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Living Death™

Hero Points

Hero points are a game device for rewarding characters for particularly selfless or heroic actions.  They affect the outcome of die rolls, but promote role-playing rather than just number crunching.  Note: The Hero Point system for the Living Death campaign is similar but not identical to that used in the Living Jungle system.

Only good characters can earn Hero Points; since all Living Death PCs must be of Good alignment, this restriction penalizes only those PCs whose alignment shifts during the campaign.  Only Player Characters (PCs) can earn Hero Points; non-player characters (NPCs) never have them.  Only a few Hero Point certificates are available with each Living Death tournament.  After all are distributed, no more are available for that session, even though characters may continue to perform heroic deeds.

Earning Hero Points

PCs earn Hero Points by acting bravely, selflessly, daringly and dramatically.   The judge determines whether a PC has earned a Hero Point for any particular action; but since defining these qualities is difficult, here are some general guidelines about what do not and what do constitute heroic actions:

  • Heroic actions are not hesitant or calculated.  A soldier whose companions must persuade him to confront a deadly assassin to save an NPC from death is not heroic.   An adept who pauses to consider whether his spells will be more effective than weapons against the champion before agreeing to fight him is being brave, but not heroic.   Heroism is courageous, not scheming.
  • Heroic actions are not performed for personal benefit.  If two PCs struggle with each other to reach the limelight, then neither may receive a Hero Point: "I'll swing down and scoop the ambassador off the deck of the assassin's ship!" "No, I'll be the one to do it!  The senator is watching!"  Furthermore, when a PC performs an act which has an obvious reward (fighting the assassin to take his antique scimitar) no Hero Point is awarded.  If the PC expects a reward for his action ,then it is not heroic.  Heroism is selfless, not selfish.
  • Heroic actions are not safe and easy.  A PC must face and realize she faces a serious threat for an action to be heroic.  Thus, a detective who leaps into a pit of vipers to save a fallen comrade is acting heroically -- unless she thinks she is immune to the poison or that the vipers are no real threat.  A reporter who rushes across a rope bridge to save a  young boy from an imminent landslide is heroic only if he has a real chance to fall or be caught in the landslide -- and knows it.  Heroic actions are dangerous and difficult.
  • Heroic actions are not mechanical and bland.  If a player simply declares, "Oh, I guess McEwan will fight the thugs," then the judge shouldn't award a Hero Point.  On the other hand, a player who accepts a challenge with real panache is acting heroically: "Stand back, you villain!  Your evil plan ends now!"   Heroism is grand and dramatic.

When a judge deeps a PC's action worthy of a Hero Point, he or she notes the award and hands the player a Hero Point Certificate.  The PC can use the Hero Point immediately.

A PC can earn a maximum of one Hero Point per tournament.  there is no limit to how many hero points a PC can have.

Spending Hero Points

Hero Points affect rolls which determine the results of a PC's actions, including "passive" actions, like resisting a spell effect.  Hero Points do not affect a opponent's rolls.  So a PC can spend a Hero Point to raise his own chance to hit an opponent, but the PC can't spend a point to lower the opponent's saving throw or Ability check.  A player may use Hero Points in one of three ways: to modify a die before it is thrown, to modify a die after it is thrown, or to re-roll a failed die roll.

  • Before a die is thrown, a PC may "spend" a Hero Point to gain a +2/d20 (or 10% bonus/d100) for Attack and Damage rolls, Saves, Ability Checks, Skill Checks or virtually any other d20 or d100 roll during the game.  A PC may spend up to two Hero Points at a time in this manner, gaining a maximum bonus of +4/d20(+20%/d100) on a roll before the die is thrown.
  • After a die is thrown, a PC may spend a Hero Point to gain a +1/d20(or +5%/d100) bonus on those same sorts of rolls.  A PC may use a combination of Hero points and Winner certificates (die bump certs) to increase the result by a maximum of +5 (or +25%/d100).
  • A PC may spend  two Hero Points to re-roll any failed d20 or d100 die roll.

Whenever a PC spends a Hero Point, the judge must collect the Hero Point certificate and tear it in half or write void on it.

PCs may use Hero Points to benefit the rolls of other good-aligned characters, PCs or NPCs.  Using a Hero Point in this manner is generous, but is not in itself a heroic action (so the PC doesn't earn another Hero Point for using his own Hero Points to benefit another character).

Hero Points and Judge Rolls

Occasionally, judges may - and should - roll dice secretly to determine the result of an action when that result is not immediately obvious to the player character who performs the action.  For instance, a NPC adept may cast a charm person spell upon an opponent, but the DM makes the victim's saving throw secretly so that the PC doesn't realize at once whether the spell worked.

Any time the judge makes a secret roll based on a PC's action, the PC may elect to spend a Hero Point to affect that roll, but the judge still rolls the dice secretly.   Judges are encouraged to be strictly truthful and fair when making secret rolls which are affected by Hero Points, but they are under no obligation to show the results of those rolls to the player who spent Hero Points on them. 

Another option is the judge may ask for the player to roll several Spot or Listen Checks or even a few Saves before the start of the event. The player has no idea what the Difficulty Class of that check is. The player can elect to use Hero points on these rolls but this needs to be done at the start of play.

(this text is copied from the Living Death Judge Guidelines.  Download the PDF here!Download PDF! (512 bytes))

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