Campaign of the Month: June 2012
Using Hero Tokens
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.
- Proclamation of High King Foy du Locke, Uri 12, YS 1133
When deeds of true heroism are called for and nothing short of a cinematic performance will do, it is time to draw upon Hero Tokens. What are Hero Tokens? Well in short, they are acquired points, represented by colored doubloons, that the PCs can spend for a variety of purposes to gain abilities that affect game play.
Hero Tokens are a system of rechargeable ‘points’, represented by doubloon tokens drawn by the players from a pouch, each session. Every character receives three (3) Hero tokens per gaming session. These recharge at the beginning of each session. At the end of the session, unused tokens are lost. There are ways of earning extra tokens, which apply only to the following session. This is the only way a character may have more than 3 tokens in a session. Like regular tokens, the bonus tokens are lost if not used during the session, and the following session the total will be reset to 3 tokens.
Hero Tokens are drawn from the Fate Bag, which usually consists of fifty golden, ten red, and five blue tokens, plus any legend or black tokens the group has earned.
How do you gain bonus hero tokens? These tokens can be gained by out of game contributions, as well as in-game heroics. Anything from creating a background for your character, to writing an adventure log, to other things that the DM deems worthy of a token. Most efforts will earn you 1 Hero Token, but it’s up to the DMs discretion to award more tokens for exemplary work. Read on for more details on earning tokens.
Additionally, there may be in-game instant rewards for the characters actions.
Furthermore, on rare occasions, the bonus reward may be granted for a number of gaming sessions, rather than just the next session. In such a case, the character is granted the bonus tokens for that many sessions. The most common example is a raised maximum to 4 tokens for two sessions. The DM will keep track of all bonus tokens.
Occasionally Villains may have tokens as well, but this is rare. Villain’s tokens may be spent for slightly different uses than those of heroic characters. Villains usually do not benefit when characters use tokens (except when a red token is spent for its special abilities, see Red Doubloons, below). Neither villains nor heroes may counter or negate the other from using tokens.
Hero tokens can be spent at any time and do not require an action to use (although the actions they modify consume part of your character’s turn as normal). You can only spend hero tokens once per a single round of combat, or once during any non-combat scene. In addition to the lists below, you can also spend Doubloons for limited story changes. See the section on Plot Edits below.
There are several types of hero tokens that may be drawn. By far the most common are the golden doubloons.
|Acumen||Adds +8 to a roll (before the roll)||1|
|Acumen (Delayed)||Adds +4 to a roll (after the roll)||1|
|Arcane Recollection||Retrieve one previously cast spell||1|
|Intervention||Negate deadly incident||2|
|Desperate Prayer||Maximum healing result||1|
|Extra Action||Take an extra standard action||1|
|Fortune||Reroll a d20 check||1|
|Inspiration||Get hint from DM||Variable|
|Make a Friend||NPC becomes friend||1|
|Swift Acting||Act Out of Turn||1|
|Take Action||“Purchase” Two Action Dice||1|
Red doubloons are less common, but they come with a cost. If you use them for anything other than golden doubloon copies, the DM gets to draw an extra token to use for select villains. Use red tokens only when necessary, or you’ll find yourself swarmed by enemies who get to re-roll every failed attempt to kill you!
|Delayed Heroics||Acts as one Golden Doubloon token, and you gain a golden token in return|
|Heroic||Acts as one Golden Doubloon token (DM does not draw)|
|Incredible Accumen||Adds +12 to a roll (before the roll)|
|Incredible Heroism||You may re-roll any d20 check AND add +4 to the result|
|Devastating Attack||Confirm a critical hit, when you score a critical threat|
|Shrug It Off||Ignore the damage from any non-critical hit|
|Tenacity||Avoid a Fumble after the resulting effects have been determined|
|That Was Close||Avoid the side-effects of a critical hit result, and convert the Injury Damage to Hit Point/Strain Damage|
|Heroic Action||“Purchase” one additional Session’s allotment of Action Dice|
Blue doubloons are the rarest. They work like red tokens, except that the DM doesn’t draw an extra token when they’re used.
These tokens are rare and valuable.
Legend tokens are special. They can be used to re-roll anything. That’s “anything” as in “anything”; you can re-roll a d100 roll if you want, or damage, or anything else. You can use them to draw a different critical fumble or damage card. Legend Tokens may be used as a golden token, adding an additional +8 to the total (yes, you can have a +16 to the roll if you spend it for Acumen).
Legend Doubloons may be used as a blue token as well. Furthermore, a player may spend a legend token for use by any other character, PC as well as NPC. This use can only be used for golden token uses, however.
The Legend token may also be spent to get the party out of a very sticky situation, where otherwise they would find themselves facing a TPK or at least a decisive defeat. The exact nature of the “rescue” or “avoidance” of the situation is entirely up to the DM, and he can also VETO it as well. It is typical, if the party calls for the use of a Legend Doubloon in this fashion (or even if the DM himself implements this option without their consent) that the party will earn a Black Doubloon as compensation. In this situation, the narrow victory happens, but a future instance of terrible luck will eventually catch up with the party. Karma is a female canine animal!
If a player is in possession of a Legend Doubloon at the end of any session where their character gains a level, the doubloon may be used by the player to get an extra hit die to roll for the level, taking the greater of the dice rolled.
Legend tokens are very, very rare, though. The party won’t start with any of these. You have to earn them by beating a particularly nasty challenge, then living to tell about it. On the upside, the DM can’t ever draw a legend chip from the bag. They’re yours, and I can’t take ’em from you.
Party’s current earned Legend tokens
- Recovering the Skylark Statue
- Retrieving The Heart of Grakis
- Discovery of Gift Taker
- Receiving the Oracle’s Prophecy
Party’s current earned Black token
Black tokens can’t be spent, but they can be earned. They are awarded when the party royally screws up an adventure and ends up leaving things worse than when they started. Once drawn, these tokens are removed from the game. They may also be earned under special circumstances, such as when Legend Tokens are used to overcome impossible odds which would leave the party otherwise FUBARRED!
The Bloodeye incident Failure to complete/abandoning the adventure arc ‘Into the Deep Green’. The debacle at the Tricalista Inn in Venchenzia resulting in property damage, the loss of an innocent life, and losing the favor of the High King.
- The Bogeyman at the Cartenden Festival.
Hero tokens can also be used in the midst of play to change or modify ‘reality’. What does this mean? 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 then 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 realise that the child of the elder from the last village they passed through is tagging along. One player says that at that moment, the kid is just walking under a tall tree laden with snow. To teach him a lesson, he’ll use his Clap of Thunder (or similar cantrip) to half-bury him 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.
However, with hero points, 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’ – the Plot Edit chart below is just a guideline. 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 the more 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||Golden||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||Red||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||Blue||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||Legend||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)”|