Campaign of the Month: January 2017
In the struggles to overcome adversity, some true heroes rise above mankind’s base constitution, where individuals enact feats of such mettle as to inspire stories and legends. As these gallants would do well to be rewarded in public recognition, the Crown of the Free Kingdoms, endorsed with the full sponsorship of the High Council, has created the Order of the Golden Standard.
Prelude: Action Dice, and Hero Tokens
- Action Dice are one way to represent the “hero factor” within the game. An action die is a d6 that may be spent in a number of ways that will add flair and heroism to your character’s actions in hopes for a more favorable outcome.
- Hero Tokens are, in essence, greater than Action Dice, but are similar. Hero Tokens allow one to do break rules a little more effectively, and overall give a higher advantage to the player than Action Dice.
Both Action Dice and Hero Tokens are both pools of sorts, and you will start with a fixed amount at the beginning of each session. You lose them if they are not used up during the session. Action points may be freely earned during play, and certain circumstances might let you carryover your pool from one session to another.
Hero Tokens may also be earned, and you may also gain EXP if you earn them (during play – see below), regardless of if you use them.
Hero Token Basics
At the start of each game session, your character receives ONE Hero Token, plus any gained as GM rewards (see below).
You may spend these tokens in any of the following ways.
Note that Hero Tokens are not Action Dice, but one may purchase additional session Action Dice with a Hero Token, below.
All Session Hero Tokens not spent by the end of a gaming session are lost.
Bonus Hero Tokens remain until spent or until the end of the current Chapter (storyline or adventure).
Your heroics help yourself or others in remarkable ways.
If used before a roll is made, grants you a +8 luck bonus to any one d20 roll.
If used after the roll, the luck bonus is only +4.
You can use a hero token 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). A Hero token spent to aid another character grants only a +4 bonus and must be used before their roll. If the granting character also uses the Aid Another action as part of their turn, this bonus stacks (to +6, and the granting character does not need to roll to assist, it is heroically automatic).
2. ARCANE RECOLLECTION
Use a token and name a spell you’ve cast since you last refreshed your spells. After a number of rounds equal to the spell’s level minus 1, minimum one, you regain that spell. Arcane Recollection does not require concentration, but it can be detected with a Spellcraft check.
3. CHANGE THE NARRATIVE
Hero tokens can also be used in the midst of play to change or modify the ‘reality’ of the narrative, to an extent. The players can chip in with reasonable and credible contributions to the situation – which, admittedly, will usually be to their advantage – and unless there is good reason not to, the DM will usually accept the ‘tweaking’ of the story. Some instances would not require the use of Tokens.
- For example, the heroes are tracking a ferocious beast through the wintry wastes when they suddenly realize that the child of the elder from the last village they passed is tagging along. One player chooses to alter the narrative slightly, stating that just as the kid is walking beneath a tall snow-laden tree, he casts his Clap of Thunder (or similar cantrip) to half-bury the boy in snow. The DM didn’t specifically say that they were passing through a copse at the time, but she’s happy to play along: it’s a nice idea, the player gets the satisfaction of using his powers and the DM can weave it into her story and decide that their prey is alerted to their presence by the noise. This might earn the player RP EXP, an Action Die or some other reward. But this would not cost him a Hero Token.
However, with hero tokens, players can go further and inject changes into the game of more substantial nature. At all times, the DM has the final say on whether a plot edit will be allowed, or how many hero points it will ‘cost’ – In this case more than one player might be required to add to the narrative (and spend a Hero Token). The basic rule of thumb ought to be whether it makes the game more enjoyable for everyone involved.
- If, for example, it would benefit one player at the expense of the others or short-circuit a carefully-planned storyline, then it may be appropriate to say no, or better yet find some way of modifying the player’s suggestion to make it more generally acceptable. Of course, this works best in improvisational sort of games which are driven not by such a pre-planned storyline but by the interaction of the heroes, their personalities and ambitions, and the world around them.
|None||None||Captured by The Evil Baron’s knights while they try to infiltrate his stronghold, the heroes are being marched into the dungeons below the castle…|
|Minor||One Token||A minor and entirely credible change to the situation which will not in itself change matters, but might give the players an edge or an opportunity.||“Although they searched me, they missed the thin knife I wear strapped to my thigh.” or “As we are led down into the damp dungeon, the Knight in front of us slips on wet stone and falls.”|
|Moderate||Two Tokens||A substantive change to the situation, but one still in keeping with the context and backstory and which does not solve the heroes’ dilemmas in itself but gives them a new or better opportunity to do so themselves.||“Suddenly the Knight guarding us starts in recognition; as he peers at my face in the torchlight, I realise that it is the Knight I saved from wolves last year and who swore an oath to repay the debt some day.” [Presuming this actually happened in previous play.]|
|Major||Three Tokens||As above, but the deus ex machina is out of keeping with the context or not drawn from the backstory of the game or hero.||The above example, if completely invented on the spur of the moment|
|Extreme||Four Tokens (egads)||Quite ridiculous strokes of fortune which either solve the hero’s problems at a stroke or have major and direct impact on not only the present situation but longer-term game developments.||“There is a sudden earthquake, The castle splits in two and collapses. In the chaos, the Knights guarding us are swept away and buried in falling stone, but a way has opened for us to scramble out to safety” or “The Lamp whisks us up (to perhaps later deposit the characters in another pickle of a situation)”|
4. CHEAT DEATH
A character can spend TWO hero tokens to cheat death. How this plays out is up to the GM, 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 tokens, the GM decides that the arrow pierced the character’s holy symbol, reducing the damage enough to prevent him from being killed and that he automatically made his stabilization roll. Cheating death is the only way for a character to spend more than 1 hero token in a turn, and obviously, the character must have earned an extra token prior to this injury. The character can spend ONE hero token in this way to prevent the death of a familiar, animal companion, eidolon, or special mount, but not another character or NPC.
Note: If a character does not have the required Hero Tokens to cheat death, they may petition the party using the Cheat Death rules.
5. DESPERATE PRAYER
Use a token before casting a healing spell. Instead of rolling, you automatically grant the maximum healing allowed by the spell. Excess hit points remain as temporary hit points for a number of rounds equal to half your level.
6. EXTRA ACTION
You can spend a hero token on your turn to gain an additional standard action this turn. This action must be taken during your normal initiative action
You can use a hero token to immediately reroll any d20 roll. You may take the most desirable result of the either roll, however, on a result of 1 through 10 on the second roll, add 10 to the result, an 11 or higher remains as-is (so the re-roll is always a result of 11-20). You must spend the Hero Token to improve the roll before the GM announces the outcome of your initial roll. You cannot spend Hero Tokens in this way on die rolls made by the GM or other players. Fortune will also never allow you to fumble.
8. HEROIC RECOVERY
You can spend a Hero Token to recover faster, allowing you to immediately remove a dazed, fatigued, stunned, or similar condition, without taking an action. Spending a Hero Token to recover also lets you convert an exhausted condition into a fatigued condition. Other conditions may require GM adjustments.
If you feel stuck at one point in the adventure, you can petition the DM for a hint about what to do next. Depending on the petition, the DM will assign the number of tokens to be spent for this inspiration. If multiple tokens are required, the cost may be met by expenditures from multiple characters. If the DM feels that there is no information to be gained, no tokens are spent.
10. SWIFT ACTING
You can use a hero token to take your turn immediately. Treat this as a readied action, moving your initiative to just before the currently acting creature. You may only take a move or a standard action on this turn. If you have already taken your action in this turn, you may only take a move or a standard action on your next turn as well.
11. TAKE ACTION
You may spend one Hero Token to ‘purchase’ one Action Dice per for every two character levels you possess.
You may spend a Hero Token after you have determined the effects of a critical failure. You may ignore the results of that failure.
13. THAT WAS CLOSE
You may spend a Hero Token after the effects of a critical hit against you have been determined. You may ignore the side-effect results of that critical, but not the hit point damage. This will negate a serious wound before it is taken.
GAINING HERO TOKENS
Each character begins each session with ONE hero token, regardless of level. In addition, whenever a character gains a level, she earns an additional hero token for the next session. Aside from these basic rules, awarding additional hero tokens is up to the DM.
The following options are just some of the ways that a DM might award additional hero tokens:
- Character Story: The DM can award a hero token for the completion of a written character backstory. This reward encourages players to take an active role in the history of the game. In addition, the DM can use this backstory to generate a pivotal moment for your character concerning his past. When this key event is resolved, the DM can reward another hero token. Alternatively, the DM might award a hero token for painting a miniature or drawing a character portrait in the likeness of your character, helping the rest of the group visualize your hero.
- Journaling: Keeping a character journal is a great way to keep involved in the game and to help enrich the campaign world.
- Level Advancement: Your character will earn one bonus hero token for leveling, usable for the following session.
- Milestones and Completing Plot Arcs: The DM may award a hero token to each of the PCs who were involved in completing a major chapter or arc in the campaign story. These tokens are awarded at the conclusion of the arc if the PCs were successful or advanced the story in a meaningful way. This award is the most common type to grant an extended session bonus token.
- Faith: In a campaign where the gods play an important role in every character’s life, hero tokens might represent their favor. In such a setting, the DM can award hero tokens to characters whenever they uphold the tenets of their faith in a grand way, or whenever they take on one of the faith’s major enemies. Such tokens are still temporary, and if not spent on the task at hand, they fade away.
- Group Service: The DM can award hero tokens for acts outside the game as well. Buying pizza for the group, helping to clean up afterward, or even hosting the game for a night might be worth a token. This sort of hero token should be given out of generosity, not as a payment.
- Heroic Acts: Whenever a character performs an exceptionally heroic act, she can be awarded a hero token. 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. Convincing the reticent king to send troops to help with a bandit problem, or successfully jumping a wide chasm might earn a character a bonus hero token, depending on the circumstances. Note that a token should only be awarded if the PC involved did not spend any tokens to accomplish the task. Most often, these tokens will expire at the end of the session as normal.
- Return from the Dead: When a character dies, she does not lose any hero tokens she has accumulated. She gains 1 hero token for the session after she is brought back from the dead through powerful magic, such as raise dead or resurrection rituals.
Additionally, your characters may earn a one-time bonus token, which must be used by the end of the session. These are special tokens, and the players may nominate any player (including themselves) for such rewards. The DM has the final decision on these rewards. If a reward is granted near the end of the gaming session (usually in the last hour), and there have been few opportunities to use them during play, the DM may elect to let a portion of these tokens carry over until the next session.