In Seach of Sanity
There are moments in any struggle that influence the outcome. Does the brave warrior lay low the villain before he can finish casting a devastating spell? Does the sly rogue avoid detection as she sneaks into the giant chieftain’s lair? Does the pious cleric finish casting her healing spell before the rain of arrows ends the life of her companions? Just a few die rolls decide each of these critical moments, and while failure is always a possibility, true heroes find a way to succeed, despite the odds. Hero points represent this potential for greatness. They give heroes the chance to succeed even when the dice turn against them.
Hero points are only awarded to player characters. NPCs, animal companions, familiars, cohorts, and mounts do not receive hero points. They do not renew over time or with rest and once spent, they are gone forever. Hero points are awarded as a character gains levels or whenever a character accomplishes a truly heroic feat. When a character dies, he does not lose any hero points he has accumulated.
Awarding Hero Points
Each character begins play with 1 hero point, regardless of level. In addition, whenever a character gains a level, he earns an additional hero point. The following options are some other ways a DM might award additional hero points.
Character Story: DMs can award a hero point for the completion of a written character backstory. In addition, the DM can use this backstory to generate a pivotal moment for the character concerning his past. When this key event is resolved, the DM can award another hero point.
Completing Plot Arcs: The DM might award a hero point to each of the PCs who were involved in completing a major chapter or arc in the campaign story. These hero points are awarded at the conclusion of the arc if the PCs were successful or advanced the story in a meaningful way.
Deific Boon: In a world where the gods often take an active role in the affairs of mortals, hero points can represent their favor. In such a case, the DM can award hero points to characters whenever they take on one of the faith’s major enemies or are attempting some sort of major undertaking that would further the god’s interest in a grand way. Such hero points are usually temporary, and if not spent on the task at hand, they fade away.
Heroic Acts: Whenever a character performs an exceptionally heroic act, he can be awarded a hero point. This might include anything from slaying an evil dragon when the rest of the group has fled to rescuing townsfolk from a burning building despite being terribly wounded. It does not have to be related to combat. Hero points are never awarded for acts where a PC spent a hero point to accomplish the task.
Using Hero Points
Hero points can be spent at any time and do not require an action to use (although the actions they modify consume part of the character’s turn as normal). A PC cannot spend more than 1 hero point during a single round of combat. Characters can have no more than 3 hero points at any one time; any excess hero points gained are simply lost. Whenever a hero point is spent, it can have any one of the following effects.
Act Out of Turn: You can spend a hero point to take your turn immediately if you have not already taken your turn this round. Treat this as a readied action, moving your initiative to just before the currently acting creature. You may only take a move or standard action on this turn.
Bonus: If used just before a roll is made, a hero point grants you a +8 luck bonus to any one d20 roll. If used after a roll is made, this bonus is reduced to +4. You can use a hero point to grant this bonus to another character, as long as you are in the same location and your character can reasonably affect the outcome of the roll (such as distracting a monster, shouting words of encouragement, or otherwise aiding another with the check). Hero points spend to aid another character grant only half the listed bonus (+4 before the roll, +2 after the roll).
Extra Action: You can spend a hero point on your turn to gain an additional standard or move action this turn.
Inspiration: If you feel stuck at one point in the adventure, you can spend a hero point and petition the DM for a hint about what to do next. If the DM feels that there is no information to be gained, the hero point is not spent.
Recall: You can spend a hero point to recall a spell you have already cast or to gain another use of a special ability that is otherwise limited. This should only be used on spells and abilities possessed by your character that recharge on a daily basis.
Reroll: You may spend a hero point to reroll any one d20 roll you just made. You must take the results of the second roll, even if it is worse.
Cheat Death: A character can spend 2 hero points to cheat death. How this plays out is up to the DM, but generally the character is left alive, with negative hit points but stable. For example, a character is about to be slain by a critical hit from an arrow. If the character spends 2 hero points, the DM decides the arrow pierced the character’s holy symbol, reducing the damage enough to prevent him from being killed, and that he made his stabilization roll at the end of his turn. Cheating death is the only way for a character to spend more than 1 hero point in a turn. The character can spend hero points in this way to prevent the death of a familiar, animal companion, eidolon, or special mount, but not another character or NPC.