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Concept, Hero Action Points, And The Team Action Point Pool


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Hi Hero Gang: For my Godlike Hero campaign I did some house rules that other might like.  I need to thank Derek Heimforth for some of this...also FATE and Masks played a role.  :)

 

ENJOY!

Concept, Hero Action Points, And The Team Action Point Pool

Third Draft (2016-Dec-05) – Please let me know if you have comments or questions.

Summary

Player characters are mentally tough and very resourceful when under pressure. This campaign rule adds something like FATE Aspects to Hero.

Concept

When creating their characters each player will define a statement that summarizes the essence of their concept. For example, Occult Scholar, Redneck Hunter, etc. This will be called the Concept. The Concept can also include favor if that helps define the character. For example, Former FBI Black Agent Now Occult Scholar.

Hero Action Points (HAPs)

HAPs are linked to Concepts and Complications. Each character will begin the campaign with 2 HAPs.

Gaining HAPs

After play begins, characters gain new HAPs in two ways. First, they gain 1 HAP per game session they participate in. Second, they can gain a HAP when their Complications come into play. The GM will typically bring a Complication into play (and award a HAP accordingly) only when it’s driven by issues beyond the player’s/character’s control (such as a Hunted or an Accidental Change). This is called Compelling a Complication.

 

Most HAPs are earned by players bringing character Complications into play themselves (called “Invoking a Complication”). To Invoke a Complication, the player must accept the appearance of the Complication in the story; they cannot, for instance, attempt to make an EGO Roll to override their Psychological Complication, then take a HAP for playing the Complication after they fail the EGO Roll. They have to forego the EGO Roll.

 

For example, a character with the Psychological Complication Sticks Foot In Mouth is undercover at a fancy party. His player might note, “You know… Bob is pretty likely to say something innocuous-but-completely-inappropriate to the hostess while making small talk.” By bringing that Psych Comp into play, roleplaying the exchange and accepting the consequences into the flow of the story, Bob’s player has Invoked a Complication, and receives a Heroic Action Point. HAP rewards are intended to encourage creative and appropriate use of Complications; they’re like rewards for seeking out chances to make the story more interesting. HAPs won’t be awarded absolutely every time any Complication comes up, just because it comes up. For example, if a character has Psychological Complication Code Against Killing, they don’t gain 1 HAP every single time they refrain from killing every opponent. But if they refrain from killing (say) even the murderer of their parents, and refrain without attempting not to refrain… then they get a HAP.

Using HAPs

Spending a HAP also involves Invoking a Concept or a Complication. The player chooses what they want to use the HAP for, and then (if it’s not immediately obvious how the proposed action relates to the Concept or Complication) describes how this ties together with the Concept or Complication being invoked. A player can use more than one HAP a round but each expenditure must be justified with a different Concept or Complication.

How Do I Spend HAP?

You can spend HAP on the following:

  • Establish A Story Detail: Allows the character to have something in the story be the way he or she wishes it to be, within reason. This could be something relatively tangible, like having a desired object nearby, or more esoteric, like knowing a fact or a person. The effect could be considered similar to a single level of Luck. You “just happen” to find the right thing, or have read just the right book, or bump into a friend of the family who can help you out, etc. For example, Vic Franken has the Concept Mad Scientist with a Conscience. The characters suddenly find they have a use for a small, airtight container. Vic’s player asserts that—like any good Mad Scientist—of course Vic just happens to have a couple of test tubes in the pocket of his lab coat. Because, you know, why wouldn’t he? Later, the characters are trying to learn about some Renaissance politician. Another of Vic’s Concepts is Dead, Schmed; Let Me Just Take a Look. Since Leonardo DaVinci did extensive work with cadavers, it’s reasonable to believe that a scientist obsessed with life and death would be familiar with DaVinci’s writings. So Vic’s player spends a HAP to declare that Leonardo mentioned this politician in one of his journals as a patron of Leonardo’s work, and happened to mention the detail the characters were hoping to find.
  • Add +3 to a Success Roll after rolling the dice: Vic attempts Paramedics on a badly wounded teammate. The roll succeeds, but not by enough to stop the bleeding given the severity of the wound. Vic invokes his Psychological Complication: Hippocratic Oath, spends 1 HAP, and adds +3 to his attempt, allowing success. Just ‘cause Vic can bring you back from the dead, doesn’t mean he won’t try his damnedest to stop you from dying in the first place!
  • Add +3 Damage Classes before rolling the dice: Van Helsing has a Hatred Of Vampires. When striking at Dracula he wants to make it hurt. He spends a HAP and adds 3 Damage Classes to his attack.
  • Re-Roll a Success or Effect Roll after rolling the dice: Vic gaaks an Inventor roll when working on new medicomystical gizmo (gaaks it badly enough that it wouldn’t succeed even with a +3 bonus). Since he’s Carrying On the Work of Victor Frankenstein, he recalls a passage Victor had written about a similar device, and modifies his design accordingly (allowing a new Inventor roll).
  • Instantly recover from being Stunned: Ron Eschete who Protects Innocents must get over to help those bystanders before they get hurt. Too bad that zombie got in a lucky hit and stunned him. He spends a HAP and is no longer Stunned.

First Draft (2016-Dec-06) – Please let me know if you have comments or questions.

The Team Action Point Pool (TAPP)

The Team Action Point Pool (TAPP) is a temporary pool of Hero Action Points (HAPs) that can be used by any of the characters who consider themselves part of the team.

Forming The TAPP

When a group of at least two people agree that they are entering a battle with a dangerous foe the TAPP is formed. Initially the TAPP has 2 HAPs. In addition to the starting HAPs an additional HAP are added or removed for each of these conditions.

  • Everyone Has The Same Leader: Before the fight begins the GM will ask the players to decide who their character deems the leader of the group for this fight and if they trust their leader. When the players are ready the GM will ask each player to reveal who their character feels is the leader and if they trust that leader. If they all agree on the leader and trust him then add one HAP to the TAPP.
  • Everyone Has The Same Purpose In The Fight: Before the fight begins the GM will ask the players to consider their character’s purpose in the fight. When the players are ready the GM will ask each player to reveal why they are in the fight. If everyone agrees add one HAP to the TAPP.
  • Group Off-Balanced Or Ill-Prepared: If the GM deems that the group is either off-balanced or ill-prepared then he will remove a HAP from the TAPP.

The TAPP remains until the fight is over. If another fight against a dangerous foe is encountered the TAPP starts out fresh again.

Spending HAP From The TAPP

Anyone who considers themselves part of the team can spend one of the TAPP HAPs to help another PC. To perform this expenditure they must describe how their character is helping their teammate. The PC who is trying to help does NOT have to have a Phase or Action to help their teammate. Helping a teammate is considered part of the narrative.

 

Each teammate can only help a given PC once for each action. For example, Storm attempts to shoot lightning at Scorpion and will miss by 1. Spiderman decides he is going to help his teammate and narrates shooting webs at Scorpion’s feet causing him to become unbalanced. Spiderman’s player take a HAP from the TAPP and gives Storm +3 to her Success roll. Now Storm hits and rolls her damage dice. Spiderman cannot spend more HAP to aid Storm with the damage. In this case another teammate could help as long as they have not already helped Storm this Phase.

 

HAP from the TAPP can be spent in addition to HAP spent from the characters own personal HAP total. As long as all of the expenditures can be explained with a Concept or Complication it is allowed.

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My GM would hate this but I rather like some of the ideas within it -- despite the extra encumbrance it adds to combat flow.  My only real complaint here after an initial, quick glance is that I do not feel HAP, as a term, should be re-used ... since it's already understood to be something rolled at the beginning of a session ... and either used or lost within a session (i.e. not cumulative across sessions aka cannot be aggregated in any way).

 

 

Each character will begin the campaign with 2 HAPs.

 

I call this out because you've got each player starting the CAMPAIGN (not a game session!) with 2 HAPs ... which implies the ability to aggregate HAPs across multiple game sessions within the CAMPAIGN -- when HAPs are supposed to last only a single session.  If you're allowing aggregation across the CAMPAIGN, then I strongly feel that you really need a different term, as these aggregated points are something other than the per-session HAP ... as defined by RAW.

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@Christopher Taylor

 

Excellent write up.   I use a version of HAP’s based on a mash-up of FATE and GUMSHOE’s Investigative points that seem to have worked well.    But I really like the re-write and think I shall shamelessly steal it.  Including the TAPP’s.   

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My GM would hate this but I rather like some of the ideas within it -- despite the extra encumbrance it adds to combat flow.  My only real complaint here after an initial, quick glance is that I do not feel HAP, as a term, should be re-used ... since it's already understood to be something rolled at the beginning of a session ... and either used or lost within a session (i.e. not cumulative across sessions aka cannot be aggregated in any way).

 

 

 

I call this out because you've got each player starting the CAMPAIGN (not a game session!) with 2 HAPs ... which implies the ability to aggregate HAPs across multiple game sessions within the CAMPAIGN -- when HAPs are supposed to last only a single session.  If you're allowing aggregation across the CAMPAIGN, then I strongly feel that you really need a different term, as these aggregated points are something other than the per-session HAP ... as defined by RAW.

 

My players are not versed enough to Hero to know that HAP have another meaning.  I do see your point.  :)

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@Christopher Taylor

 

Excellent write up.   I use a version of HAP’s based on a mash-up of FATE and GUMSHOE’s Investigative points that seem to have worked well.    But I really like the re-write and think I shall shamelessly steal it.  Including the TAPP’s.   

A version of the HAPs used above was tested over a 17 session arc where the PC were monster hunters.  It worked ok but I needed to make some tweaks...the above version has these tweaks.  ;)

 

The TAPP part is brand new.  I adored playing Masks and immediately wanted to rip off the team mechanic from it for Hero.  That is where TAPPs come from.  This mechanic has NOT been tested.  No idea if it will work...going to start testing it out soon.  :D

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I like it a lot: it does make for a more 'storytelling' approach to gaming. One issue though: 'Establishing a Detail' might well undermine character builds that rely on detective skills, favours and contacts - if you can just pull one out of nowhere, why pay points for the privilege?

Interesting take on Details. I didn't read it that way. Take Contact. To me having Professor Bob added as a "I know him" detail is a far cry different than buying him as a Contact. I can expect tangible return from a points paid Contact, but an added detail will only get me pleasantries at the formal reception.

 

A added detail is maybe an impromptu introduction.

 

A points paid contact will not only setup the introduction, they will vouch for the PC and loan them a car ;)

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Yeah I wouldn't allow the "detail" thing to replace skills but, maybe you find the book you needed to research that information or the kind of car that has sat nav in it, something like that.  Sort of luck on demand rather than super detective powers.

 

I get that, but what if someone spent points on 'AK: THIS CITY'?

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I get that, but what if someone spent points on 'AK: THIS CITY'?

 

Still not an issue.  AK isn't really what I would look at as a detail.  A detail is a specific "thing" you add to the game that the GM didn't.  Knowledge's and such allow the PC to recall or discover something that is already in the story and can be not just something known but tangible items as well.     

 

Spending an HAP to add a Detail adds new things to the story or maybe RetCons something. 

 

 

Bob the Hero (1936 Pulp Adventurer):  Hmmmm....  Does the Empire Club have a branch in Hudson City? 

 

GM:  I don't know do they?

 

Bob the Hero:  Well I have AK:Hudson City so.....

 

GM: No need to roll.  Checks notes, it's odd but he never added one.  But no, they never established one here. 

 

Bob the Hero:  I'd like to spend a HAP and add a branch.

 

GM:  OK, but not a full branch.  A small office in the business district.  It may not have all the resources on hand as a branch would, but they will probably have contacts and local assets that may help.

 

Bob the Hero: That will work.

 

Unless, of course, I have totally misread the intent and use of these :)

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Still not an issue.  AK isn't really what I would look at as a detail.  A detail is a specific "thing" you add to the game that the GM didn't.  Knowledge's and such allow the PC to recall or discover something that is already in the story and can be not just something known but tangible items as well.     

 

Spending an HAP to add a Detail adds new things to the story or maybe RetCons something. 

 

 

Bob the Hero (1936 Pulp Adventurer):  Hmmmm....  Does the Empire Club have a branch in Hudson City? 

 

GM:  I don't know do they?

 

Bob the Hero:  Well I have AK:Hudson City so.....

 

GM: No need to roll.  Checks notes, it's odd but he never added one.  But no, they never established one here. 

 

Bob the Hero:  I'd like to spend a HAP and add a branch.

 

GM:  OK, but not a full branch.  A small office in the business district.  It may not have all the resources on hand as a branch would, but they will probably have contacts and local assets that may help.

 

Bob the Hero: That will work.

 

Unless, of course, I have totally misread the intent and use of these :)

 

Or...

 

Bob has the Concept 'Empire Club Member'

 

Bob: Is there a branch of the Empire Club in Hudson City

GM: I don't know, is there?

Bob: It's your game...

GM: OK.  Fine.  Yes there is.

Bob: Great, where is it?

GM: Do you have AK: Hudson City?

Bob: No, but it is the sort of thing a EC Member would know, I'll spend a HAP...

 

I'm basing this on this part of the description:

Allows the character to have something in the story be the way he or she wishes it to be, within reason. This could be something relatively tangible, like having a desired object nearby, or more esoteric, like knowing a fact or a person. The effect could be considered similar to a single level of Luck. You “just happen” to find the right thing, or have read just the right book, or bump into a friend of the family who can help you out, etc. 

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@Sean Waters

 

Yes you can see it that way.  But for me that is just overthinking it.   In my games I wouldn't and now that I am shamelessly stealing this idea I won't :)

 

Hero is a great system, but to me it is one where to many people get too bogged down in the weeds.  Like on another thread they were going through agonizing detail to decide how to make an entangle stick someone to a surface and how "sticky" wasn't correct or something like that and then went on and on and on and on and on and on and on :shock: .  For me "sticky" is good.

 

For me this is Cinematic Superheroes not accounting, so it's "Rules as Written" until the begins to suck my fun out of my game :winkgrin:

 

But in this case I do see your point and why you are interpreting it as you are. 

I just see a broader less specific way that will work with my style :thumbup:  

 
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@Sean Waters

 

Yes you can see it that way.  But for me that is just overthinking it.   In my games I wouldn't and now that I am shamelessly stealing this idea I won't :)

 

Hero is a great system, but to me it is one where to many people get too bogged down in the weeds.  Like on another thread they were going through agonizing detail to decide how to make an entangle stick someone to a surface and how "sticky" wasn't correct or something like that and then went on and on and on and on and on and on and on :shock: .  For me "sticky" is good.

 

For me this is Cinematic Superheroes not accounting, so it's "Rules as Written" until the begins to suck my fun out of my game :winkgrin:

 

But in this case I do see your point and why you are interpreting it as you are. 

I just see a broader less specific way that will work with my style :thumbup:  

 

 

 

I get accused of overthinking a lot, but I still contend it is better than underthinking.

 

I agree with what you say entirely and those who know me from the boards may be surprised at how little I let the rules intrude into actual games BUT on these boards we are discussing ideas and principles, and I think it is important to get those right through rigorous debate and examination.

 

Also I like arguing ;)

 

Thing is that you might not now allow HAPs to be used to substitute for existing abilities, and you may never have, but others reading this thread who like the idea (and why wouldn't you?) will also have that in mind now when using this in their games.

 

I'm not saying, 'don't do this', I'm saying 'maybe this needs clarifying'.  You'll note that I included the bit of the rule I had issues with and made it clear why: I'm not just sounding off (although I do that too).

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I get accused of overthinking a lot, but I still contend it is better than underthinking.

 

I agree with what you say entirely and those who know me from the boards may be surprised at how little I let the rules intrude into actual games BUT on these boards we are discussing ideas and principles, and I think it is important to get those right through rigorous debate and examination.

 

Also I like arguing ;)

 

Thing is that you might not now allow HAPs to be used to substitute for existing abilities, and you may never have, but others reading this thread who like the idea (and why wouldn't you?) will also have that in mind now when using this in their games.

 

I'm not saying, 'don't do this', I'm saying 'maybe this needs clarifying'.  You'll note that I included the bit of the rule I had issues with and made it clear why: I'm not just sounding off (although I do that too).

 

:thumbup:

 

I'm completely with you and fully understand the need for clarity.  But a slight moderation or nod that a broader and more simplistic interpretation is also OK doesn't hurt.  Sometimes in the threads the over all impression can be that ultra-complication is mandatory.  A flashlight may be hard to build in Hero, but then who even needs to?  Hero wasn't really designed to micro-scale well.  It was designed to build big!  At least to me :bounce:

 

But I do prefer the term "Spirited Discussion" over "arguing" :winkgrin:

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My biggest problem with using hero points is that... I forget to give them out.  After the session is over I go "man, I should have..."  Its like I need a checklist in front of me or something.  The whole point of them is to encourage role playing and genre-consistent behavior, and if I don't do that what's the point?

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My biggest problem with using hero points is that... I forget to give them out.  After the session is over I go "man, I should have..."  Its like I need a checklist in front of me or something.  The whole point of them is to encourage role playing and genre-consistent behavior, and if I don't do that what's the point?

 

I use poker chips or FATE theme chips, though now I will need two colors.  When everyone has a stack and I have a pile sitting on the table in front of me it is easy to remember. 

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:thumbup:

 

I'm completely with you and fully understand the need for clarity.  But a slight moderation or nod that a broader and more simplistic interpretation is also OK doesn't hurt.  Sometimes in the threads the over all impression can be that ultra-complication is mandatory.  A flashlight may be hard to build in Hero, but then who even needs to?  Hero wasn't really designed to micro-scale well.  It was designed to build big!  At least to me :bounce:

 

But I do prefer the term "Spirited Discussion" over "arguing" :winkgrin:

 

No, with me it is arguing ;)

 

I think that a lot of the problems perceived about Hero are with the way the rules are written.  They are not user friendly.  I dispute the weirdest things here, but that complexity does not make it to the games I run or play in.  I think that the RAW are too bulky and confusing.

 

I agree that Hero does not micro scale, and why should it?  Flashlights are cheap and easy and it is insane to suggest you can not carry one because you have not paid points for it.  What we need is a short paragraph in the rules that says you can have any 'normal' equipment you like for free.  Hell, it might even be there, but where?  I have not got 2 hours to scan the rules to find that.

 

Of course the fear that permeates the rules is that if you can have a flashlight, you can have a rocket launcher.

 

Go for it.  I can handle that as a GM, no problem.  I'm not going to be stupid about it: a rocket launcher is useful.  Mind you, ammo is difficult to come by, it is slow and relatively difficult to use.  It is pretty obvious if you are carrying one.

 

I'm not going to be a d*** about it, but I can certainly reward paid for powers over store bought ones.

 

The RAW don't encourage that kind of approach though; pick a page at random, and stick a pin in.  I'm pretty sure that it is more likely to be about something that restricts rather than enables.

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People role play anyway.  They don't need encouragement, in my experience.  It is fun, it's its own reward.

 

Never mind character development as a reward, lets have it as a story driver. The idea of XP is an antique.

 

No argument.  D&D 5th has the option to ignore XP and the PC's simply advance a level when the GM determines it is time based on players and where they are in the game.

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tl;dr - I like the concept! A few thoughts...

 

You can spend HAP on the following:

  • Establish A Story Detail:

We use this in our games and it works really well. It's mostly used for minor stuff like "It would be really helpful if there were a fire extinguisher nearby..." or "It would be cool if it turns out this random NPC and I went to the same gym..." It gives the players some tangible input into creating the story, but the limited quantity keeps that from getting out of hand.

 

  • Re-Roll a Success or Effect Roll after rolling the dice:

This is the most common way HAPs get spent in our games. I like it because it gives players the chance to get out from under One Bad Roll, but doesn't completely ignore the bell curve because your second roll may be just as bad or worse. (We always allow you to keep whichever roll was better.)

 

  • Add +3 to a Success Roll after rolling the dice:
  • Add +3 Damage Classes before rolling the dice:

Hmm... These seem overpowered to me, especially +3 DCs. Particularly for a Heroic game. If you're going to be good about handing out HAPs regularly, that equates to a lot of Get Out Of Jail Free cards. Depends on the style of your game & your players, but I feel like this might make the stakes feel lower if the PCs have that much ability to ignore the odds.

 

  • Instantly recover from being Stunned:

I'm not crazy about this one either, personally. Feels too much like Savage Worlds spending a Bennie to Soak damage - the driving mechanism in combat quickly becomes not how tough or skilled or well-equipped you are, but how many Bennies you have left. YMMV.

 

The Team Action Point Pool (TAPP)

I've never tried using a Team Pool in Hero. I'll have to give this one some thought how it would work. I've seen them used in other games, but usually it's instead of individual pools, not in addition to them. It feels like the "everyone agrees who the leader is" thing is not going to vary much from fight to fight, at least in our games. So...I dunno. I like the conept; I'm just having a harder time visualizing it in play.

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Replies to other folks' omments:

My GM would hate this but I rather like some of the ideas within it -- despite the extra encumbrance it adds to combat flow.

In our experience it really hasn't slowed things down beyond the occasional "Crap! I'm gonna blow a point to re-roll that!"

 

One issue though: 'Establishing a Detail' might well undermine character builds that rely on detective skills, favours and contacts - if you can just pull one out of nowhere, why pay points for the privilege?

It could if misused. Hasn't been a problem in our games, but definitely something the GM should watch out for.

 

My biggest problem with using hero points is that... I forget to give them out.  After the session is over I go "man, I should have..."  Its like I need a checklist in front of me or something.  The whole point of them is to encourage role playing and genre-consistent behavior, and if I don't do that what's the point?

Right there with you! Typically while writing up the post-session notes is when I think about it and make a note to hand a few out at the start of the next session.

 

For me this is Cinematic Superheroes not accounting, so it's "Rules as Written" until the begins to suck my fun out of my game

That's fine. But I would point out this is not the Champions section, and the OP specifically stated they're playing monster hunters. Cinematic Superheroes is not the only genre Hero supports.

 

Never mind character development as a reward, lets have it as a story driver. The idea of XP is an antique.

XP is for character advancement, not character development. Two very different things. But that could be a whole `nother thread...

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Here's our group's version FWIW.

 

Hero Points: Typically represents luck, the favor of God(s), etc.

  • Gaining Hero Points:
    • At the start of each session, each players rolls their Luck dice and gains one Hero Point for every Body on the dice.
    • I’ll award additional HPs in game for good roleplaying, playing up your Complications, being excessively awesome, or sometimes for just making everyone laugh really hard. [i’m going to try to be better about remembering to do this.]
    • HPs carry over between sessions, but the most you can normally have at one time is three; any HPs above that are lost. (If you have purchased additional dice of Luck/Divine Favor, that max is increased by 1 per additional die.)
    • The GM gets to roll 3d6 for Hero Points each session, but they don’t normally carry over between sessions.
  • Spending Hero Points: You can spend HPs to:
    • Reroll any dice roll. You must reroll all dice, but can keep the best result if your reroll is even worse.
    • You can spend an HP to Push or Hurry your action, to pull your Hit Location, or to Abort to an Attack Of Opportunity – see above House Rules.
    • You can also use HPs to make minor changes in the plot, scenery, etc, subject to GM approval. For example: the armor you found just happens to fit you, or there just happens to be something soft under the window you fell out of.
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