This is a system I’ve been using in my games for a while. I love the idea of one-use points (in fact, I’m creating an RPG of my own based around that idea), and I love the way it makes characters feel brilliant or heroic. I especially like that their use can balance out some of the more annoying random rolls in the game (you only need to fail a save against a death spell you knew was coming once or twice before it starts to get dull).
Hero point rules can be found in the back of the Advanced Player’s Guide, while action points come from DnD 3.5 and were detailed in Unearthed Arcana.
Award action points based on something closely tied to the game’s story. In the religious world where Nakash, the Slithering City resides, I have the gods grant action points to the players for upholding their deity’s principles and worshiping them well.
Award hero points only rarely, for particularly astounding actions. To continue the example, I award hero points for reclaiming a lost temple or speaking directly with one’s deity.
Don’t get into the whole side-design of action point and hero point feats. Using this tweak, they bolster the storyline and are not a distraction or the focus of a character.
While hero points are fine as written, action points have been used for so many different things it’s worthwhile to limit their use:
Use an action point to add 1d6 on one d20 roll, take an extra attack during a full attack, or recall a spell slot that was just expended. That’s it.
Using this tweak, you will have a number of clutch rolls and exciting moments! Your characters will feel like heroes, and will only be rewarded for delving into the game’s story and background. No one feels like their time was wasted when their buddy gets an action point–it benefits the whole team, and doesn’t create the same anger that xp disparity does.
What methods do you use for action points or hero points? I love this limited and story-specific way of using them.