In the old days, when you rolled a critical failure, that was it. If you failed enough saving throws or didn’t make it through the barrier of fire, your character died.
Now, things are a lot different. We have a tendency to praise systems now that have “Action Points” and “Hero Points” and other things that make the game more “fun” at the expense of making everything seem easy. I actually don’t like these systems except when simulating a specific campaign tone and/or feel.
In uncertain order, here are my reasons.
1) It takes the creativity out of the game. Who cares how many times I screw up or how many stupid things I do when a little forethought and planning will easily substitute for my heroic action point, action point, or luck point?
2) There’s no reward for not using them. That means that the desperation of their use either needs to be hardwired into the system, which they don’t seem to be in any of the systems in which they are used, or there needs to be some reward system for surviving the required amount of time without using them.
3) It takes away as many cool stories as it produces. A good friend of mine (Who now runs the Gamers Gambit) once rolled six natural twenties in a row. The odds of this happening are slightly less than the Mayflower traveling to the moon and the pilgrims settling there. Now, stories like this one are far more common, because heroic action systems like this have thrown the balance of results a little off kilter. Truly incredible things, more common? That takes the incredible out of the incredible.
4) In the old days of gaming, when we rolled badly and/or died, we were sad. But we never complained about it. Now, we’ve all become slaves to our action points, hero points, and luck points and thinking “If only I had more.” Instead of thinking situations through, we now trust in our action points to help us overcome situations that we previously would take the time to think through.
I know that people want to have fun gaming. But for me, the teaching experience and learning experience were always a part of the gaming experience. Don’t be afraid to think things through. You’ll spend less action/hero/luck points. And then when you really need them, and you’re rolling dice like a hard-luck Harry, they’ll be there.