Seven Kingdoms: Seowyn's Crossing
Most ordinary folk of Tol do not lead the same lives that Adventurers do. They do not return from the dead. They cannot heal even nearly mortal wounds overnight. An heirloom magic sword may aid them by increasing the accuracy and strength of their blows, but they may never learn to make it burst into fire and scorch their foes. Sages have coined a term for the quality that allows adventurers to manifest these abilities: pneuma.
Pneuma, sometimes referred to as the Breath of Heroes, is what makes one well trained warrior a Fighter and the other just an armed guard. It allows adventurers to put on a burst of speed, sometimes allowing them to act faster than an ordinary person. It allows them to waken the sleeping virtues of a magical device, or to catch their breath for a few minutes and shrug off wounds that would have slain an ordinary person. As their prowess increases, adventurers learn to perform all sorts of feats by harnessing their pneuma.
It’s believed that pneuma begins the day sluggish in a hero’s body (stone pneuma) and flows more freely through those who dare greater deeds (wind pneuma): an adventurer who takes on several battles in a row may find that he can harness his wind pneuma to be faster more often, or can wake multiple magic items over the course of a day. The caveat, however, is that stone pneuma is expended faster by those who do the same. While an adventurer might find that he has the wind pneuma to move faster as the day progresses, he may also find his stone pneuma deserting him when he tries to catch his breath, leaving him unable to heal even minor wounds.
In any case, a good night’s sleep re-balances one’s pneuma. Most adventurers waken after sleep hale and hearty, with plenty of stone pneuma and only a little wind penuma and fire pneuma.
(This is a goofy in-game explanation of why PCs get healing surges & action points and why magic items might go unnoticed in the hands of non-adventurers. Yes, I’m a geek. )