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Essence Points, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I announced that I'm working on a new Pathfinder 2E actual play podcast for the Know Direction network. The podcast is named Valiant and it's a homebrew adventure that takes place in Arcadia, the analogue for the Americas in Pathfinder's Lost Omens setting. Now, here's a brief spoiler for that show: Hero Points are a big deal in the show.

It turns out that I had a lot of ideas for Hero Points because of the work I had put in on that show. Since I had Hero Points on my mind, it was easy to get started with the material for this Patreon. However, what I've shared here so far isn't exactly how Hero Points are going to be used on Valiant, so I figured I'd start sharing that now. Let's talk about Essence Points.

I wanted Valiant to have something that set it apart from the other 2E podcasts out there. Yes, the show's GM would be an actual Paizo Developer. Yes, the show features notable figures in the TTRPG industries. Yes, it's a homebrew adventure so there's nowhere else to get the story. I wanted something else, though. After chatting with the players for Valiant, I came away with the idea of making Valiant a high-level campaign, but I was concerned that high-level characters would be hard to learn for the players, as they aren't all as familiar with the game. That's when I had a breakthrough.

I would add on some kind of system that gave cool, powerful abilities without requiring high level characters. Pathfinder 1E had mythic and I've even worked on the Hyper Score system, a 3PP system that worked much like mythic. If I could have something like that, it would really help Valiant stand out. Unfortunately, there was no such thing as mythic, but I could probably make one up myself. I thought that I could take Hero Points and elevate their potential even further. After a nice lunch with fellow developer Ron Lundeen (hi, Ron!), I landed on the idea for Essence Points. (Upon reflection, I later realized that the fact that I was homebrewing some gun rules would probably be enough to set the show apart. Oh, well.)

What are Essence Points?

They're Hero Points on steroids! If you've read some of the ideas I've had for Hero Points from previous entries, Essence Points can do that and more!  Essence Points give you bonuses on your rerolls, allowing you to get an extra oomph from the attempt and increase your chances at success. You can spend an Essence Point to force an enemy to reroll a check such as an attack roll against you or a saving throw, allowing you to save yourself from danger or ensure that an enemy takes the brunt of a spell. Essence Points even let you cast a spell out of nowhere, even if you can't normally cast spells.

Essence Points are my attempt at an "overlay" system that you add on top of the game to give players more power and let them take on greater threats. Over the next few blog entries, I'm going to try to detail how the system works and give some example of the different things you can do with Essence Points. I'm hoping to lay the design process bare to both show how something like this comes together, but also to get your feedback on it.

I haven't finished the Essence Point system yet, but I'm hoping to have it done by the time this series is done so you can play with it at home and push your games to new heights. Let me know your thoughts and I look forward to getting started!

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