little effect, in moderation, would probably be enough for me.

That's my two cents, at least. Depending on the extent of the system, though, it might be a better idea to set it aside as a side rule rather than a core rule because this sort of thing just doesn't mesh well with non-heroic/non-cinematic games or when the DM thinks the players should just take whatever lumps the dice give them.


I am dead set against making any "Hero Points" or "Action Points" part of the Pathfinder game rules. Put it in an optional "Unearthed Arcana" supplement if you must, but leave it out of the core standard rules. It's just coddling for the video game players and has no place in the game. What next, a "Save Point" that you can reload to? Pfeh!

Bad rolls happen. Suck it up and move on. This is a game and without risk, there is no point to playing.

Dark Archive

I've got a version I am using right now. It's modeled on Force Points from Star Wars, but has a "die bump" mechanic as well. Characters start with 1 hero point at creation and earn them for heroic actions, or in some cases I will grant them for really good roleplaying (my group tends to gloss over a lot of RP situations and I'm trying to encourage them).
Sometimes character have a roll they have to make, or a very difficult roll to make. In that case, they can declare before the dice roll that they are spending a hero point. If so, they add 1d6 to the roll, and it counts as part of the roll. Yes, that means that the player cannot roll a 1 on a save, could potentially roll a "natural" 26, and yes it also means that they are more likely to get a crit. I'm willing to accept that as DM, since Hero Points probably aren't going to get wasted on flunkies and minions, unless there is a real need for someone to do something really desparate.
On the back side, if they blow an important roll or miss it by "that much", they can use one after the die roll as +1 to their own rolls or a +1 to their AC. My feeling is, they are supposed to be heroes, they should be able to pull off that occasional "OMG, did you see how close I came getting my head taken off!" or the "He thought he had dodged my attack, but fate was with me and my strike was true."

I don't think they should be part of the standard rules, because they are not appropriate for all games. They do make for a good optional rule though, especially in very heroic or swashbuckler type campaigns where characters need to be able to pull off the occasional "OMG feat of daring-do."


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Asturysk wrote:
Bad rolls happen. Suck it up and move on. This is a game and without risk, there is no point to playing.

Tell that to The Storyteller. The guy who works his bottom off to develop an intricate and colourful character. The guy who doesn't really care about max/min but instead builds an interesting character who has mechanical weaknesses that make for good roleplay. The guy who picks up Craft instead of Tumble, then makes a point of crafting mechanically pointless things like belts or quivers that have artful carvings on them.

The that guy that the character he's been building into as much a person as he could just fell off the side of a mountain because he failed a Climb check by 6 and then failed Reflex save you gave him to see if he manages to grab hold of another party member before he plunges, and then the party barbarian fails a check to grab him, while holding onto the rope with his teeth.

"Suck it up and move on."

Sure. There's raise dead in this game. Assuming you've got the a} time, b} funds, c} caster available. There's also the spiral-of-doom that happens because you lose a level. A character that was weak enough to die once is quite possibly under-powered and stands a good chance to die again (and again [and again]) if they lose a level.

I will absolutely agree that Action Points should be a sidebar. But please relax and realize that throwing out rhetoric lie "coddling for the video game players" is insulting at best. In fact, please name a video game where you can pause the action when it REALLY, REALLY matters and roll an extra die to increase your odds of success by an average of 15%.

I'll tell you another thing about action points. If the chips are down and you KNOW that this next attack HAS to succeed or the universe is doomed, and you roll that D20, and you see... um, well, add my modifiers, I'm flanking, Power-Attacking for um, okay, favoured-enemy applies right now from my Ranger level and um... 18! "Wait, Mr. DM, wait. 18. Crap. Um. Let's see, um, I know I hit with a 23 three misses ago, and I know a 16 doesn't hit because that's what I bloody rolled for the last three rounds... um... um... I'M GOING TO BLOW AN ACTION POINT!" See, this moment... this drama... this I THINK I'm influencing the universe action... feels good. If you roll your action point and the DM says "HIT!", you jump up and shake your fists in the air, cheering... never knowing if that 18 would've hit. You feel like you did everything possible and then some. If you roll and your DM sadly says "Sorry. That. Is. A. Miss.", well, you still feel let down but again you KNOW that you did everything possible, that you went the extra mile, that you turned every stone. You're a hero, but even heroes can roll a natural 1.

Action points can add a LOT of drama, if they're looked at the right way, by the right group. A DM who plays up the results, makes the moment exciting... makes this rule option fun. You should try it some time. Maybe, just maybe you might discover something; it's not win or lose, but how you play the game.


A really don't care for adding Action Points to the game, but I do make use of Hero Points as an Uber-mechanic.

Details followed by an overview of the system I use is located in THIS old thread.

Basically, it's a get-out-of-death-free card once every 10 or so levels.

FWIW,

Rez


Anguish wrote:
Asturysk wrote:
Bad rolls happen. Suck it up and move on. This is a game and without risk, there is no point to playing.

Tell that to The Storyteller. The guy who works his bottom off to develop an intricate and colourful character. The guy who doesn't really care about max/min but instead builds an interesting character who has mechanical weaknesses that make for good roleplay. The guy who picks up Craft instead of Tumble, then makes a point of crafting mechanically pointless things like belts or quivers that have artful carvings on them.

The that guy that the character he's been building into as much a person as he could just fell off the side of a mountain because he failed a Climb check by 6 and then failed Reflex save you gave him to see if he manages to grab hold of another party member before he plunges, and then the party barbarian fails a check to grab him, while holding onto the rope with his teeth.

"Suck it up and move on."

Sure. There's raise dead in this game. Assuming you've got the a} time, b} funds, c} caster available. There's also the spiral-of-doom that happens because you lose a level. A character that was weak enough to die once is quite possibly under-powered and stands a good chance to die again (and again [and again]) if they lose a level.

I will absolutely agree that Action Points should be a sidebar. But please relax and realize that throwing out rhetoric lie "coddling for the video game players" is insulting at best. In fact, please name a video game where you can pause the action when it REALLY, REALLY matters and roll an extra die to increase your odds of success by an average of 15%.

I'll tell you another thing about action points. If the chips are down and you KNOW that this next attack HAS to succeed or the universe is doomed, and you roll that D20, and you see... um, well, add my modifiers, I'm flanking, Power-Attacking for um, okay, favoured-enemy applies right now from my Ranger level and um... 18! "Wait,...

I have been both the player and the storyteller. I myself don't make optimized builds. I play what I want to play because of concept. But that player choice isn't a license to invalidate the issue of risk balanced with story. A *GOOD* judge/DM/GM/storyteller will balance and build accordingly, knowing the PC's and what they are capable of. They will know the rules, know the variations possible, and have the good judgment to adjust CR and hazards to provide the desired outcome and challenge desired. Honestly the argument of Hero Points needed for dramatic outcome is weak. Dramatic outcomes are the result of cooperative efforts and *work* by both the judge and player. The Hero Point is just a "feel good" way of dealing with something without building the trust, the expertise, and the investiture of time and effort needed for a good game. Quite honestly, it's a lazy man's way of making for "dramatic moments".

As for the argument that PC death and raising loses levels and further hampers the PC, I think you need to re-read how PF deals with death and raising. There is no level loss. Furthermore the arguments of cash on hand, ability to cast, and resources are matters the judge sets. The judge has control on what it takes to help a party if it needs a leg up. Just as I state above, this is a matter of good storytelling and good motivating. Given the example of a fallen PC and insufficient levels or funds, a skilled judge can introduce an NPC who can do the task at hand of raising the deceased, and give the party the motivation for repaying that favor.

Similarly, the party would never need to be in a situation where death is the only possible consequence under a skilled judge in the first place. Establishing the world and the risks is the job of the judge, and creating risky and challenging scenarios where death is not the desired outcome is part and parcel of the storytelling process. Sure, if you don't want the PC's to fall until the dramatic final battle, then don't establish scenarios where death is the outcome. It's not an "all or nothing" choice. Hero Points are a lazy crutch for Pathfinder. They work well in a genre where there's a fast and free-winging vaudevillian story, such as comic book super heroes. But in fantasy, they turn the game into a video game given the amount of safety nets that already exist for the Player, not the least of which is that death is neither permanent nor debilitating beyond the judge's desires.

*shrugs*

I see no need nor justification for the mechanic of action/hero points.


Too bad we aren't all as genius as you. Why even bother with dice at all, I wonder? A good DM can easily adjucate the outcome of anything the players come up with.

Bah. Those "Anyone who likes X, is just a video game/MMO/WoW geek" comments always get my blood boiling.


Zavarov wrote:

Too bad we aren't all as genius as you. Why even bother with dice at all, I wonder? A good DM can easily adjucate the outcome of anything the players come up with.

Bah. Those "Anyone who likes X, is just a video game/MMO/WoW geek" comments always get my blood boiling.

See my reference to risk and challenge for the answer of why one bothers rolling dice.

And just because your blood boils doesn't make the comment untrue. The addition of Action Points/Force Points/Hero Points significantly alters the genre and flavor of the game. Save the Force Points for Star Wars. Save the Hero Points for Mutants and Masterminds. I play them both and they are perfectly fine for those games. But leave them out of sword & sorcery role-playing. They just don't belong. The game changes too much and the dynamic is irrevocably altered. It becomes a video game.


I'm running a game with hero points and it has gone well over the past two years. The players were told the campaign would be long lasting and they had so many re-roll pts plus so many fate (change circumstance/result) points. There are no opportunities to obtain more.

This has allowed those players who wanted to do character development or play a less min/maxed character more enjoyable. They could spend time and effort developing their character without them worrying about dying because of a bad die roll. The players also know they never have to use the points if they do not want to.

Finally, through the use of the fate points, the players adventured into dangerous areas and now recognize dangerous areas by descriptions given within the game via rumors, npcs, ancient texts, etc. Now these characters are near epic in level and when they hear rumors of a very difficult area, they know the area is actually really difficult and they prepare themselves appropriately instead of being haughty or overconfident. We still have the dramatic/cinematic scenes and the players realize death is a real possibility in their future....

Sovereign Court

Um, I don't get this survivability of re-rolls clap trap. I play characters very much not mechanically min maxed. I half the time will roll stats down the line instead of rolling and selecting where they go and I don't use re-rolls. I also never plan a build ever, nor do I allow my characters to know about magic item stacking and what's out there without ranks in knowledge: arcana. and yet I've never had a problem with survivability. the only time my characters died, they usually were accompanied by a total player kill. So when I see people say that it makes the game more enjoyable for the people who don't min-max, I gotta call bs. It makes the game less lethal, that's all it does. now if less lethal is more enjoyable for your group then by all means, go for it and use them and have fun with them. But don't use the people who don't min-max as an excuse for adding them to the game. An optional sidebar for hero points is all that's needed.


lastknightleft wrote:
Um, I don't get this survivability of re-rolls clap trap. I play characters very much not mechanically min maxed. I half the time will roll stats down the line instead of rolling and selecting where they go and I don't use re-rolls. I also never plan a build ever, nor do I allow my characters to know about magic item stacking and what's out there without ranks in knowledge: arcana. and yet I've never had a problem with survivability. the only time my characters died, they usually were accompanied by a total player kill. So when I see people say that it makes the game more enjoyable for the people who don't min-max, I gotta call bs. It makes the game less lethal, that's all it does. now if less lethal is more enjoyable for your group then by all means, go for it and use them and have fun with them. But don't use the people who don't min-max as an excuse for adding them to the game. An optional sidebar for hero points is all that's needed.

You said it! This is what I was trying to say in a nutshell!


Although I do use an action point rule as mentioned earlier, I agree that any such system should be an optional feature rather than a standard assumption of the rules.


Lethality is a cost. If you enter combat or fall into a trap, there should be a risk and thus a cost for failing and in vanilla D&D the only possible cost is death. You used to have magic item destruction and level loss, but those were few and far between and have more or less been taken out of the game entirely.

One of the biggest dilemma's in roleplaying games is that while you need to have the risk of death in the game, nobody likes to lose his character. Epecially to a (series of) bad roll(s).

Hero Points or whatever you want to call them can provide a perfect middle ground. Enter combat or fall into a trap and you could lose a Hero Point. Lose a Hero Point and you are one step closer to death.

But that's just one version of the Hero Point. It might not be to your liking, but for me it beats the alternative of having the game come to a crashing halt while the PCs run for a cleric who can cast True Resurrection. But then I am a DM who never ever fudges a die roll or tones down an encounter and I only allow a character to be resurrected once. My Hero Points also have other uses (I am currently using Monte Cook's system from AE) which give my players a lot of extra options (extra options are good!).

That's what a good Hero Points system does imo: it adds options for the players and (possibly) provides an alternative for death.

Scarab Sages

Earthdawn published way back in like 1989 had Karma Points...awesome, just awesome...

I use Action Points currently, since I'm running Eberron games, makes sense, I actually take them a step further, I add all sorts of other heroic things to the game...I'm not a big character killing DM, the story is better when you're not swapping characters every level...I like to challenge my players not slaughter them...I do have deaths of course...but APs really help keep the game running.

Here's another new use. Negate a critical. Ooo I like that one.

PAthfinder has Harrow points, but they're pretty limited and not in the Core RPG book of course...


OK, the argument against has 3 parts:
1. Lethality should always be possible;
2. The DM is in charge of deciding when to spare the PCs by fiat;
3. Players must never be given that power, because they are all whiny losers.

The argument for has 3 parts as well:
1. Sometimes it's fun to be able to introduce a bizarre twist of fate that saves a character despite all odds;
2. Sometimes the DM isn't skilled enough to "tweak" things without breaking verisimilitude;
3. It would be nice to have a mechanic to correct for that.

It's all about total dictatorial DM control with an iron fist, vs. sharing outcome decisions with players. It has nothing at all to do with "video games" -- that's an emotional argument, not a logical one, as something of a smokescreen to cover up the "against" reasoning outlined above (which is another version of the "fighters don't suck at high levels because the DM should break the rules to make them not suck" argument).


Xaaon of Xen'Drik wrote:
Earthdawn published way back in like 1989 had Karma Points...awesome, just awesome...

Top Secret had Fame and Fortune points well before that!

A quick Google turned up this interesting article:
http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/systemdesign/heropoints.html

Sovereign Court

Kirth Gersen wrote:

OK, the argument against has 3 parts:

1. Lethality should always be possible;
2. The DM is in charge of deciding when to spare the PCs by fiat;
3. Players must never be given that power, because they are all whiny losers.

The argument for has 3 parts as well:
1. Sometimes it's fun to be able to introduce a bizarre twist of fate that saves a character despite all odds;
2. Sometimes the DM isn't skilled enough to "tweak" things without breaking verisimilitude;
3. It would be nice to have a mechanic to correct for that.

It's all about total dictatorial DM control with an iron fist, vs. sharing outcome decisions with players. It has nothing at all to do with "video games" -- that's an emotional argument, not a logical one, as something of a smokescreen to cover up the "against" reasoning outlined above (which is another version of the "fighters don't suck at high levels because the DM should break the rules to make them not suck" argument).

I like that, so it's either I'm for "sharing outcomes" or I'm a dictatorial DM. Hah, way to not make judgements.

Here let me see if I can phrase it in a way where one choice is the obvious path and coincidentally the side I favor. Lets see it's between those who think that there's no point to the game without risk and chance is what makes it exciting vs. whiney children who never want to see their Uber l33t character have to take a negative level for the amount of time it takes to get a restoration.

As an aside I think the video game argument is crap, although one poster definitely didn't help the case because their argument did make the hero points sound like extra lives, but it has no water really as an argument.

I'm just as a player a little disappointed in the direction the game is going where death has a revolving door or rather each player is actually a hairless race of cat people they have nine lives (or eight hero points as it were).


lastknightleft wrote:
Lets see it's between those who think that there's no point to the game without risk and chance is what makes it exciting vs. whiney children who never want to see their Uber l33t character have to take a negative level for the amount of time it takes to get a restoration.

Agreed, my argument was poorly-presented... but maybe not totally bogus, nonetheless. The trick is to make things not binary: in other words, hero points can't take the risk out of adventuring, or they're lame -- I agree 100%. And, just maybe, some power can be shared with players, or the DM is dictatorial. So we'd need to put serious limitations on hero points -- limitations like usage (I give only one per PC, use it and it's gone forever, and they don't "recharge" except through exceptional circumstances), and flavor (I like to require the player to come up with a believable coincidence that the use represents -- same one can't ever be used twice). Then your favorite character doesn't automatically die because your DM rolls a random encounter that's 10x your ECL while you're asleep... but you still need to be REALLY careful in that dungeon, because after the first escape from death, a second won't come.

P.S. I just TPKed a group in my last session, with level-appropriate encounters, despite giving them hero points. The points briefly postpone death due to poor judgement; they don't eliminate it.


Asturysk wrote:
Save the Force Points for Star Wars. Save the Hero Points for Mutants and Masterminds. I play them both and they are perfectly fine for those games. But leave them out of sword & sorcery role-playing. They just don't belong. The game changes too much and the dynamic is irrevocably altered. It becomes a video game.

I would argue that it is the setting and not the genre that determines if they work. I used action points in my last Planescape game. A long standing point of the setting (from beginning actually) was that belief can shape the reality on the planes. The use of action points (for PCs and non-scrub villians) worked great for presenting that.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
P.S. I just TPKed a group in my last session, with level-appropriate encounters, despite giving them hero points. The points briefly postpone death due to poor judgement; they don't eliminate it.

Agreed.

I ran Age of Worms in Eberron with expanded action point use. It did not help the PCs that much. The main uses were for spellcasters to spend a point to recall a spell that was just cast, for PCs to get a bonus to initiative, and to negate critical threats.

Even with that, over the course of the campaign, we had one character die four times, another die twice, and a number of near TPKs (with one of them leaving the party in single digits and minus the healer).


I have been running an Eberron game using the beta rules. We use the action point system from Eberron as well as those action from Unearthed Arcana. So far it has really been a benefit to the party especially for spellcasters being able to spend an action point and recall a spell they just had cast. Due to my new heavy work load at work I just turned over the DM chair to one of my players. He is going to run Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure path so we are all looking forward to that. But we are still keeping our action points as well since they have been play tested by our group with the alpha and beta rules. They have not unbalanced the game at all as far as I'm concerned but I always run real tough adventures and allow characters the max amount of points using the point buy system. I also liked the karma point from earthdawn that was a cool system even though I could hardly find players for it.


Mr Baron wrote:
I personally like hero points. However, I would like to see them put in an optional rule section rather than the main rule section.

Agree. I like them and add them as an optional rule :-)


lastknightleft wrote:
[...]I'm just as a player a little disappointed in the direction the game is going where death has a revolving door or rather each player is actually a hairless race of cat people they have nine lives (or eight hero points as it were).

We use hero points.

In our latest campaing we're now level 7. So far we have been TPK once and one wizard, one fighter has died and one PC Paldin and one PC figher has died. So in total we had approx. 10 dead Charecters. ...and come to think of it, one cleric and one Sorcerer died, but the "god of game balance" raised them (since Black Tentacles and the new CMB doesn't really work that great).

Dark Archive

Asturysk wrote:
...A *GOOD* judge/DM/GM/storyteller will balance and build accordingly, knowing the PC's and what they are capable of...

I know I am late to this discussion, but how exactly is this different from "coddling" the players via AP? Don't get me wrong, a good DM does have to balance the adventure (within reason) to make the game fun, challenging and ultimately rewarding for everyone involved, but I fail to see how AP themselves are then some "lazy" crutch for poor GMs.

[For the record I have never used AP in any of my games (player or GM), ever, but...]

Have you actually read the SRD section on AP? I'm not asking to be a jerk, I'm asking because if you really look at the RAW for AP they really don't provide players any really meaningful way of SAVING themselves from the actions of "others", other that to allow a slight (and randomly determined) boost to saving throws. You can't use them to avoid death due to a confirmed critical melee attack for instance. Unless of course you count the auto stabilize feature that would prevent you from bleeding out if you were dying. woo. woo. There is no pulling back a certified, straight to dead do not linger in dying, death with the use of AP. You can't change the course of game, only influence it in small ways, a bit at a time. There is NO AP that allows you to influence the die rolls of the GM, in a negative way, as the RAW stand. You can only hope that by the use of AP, things will work out better for you in the end.

I don't use them because they aren't that interesting frankly. To me they are just another resource the players can leverage. I don't need player's to be able to reactivate class powers, boost spells or get an extra +1 dodge?

But I wouldn't slam others in an open forum for using them or suggesting there use.

IMO, AP really serve as a player initiated mechanic that in most ways mimic the GM's "fudging" things, except that the AP have no guarantee of success. The GM's fudging on the other hand? That is absolute. The AP help to keep verisimilitude in the players eyes. Fudging (or bringing the game down to your player's level) does not. Which way is really more guilty of coddling players again?

In the end, I am not that heavily invested to either side. APs in? Or out? Doesn't really concern me too much. Sweeping statements of "fact" that are really just masquerading personal opinion or thinly veiled slander? Those get me going every time.

Rant over.

Cheers

PS It's 2 in the morning. I really have to stop posting at night.

Dark Archive

I am also a late poster on the subject, but I figured I would put in my two cents.

I have used AP before and I have to say I have not seen it used in a bad way, by my players. They seemed to get the concept of of the limited resource that it was and tended to bust it out in big fights where every edge was needed. I've seen the paladin use it to get a metric butt-ton of smites to beat down the BBEG. I have also seen it used when the party absolutely needed to see if the succeeded in doing something, be it hitting a High AC beast or getting that all skill check to succeed.

Does it mean they held on to their points? Yes, but when they used them it was always to do something on the heroic, if not legendary scale. It is a good optional rule and thus I think it deserves a side bar. Though I would change the scope of the rule.

My home game used this:

Spoiler:
Current starting AP: 5+½ current level rounded down. Any you didn’t spend last level are lost.

Using AP: A player may only use their action points once a round. Either to increase a roll or to perform a special action, as described below.

Increasing Rolls: A player may spend an action point to add 1d6 to your d20 roll. You must decide to do such before the DM reveals the result of said roll. At 8th and at 15th level you gain an additional d6 to roll taking the better result.

Special Actions: Instead of altering the results of a d20 roll a player may use their AP to perform one of the special actions below.

Activate Class Feature: A player may spend 2 AP to gain another use of one of the following class features that has a limited number of uses per day: bardic music, rage, smite evil, Stunning Fist, turn or rebuke undead or wild shape.

Stabilize: When a player character is dying, the player may spend 1 AP to stabilize at their current hit point total. Spending an AP does nothing for you if the PC is already dead.

It may not be the best answer but it is an example of what someone did, and it has worked and never gotten out of control.

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