4e Action Point preview?

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Today, WotC posted a web enhancement for Fortress of the Yuan-Ti. In the web enhancement, it says players should be awarded action points for performing certain tasks in each encounter. At one point, the text specifies that the action point is good for a specific future encounter. I wish I knew what the action point does once spent! Anyway, I like the idea of action points as rewards for clever and brave acts. I can see some newer DMs maybe having trouble deciding when to reward these action points, especially in homebrew campaigns where you don't have the adventure author telling you when to award them. Can anyone figure out a specific criteria that would help DMs know when it is a good time to award action points?
Having a sepcific crtiera is pretty rigid. Though we dont use APs in my current game, we use something similar. We generally award them for witty remarks, coming up with a good IC joke, recapping last weeks session, describing really good actions your character performs or anything else IC that gets the group laughing.

Also, if you handle exp by the numbers (we just say level up when the DM wants), then APs are better rewards for smart play/roleplay than exp, as it keep everybody on the same xp/level, but still rewards good play.

Hope that helps

Kal
From the d20 Modern SRD (after which it was adopted for Unearthed Arcana):
Action points provide characters with the means to affect game play in significant ways. A character always has a limited amount of action points, and while the character replenishes this supply with every new level he or she attains, the character must use them wisely. A character can spend 1 action point to do one of these things:

* Alter a single d20 roll used to make an attack, a skill check, an ability check, a level check, or a saving throw.
* Use a class talent or class feature during your turn for which the expenditure of 1 action point is required.

When a character spends 1 action point to improve a d20 roll, add 1d6 to the d20 roll to help meet or exceed the target number. A character can declare the use of 1 action point to alter a d20 roll after the roll is made—but only before the GM reveals the result of that roll (whether the attack or check or saving throw suc*ceeded or failed). A character can’t use an action point on a skill check or ability check when he or she is taking 10 or taking 20.

When a character spends 1 action point to use a class feature, he or she gains the benefit of the feature but doesn’t roll a d6. In this case, the action point is not a bonus to a d20 roll.

A character can only spend 1 action point in a round. If a character spends a point to use a class feature, he or she can’t spend another one in the same round to improve a die roll, and vice versa.

Depending on the hero’s character level (see the table below), he or she may be able to roll more than one d6 when spending 1 action point. If the character does so, apply the highest result and disregard the other rolls.

Thanks for the input Eagleye, but 1) the developers have already said that action points in 4e won't work like they do in d20 Modern/UA, and 2) unlike in d20 Modern/UA action point system (in which you gain APs only through leveling up), the web enhancement I linked shows APs awarded for performing specific goals.

Kalsoj, I agree that AP awards can be a great tool for rewarding good RP. I am just worried about those DMs who might grossly misjudge when to award them. One of the things 3e did right was to standardize enough rules on task resolution and encounter rewards that arguments were minimized*. It would be a shame if 4e stepped away from 3e's progress by including a mechanism for an arbitrary DM reward that could substantially effect the player's efficacy.

The 4e system design must include some mechanism for controlling the impact of APs; there must be an expectation that PCs will be rewarded APs within a particular range over a particular time period. If APs are rewarded for performing particular kinds of actions, how does an inexperienced DM know when and how many to award? The DM could just wait until his game is broken and adjust the rate of reward accordingly, while hoping his/her players don't mind the sudden change in power. However, the ideal solution is to prevent the too many/few APs problem from happening instead of simply repairing it.



* anyone who says "don't argue with the DM" isn't thinking this through- it is better for players to argue with the DM than it is for them to play a game they don't like or walk out on the game. What is even better is when the players and DM are in agreement- thanks to rules standardization- on when to expect what kind of rewards so that no arguing, unhappiness, or group disbanding takes place. Standardization doesn't eliminate all possible player vs. DM conflict, but it does eliminate the stupid conflicts- those based upon different expectations of the rules.
Can anyone figure out a specific criteria that would help DMs know when it is a good time to award action points?

in Iron heroes, each class gain "tokens" which they can spend to improve their skills. For example, the Archer class gain "aim tokens" whenever they aim. They get 1 token if they use a swift action to aim, 2 if they use a move action, 4 with a standard 8 with a full round, if i recall correctly. They they could use those tokens to increase damage, hit, range, number of arrows per round, and special tricks such as disarming with an arrow.

The Executioner class gains tokens whenever they attack a target that has their dex bonus to AC removed or is flatfooted, the Armsminger whenever they are hit by an attack, etc.

Probably this will work in that way: a rogue will gain an AP when succesfully sneak, and so on.
The Executioner class gains tokens whenever they attack a target that has their dex bonus to AC removed or is flatfooted...

I think that may work a little differently. The Executioner class starts off each encounter with a pool of tokens determined by class level, and gains additional tokens by taking actions to study the target. (It's one of my favorite classes, but I'll confess I don't have my book in front of me either... )
the developers have already said that action points in 4e won't work like they do in d20 Modern/UA

While that's a good point, the adventure in question is a 3e adventure.

The Greendale Campaign

 

I was there at the dawn of the Third-and-a-Halfth Age of Dungeons & Dragons. I saw action during the Crisis of Infinite Foundations, stood on the ramparts of the Citadel of Mirth, delved deep into the debauchery of the Forum of the Adult, and fought alongside the Infernal Bovine on the fields of the Eberron War. I weathered the Ponystorm. I witnessed as the orcs came for the wizos, and I wept mightily. I saw the realm crack as the Fourth Age came upon us, and I witnessed the eldritch tendrils of the dread Gleemax. Now I watch as the Meta Wars ravage the land as the Fifth Age is dawning. I have walked these Boarderlands for many a long year, and bear many scars in my soul. Yet I remain the White Sorcerer, ever in your service. TWS out.

I think that may work a little differently. The Executioner class starts off each encounter with a pool of tokens determined by class level, and gains additional tokens by taking actions to study the target. (It's one of my favorite classes, but I'll confess I don't have my book in front of me either... )

I didnt either (obviously) and you are right :P
While that's a good point, the adventure in question is a 3e adventure.

Yeah, people need to keep in mind everything posted on the D&D website isn't for 4E atm. WOTC is still supporting 3.5E until the end of its run. This is a 3.5E module and I was under the impression it was generic but had a focus on the Eberron setting (which already has Action Points).
In our local group of gamers, we had someone begin a new game, and he had and still does have a lot of difficulty awarding APs, as in his players arent happy at all, though he doesnt reliease this, so, I can see how a section on AP awards would be good.

I feel that such a section should bullet point a list of 'standard' critera for awarding APs, like recapping last session (a brilliant bribe to players!), also, remembering and using NPC names in character (to help create and maintain the campagin). The problem is, that after that I run out of 'standard' circumstances that you be an 'automatic' award.

However, after that bullet list, a paragraph or two should be devoted to suggesting to GM when to award AP (having automatic rewards for players can prove a problem), with a main theme being reward APs for action you as the GM want to see more of. I.e., if your running a very very Heroic game and when an NPC is about to blasted by a polar ray, a character instantly delcares he's jumping in front of it when hes only on half hp, let him do it (even out of initiative order) and give him an AP and then blast him with that polar ray. You know you can hit him hard, coz you just given him that extra AP.

As for time ranges, I would like to see a pool of them that a character use each session. At the start of each session, any remaining APs form last time are lost, but you get your full allotment back. For exmaple, Kourash has 4 APs. During session 1, he uses two to beat down a griffon, spends another to help him track a dire tiger and uses his final one to say on his feet long enough to kill the blackguard. However, hes used all of his APs up when that lich comes out from behind the throne, the fights a tough one but he survives and the GM leaves it there for the day. Next session, he gets all 4 APs back, and continues deep into the underdark to fight several running battles with drow, using his APs to take them out quickly before they flee to alert their city......etc etc......

Kal
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