Friday, 1 November 2013

New ideas for Action Points

I'm currently writing a d20 Modern one-shot scenario for use at some point this winter. As some of you may know, d20 Modern uses Action Points. It came out, IIRC, around the same time as the Eberron setting, and both settings initially made use of APs. However, for the purposes of my scenario, Operation Fallen Angel, I'm tweaking the AP rules. The below incorporates ideas from Cold City and Shadowrun, as well as some of my own ideas. I may still tweak them before the final scenario.
Each character has SEVEN Action Points (APs) at the beginning of the adventure. I should stress that this is intended for use in a one-shot; if you were planning to use the below in a campaign, it would require additional tweaking, for example, how to restore APs, and short-term objectives against longer term objectives.
At the start of the scenario, you can assign your APs in three ways:
  • Assign them to your personal mission: you can spend these APs only if this furthers your personal mission goals (each PC has a personal mission at the start of the scenario, some harder than others to achieve). If you fail your personal mission in the course of the game, you immediately lose all your APs remaining in this pool.
  •  Assign them to another player character as Trust points. This measures how much you trust that player character. You can assign APs to multiple characters, but not GM characters.
  •  Assign them to the Team Karma pool.
 At the start of the game, players take it in turns to assign APs in a clockwise direction. Each player must assign one of his pools before the next player in turn. Pools may not be topped up in the initial allocation session and remain in place until the GM says that players can start changing them. Pools may only be changed out of combat.

Personal missions

Every character has a secret personal mission they wish to accomplish in the course of the game. If your action supports the accomplishment of your personal mission, you may use APs from that pool.


If you have Trust APs assigned to you, you may spend them only on actions that either aid other team members or are used to actively betray other team members. You can only use Trust that has been allocated to you by the player concerned - e.g. if you wanted to spend Bob’s Trust in you, then it can only be spent on actions that directly affect Bob. Trust can be re-assigned by the assigning player at any time in the game, other than during combat.

Team Karma

Players allocate team karma to a central pool at the start of the game. Players can spend karma from the team pool whenever they are doing something that benefits the team or appears to benefit the team. The GM has final decision on this. Players may take their own karma tokens out of the pool whenever they like. If a character is killed or incapacitated, their karma tokens are removed from the pool.

What can I use my APs for?

  • APs can be used to add 1d6 to an existing roll you have made before the GM says whether the roll has succeeded or failed. Alternatively, they can be used to subtract 1d6 from either a GM’s roll or another player’s roll. In the latter cases, these have to be rolls that directly affect your character. You may spend APs to boost damage rolls.
  • APs can be used to re-roll any roll, including combat damage.
  • APs sometimes need to be used to activate class specific features.


  1. I always liked the Shadowrun team karma system so I'm pleased to see it here. Savage Worlds has an Edge that allows for something similar although I'm always inclined to dump the Edge and allow for a Team Bennie pool if the players want it.

    Anyway, this looks good to me. The only criticism I have is that 1d6 bonus; when I saw that in Eberron I thought it was both mean spirited and added an unnecessary extra roll. I'd suggest using a flat bonus of 4 or 5 instead or, if you want to have action points be a bit more swingy and unpredictable, use a different die like a d8 or even a d10.

  2. Duly noted. I therefore propose boosting the die to 1d8.