Hero Points: Part 3 | KingSpoom's RPG Design & Theory Junkyard

Hero Points: Part 3

What the character knows about hero points, in an rpg, greatly affects the 'fiction' of the game. It is important to make sure that your setting and rules are in alignment for your design to keep the behaviors of players in line with the setting's theme or tone. If characters would expect one thing and players another, you've got yourself setup for some immersion disrupting play. However, sometimes it isn't easy to see the impact a particular rule will have upon player behavior. This is why playtesting your roleplaying game is important.

Example: Imagine an rpg with hero points. These hero points are given to all major npcs and the pcs. They allow you to reduce a fatal wound into a minor one as you are being 'hit'. What impact does this have on the setting? It becomes awfully hard to assassinate any prominent figure without a follow-up of some sort. Try to shoot him through the heart? *spends hero point* You'll always slightly miss. In short, a character might want to snipe the king in his courtyard, but once the player realizes this will never work on a prominent NPC, he'll look for other ways to accomplish his task. There is a conflict between the character's and player's line of thought.

How can characters see hero points? One way is to present it as dumb luck. You try to shoot the king, but he suddenly sneezes and is only grazed. This works well in a lower power setting. It also works better the rarer hero point expenditures are. Another way is to present it as pushing yourself beyond your limits. The knight runs you through with his sword, but you press on to finish the fight. This works better in higher power settings. It also pairs up nicely with character motivations or goals. Yet another way is to present it as fate shaping the world. You strike at the malevolent wizard, but it just wasn't meant to be. This works better in settings designed specifically for it.


10-Sider said...

Great series of articles, KingSpoom; just what I was looking for. One of the "ye olde" RPGs I still enjoy playing is the SPI version (2nd Ed) of DragonQuest. One of the customizations I wanted to add to my houserules was a "brownie point" system, which for the moment I've termed "Esteem". I've found that awarding bonus XP in this game tends to move characters too quickly up the ladder for my taste, and so I was seeking an alternative form of award system. Hope you have or will write other great articles concerning roleplaying.

- 10-Sider

KingSpoom said...


I hope to write other great articles as well, but I often struggle to find a topic to write about.