I like hero points. I've been using a version of Pathfinder's Hero Point Rules for 10-plus years now, and the system adds a lot to the game. But the very idea of a hero point system hints at an underlying theme that has been neglected in Dungeons and Dragons. In a game where all characters are heroic, how does a true hero stand out?
The Adventuring Hero
There are many kinds of heroes in the multiverse, but they all have one thing in common: they achieve great things in remarkable ways, and they are admirable and noble, by one measure or another. True heroes regularly step beyond the run-of-the-mill to achieve amazing successes that other adventurers do not match.
Role: Any character can be heroic, although spellcasters tend to make unlikely heroes. Heroes take chances, act as leaders, put others first, and act as exemplars of heroic qualities and extraordinary deeds. Their friends and comrades learn that they can rely on a hero when hope seems lost.
Alignment: Heroes can be lawful or chaotic, but they are seldom neutral and never evil. Dark heroes may be sharp-tongued or even cruel, but they step up to take remarkable risks -- and they do so to save others. Noble heroes are paragons of altruism, seeing their heroic deeds as "just doing my job."
Hit die: d10
- Alignment: Any neutral or good.
- Feat: Hero's Fortune.
- Trait: one of the following -- Courageous, Natural-Born Leader, Starchild, Flame of the Dawnflower, Divine Warrior.
- BAB +5.
- Special: Your game master must allow the use of hero points, and you may not be an Antihero. Also see below, as extra requirements vary with Archetype.
Table: The Adventuring Hero
.1....+1......+1.....+1.....+1.....Archetype, Hero Bonus Feat
.4....+4......+2.....+2.....+2.....Hero Bonus Feat
.5....+5......+3.....+3.....+3.....Save a Friend
.7....+7......+4.....+4.....+4.....Hero Bonus Feat
.8....+8......+4.....+4.....+4.....Victory In Defeat
10....+10.....+5.....+5.....+5.....Always a Hero
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Perception (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str)
Skill Points per level: 4 + Int modifier
Weapon & Armor Proficiencies: All simple and martial weapons. No new armor proficiencies are gained.
Ex-Heroes: A hero who ceases to meet the requirements for the prestige class loses all class abilities until the requrements are met again.
Archetype What kind of hero are you? Pick one of these archetypes for which you qualify from the list below. Once you make your choice, you cannot change it. You must meet extra requirements for each archtype. You gain an archtype benefit at level 1 and a greater archetype benefit at level 6.
Action Hero Requires: Athletic feat. Benefit: "Action Surge" (Su) -- Every time you use a hero point, you add your hero level as a morale bonus to your strength and you are hasted. The effect lasts for 1 round per hero level. Greater Benefit: "More Action" (Su) -- When you use a hero point to gain an extra action, you gain a full round action or two move actions or a move action and a standard action, rather than just a single move or standard action.
Everyday Hero Requires: Good alignment. Benefit: "Heroic Burst" (Su) -- Every time you use a hero point, you are affected as by a Heroism spell for one round per hero level. Greater Benefit: "Continuing Heroism" (Su) -- The duration of your heroic burst extends to 10 minutes per level.
Jukebox Hero Requires: Perform 5 ranks. Benefit: "Inspire Courage" (Su) -- If you have the bardic performance ability (or gain it later), your hero levels stack with levels in other classes that grant the ability. If not, you gain Perform as a class skill and also bardic performance as a bard equal to your hero level, but you can only Inspire Courage. Greater Benefit: "Inspire Greatness" (Su) -- If you have the bardic performance ability from another class (or gain it later), you gain Extra Performance as a bonus feat. If not, you may now also Inspire Greatness as well as Inspire Courage.
Super Hero Requires: You may not wear armor; you may not use hero points while using the Disguise skill. Benefit: "Leap Tall Buildings" (Su) -- You gain a +30 enhancement bonus on all Acrobatics checks. Greater Benefit: "Look! Up in the Air" (Sp) -- You may cast Overland Flight as a spell-like ability thrice per day, using your hero level as your caster level.
Unlikely Hero Requires: Your strength, dexterity, and constitution modifiers added together cannot exceed +2 (temporary bonuses do not affect this requirement). Benefit: "Lucky Hero" -- You gain Luck of Heroes as a bonus feat. If you already have it (or gain it later), then you gain a bonus equal to your hero level on rolls to avoid expending hero points. Greater Benefit: "Amazing Luck" -- You may use your Luck of the Heroes feat every time you use hero points on yourself, not just to reroll a die roll or to grant yourself a bonus, and even to regain one of the two points you use to cheat death.
Unsung Hero Requires: You do not receive rewards or recognition for your deeds; your total wealth cannot exceed three-quarters of the average of the other members of your party. Benefit: "Guile Hero" (Ex) -- You gain a bonus equal to your hero level on dexterity- and charisma-based skills except Fly, Handle Animal, Intimidate, and Perform; all those skills are class skills for you. You can earn hero points for doing heroic good deeds anonymously. Greater Benefit: "Anonymous Samaritan" (Su) -- You gain the Hide In Plain Sight ability of a shadowdancer.
War Hero Requires: Five ranks in Profession (Soldier). Benefit: "Fearless Under Fire" (Ex) -- You gain a morale bonus equal to your hero level on saves vs fear. Greater Benefit: "Resolute" (Ex) -- You are immune to fear effects. You gain a morale bonus equal to your hero level minus 5 on saves vs the nauseated and sickened conditions.
Working-Class Hero Requires: At least one level of commoner, taken at first level. Benefit: "Hard Life" (Ex) -- You gain Endurance, Die Hard, and Skill Focus as bonus feats. You gain a bonus equal to twice your commoner level(s) on all saving throws and all Craft and Profession checks. You can earn hero points by generously helping the poor and those who labor for their bread, and by standing up to those who oppress them. Greater Benefit: "Source of Inspiration" (Ex and Sp) -- If you do not have the Leadership feat, you gain it. If you have it (or gain it later), then you gain a bonus to your Leadership score equal to your Hero and Commoner levels. Your followers are always fanatically loyal to you. You cast Heroes' Feast once per day as a spell-like ability.
Hero bonus feats At levels 1, 4, and 7, you may pick one from the following list, even if you do not otherwise qualify for the feat: Alertness, Blood of Heroes, Heroic Defiance, Heroic Recovery, Improved Initiative, Leadership, Luck of Heroes, Toughness.
Sidekick You may designate an NPC or even a willing fellow PC as your sidekick. The sidekick gains the Hero's Fortune feat. If you pick a familiar, animal companion, eidolon, or similar creature, it gains a new hero point each time you level. Cohorts and other NPCs gain a hero point each time they level. You may change your sidekick (or pick a new one if the current one dies) after a 24-hour waiting period; you may have only one at a time. When using the Aid Another action to help you, your sidekick gives you a +4 bonus, not a +2 bonus.
Heroic Aura You radiate an aura that daunts your enemies. Within 5 feet per hero level, enemies attacking you or your allies suffer a -1 morale penalty on attacks, AC, and saving throws. Activated as a swift action, your heroic aura can be used once per day; this ability lasts until combat ends, at which point all of the penalties immediately end.
Save a Friend Your ability to spend hero points to help friends grows. You can spend a hero point for any function, not just to bestow a bonus; that is, you can use your hero points to let a friend act out of turn, gain an extra action, even cheat death, and so on. When you grant a friend a bonus, the amount of the bonus is not halved. If you have the Luck of Heroes feat, you can use it to possibly regain hero points you spend to help your Sidekick.
Victory In Defeat When you use a hero point on a reroll, if the roll fails, you do not lose the hero point spent.
Superheroism You may spend as many hero points in a round as you choose, not just one.
Always a Hero On any day that you would otherwise have no hero points, you start the day with one. This ability also applies to your Sidekick. Also, you cheat death at a cost of just one hero point.