The Travelers of Terra
Story Points (SP) is an optional house rule designed for use with D&D 4th Edition. This optional point system provides an additional layer of rewards for exceptional role playing above and beyond the Experience Points that many DMs choose to award to either player groups or individual players. The Story Point system is meant to formalize creative player participation by offering rewards for that creativity in the form of extraordinary augmentations to a PC’s powers, feats, skills and abilities, that instead of granting a mechanical advantage, instead add an element of flair, drama, or sensationalism.
Story Points are rewarded by the DM based on his or her appraisal of exceptional player participation such as creative plot/story development, role playing or character development. Since this is a very subjective system of rewarding player participation, DMs should be mindful of various player styles and reward players appropriately. For example, some players in your group may not be comfortable improvising in-game dialog, but have a knack for bringing their character’s motives and personality to life in other creative ways. Such creativity can be rewarded more flexibly using this system and without unbalancing your game, which can happen when awarding players with Experience Points, in-game currency, or magical items.
Awarding Story Points
These are merely some examples of creative player participation that might be deemed worthy of a Story Point award. Again, the awarding of Story Points is up to the discretion of the DM.
Using Story Points
By using Story Points, players can add stylistic embellishments to any of their characters’ actions as long as such embellishments have no impact on the normal game mechanics of that action. The following are a few examples of instances where using a Story Point can add gusto, grace, or grandiosity to character actions or events:
- An Eladrin who deftly dodges an attack against his or her Reflex, instead of simply stepping aside, momentarily blinks in and out of the Feywild while swerving, allowing the attack to pass through space leaving the Eladrin unharmed. Doing so may impress the other party members, leave enemies awestruck, but have no other mechanical benefit. For instance, using an SP in this way would not confer any benefit to the Eladrin’s Reflex defense or impose any penalty to the attacker’s attack roll. This simply changes the way events look but not how they work.
- A Warlock’s usually dark-blue Eldritch Blast attack instead burns a hot, bright white, and bursts with a dazzling spray of stellar particles upon impact. This does not grant a blinding or dazing effect to the attack, it just makes it appear more spectacular.
- A Bard’s Shout of Triumph is amplified to such a volume that it reverberates off of cavern walls and shakes rubble loose from the ceiling. It does not deafen enemies or cause a cave-in.
- A Monk’s Dancing Cobra attack is preceded by a powerful side-kick that launches her enemy upward so that the final strike is delivered in mid-air. The enemy does not fall prone or take fall damage.
- A character using an Athletics skill check to jump over a chasm can add a somersault in the middle of the jump. The distance cleared or vertical height of the jump is unchanged.
In addition to creatively adding impromptu flair to actions, players can also choose to develop signature effects for their character that connect to their background, personality or overall style. For example:
- The silver-tongued Rogue adds insult to injury by leaving a subtle, clever mark or muttering a frightful, seductive, or devious taunt, whenever he successfully deceives an enemy with a bluff check or leaps out of the shadows to connect with a backstabbing attack. This signature effect makes whichever enemies left alive rue the day they crossed paths with this Rogue.
- A Sorcerer, bent on seeking revenge against raiding orcs who burned down her arcane academy while many of her friends were still inside, adds her rage-filled, blood curdling screams to the crackling sounds of her spells with the fire keyword.
- A Cleric is joined by a radiant avatar of his deity whenever tending to an ally with a power with the healing keyword during a short rest.
Players are limited to storing a maximum of 3 Story Points per character. This allows for players to store enough points so that they can add effects in a variety of ways, and also somewhat limits the frequency of SP use so that when a player uses one it seems like an extraordinary circumstance. Unlike Action Points, Story Points do not replenish after an extended rest and are only gained when granted by the DM.