In a nutshell: Similar to 4e action points, but much more versatile.
Action points give characters the means to affect game play in significant ways, by improving important rolls or unlocking special abilities. Each character has a limited number of action points, and once an action point is spent, it is gone for good.
Acquiring Action Points
A beginning (1st-level) character starts the game with 5 action points. A character above 1st level starts the game with a number of action points equal to 5 + 1/2 his current ECL.
You might recover a few action points every session depending on your GM’s discretion. Every time a character advances a level, his action points reset to 5 + 1/2 his new ECL, rounded down (any action points you didn’t spend during your previous level are lost). You determine your supply of action points after all other issues related to level advancement have been resolved.
Some prestige classes might allow a faster rate of accrual, at the GM’s option.
NPCs and Action Points
Most NPCs are not “heroic” characters and thus shouldn’t have action points due to the added complexity this would create. Important villains or other significant NPCs might have a few action points. A good baseline for NPC action points is 1/2 the NPC’s level.
Using Action Points
You can only use action points for one effect each round (reset on your initiative) and only one instance of that effect.
Add to a Roll
You can spend 1 action point to add the result of a 1d6 to your 3d6 roll to help you meet or exceed the target number. You can declare that you’re using an action point to add to a 3d6 roll after the roll is made, but only before the GM reveals the result of that roll.
Depending on character level (see list below), a character might be able to roll more than one d6 when he spends 1 action point. If so, apply the highest result and disregard the other rolls T. A 15th-level character, for instance, gets to roll an additional 3d6 and take the best result of the three. So, if he rolled a 1, 2, and 4, he would apply the 4 to his normal 3d6 roll.
- Effective Character Level (ECL) 1st-7th: 1d6 Action Point Dice Rolled (adds an average of ~3.5)
- ECL 8th-14th: 2d6 Action Point Dice Rolled (adds an average of ~4.5)
- ECL 15th-20th: 3d6 Action Point Dice Rolled (adds an average of ~5.3)
A character can perform certain tasks by spending an action point. In addition to the actions described below, some prestige classes or feats (see below) might allow the expenditure of action points in order to gain or activate specific abilities, at the GM’s option.
Activate Daily Ability: A character can spend 1 action point to gain another use of a personal ability (not from an item) that has a limited number of uses per day.
Boost Defense: A character can spend 1 action point as a free action when opting to fight defensively. This gives him double the normal benefits for fighting defensively for the entire round (+4 dodge bonus to AC, plus double your benefits from Tumble).
Emulate Feat: At the beginning of a character’s turn, he may spend 1 action point as a free action to gain the benefit of a feat he doesn’t have, as if he was gaining the feat at the current level. He must meet the prerequisites of the feat. He gains the benefit until the beginning of his next turn, but expending another action point at that time continues the feat’s benefit uninterrupted. If that feat has a per-day limit, you treat yourself as having one per-day use available (just enough to use it) when emulating it with action points. Some common feats this is used for include:
- Any of the domain feats (for that “superhero” feel)
- Most of the incarnum feats (if you have CON 13+)
- Most of the luck feats , for a single reroll on…:
- your initiative (Lucky Start).
- as an immediate action, your Balance, Climb, Jump, Disable Device, Open Lock, Sleight of Hand, Hide, Move Silently, or Tumble check (Lucky Catch, Lucky Fingers, Sly Fortune).
- as a swift action your Strength check made to break an item or burst open a door, or as an immediate action an opponent’s sunder attack or Strength check to damage an object within 30 feet of you (Lucky Break, Miser’s Fortune).
- as a swift action damage healed by your conjuration (healing) spell (Healer’s Luck).
- The Investigate feat (take a full-round action to get more clues)
- Any feat that grants a spell-like or psi-like ability
- If you’re a spellcaster, any feat from the “Free” list for the Improved Sorcerer (those feats have no prerequisite)
- Extra Spell (if you’re a 3rd-level spontaneous spellcaster1): Temporarily learn another spell of a lower level on your class list, but you’ll need to cast it immediately
- Expanded Knowledge (if you’re a 3rd-level manifester): Temporarily learn another psionic power of a lower level from any list, but you’ll need to manifest it immediately
- Extra Turning: Temporarily gain 4 more uses of a turn or rebuke creatures ability, if you need to expend multiple uses of it in one round for some reason
- Most of the metapsionic feats (the 3.0 versions are banned)
- Blind-Fight: Be more effective at fighting an invisible creature (or while you’re blinded)
- Combat Expertise (if you have INT 13+): Be harder to hit at the cost of you being less likely to hit in melee
- Combat Reflexes: If you anticipate that the enemy is going to provoke several attacks of opportunity in the coming round, this is useful
- Eschew Materials: Allows you to skip the need for non-costly material components for spells
- Endurance: Allows you to take two move actions to spend Reserve Points to remove nonlethal damage and strife an equal amount
- Improved Counterspell: Allows you to counterspell with any higher-level spell of the same school
- Multiweapon Training (if you have DEX 13+): Greatly reduces the penalties for using multiple weapons that round
- Power Attack (if you have STR 13+): Deal more damage in melee at the cost of you being less likely to hit in melee
- Rapid Reload (if you’re proficient with a crossbow): Reload your crossbow faster
- Simple/Martial Weapon Proficiency (Exotic too if you have BAB +1): For when you just need to use that weird weapon this round
- Skill Focus: When you’d much rather take a guaranteed +3 to the skill roll than roll dice for the “Add to a Roll” option above
1 If you would normally have to then spend time to prepare it (such as a prepared spell) the feat is useless to emulate (including the Martial Study and Shape Soulmeld feats).
Extra Attack: During any round in which a character takes a full attack action, he may spend 1 action point to make an extra attack during the full attack at his highest base attack bonus. Action points may be used in this way with both melee and ranged attacks, and do not cause the normal penalties from making multiple attacks in a round.
Spell Boost: A character can spend 1 action point as a free action to increase the effective caster level of one of his spells by 2. He must decide whether or not to spend an action point in this manner before casting the spell.
Power Boost: A character can spend 1 action point as a free action to increase the effective manifester level of one of his powers by 2. He must decide whether or not to spend an action point in this manner before manifesting the power.
Discount Spell / Discount Power: A spellcaster or psionicist can spend 1 action point to cut the final spell/power point cost of an unaltered (default cost) spell/power in half (round down, minimum 0). This use of an action point is a free action and can only be done as the spell/power is being cast/manifested.
Stabilize: Any time a character is dying, before rolling their Injury save at the start of their turn they can spend 1 action point to become stable at 0 hit points. This counts as you having help stabilizing you. NOTE: This is by-far the most popular use for action points.
Hasten Infusion: Artificers (and psionic artificers) can spend an action point to shorten an infusion time to 1 round (when targeting an infusion with a casting time of longer than 1 round).
Below are a few examples of how action points can be used with existing feats. Unless otherwise stated, each effect requires a free action to activate and lasts 1 round.
Blind-Fight: You can spend 1 action point to negate your miss chance for an entire round.
Combat Expertise: You can spend 1 action point to double the bonus to Armor Class granted by the feat. You also take no penalty to your attack roll, but are limited by your BAB.
Dodge: You can spend 1 action point to increase the dodge bonus granted by the feat to +2. You also gain a 20% miss chance. The effect lasts for the entire encounter.
Improved Initiative: You can spend 1 action point to double the bonus on initiative checks granted by the feat, from +4 to +8. (Because emulating a feat happens on a character’s turn, it’s pointless to emulate this feat)
Metamagic Feats: You can spend 1 action point to spontaneously add the effect of any one metamagic feat that you have to a spell you are casting at reduced effort. The level adjustment of the metamagic feat is cut in half (round down, minimum 1) and the spell takes no extra time to cast. You must still be capable of casting the spell without the decrease in effort.
Metapsionic Feats: You can spend 1 action point to add the effect of any one metapsionic feat that you have to a power you are manifesting at reduced effort. The power still requires you expend psionic focus but cuts the additional power point cost in half (round down, minimum 1). It otherwise follows the normal rules for metapsionic feats (such as requiring that you have a high enough manifester level to manifest the power without the decrease in effort).
Power Attack: You can spend 1 action point to double the bonus on damage rolls granted by the feat. You also take no penalty to your attack roll, but are limited by your BAB.
Spell Focus: You can spend 1 action point to double the increase to save DCs granted by the feat, from +1 to +2. This effect cannot be used additionally with Greater Spell Focus, but it does stack with it.
Psionic Endowment: You can spend 1 action point to double the increase to save DCs granted by the feat, from +1 to +2. This effect cannot be used additionally with Greater Psionic Endowment, but it does stack with it.
Spell Penetration: You can spend 1 action point to double the bonus on caster level checks granted by the feat, from +2 to +4. The effect lasts for the entire encounter. This effect cannot be used additionally with Greater Spell Penetration, but it does stack with it.
Power Penetration: You can spend 1 action point to double the bonus on manifester level checks granted by the feat, from +4 to +8. The effect lasts for the entire encounter. This boost stacks with Greater Spell Penetration.
Eberron Action Point Feats
The following feats are automatically granted to all heroic creatures as bonus feats (and cannot be swapped out with effects such as Embrace the Dark Chaos).
Action Surge: You can spend 2 action points to get another standard or move action during your turn.
Pursue: If an enemy takes a 5ft step to leave a square adjacent to you, you can spend an action point to move into the square they just left.
Spontaneous Casting: A prepared-type spellcaster can spend 2 action points and swap out a prepared spell for another one to which he has access (for example, a wizard can swap out a prepared spell for one in his spellbook). The slot’s “lock duration” and “cooldown” remain running.