Spells, Powers, Features, and Abilities
(Player’s Handbook, Expanded Psionics, Deities and Demigods)

Dungeons & Dragons is highly inconsistent in its nomenclature, and that’s something that will need to be changed at the most basic level for simplicity. A character’s ability scores are referred to as “abilities,” but so are their extraordinary-, spell-like-, and supernatural- class features.

This can be incredibly confusing.

Simply changing everything to “features,” “spells,” or “abilities” might be helpful, but eliminating too many of the ability/feature taxonomy will create the opposite problem – so some organization is necessary. Many games differentiate between “active” and “passive,” or “inherent” and “granted” effects.

Deities & Demigods and Expanded Psionics offer a fairly neutral term for active abilities in the term “power.” This identification of character traits is comparable to its use in describing the abilities of superheroes, which D&D characters ostensibly are. I intend to simplify terms to abilities, features, and powers.

“Abilities” now refer exclusively to a character’s ability scores.
“Features” refer to passive, inherent character traits or options.
“Powers” refer to active, use-based character traits or options.

Recharge Magic
(from Unearthed Arcana)

I don’t know when “recharge magic” first appeared before Unearthed Arcana, but in my opinion it’s a system with a lot of benefits – under the right circumstances. I think the first problem is the variable recharge times for spells, and the second is the incredible number of exceptional recharge times.

To many Third Edition players and game masters, recharge magic simply seems too powerful for practical use, never mind the bookkeeping involved. My thought is that spells, spell-like abilities, supernatural abilities, and extraordinary class features like the barbarian’s rage might use the recharge magic system.

The remaining problems are with determining how long it takes to recharge magic. If applied universally, it ought to be referred to as “recharge powers” rather than “recharge magic,” since it isn’t just for magic anymore.

Action Points
(from Unearthed Arcana)

If I remember correctly, the Action Point system was introduced to Revised Edition through the book Unearthed Arcana. At least, that’s how it made it into the System Reference Document, I could be wrong there. Action Points are a “patch rule” that doesn’t fix much in the greater context of the system.

The Unearthed Arcana variant suggests making Action Points a level-based resource, permitting a player character so many action points to use from one level to the next. They’re a commodity in one sense, however adding 1-6 to a single roll N times per level is a mediocre advantage at best.

In addition to the standard effect of adding one-dee-six to any dee-twenty roll, there are a host of other minor effects usually left to DM fiat, such as emulating feats a character doesn’t have, gaining an extra attack during a “full attack” (which is described elsewhere in the system), recharging spells, et cetera.

To simplify and streamline this rule, I would make two suggestions:
First, eliminate options that require case-by-case rulings from the game master and eliminate potentially time-wasting choices by simply permitting a player to “spend an action point to take an extra basic action as a free action.”

This change requires a few other changes, such as the creation of a class of actions determined “basic” enough to be used with an action point.

Second, eliminate the bookkeeping associated with level-based commodities, and have each character receive a new action point on a per-encounter basis.

Finally, related to the new per-encounter usage limitation of action points, I would like to put forward an alternative name in “action surge,” since action points are no longer “spent” but are instead “used,” as with powers.