Making Your Game More Heroic, Part 2 (PF2E)
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
In my last post, I talked about expanding the uses for Hero Points. This time around, I'm going to talk about when to give out Hero Points. Following the guidance in the core rules, you should endeavor to hand out a Hero Point about once per each hour beyond the first. It then offers suggestions at good points to offer Hero Points, which include various heroic moments. If you're like me, you might want a bit more guidance on good moments to hand out Hero Points, though. I have just that for you! Here are a few more suggestions on good time to hand out Hero Points. A few of these encourage players to try riskier tactics, so keep in mind that rewarding or withholding Hero Points will "train" the players to try some of these tactics. Award at your own risk!
Attempting Cool Stuff: There are plenty of times when PCs attempt a really cool and cinematic thing like swinging from the chandelier, jumping from the balcony to safety, or trying to grapple the dragon. When this succeeds, it's always a fun and exciting moment. However, failing at this can really take the wind out of a player's sails. Consider lessening the blow with a consolation Hero Point.
Entering Danger: If the fighter goes down in combat, it might make more sense to try to heal him from afar. However, the cleric might choose to run in and try to pull the unconscious fighter away from the fray, putting the cleric in the line of danger. Whenever someone chooses to intentionally jump into danger, you might consider throwing them a Hero Point. In fact, the Hero Point might be the only way they get out of there safely!
Good Roleplay: Hero Points aren't just limited to combat! Remember that some characters will shine in roleplay situations and they should earn rewards just like everyone else. Roleplay accomplishments like winning over a specific person or talking your way out of trouble are great times to hand out a Hero Point. If the bard was able to trick the guards into letting the party into the ball or the druid was able to talk down the t-rex from eating the party, that might be worthy of a Hero Point!
Mid-Fight: Combat can be hectic and there might be a lot to keep track of mid-fight. This is probably when Hero Points are at their most potent, because PCs will want to use them for rerolls and to avoid death. Combat has lots of great opportunities for Hero Points. If the paladin used her reaction to save an ally from being knocked unconscious, the wizard took out half a dozen mooks at once with a spell, or the fighter was able to land a critical hit on the really tough boss, give them a Hero Point! Every big, exciting moment could also come with a Hero Point as an extra treat.
Retreating: Fights can be tough, but players can be stubborn. In some cases, this stubbornness can lead to the death of characters or even entire groups. Knowing when to retreat is important and a Hero Point might be the all-important carrot that reinforces that. If the players recognize that they are outmatched, retreating can feel bad, but the Hero Point can lessen the blow. Knowing that they get rewarded can reinforce the idea that it's okay to retreat. Alternatively, you can be very up-front and bribe the players with a Hero Point for their retreat.
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