PF2 Hero Point Feats

I’ve been playing a lot with Hero points in d20 games recently, having looked at some alternate Hero point rules for PF1 and a whole set of Hero point rules for Starfinder. Now, I turn y gaze toward PF2.

PF2 already has a strong, integrated Hero point mechanic, and an extensive and flexible feat system. What it lacks, oddly, is any Hero point feats. Especially given PF1 had Hero point feats in the APG, this is an omission that calls out for a 3pp patch.

So, here are my conversions of the three PF1 Hero point feats to work with the PF2 game and Hero point mechanic.

BLOOD OF HEROES
[General]
Prerequisite: Hero’s Fortune, Luck of Heroes

You seem destined for success, even when the odds are against you. Whenever you spend a Hero point to reroll a d20 roll, of the result on the d20 is a 1-10, you gain a +10 bonus to the result (making it effectively an 11-20, though not a “natural” 20 for game mechanical purposes).

HERO’S FORTUNE
[General]

Even a miraculous escape from death doesn’t use up all your good luck. When you expend all your Hero points to avoid death, if you had 2 or more Hero points, you get to keep 1 or them rather than spend them all.

LUCK OF HEROES
[General]
Prerequisite: Hero’s Fortune

Luck never completely abandons you. Once per game session, if you end an encounter with no Hero points, you may choose to gain one Hero point.

Support My Patreon
The more support I get, the more time I can spend on writing things like this. 

If you enjoy any of my articles, please sign up, for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month!

Hero Points for Starfinder

Hero points are a mechanic that allows players to “edit” the events of an encounter and the rules of the game to a limited degree. They give heroes the ability to do the amazing things heroes do in scifi fiction, but with specific rules for doing so, and they encourage players to make the sort of choices fantasy heroes do in those stories, in order to get more Hero points. This set is based on an article I did on alternate Hero points for Pathfinder 1e, tweaked as needed for the differences between PF1 and Starfinder.

A GM decides where or not to use Hero points, and while it’s most common for that to be done on a per-campaign basis, it needn’t be. A GM could allow Hero points only when the PCs are involved in something they have strong feelings about, or only in climactic plotline-ending scenes. Alternatively, a GM might use Hero points when a player can’t make it to a game session, to give the remaining characters a power boost, or use it for day-in-the-life game sessions when combat and life-or-death situations are unlikely but the GM would like to encourage players to get involved in telling social stories.

(This is an Extended Post, with additional material including rewritten versions of the Hero Point Feats from the APG made available exclusively on my Patreon, for my supporting Patrons.)

Hero points are a pure power up for characters, but they are also a way for the GM and players to have a rules-based back-and-forth with what moments each consider important to the ongoing story. Some groups like having some ability to edit events to be closer to what they want, while others feel it takes focus away from the risk-and-reward feel of the game rules. The most important thing is to find what a GM and their game group are comfortable with, and do that. These Hero points are based on those from the M&M game and those presented in the PF1 APG.

HERO POINTS FOR STARFINDER

Players start each game session with 2 Hero points. During the adventure they get opportunities to earn more Hero points. Unspent Hero points don’t carry over to the next session; the heroes start out with 2 points again. Use them or lose them!

USING HERO POINTS

Unless otherwise noted, spending a Hero point is a reaction that takes no action (thus not restricting your other reactions). You can spend Hero points for any of the following:

EXTRA ACTION

You can spend a Hero point to gain an additional standard action on your turn (this is an exception to the rule that Hero points are normally a reaction), or to gain an additional Move action at any time. You cannot combine multiple extra actions into a full round action.

IMPROVE ROLL

One Hero point allows you to re-roll any die roll you make and take the better of the two rolls. 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 point to improve a roll before the GM announces the outcome of your initial roll. You cannot spend Hero points on die rolls made by the GM or other players.

REUSE

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.

INSPIRATION

You can spend a Hero point to get sudden inspiration in the form of a hint, clue, or bit of help from the GM. It might be a way out of the villain’s fiendish deathtrap, a vital clue for solving a mystery, or an idea about the villain’s weakness. It’s up to the GM exactly how much help the players get from inspiration and how it manifests, but since Hero points are a very limited resource, the help should be in some way significant.

RECOVER

You can spend a Hero point to recover faster. A Hero point allows you to immediately remove an asleep, bleeding, burning, confused, dazed, dazzled, fascinated, fatigued, flat-footed, off-kilter, off-target, prone, shaken, sickened, or staggered condition, without taking an action.

Spending a Hero point to recover also lets you convert a cowering condition into frightened, panicked into frightened, frightened into shaken, exhausted condition into a fatigued condition; convert a stunned condition into a staggered condition, or convert a nauseated condition into a sickened condition.

You can also use a Hero point to overcome the limitations of the blinded, broken, deafened, encumbered, energy drained, entangled, grappled, overburdened, or paralyzed condition for 1 round. This does not end the condition, and you cannot move from a spot the condition roots you to, but you ignore all its other effects until the beginning of your next turn.

You can spend a Hero point to automatically gain one success in saving against an affliction.

You can spend a Hero point to have healing that would normally only apply to Hit Points to heal Stamina points instead. (You can divide the healing as you wish between HP and SP).

RESOLVE

If you are out of Resolve, you may spend Hero points in place of Resolve points. You may spend a mix of RP and Hero points if you need to spend more Resolve points that your current total, as long as you leave yourself with no RP after the expenditure.

MINOR SCENE EDITING

A player may offer the GM a Hero point to make a minor edit to a scene. For example, if the player wants to use Barricade, Amplified Glitch, or a junk spell in a scene where the GM has ruled the materials needed don’t already exist, the player might offer the GM a Hero point in order to add a pile of discarded electronics cases in an alley. Minor editing should always make sense, should never bypass an encounter entirely, and is entirely at the discretion of the GM. If the GM does not edit the scene as requested, the player retains the Hero point.

EARNING HERO POINTS

The GM can give any player a Hero point to edit events in a way that goes against the player’s character without allowing die rolls, and in contravention of the normal rules or action order. For example, if an adventure calls for a villain to escape, and a PC has the villain grabbed, the GM can grant the player a Hero point and declare the villain wriggles free and dashes out of sight. If a PC manages to kill a major foe in a single blow, the GM can give that PC’s player a Hero point and state the foe miraculously blocked the attack at the last second.

A GM can also offer a player a Hero point as an inducement to have the player’s PC make a poor choice. This is always voluntary—the player decided whether to accept the Hero point and make the bad decision. For example, if a sketchy old man offers the PC an apple out of nowhere, and the player obviously rejects the iffy fruit, the GM could offer the player a Hero point if the PC takes and eats the apple instead. This should only be done in furtherance of the adventure, and obviously not if it means permanent negative consequences for the PC.

These options should never be used to make a character look incompetent or stupid, unless the player encourages that as part of their characterization of their PC.

If a player does something especially heroic, awesome, funny, or helpful, the GM may grant them an extra Hero point in response.

PATREON

There is an extended version of this article on my Patreon, available only to patrons. You can join for as little as the cost of a cup of coffee a month, and it’s one of my primary forms of support to put out my essays, letters, background, context, and of course game content in an effort to make the ttRPG industry a better place.

Mythic Spells for Starfinder

I’ve been looking at some Mythic Stars ideas recently, as I am in a Mythic Starfinder game and that’ looking to be a good jumping-off point to publish some Mythic Starfinder content. I created some new tiered spells for the game yesterday, so I could use them to experiment with various options for mythic spells. I though tiered spells might need special rules for mythic versions, compared to normal spells.

Nope.

I mean maybe, but so far I am happy with the rules for mythic versions of tiered spells that can simply apply to the mythic spell at any spell level.

Here are the mythic variations of yesterday’s spells I’m looking at:

Mythic Magic Missile

You always receive the number of missiles normally reserved for casting the spell as a full action. You can target unattended objects with your magic missiles.

Mythic Reflecting Armor

It does not require a reaction to dismiss your armor–you can dismiss any time you take damage without taking an action as long as you are not helpless. When you dismiss the spell, the amount of damage you take from the reflected attack is reduced by an amount equal to your caster level (to a minimum of taking 0 damage).

Mythic Shifting Surge

The spell’s duration becomes 1 minute/level or until activated. The spell has no effect until activated. The subject of your spell can activate it as part of any action that includes an attack. Once activated, the spell has its normal duration and effect. If the subject can make multiple attacks augmented by the spell, it can choose to do a different type of energy damage with each attack.

Support My Patreon
The more support I get, the more time I can spend on writing things like this. 

If you enjoy any of my articles, please sign up, for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month!

More Tiered Spells for Starfinder

I’ve been looking at some Mythic Stars ideas recently, as I am in a Mythic Starfinder game and that’ looking to be a good jumping-off point to publish some Mythic Starfinder content. And that has me thinking about spells.

I have an inkling that Mythic spells in Starfinder may need some special interaction with tiered spells. I’m not SURE of that, but I want to look at some interactions. But tiered spells are kinda all over the place in Starfinder, making it hard to know which ones I should use as a baseline for this thought experiment. So to make sure I grok the underlying math and design decisions for my sample spells before building off of them, I want to write up a specific set of tiered spells to use as my jumping-off points.

Since the main point here is to experiment with how mythic spells and tiered spells should interact (and the answer may be “just like non-mythic tiered spells”), I wanted one 1st-6th level spell unique to each of the three current official spellcasting classes. Since I want to test various ideas and compare the results for each class, I thought they should be iconic spells for those classes (and not available to any other core class). Selecting magic missile for the technomancer was a no-brainer, and I have always felt like it should be a tiered attack spell anyway. Mystics already have mystic cure as an iconic tiered spell, but it’s a bad choice for this kind of thought experiment, and if I am giving the other classes new tiered spells I didn’t want to exclude them, so I choose reflecting armor as their iconic spell. Witchwarpers are a weirder case, but I decided shifting surge was a pretty solid 1st-level damaging spell in the same niche as magic missile and reflecting armor, so I created a tiered version of that.

Magic Missile (Tiered)
Classes Technomancer 1-6
School evocation (force)
Casting Time 1 standard action; see text
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets up to three creatures, no two of which can be more than 15 ft. apart; see text
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes

You fire two missiles of magical energy that strike targets unerringly (the creatures must still be valid targets). You can’t target specific parts of a creature, and objects are not damaged by the spell.

You can target a single creature or several creatures, but each missile can strike only one creature. You must designate targets before you attempt to overcome spell resistance or roll damage.

You can cast this spell as a full action. If you do, you fire three missiles instead of two.

1st: When you cast magic missile as a 1st-level spell, each missile deals 1d4+1 damage to the target.

2nd: When you cast magic missile as a 2nd-level spell, each missile deals 2d4+2 damage to the target.

3rd: When you cast magic missile as a 3rd-level spell, each missile deals 4d4+2 damage to the target.

4th: When you cast magic missile as a 4th-level spell, each missile deals 4d4+2 damage to the target, and you receive one additional missile (three missiles if cast as a standard action, 4 missiles of cast as a full action).

5th: When you cast magic missile as a 5th-level spell, its range becomes long (400 ft. +5 ft./2 levels), each missile deals 6d4+3 damage to the target, and you receive one additional missile (three missiles if cast as a standard action, 4 missiles of cast as a full action).

6th: When you cast magic missile as a 6th-level spell, its range becomes long (400 ft. +5 ft./2 levels) and you can select target creatures within a 30-foot radius, each missile deals 7d4+3 damage to the target, and you receive one additional missile (three missiles if cast as a standard action, 4 missiles of cast as a full action).

Reflecting Armor (Tiered)
Classes Mystic 1-6
School abjuration (force)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range personal
Duration 10 minutes/level or until dismissed (D); see text

You create a shimmering skin-like coating of mystical force that covers your body, allowing you to reflect damage you take back against your attacker. At any time during this spell’s duration, when you take damage from an attack made with a weapon by a foe within 100 feet, you can choose to dismiss the spell as a reaction. If you do, the armor crackles with energy as it disappears, arcing through the air to strike the attacking creature, which takes an amount of damage equal to the damage dealt to you at the time this spell was dismissed (to a maximum determined by the spells level). This damage also has the force descriptor. The target can attempt a Reflex save for half damage.

1st: When you cast reflecting armor as a 1st-level spell, the reflected damage dealt has a maximum of 10 points.

2nd: When you cast reflecting armor as a 2nd-level spell, the reflected damage dealt has a maximum of 20 points.

3rd: When you cast reflecting armor as a 3rd-level spell, the reflected damage dealt has a maximum of 35 points.

4th: When you cast reflecting armor as a 4th-level spell, the reflected damage dealt has a maximum of 50 points. If the damage dealt to you by the triggering attack is less than 50, the reflecting armor is not dismissed and can be triggered again, though with a maximum of only 20 damage.

5th: When you cast reflecting armor as a 5th-level spell, the reflected damage dealt has a maximum of 75 points. If the damage dealt to you by the triggering attack is less than 75, the reflecting armor is not dismissed and can be triggered again, though with a maximum of only 35 damage.

6th: When you cast reflecting armor as a 6th-level spell, the reflected damage dealt has a maximum of 85 points. If the damage dealt to you by the triggering attack is less than 85, the reflecting armor is not dismissed and can be triggered again, though with a maximum of only 50 damage.

Shifting Surge (Tiered)
Classes Witchwarper 1
School transmutation
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range touch
Targets one willing creature or object
Duration 1 round; see text
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes

You touch a willing creature and affect one of its energy damage attacks or weapons, changing the energy damage type of one of its attacks to one other type until the end of your next turn. Even if you don’t change the damage, the next affected attack that hits deals additional damage.

1st: When you cast shifting surge as a 1st-level spell, it deals 2d6 additional damage if it targets only one target, or 1d6 additional damage if it affects an area or multiple targets.

2nd: When you cast shifting surge as a 2nd-level spell, it deals 4d6 additional damage if it targets only one target, or 2d6 additional damage if it affects an area or multiple targets.

3rd: When you cast shifting surge as a 3rd-level spell, it deals 4d6 additional damage if it targets only one target, or 2d6 additional damage if it affects an area or multiple targets. Additionally the duration increases to 2 rounds, and the extra damage is dealt by all affected attacks rather than just the next one.

4th: When you cast shifting surge as a 4th-level spell, it deals 6d6 additional damage if it targets only one target, or 3d6 additional damage if it affects an area or multiple targets. Additionally the duration increases to 2 rounds, and the extra damage is dealt by all affected attacks rather than just the next one.

5th: When you cast shifting surge as a 5th-level spell, it deals 8d6 additional damage if it targets only one target, or 4d6 additional damage if it affects an area or multiple targets. Additionally the duration increases to 2 rounds, and the extra damage is dealt by all affected attacks rather than just the next one.

6th: When you cast shifting surge as a 6th-level spell, it deals 8d6 additional damage if it targets only one target, or 4d6 additional damage if it affects an area or multiple targets. Additionally the duration increases to 3 rounds, and the extra damage is dealt by all affected attacks rather than just the next one.

Support My Patreon
The more support I get, the more time I can spend on writing things like this. 

If you enjoy any of my articles, please sign up, for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month!

Mythic Stars: Mythic Feats for Starfinder (2)

More Mythic Feats for Mythic Starfinder.

Mythic Alien Herbalism (Mythic)
You can easily create life-saving medicines.
Prerequisites: Alien Herbalism, Life Science 5 ranks, Survival 5 ranks.
Benefit: You can use Alien Herbalism to create short-lived medicinals during the same time you recuperate*, and there is no limit to how many times per day you can do so, though it still costs a Resole Point each time.

Mythic All Hands on Deck (Mythic)
Many hands make light work.
Prerequisites: All hands on Deck, four or more arms.
Benefit: When performing labor, perhaps requiring a Strength check or an Athletics check, such as digging a hole, moving cargo, or hauling in a rope, you can complete the task in half the usual time. Tasks requiring other checks aren’t included. Alternatively, you can simultaneously perform two skill-based tasks that can be performed with two hands, such as making Computers checks on two different computers. This has no impact on combat, or tasks that require more than using your hands.

Mythic Ambuscade (Combat, Mythic)
You are particularly skilled at attacking targets who have not had a chance to prepare for combat.
Benefit: You gain the benefits from Ambuscade against any target you attack in a surprise round (whether or not they have acted), and any target you attack before they have had a chance to act in the first round of combat (even if the first round isn’t a surprise round).

Mythic Ambush Awareness (Combat, Mythic)
You are particularly skilled at fighting when surprised.
Benefit: If you are unable to act in the surprise round because you failed a Perception check, you can still act on your initiative count in the surprise round, but cannot take an action that requires an attack roll or forces targets to make a saving throw.

Mythic Amplified Glitch (Combat, Mythic)
You can create sudden distractions with technological devices.
Prerequisites: Amplified Glitch, Computers 3 ranks, Intimidate 3 ranks.
Benefit: You can use Amplified Glitch on all targets in a 30-foot radius, as long as there is a technological device able to make sound at the center of that radius. Creatures targeted by your Amplified Glitch do not gain immunity to it for 24 hours, but do gain a +1 cumulative bonus to their save against it for each time they have been exposed in the past 24 hours.

Mythic Antagonize (Mythic)
You know how to make foes quickly and repeatedly angry with you.
Prerequisites: Antagonize, Diplomacy 5 ranks, Intimidate 5 ranks.
Benefit: You can use Antagonize as a Move action. Additionally, creatures targeted by your Antagonize do not gain immunity to it for 24 hours, but do gain a +1 cumulative bonus to their save against it for each time they have been exposed in the past 24 hours.

Mythic Apt Mentor (Mythic)
Your aid is always useful in academic pursuits.
Prerequisites: Apt Mentor, Life Science or Physical Science 5 ranks.
Benefit: You automatically succeed at an attempt to aid another on an Intelligence-, Wisdom-, or Charisma-based check. Additionally, once per day you can make a Diplomacy check to gather information without taking any extra time to do so, and without your inquiries being obvious to others.

Mythic Arm Extensions (Mythic)
You have unique devices installed into your arms that allow you to extend them great distances.
Prerequisites: Arm Extensions, constructed racial trait or construct type.
Benefit: Your arm extensions extend your natural reach to 15 feet, and impose no penalty to attack rolls with weapons wielded in your hands and to Dexterity- and Strength-based ability checks and skill checks. When you use this ability to grab an object or surface and pull yourself to that item or surface as a full action, or you can anchor yourself where you are to lower yourself to another surface, you move 20 feet as if using a fly speed with perfect maneuverability, ending your movement in a square adjacent to the chosen object or surface.

Mythic Barricade (Combat, Mythic)
You are adept at creating quick cover.
Prerequisites: Barricade, Engineering 1 rank.
Benefit: When determining the hardness and Hit Points of your temporary barricade created with the Barricade feat, treat it as a piece of equipment with an item level equal to your total ranks in Engineering. Additionally, the most recent barricade you built with that feat does not collapse at the beginning of your turn 1d4 rounds after it is hit by an attack.

Mythic Basic Melee Weapon Proficiency (Combat, Mythic )
You are a master of attacks with basic melee weapons.
Prerequisites: Proficiency with basic melee weapons.
Benefit: When attacking with a basic weapon, you do not apply the penalty from the dazzled, fatigued, off-kilter, off-target, prone, or shaken conditions to your attack rolls.

*Recuperate is my proposed game term to represent when a character spends 1 Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest. That would be defined in any product I used it in.

Support My Patreon
The more support I get, the more time I can spend on writing things like this. 

If you enjoy any of my articles, please sign up, for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month!

Mythic Stars: Mythic Feats for Starfinder (1)

I took an initial stab at some mythic material for Starfinder in this post, from Feb 2020. And then I got… distracted.

It’s been a rough 17 months.

But I’m playing in my friend Carl’s mythic Starfinder game now, and THOSE rules are looking promising, and much more complete than the ones I I started.

But, they still need Mythic Feats.

You’d gain Mythic Feats in Mythic Stars the same way you would in the Pathfinder 1st edition Mythic rules, but that’s not the focus here. The focus of this article is to show how I would have Mythic Feats work in Starfinder, in a way that works with the math of that game system (so nothing should be just a big boost to bonuses or totals), but are still a significant increase over the non-mythic versions of the feats. Getting a Mythic Feat should give you a distinct advantage, but not cause you to be able to simply ignore challenges designed for non-mythic characters of your level.

As a sampler, I’m just going to do the first ten official feats for the game, in alphabetical order.

Mythic Accelerated Recovery (Mythic)
Your body knits back together even when you just rest briefly.
Prerequisites: Con 13, Accelerated Recovery.
Benefit: When you recuperate*, you also regain your level in Hit Points.

Mythic Adaptive Casting (Mythic)
You often have a few extra eldritch tricks up your sleeve.
Prerequisites: Key ability score 19, Adaptive Casting, caster level 7.
Benefit: When you recuperate, you regain your daily uses of spell-like abilities gained from Adaptive Casting.

Mythic Adaptive Fighting (Combat, Mythic)
You can frequently adjust your fighting style to match specific conditions during combat.
Prerequisites: Adaptive Fighting, three or more other combat feats.
Benefit: When you recuperate, you regain your daily use of the Adaptive Fighting feat.

Mythic Adaptive Resistance (Mythic)
Your training enables you to adapt and evolve formidable defenses.
Prerequisites: Adaptive Resistance, Enhanced Resistance, base attack bonus +4, early stage adaptation racial trait.
Benefit: When you change the damage type your Enhanced Resistance applies to, the change lasts until you choose to change it again.

Mythic Adaptive Upgrade (Mythic)
You have adjusted one of your armor upgrades to give yourself a additional options.
Prerequisites: Int 19, Adaptive Upgrade, Engineering 10 ranks.
Benefit: When you adapt an upgrade to function as one of your three upgrades selected with Adaptive Upgrade, it can function as any of the three, rather than just one of them. When activated, it acts as both the actual upgrade the whichever of your selected upgrades you wish, and does so for 10 minutes. It otherwise follows the rules from Adaptive Upgrade.

Mythic Add Leverage (Combat, Mythic)
With the right grip, you can push and penalize your foes.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Add Leverage.
Benefit: When you successfully perform a bull rush, reposition, or trip combat maneuver while using 1 or more hands to wield your weapon beyond the minimum required to wield that weapon, you can also choose to make the target flat-footed or off-target for 1 round (+1 round for every 5 your attack exceeded the AC needed to perform the maneuver), or knock them prone (or off-kilter, if in 0-G).

Mythic Advance Warning (Combat, Mythic)
You easily shout warnings to your allies, focusing their attention on the threats around them.
Prerequisites: Cha 15.
Benefit: As part of any other action you take, you can shout a warning to your allies, ending the flat-footed condition for any ally within 60 feet (including yourself). Once you’ve used this ability, doing so again before you next recuperate requires you to expend 1 Resolve Point. This is a sense-dependent ability.

Mythic Advanced Melee Weapon Proficiency (Combat, Mythic )
You are a master of attacks with advanced melee weapons.
Prerequisites: Proficiency with advanced and basic melee weapons.
Benefit: When attacking with an advanced melee weapon, you do not apply the penalty from the dazzled, fatigued, off-kilter, off-target, prone, or shaken conditions to your attack rolls.

Mythic Agile Casting (Mythic)
You can move, cast a spell, and move again before foes react.
Prerequisites: Key ability score 15, Dex 15, Agile Casting, Mobility, caster level 4th.
Benefit: As a standard action, you can move up to your speed and cast a single spell with a casting time of one standard action or less at any point during your movement. If you have a supernatural ability that can be activated as a standard action or less, you can instead use that ability at any point during your movement.

Mythic Agile Swimmer
You can dart around underwater even more nimbly than a fish.
Prerequisites: Agile Swimmer, racial swim speed.
Benefit: You never have to make an Athletics check to successfully swim, even under hazardous conditions.

*Recuperate is my proposed game term to represent when a character spends 1 Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest. That would be defined in any product I used it in.

Support My Patreon
The more support I get, the more time I can spend on writing things like this. 

If you enjoy any of my articles, please sign up, for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month!

ALTERNATE HERO POINTS FOR PF1

Hero points are a mechanic that allows players to “edit” the events of an encounter and the rules of the game to a limited degree. They give heroes the ability to do the amazing things heroes do in fantasy fiction, but with specific rules for doing so, and they encourage players to make the sort of choices fantasy heroes do in those stories, in order to get more Hero points.

A GM decides where or not to use Hero points, and while it’s most common for that to be done on a per-campaign basis, it needn’t be. A GM could allow Hero points only when the PCs are involved in something they have strong feelings about, or only in climactic plotline-ending scenes. Alternatively, a GM might use Hero points when a player can’t make it to a game session, to give the remaining characters a power boost, or use it for day-in-the-life game sessions when combat and life-or-death situations are unlikely but the GM would like to encourage players to get involved in telling social stories.

Hero points are a pure power up for characters, but they are also a way for the GM and players to have a rules-based back-and-forth with what moments each consider important to the ongoing story. Some groups like having some ability to edit events to be closer to what they want, while others feel it takes focus away from the risk-and-reward feel of the game rules. The most important thing is to find what a GM and their game group are comfortable with, and do that.

These Hero points are based on those from the M&M game, and are intentionally more common and generally more powerful than those presented in the APG (though explicitly excluding the Cheat Death option, since having that tends to discourage Hero point spending for any other purpose). Even so, you can look to the APG rules on Hero points for more ideas on how and why you might use them. For example, these rules are not designed to be used with the Hero’s Fortune feat (APG), but you could combine them with such a feat if you wished.

(This is an Extended Post, with additional material including rewritten versions of the Hero Point Feats from the APG made available exclusively on my Patreon, for my supporting Patrons.)

HERO POINTS FOR PATHFINDER 1E

Players start each game session with 2 Hero points. During the adventure they get opportunities to earn more Hero points. Unspent Hero points don’t carry over to the next session; the heroes start out with 2 points again. Use them or lose them!

USING HERO POINTS

Unless otherwise noted, spending a Hero point is a reaction that takes no action (thus not restricting your other reactions). You can spend Hero points for any of the following:

EXTRA ACTION

You can spend a Hero point to gain an additional standard action on your turn (this is an exception to the rule that Hero points are normally a reaction), or to gain an additional Move action at any time. You cannot combine multiple extra actions into a full round action.

IMPROVE ROLL

One Hero point allows you to re-roll any die roll you make and take the better of the two rolls. 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 point to improve a roll before the GM announces the outcome of your initial roll. You cannot spend Hero points on die rolls made by the GM or other players.

REUSE

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.

INSPIRATION

You can spend a Hero point to get sudden inspiration in the form of a hint, clue, or bit of help from the GM. It might be a way out of the villain’s fiendish deathtrap, a vital clue for solving a mystery, or an idea about the villain’s weakness. It’s up to the GM exactly how much help the players get from inspiration and how it manifests, but since Hero points are a very limited resource, the help should be in some way significant.

RECOVER

You can spend a Hero point to recover faster. A Hero point allows you to immediately remove a bleed, confused, dazed, dazzled, fascinated, fatigued, prone, shaken, sickened, or staggered condition, without taking an action.

Spending a Hero point to recover also lets you convert a cowering condition into frightened, panicked into frightened, frightened into shaken, exhausted condition into a fatigued condition; convert a stunned condition into a staggered condition, or convert a nauseated condition into a sickened condition.

You can also use a Hero point to overcome the limitations of the blinded, broken, deafened, energy drained, entangled, grappled, flat-footed, or paralyzed condition for 1 round. This does not end the condition, and you cannot move from a spot the condition roots you to, but you ignore all its other effects until the beginning of your next turn.

If at 0 or fewer Hit Points and dying, you can spend a Hero point to stabilize. If at 0 or fewer hit points and stable, you can spend a Hero point to become conscious and have positive hit points equal to half your level (equal to your level if you have Toughness or Endurance, equal to 1.5x your level if you have both).

MINOR SCENE EDITING

A player may offer the GM a Hero point to make a minor edit to a scene. For example, if the player’s character is set on fire in the middle of the street, the player might offer the GM a Hero point in order to add a trough of water to the street, so the PC can jump into it and extinguish themselves. Minor editing should always make sense, should never bypass an encounter entirely, and is entirely at the discretion of the GM. If the GM does not edit the scene as requested, the player retains the Hero point.

EARNING HERO POINTS

The GM can give any player a Hero point to edit events in a way that goes against the player’s character without allowing die rolls, and in contravention of the normal rules or action order. For example, if an adventure calls for a villain to escape, and a PC has the villain grabbed, the GM can grant the player a Hero point and declare the villain wriggles free and dashes out of sight. If a PC manages to kill a major foe in a single blow, the GM can give that PC’s player a Hero point and state the foe miraculously blocked the attack at the last second.

A GM can also offer a player a Hero point as an inducement to have the player’s PC make a poor choice. This is always voluntary—the player decided whether to accept the Hero point and make the bad decision. For example, if a sketchy old man offers the PC an apple out of nowhere, and the player obviously rejects the iffy fruit, the GM could offer the player a Hero point if the PC takes and eats the apple instead. This should only be done in furtherance of the adventure, and obviously not if it means permanent negative consequences for the PC.

These options should never be used to make a character look incompetent or stupid, unless the player encourages that as part of their characterization of their PC.

If a player does something especially heroic, awesome, funny, or helpful, the GM may grant them an extra Hero point in response.

PATREON

There is an extended version of this article on my Patreon, available only to patrons. You can join for as little as the cost of a cup of coffee a month, and it’s one of my primary forms of support to put out my essays, letters, background, context, and of course game content in an effort to make the ttRPG industry a better place.

Top Ten Modern Crystal Balls

I love stories that mix magic with a range of modern time periods and aesthetics. Inspired by some such stories, I’ve come up with some modern stand-ins to be used in place of crystal balls by urban, modern fortune-tellers.

Top Ten Things Modern Diviners Use as Crystal Balls

10. Magic 8-Ball
No one ever expects the Magic 8-Ball toy to be, you know, magic. But it’s a perfect place to hide your real scrying lenses, and already thematically aligned with divination energy.

9. Mirrors
They’re a classic, and remain a popular choice for modern spellcasters. however, the big wall-mounted mirror is no longer the standard for scrying mirrors, though some older models still exist. Instead scrying is more often done through bathroom mirrors (good for early morning divinations), car rear-view mirrors (especially for threats that are closer to you than they appear), and make-up compacts (which are particularly good for showing you your own faults).

8. Pocket Watches
While a few modern spellcasters have turned wristwatches and even step-trackers into crystal ball equivalents, its much more common to use pocket-watches for this. The practice dates back to the 1800s, when the devices were far more common, but the protective cover, larger viewing surface, and psychic link to conductors on railways (often built along ley lines) still make pocket watches better divination tools than more modern timepieces.

7. Mashed Potatoes
As homaged in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” it turns out Starchomancy remains a powerful tool for foresight. Visions sometimes form within the mash itself, and other times the scryer finds themselves sculpting the vision received. The loss of scrying power is somewhat offset by the ease of acquiring and concealing the tools of divination.
This works best if you make your own mashed potatoes, but if you don’t have the time, store-bought is fine.

6. Fireball Whiskey
Long thought to just be catnip for college kids, it turns out cinnamon-infused spirits are a powerful medium for seeing visions, dating back to the temple of Apollo at Miletus. The bottle itself is most commonly used as the scrying surface, with the whiskey inside becoming briefly cloudy as it fills with visions.
A single drink of the whiskey can aid in divination, but more than that is a terrible idea.

5. Giant Novelty Dice
Though divination through casting lots with dice (a form of cleromancy) is common, using dice as crystal ball stand-ins is increasingly popular, using giant translucent dice the size of your fist or bigger. There is a direct correlation between the number of faces of the ide used, and both the complexity of the divination and the level of detail. A d6 may not tell you much beyond broad strikes, but it easily scryed with. A d100 takes much, much more effort, but a successful scrying gives you many fine details.

4. Cats
Yes actual, living, fur-covered cats. There is an entire school of scrying dedicated to feeding a cat a favorite feast, brushing them, luring them into a pillow, in a box, in a beam of sunlight, and then staring deep into their fur to foresee the future. While this is much harder to do on-demand than inanimate scrying tools, there are numerous curses and supernatural threats that can be detected by ailouromancy that other soothseeing methods miss.

3. Smart Speakers
While newer technology often takes time to be properly aligned with divination rituals, interactive smart speakers apparently come almost ready-made to be turned into crystal balls–though most use a purely auditory interface, rather than the old visions viewed without crystal-covered mists.

2. Stock Ticker
From 1870 to 1970, stock prices were broadcast via telegraph/telephone lines to stock tickers, then printed on ticker tape. While no one uses stock tickers anymore, many were enchanted during the near-century of their use, and those enchanted stock tickers are still powerful divination tools… especially if you want to predict financial news.

1. Old Computer Monitors.
The better the color and resolution, the better the vision you can get on it! Know someone with a pile of old computer monitors? They’re probably a modern spellcaster!
Or a hoarder.
Or both. Both is likely.

Support My Patreon
The more support I get, the more time I can spend on writing things like this. 

If you enjoy any of my articles, please sign up, for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month!

The Biggest Secret of the ttRPG Industry

A lot of people are going to disagree with me, and that’s fine. But I firmly believe this is the most important secret within the ttRPG industry, as a whole. Obviously there are different secrets for any given company or game, but this is the one that you won’t hear about in reward ceremonies, podcasts, or social media acounts.

Ready?

You Never Hear About The Most Important People in the Industry.

But, you cry, I know all the streaming actors and GMs! I can quote 31 game writers’ names! I have memorized  Shannon Appelcline’s 4-volume “Designer’s & Dragons” history of the industry!

And that’s great. Seriously, thanks for paying attention.

But do you know who was the producer of your favorite show? Which editors were leading the team for that award-winning game line? Who tracked the budget of the company, making sure bills were paid and paychecks cleared? Heck who shipped those books from the warehouse? Who planned and built the Gen Con booth? Who made the arrangements with the printer, managed the schedule, figured out the cost/benefit factors of printing 2,000 vs 3,0000 copies? Who wrangled the new post-Brexit VAT laws, or YouTube children-appropriate content rules?

Who was taking customer service calls, handling people who might get pissed off about a game for reasons entirely unrelated to its content, fun, quality, or creator? Who wrote the community engagement rules, safety policy, and editorial standards?

When a game company goes under, the reason is rarely “The game wasn’t fun,” or “The Lead Designer Left.” No, companies collapse because they didn’t prepare for a change between the value of international currencies, or a book was massively overprinted, or they hired too many people-or not enough people-and the schedule and budget couldn’t be manipulated fast enough to deal with changing market conditions.

Or everyone burned out, and just walked away.

For the industry to be an industry, rather than a haphazard series of vanity hobby options, there are support professionals dealing with the things that all industries need. Sourcing. Shipping. Editing. Marketing. Warehousing. Customer service.

And even within the industry, most people can name 5 designers for every editor they know, and 5 editors for every print buyer, customer service manager, or warehouse director.

And yes, for a lot of companies, people have to wear many hat. But if you know the name of the writer who happens to also handle print runs, but you don’t know they are the person arranging for book printing, that’s still an unknown print buyer.

And most of these kinds of jobs can be done in other industries, for more money and less customer vitriol. So, if you have any opportunity to interact with these crucial people who make the ttRPG industry possible?

Be nice. Say thanks.

Without them, there is no industry.

Support My Patreon
The more support I get, the more time I can spend on writing things like this. 

If you enjoy any of my articles, please sign up, for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month!

The Performative End of Being a Creator

You can think of this as an unusually long #RealGameIndustry entry.

If you are depending on the game industry for your full income, and you do not have a full-time job with benefits, necessity means at least part of what you are doing to performative.

Performing to build a community. Performing to gain name recognition. Performing to seem more fun and interesting, on the assumption that makes your products seem more fun and interesting.

Given how many of us came into gaming to escape what we saw as societal and clique-based requirements for shallow performative interactions, this is often a bitter irony. Indeed, while most of us are too smart to complain publicly, this can result in annoyance or anger as what we see as the “pretty popular people” being successful in their performance to a degree we cannot match (often directly measurable in how much money those people can raise compared to how much experience they have or how much content they have created.)

Especially as a mentally ill, socially-awkward, depressive introvert, it often strains my coping mechanisms and ability to put on a false face to their absolute limits. Social media is both a blessing and a curse in this regard. The ability to use text to put forth an idealized, entertaining self helps create a buffer between my depression and my need to be a performative creator. However, those very tools also demand constant attention to remain an effective part of my mandatory performance.

And at that, I have a much easier time as a cis white hetero male, because there are faults and failings I can have which are seen as quirky, or the stereotype of the grumpy writer. Creators in more marginalized groups often don’t get that slack. They both have much more cause to be scarred by social interaction, and must maintain a more perfect performance to reap the same benefits I do.

Even my ability to make discussions of my illnesses, failings, and annoyances part of my public persona is made easier by my role as an elder whitebeard. I have seen women, and minorities, and LGBT creators all with as much or more experience as I have been shouted down as clearly unstable for daring to say the same things I am allowed to state largely without consequence.

Nor do I foresee anything of this changing in a major way. The need to be performative to be successful as an independent appears to be baked into the industry (and full time jobs that pay something like the median income for their area are so rare as to be unicorns). That means the only part of this likely to change is the unfairness that performative need puts on marginalized creatives.

That fight is worth fighting. But it’s going to take hard work and time to make significant progress.
Meanwhile, the demands for performance keep changing and increasing, as technology drops the barriers between creator and consumer.

I work hard to remain relevant. And I see no time when I’ll be able to stop working at that without falling into an at-best-niche position. Which means my coping mechanisms for my trauma, depression, and other issues must include being able to maintain the performance–at least for regular, short bursts– even when I am fighting to not just curl up under the covers and give up on it all.

This is like climbing a wall, endlessly. If you ever fully give up you don’t just fail to make progress. You may be able to rest in a cradle for a time, or depend on your ropes. But those things can only hold you for a brief time. Eventually you’ll fall, and then you don’t just drop a little. You lose a huge percentage of your progress, and can damage yourself and your career, even kill it, as you smash things on the way down.

Keeping yourself in a place where people will see you and your work so they even might buy it is a grind, on top of the grind of creating enough work to survive even if people see enough of it.

You don’t have to have answers for all of this as you start. But to rise above a certain level, you must begin to work it out eventually.

When people sometimes suggest I take on too much, I want to yell at them that if I only do 75% as much work, I won’t get 75% of the result. I’ll get 50%, or less. If you try to microwave popcorn and you put it in for 60 seconds, you don’t get half the popcorn you’d get if you microwaved it for 2 minutes. Your work is all at least partially wasted if you can’t back it up with enough PR, backstock, and previews to maintain brainshare in an audience with tons of other, better-funded, better-advertised options.

I don’t have solutions for many of the problems these issues bring up. But it’s better for newer creators to be aware of the potential minefield and prepare for it, than have it come as a surprise for them. If you just want to create on your own terms and enjoy whatever success happens to come your way, and not try to pay the rent, cover medical insurance, and put food on the table purely through ttRPG efforts, you can largely ignore this. And if you find a way around it, I heartily congratulate you. And there are different levels of this performative need, with some folks managing much more success than I with much less performance put in.

But be aware of the potential drain on your time and energy.

Speaking of Performing

Part of the performative need is to drive people to platforms you can monetize, like my patreon. There is an extended version of this article on my Patreon, available only to patrons. You can join for as little as the cost of a cup of coffee a month, and it’s one of my primary forms of support to put out my essays, letters, background, context, and of course game content in an effort to make the ttRPG industry a better place.