in answer to the question about action points, here is the relevant link in my blog: http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/blog.php?b=608
to specifically answer you, action points were introduced in 3.5 in the unearthed arcana (p.122-124), and became a large part of the eberron campaign setting, and i believe the d20 star wars as well. think of them as fate points of a sort.
here's the basics: you get 5 + 1/2 your current character level (rounded down, as usual). when you spend an action point, you normally roll a die. at levels 1-7 you roll 1d6, at levels 8-14 you roll 2d6, and at levels 15-20, you roll 3d6. you keep the highest die and discard the rest. add the result of the highest die to your d20 roll that you are trying to "fate". presto, new result! ^^
there is a long list of other useful special action effects that you can use an action point on in the unearthed arcana.
generally speaking, i allow use of them as generic fate points to avert something seriously undesirable, regardless of the technical specifics as outlined in the rules. i do however, strictly enforce the number of fate points available, though i have been known to award the occasional point here and there due to really odd dice results, extreme runs of poor rolls, and the like.
there are also a number of feats around various source books that grant various bonuses, extra uses, and the like relating to action points.
i know that someone asked about them before and i said it was fine... but i think i did forget to make that generally known... what with the "anything goes" theme, and all. nonetheless, my bad. *^^*