Let's Discuss Hero Points


Homebrew and House Rules


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

How do you intend to use Hero Points in your game?

I'm thinking players shouldn't be able to exchange hero points, because it creates a situation where a character can only die if zero hero points are left at the table. Unless I missed it, the CRB doesn't say one way or the other.

Also, what's the reasoning behind not having points persist from session to session? My sessions are typically only about two hours once a week, and if someone does something awesome at the end of the encounter, I'd end up giving a reward that's going to vanish before they have occasion to use it. Likewise, ensuring everyone has one at the start of the session means the players are pretty much never in a situation where the dying condition actually means they could die.

Maybe I'm too harsh but I feel like hero points might work better if you can't use them to stabilize. Spend 1 point per reroll of anything (including recovery or damage) might be how I use them in my games, but I'd like to hear other thoughts. I usually like to stick to the RAW but I wonder if the stabilize ability takes too much tension away.


I plan on using them partially as written. I like the 1 for a reroll or all for a revive. I don't think RAW players are allowed to exchange hero points between each other, certainly I won't be running it that way.

However I agree the per session thing won't work for my groups as we often do short sessions and I don't like resetting to one each time. So I will just have hero points roll over and try and give out at least one per session.


Hero points "expire" to promote spending them instead of hoarding them.

I agree with that approach.

Given that they can easily be a "get out of jail" card, a lot of people would guard them with tooth and nail, but if it's going to expire either way "eh, just use it'.

I like this.

(Ofc, session length is a reason to change this, but I still feel even on shorter sessions it should be some form of "time limit", maybe make it scene based as opposed to time based.)

Also, unless I missed something major, you can't "trade" them.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

If you end a session in mid-combat or some similarly unusual situation, I would favor letting players keep whatever hero points they have in the next session, as it is in that case really a continuation of the previous session. But if you don't end a session on a cliffhanger, refreshing the hero points would make more sense.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I liked Shadowrun's version a bit better. You could "spend" or "burn" an edge point. Burning meant you could never gain that point back, unless you spent character resources (Karma) to do so, but could avoid dying.

I like it better because it's tied into the mechanics of the game. If you use up your edge points you face real consequences in reduced karma available for other things.

Total spitball here:
I would like it if your number of total points you can acquire was affected by something like Charisma, but you can regain them as normal and they persist from session to session, and if you use them all to save yourself from dying, you reduce your cap by one until you spend gold (tithe? partying to regain vim and vigor? idk) or exp.

As they are, being totally divorced from in-game mechanics, I think they're better handled in my group by petitioning the GM.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Play-by-post games don't have "sessions."

Paizo adventures are generally divided into three to four "parts" per book. Do you think treating each of them as a session for the purpose of hero points is reasonable?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Usually when I do pbp I do one thread per session. In general if your group goes as decent pace one thread per part of an AP book is fine. But if your group decides to do side quest and objectives you would need to eyeball when a session is over.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Joana wrote:

Play-by-post games don't have "sessions."

Paizo adventures are generally divided into three to four "parts" per book. Do you think treating each of them as a session for the purpose of hero points is reasonable?

That would make sense.

Alternatively, you could consider a new session to start whenever you go from downtime or a long rest to exploration mode.

Scarab Sages

My only experience was the GM at a PFS table saying "here, have one more so you can reroll that check that stops a TPK in the first encounter before you've even seen combat"

I like them in theory, they remind me of Fate Points in Dark Heresy. Just need more guidance on how to give them out.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My home version of this game does not have resurrection, so hero points are going to be pretty important.

Previously I did-
- you cannot die, being reduced to 0 knocks you out of the fight and may have other consequences, but your character cannot die
- if you voluntarily "raise the death flag, you gain 8 hero points and are subject to the normal death/dying rules until you lower the death flag.
- you may lower the death flag only by paying 8 hero points
- hero points are only awarded at the start of a session, or via heroic acts while you have the death flag up.

I have not yet settled on how to change this for PF2; the simplest possible version is something like "while you have nonzero hero points, you won't die, but can spend all of them to get back up, but I do like the dynamic of "powering up by becoming vulnerable."


I'm currently planning on using them rules as written - got a game coming up in a week. I'm looking to use my Campaign Coins Epic D20 coins for Hero Points ... add a little flash to the table. ;)


WatersLethe wrote:
I liked Shadowrun's version a bit better. You could "spend" or "burn" an edge point. Burning meant you could never gain that point back, unless you spent character resources (Karma) to do so, but could avoid dying.

Yeah, you totally want to separate the "reroll" ability from the "not dying" ability, since the latter is so phenomenally more valuable than the former.

Warhammer FRP uses Fate and Fortune Points. A Fate point can be permanently spent either to make a killing blow miss or (more sensibly) remove you from danger, ensuring your character turns up again alive.

If you have 2 Fate points, you each day (or session) get 2 Fortune points. They can be spent on a reroll.

Paizo's rule feels half-baked. Strange, when they just had to look at other games to see the bicycle already invented...


Zapp wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:
I liked Shadowrun's version a bit better. You could "spend" or "burn" an edge point. Burning meant you could never gain that point back, unless you spent character resources (Karma) to do so, but could avoid dying.
Yeah, you totally want to separate the "reroll" ability from the "not dying" ability, since the latter is so phenomenally more valuable than the former.

Indeed, which is why I thought the playtest's costs were backwards. No one would ever spend all three points on an extra action instead of not-dying three times. Or two to reroll a failed save (if you still fail you get a point back, woo! You can now spend it to not die, what).

The brilliance behind Shadowrun's Edge is that if you burnt a point to avoid dying (which you can do even if you have spent all your edge; basically "current vs. maximum"), it meant that your regular usage also suffered. For those unfamiliar with the system, SR runs on a "take a fistful of d6s based on your attribute+skill and roll them, count all the 5s and 6s, compare that to a threshold."

- If you spent a point of edge before you rolled you got two effects: (1) you added your Edge to the fistful of dice and (2) you would explode 6s (they counted, then you rerolled them, repeat until no 6s remain).
- If you spent a point after you would pick up the 1-4s and reroll those.

You could do this as long as you had points of Edge remaining (typically refreshing between missions/during downtime, which in the official games was no more than one mission a week). But notice how crazy awesome spending edge is before you roll dice: You added your Edge dice to the dice pool. An Edge of 6 was six extra dice six times. Having to burn edge and not-die you drop down to 5 meant only five dice five times.

And the karma cost to get that point back...hoo boy, it was expensive. [new rating] * 5.

Just to understand how much 30 Karma is, the first mission my group did last week (it took us 2 actual sessions) rewarded us with three karma. Getting more than about 8 for a single mission is rare.

Most characters tended to run 3-5 Edge, getting more costs too much at chargen and having less than 3 was dangerous (if you did though, pretty much the only thing you used it for was to not-die and you'd just buy it back for 5 karma).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I like Dark Heresy's Fate Point system. You have a pool (usually 2-4 points) that refills each session. Very rarely, you may increase the size of that pool, perhaps for meeting a secret campaign objective.

You can spend one point to reroll any check, heal a little, or shake off a Stun effect.

Alternatively, you can burn one permanently (reducing the pool size by 1) to cheat death in most cases. Usually with some long lasting penalty attached, like limb loss or permanent stat reduction.

I did something similar in PF1, and it would probably work well here too.


Viemexis wrote:
Also, what's the reasoning behind not having points persist from session to session? My sessions are typically only about two hours once a week, and if someone does something awesome at the end of the encounter, I'd end up giving a reward that's going to vanish before they have occasion to use it. Likewise, ensuring everyone has one at the start of the session means the players are pretty much never in a situation where the dying condition actually means they could die.

Since your sessions are so short, I would consider using a two session paradigm for the purposes of hero points. So they get a recharged hero point ever other session, while an earned hero point expires in two sessions. This should give them enough hero points to match the expectations of PF2.

Joana wrote:
Paizo adventures are generally divided into three to four "parts" per book. Do you think treating each of them as a session for the purpose of hero points is reasonable?

I have noticed, at least historically, that Paizo adventure "parts" do not necessarily include the same amount of content/challenges. So I would consider using 1-3 hero points depending on how many challenges I'm expecting the players to encounter.

Personally, I'm considering something similar to how it seems to be working in Knights of the Everflame, where a point recharges roughly every hour, more or less depending on the content of the hour. My sessions usually run about 3 hours, so a typical session will see 2 or 3 hero points given.


sherlock1701 wrote:

I like Dark Heresy's Fate Point system. You have a pool (usually 2-4 points) that refills each session. Very rarely, you may increase the size of that pool, perhaps for meeting a secret campaign objective.

You can spend one point to reroll any check, heal a little, or shake off a Stun effect.

Alternatively, you can burn one permanently (reducing the pool size by 1) to cheat death in most cases. Usually with some long lasting penalty attached, like limb loss or permanent stat reduction.

Funny thing, burning fate points explicitly say you don't suffer any critical (and presumably any other negative) results from the killing blow. Took me by surprise when I reread the rules, I used to think you just got a non-lethal version of the crit result. Guess its a good thing, no sense kicking your poor failcolyte when's he down.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Homebrew and House Rules / Let's Discuss Hero Points All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.