Dungeon Delving: Undying Light does a fair job of emulating the gritty feeling of the swords and sorcery genre where life is cheap and characters are only a mistake or two away from death or serious mishap. Some prefer to emulate the heroic fantasy genre where life (at least for some characters like the player characters and important NPC villains) is less grim and gritty (read less likely to be fatal). If you as referee want to run a more heroic campaign, you may want to add action points (sometimes-called hero points) to your game to represent the extra luck/fate that some important characters seem to have. Action points are optional and are not appropriate for many campaigns.
Action points are a resource player characters (and important NPCs) have to simulate a heroic effort by a character, to simulate a lucky break that just happens to occur at the right time, or even just that fate is on the character’s side for the moment.
Here are some examples for what an action point can be used for during a game. As referee, you may disallow some of these in your campaign (or add new uses that are not listed here).
- Heroic Effort: Each action point spent on heroic effort allows the player to roll a 1d6 and adjust any single d20 die roll (d6 die rolls are adjusted by 1 point) affecting the character or made as a result of the character’s actions in the character’s favor by the amount rolled. The action points must be expended before the die roll to be adjusted is made.
- Luck: Spending one action point for luck will cause a minor bit of good luck to come the character’s way. Spending three action points for good luck will cause a major bit of good luck to come the character’s way. In both cases, the referee decides exactly what the good luck is, but it should be helpful in a minor/major way to the character’s immediate situation.
- Avoid Damage: Spending one action point will turn any hit made on the character into a miss. The action point need not be spent until the damage the hit would do is announced.
- Extra Actions: Spend one action point to get an extra second action in a round. Spend two action points to get two extra actions in a round. All actions are taken in your normal turn. A character may only cast one spell per round.
- Only a Scratch: Spend action points to heal 1d6 points of damage (by discovering that what looked like a terrible wound really wasn’t a bad as it looked). The first time this is used in a game session, it costs one action point. The second time, two. The third time, three. Etc.
As referee, you will also need to decide how many action points characters receive each game session. The more action points characters have, the more heroic actions they can perform and the more heroic risks they may be willing to take. However, too many action points can turn a campaign into a parody of an action-adventure movie. The standard options are either to give a flat number of action points for every character with action points or to give more action points with each level (or hit die for intelligent enemy monsters). For example:
- 5 action points per session.
- 1 action point per character level per session.
- 3 action points plus 1 for every even numbered character level per session.