My players have asked if we could try an action point/hero point system for our OD&D game. I can hear the screams now. However, unlike many old school players, I’m not automatically allergic to the idea. To me, action points (by whatever name) are just another (very) limited resource for the player to manage. They don’t represent some innate “heroic” quality, but rather the ability almost all humans have to summon up their resources and push themselves into giving it “their all” when they really need it but feel they are falling short. It’s the extra strength Conan would summon to succeed when he felt like he was going to fail, etc.
So I’m willing to test action points in our game. Here’s how I’ve decided they will work — at least initially. Characters have 1 action point per level/2 (rounded up) available each game session. Spending an action point BEFORE a roll is made allows you to adjust it by 1d6 in the character’s favor and costs the result of the die roll in hit points. The character is making an extreme effort and that has a physical toll. Spending two action points immediately after a roll is made allows you to adjust the roll by 1d6 in the character’s favor and costs twice the result of the die roll in hit points. Action points can only be spent on rolls that directly affect the character and are based on actions the character is aware of.
This will probably send some readers away screaming, but I’m willing to give it a try and see how it works out in play. I doubt it will have a major effect on the campaign, other than to let the players succeed slightly more often than they otherwise would. If it causes trouble, it can always be tweaked or even dropped.