D&D’s FYIA Tokens

August 1, 2007

Last year at GenCon, Shannon brought up a frustration about the D20 rules where her uber-monk wasn’t allowed to do what she had designed it to do- all over some arcane technicality rule that prevents critical hits if you move beyond a certain distance (don’t ask me, it was REALLY ARCANE). Mike Sugarbaker brought up the idea that D&D should include, “Fuck You, I’m Awesome!” tokens, where you spend one, tell off the GM and get to bend or break the rules.

It’s stuck in my head as probably one of the biggest missing bits to the game, even through all of it’s modifications and evolutions post 3.0. Though certainly we’ve seen the addition of Action Points, and such, they’re still not really in line with the basic principle of value to rarity- you only get a handful per level, and they’re kind of tame for what they do.

FYIA Tokens, instead, need to kick ass. They need to be something you’d desperately want, and use in a game. And you need to get enough to make it worthwhile.

So, here’s how they work:

You get 2 Free Tokens per game session. You can spend these on your PC anytime, but you can’t save them between sessions. They pretty much exist for you to spend willy-nilly each session.

You get 1 Bankable Token per level of your character, each time you level up. (1 Bankable at 1st level, +2 Bankable at 2nd, + 3 Bankable at 3rd, etc.) As you might surmise, they’re something you can save between sessions, and over time.

What FYIA Tokens do (yes, you can spend more than one at a time to get multiple effects)

Spend 1 to:

– Turn any roll from a failure to a success

– Turn any success into a 20 or an auto confirmed critical hit

– Maximize any damage roll (magic or melee)

– Minimize any damage roll received (magic or melee)

– Cause an enemy to automatically fail Spell Resistance

– Cause an enemy to automatically fail a Saving Throw

Strategies and effects on play:

So what does this all mean? Well, they’re useful for both combat heads and spellcasters. Obviously this means a party becomes tougher, probably at least one CR better in terms of overall encounters. Mages can execute “Save or Die” spells easier, fighters can pull a guaranteed critical once a game, or a maximized critical, etc.

On the other hand, even if you tend to roll unlucky or have a crappy character build, you do get to be awesome at least once a session. Smart players will stick to just using the 2 Freebies every session and building up the Bankable Tokens for a really tough fight. Other players will burn out their Bankables really quick, but at least be able to do something neat every session anyway.

As characters rise in levels, they get more Bankable Tokens and get more dangerous overall (A maximized critical hit from a raging 20th level Barbarian tricked out on weapons and feats is a lot worse than a maximized critical hit from a 3rd level Barbarian. And they get a LOT more tokens, meaning you’ll be seeing multiple hits in a really tough fight.)

On the other hand, Bankable Tokens once spent, are gone, so characters can shine really awesome in bursts, or all out at one time.

You’ll notice that these rules work well regardless of if you’re playing D20 3.5 or 1st edition. That’s intentional.

So, next time you go off on a dragon, maximizing your spell damage or pulling a critical on it, screaming, “Fuck you I’m awesome!”, thank Shannon and Mike for the good idea.

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