posted by PrincessWuffles Original SA post

From the pages of the Assorted Indie Games Thread . . .

Excelsior, True Believers! It's the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game !

Cover of the Basic Game book.

There's already a thread to cover the full breadth of Marvel in the roleplaying world, but I'm going to talk about the newest one. Marvel Heroic Roleplaying , or MHR , is a game by Margaret Weis Productions, the folks who brought you Leverage , Smallville , and, doubtless, other games I can't remember at the moment. It uses MWP's in-house Cortex+ system, though the accuracy of that is under debate, and I wish I could comment there, but from what I've gathered, you should dig out those dice. Yes, all of them.

Like a lot of other MWP games, the focus in Marvel Heroic is story, not just the story The Watcher contrives for the characters, but a story that everyone at the table has an active part in contributing to. Yeah, that's more or less the definition of roleplaying, but this game works the concept in a way I've scarce encountered previously.

Without further ado, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game !

I'm trying to think of a pun here on four-color, but it's just not working...

The book starts out with dual forewords by Jeff Grubb (Co-designer of the 1984 Marvel Super Heroes game from TSR) and Margaret Weis (Co-author of the Dragonlance novels, player of Captain America in an early playtest of the original Marvel Super Heroes game, and who produced this book).

Grubb talks about how it was a goal of the original Marvel Super Heroes game to get more comic readers to play roleplaying games, especially those "who didn't have a grounding in the arcane lore of RPGs". He also mentions that it was great to have a recognized setting with lots of detail like the Marvel Universe right from the beginning. He goes on to talk about how the worlds of comics and RPGs are closer now than ever, which brings up an interesting point I want to note: There are a number of other supers games on the market that are about modeling the physics of superheroes, how their powers work and interact with their world, but this game is not that super hero-physics simulator. This is a comic book simulator.

Margaret talks about getting pummeled, due to bad rolls, in the playtest she helped with on the old MSH game, and then the usual enthusiastic producer talk about this new game.

The book is divided into two main parts: The Operations Manual , which is the core rules, and Breakout , a sample adventure from the pages of New Avengers .

This post is nothing special, but next time we'll get to Introduction , where we'll talk about the basic rules, how dice work, and crazy stuff like Plot Points and the Doom Pool .

Chapter 1

posted by PrincessWuffles Original SA post

Face front, True Believers , it's time for more MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING: BASIC GAME!

Operations Manual
Chapter 1: Introduction

We begin with an introduction to roleplaying as Marvel super heroes. Like a lot of core rulebook introductions, there's the explanation of the shared-storytelling idea at the heart of good roleplaying gameplay, but it's a nice touch that the comparison here is not with players as actors like a lot of games go for, but as comic book writers and artists. You're playing your character, but the idea is that you're helping to tell a story involving your character, so the total story is the thing, not just what your character is doing at the moment. It's a fine distinction, but if my reading is correct, it's an important one.

The Watcher is our DM equivalent's name, although it's a weird choice, given that, in the comics, The Watchers aren't meant to intervene, while The Watcher in Marvel Heroic is going to be intervening a hell of a lot. Of course, Uatu has always been pretty shitty at the non-intervention bit, so maybe it's more apt than I might have thought.

Coming back to what I said earlier about how the game really seems to emphasize the shared-storytelling aspect of roleplaying games...

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying posted:

Everyone shares their ideas, describes what their heroes (or villains!) are doing, and reveals an ongoing story. You might even describe what you’re imagining in terms of panels and pages in a comic book—establishing shots, splash pages, extreme close ups, huge sound effects. At the heart of this game is you, working with the other players and the Watcher to be awesome.
(Emphasis mine)

That pretty well sums it up.

Hero Datafiles are next up. This is what the game calls its character sheets. It's worth noting that unlike most RPG books, MHR does not include a blank character sheet page for photocopying. This is because there's a section in the back of the book that's nothing but pregens for a bunch of existing heroes. There's also a nice section of villains, too, which is also cool, in that both are built on the same basic stats. This is great, since the default assumption is that you'll be playing extant characters, but it's not all it could be. We'll get to that later.

For now, let's talk about what makes a hero. Feel free to head over to this list of fan-made datafiles, pick a character, and follow along. Things are going to seem kind of opaque, and that's totally normal. One problem I had in reading this book was the all-too-common problem of editing and organization that seems to plague this hobby. Everything on the character sheet has dice assigned to it, where normally we'd see numerical stats. It's cool. Just take a deep breath, and I swear to Stan it'll make sense in the end.

In MHR , characters are made up of the following:

Affiliations determine whether this character works best alone, with a buddy or as part of a team.

Distinctions are three phrases that sum up a character. Catchphrases and nick-names are useful here. These kind of remind me of FATE-like aspects, where there should, ideally, be positive and negative uses and connotations to a character's distinctions. It's also good if a distinction is a cool thing to say when you're going to use it in play, like, "since Captain America is the 'Sentinel of Liberty', I'm going to defend those protestors from the riot cops".

Power Sets are, obviously, sets of powers. Most characters have one or two sets, but I've seen one-set characters, like Hulk (although he's a little more complicated), and Dr. Strange has three. These are broad categories for a characters powers, like Captain America's "Super-Soldier Program" that contains all the abilities he gets from the serum that makes him Cap, while his second set is "Vibranium Alloy Shield", which covers his shield's protective qualities and its use as a weapon. Power Sets are further broken down into power traits , which describe the capabilities of the set to which they belong. There's some further explanation of power traits , SFX , and Limits later on, but suffice it to say that power traits are the qualities of a power set , SFX are more specific moves and cool things you can do with or because of those qualities (like a way cooler version of d20 feats), and limits are bad things that can happen to or because of a power set .

Specialities are things a character knows about, like business, tech, being menacing, etc. Specialties are also used to make things or call in favors or otherwise do things to help your character and the team. More on them later.

Milestones are a really cool feature that facilitates playing in-character. You get xp for doing things from a list that is specific to your character and their goals or typical behavior, like Captain America forming a team of heroes to face a big threat. There are also milestones that go with the adventure you're playing, like a list of objectives to work toward in completing the scenario. A lot of these, on the datafiles and in the adventures, are double-edged, too, so they represent a choice that you make as the character to do one thing or another, so it's more than just a list of boxes to tick on the way to the end of the adventure. Like every section of the datafile, there's more on milestones later in the book, but I want to say how awesome this is as a core feature to the game.

The pregens in the book also have a second page of biographical information to help get inside their headspace and into character. One problem I see is that while it's great that everyone gets a full-color two-page spread with all this information and a graphic of the character, these things are far from printer-friendly. I ended up transcribing Deadpool's sheet into a template I made in Open Office, which worked fine for my purposes, but it's hardly ideal.

Next time: With great power comes great quantities of dice!


posted by PrincessWuffles Original SA post

It's time for another thrilling installment of MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING: BASIC GAME!
With Great Power Comes Great Quantities of Dice!

Chapter 1: Introduction

Let's get this out of the way, if I haven't made it clear up to this point: This game uses a lot of dice. From four to twelve sides, you're going to need at least one of each for every player at the table, and more for the Doom Pool.

So what do we do with all these dice? Well, where lots of systems have a core mechanic whereby a standard die (d20) or pair of dice (d100 games like Dark Heresy ) is rolled, and then subjected to bonuses and penalties to finally compare with a target number, or else a pool of dice (usually just one size) is compiled from your character's rating in stats relevant to this roll, with successes and failures combining toward comparison with a (usually smaller in these systems) target number, MHR does things a bit differently.

Before we get to the particulars, there's a helpful list of when, and when not, to roll the dice. A lot of games do this anymore, and it helps to foster more interesting play at the table. You roll the dice when success is uncertain, when something interesting (good or bad) will happen as a result of your actions, there's something at stake, or when you just want to show off your cool superhuman abilities in service to the story. You don't roll the dice when outcome isn't going to be interesting because there's nothing at stake, no risk or threat, and the only goal is to make nothing happen. To someone who's been playing games for years, this sounds like common sense, but laying it out like this is always nice to see. The dice are here to decide some things, but they're not the heart of the experience, which is to tell a story together, and if rolling the dice doesn't add anything to that experience in the moment, you're encouraged not to do it. Great advice.

Okay, so we've danced around the topic a bit, but here it is. Marvel Heroic is a dice pool system, but instead of using all one size like d6 ( Shadowrun ) or d10 ( White Wolf Storyteller ), the pool here is a mix of d4 to d12, depending on the die size assigned to whatever stats you're using for a roll. I understand that this is a feature of Cortex+ games in general, but having never encountered it before, I think it's a really interesting alternative to the more common dice-stat mechanics.

It started making sense around this point for me, and we're given a clear checklist of what goes into a dice pool for a roll. What I found really helpful, and to be damned sound advice for fostering good roleplaying in general, was that we're first told that there's something we have to before we pick up any dice at all, and that is to declare our intent. If you don't know what your character is trying to do, and to what effect, you don't know which dice to pick up, or what will happen if you succeed. Likewise, if The Watcher doesn't know what you're trying to achieve, he can't come up with what's working against your action, and what might result from your failure. Once you know what you want to do to whom or what, and what you want from what you're going to do, then you can pick up your dice.

For every roll, you are allowed one die from:

Affiliation (Depending on whether you're working solo, with a buddy, or as part of a team) You don't get the die for what you're best at, but the die that applies to the current circumstances of the roll. If you're playing The Punisher, who usually works alone, but find yourself paired off with Dazzler of all people because she's using her light manipulation powers to light the way through the mandatory sewer scenario in which you're engaged, the fact that ol' Frank doesn't play well with others comes into play. I'd never seen something like this before, and it adds a cool dynamic to interacting and working with your party members. Naturally, a lot of the time, you're probably going to find yourself rolling your Team die, but I think it's cool that there are advantages and disadvantages to pairing off or even striking out on your own for an action of two, as long as everybody can stay engaged with the game. Hell, The Watcher can set up an advantage for the villains by separating two heroes whose strength is in working with a buddy, so there's actually a mechanically visible impact to doing something like that.

Distinction : (If one of yours is relevant to your action) The cool thing here, again, is that there's good and bad that can come from using a die from this trait. If the distinction will have a positive impact, you get a d8, but if you choose a distinction that might actually hurt you in succeeding, you still get a d4, but you also get a Plot Point to use on this or a later roll. Normally, you're going to go for a helpful distinction, which grants the bigger die, but the fact that there's an incentive, in the form of a plot point to take the smaller die, which might also lead to a more interesting outcome. Maybe you just want to build up a pool of plot points . That's cool, but you're going to take a cut to your distinction die on this action, which helps to deepen your character by exposing a weakness. I mentioned before a hypothetical situation wherein Captain America sees some protestors being pushed back by riot cops. Maybe Cap sees this as the authorities impeding the right of these protestors to express themselves. Obviously, if riot cops are on the scene, there's probably a reason, but not necessarily so bear with me. Maybe the protestors are out in force against a corrupt politician, who's using the police to keep back his dissenters. In this belabored example, Cap's status as the "Sentinel of Liberty" might actually work against him, as engaging the riot police will likely endanger not only him, but also any other heroes on the scene if the cops decide to strike back. Hell, Cap might be seen as leading a charge of sorts that ignites the protest into the full-blown riot that the cops are trying to prevent. Cap's player gets a plot point for taking the smaller die that shows a disadvantage to his character's personality or convictions or status or whatever, and the scene is made more interesting as a result. Awesome.

Power Sets actually give you a die from each of your power sets. If Deadpool wants to fill his Hydra assailants with lead, he gets both his "Weapon" die from "Toys for Boys", the set representing his equipment, so he's using a high-powered machinegun or something, and his "Enhanced Reflexes" die from his "Weapon X Augmentation" set, so he's got superior aim and ability to track a moving target. There's more to what power sets can do, in the form of SFX and Limits , that make things more interesting or deadly or even dangerous for our hero and everyone around him, but here we're just concerned with the base dice from a trait each from each of our power sets.

Specialty dice won't come into play on every roll, but then there are characters with specialties like "Combat Master", where the applications are obvious and numerous. Specialties are ranked at either Expert or Master, which determines whether you get a d8 or a d10 respectively. Things get interesting when you consider that you can also turn that d8 into two d6, or that d10 into 2d8 or 3d6, but since we're still building to a full picture of what we're doing with all these damned dice, the implication might not be super-clear just now.

Then there are other dice you can add to a pool, that come from things that aren't on your sheet:

Stress or Complication dice that your opponent is carrying, for one. We haven't talked about the stress system yet, and that's because the book hasn't bothered to bring it up yet, but this is a really cool mechanic that I immediately liked, once I read how stress worked a while later.

Again, the system is cool as hell, but it doesn't do the best job of presenting itself. Maybe it's because things are so woven into each other, or something, but a glossary of some kind before any rules were explained, just to lay out some terms you're going to be seeing in the coming pages would have been really helpful. Lots of games do this, and it's weird. White Wolf sometimes goes to the opposite extreme, where we're front-loaded with a bunch of nonsense terms that we're not going to properly grok till we see them in their proper context, but there's got to be a pleasant middle-way. Okay, there is a glossary, but it's in the back of the book, so if you want to make sense of what you're reading in the beginning, you have to flip back and forth, while everything goes black and white and someone shouts, "There's got to be a better way !"

Suffice to say that in this game, you have a die size (analogous to HP in other systems) that represents how much stress you've taken, and that someone acting against you can use to their advantage. Once again, awesome. The fact that Punisher just blasted that thug in the leg with his shotgun is totally going to work in Frank's favor when he goes for another shot at his already bleeding target. A complication would be something like the shattered bones in the thug's leg, which impede his actions like trying to run away, but we'll talk more about those later.

Push dice , Stunts , and Resources are other things a player can buy or fuel with plot points in order to give them an advantage. For the moment, these are basically dice added to the pool that come from either just buying the die (Push dice), coming up with some clever way of using your powers(Stunts), or contriving a device or helpful contact or something (Resources). Again, there's more on these later.

The whole thing kind of brings to mind things one might say in an old schoolyard "Who would win in a fight" argument, listing off all the things a particular character brings to bear in a fight, or the defense they could mount against a particular attack. If nothing else, it's more interesting to me than a bland comparison of to-hit and AC/DC, even if that's what it ultimately boils down to. It's about what goes into those numbers.

Okay, so we've got all these dice now, but they still haven't told us what to do with them. If you're familiar with Cortex+, this won't come as a surprise, but once you've rolled your pile of dice, you're only going to need three of them.

First, set aside all dice showing a "1" result. These are called opportunities , but we don't need them just yet.

Now, pick two dice and add their results. The added results of these two dice is the total , which is the number you're going to compare with your opposition. If you're acting against another character, an NPC villain or even another hero, it's an opposed roll like in lots of other systems, where you're comparing your total to your opponent's. If you're not explicitly acting against a character, like Spider-man trying to catch a rain-slick flagpole sticking out of the side of a building as he falls, you roll against The Doom Pool. What's the Doom Pool? Patience, True Believer.

There are things you can do to change the number of dice you keep from your rolled pool, like buying them at a one-to-one rate with plot points , but let's keep things simple for now.

Getting back to our roll, once you've removed all your ones, added up your total, spent plot points to add more die results to the total, you'll pick a third die from your pool. This is your effect die . Don't have any dice left after taking two for your total and removing all your ones? Your effect die is a d4. Better than nothing, right? And hey, you can sell all those ones for plot points .

Anyway, the effect die is kind of like rolling damage, but here it's not the number showing on the die that matters, but the size of the die. There's an element of strategy here, where it might be advantageous to total the results from smaller dice so you can have a larger effect die. Like with the total , you can add more effect dice for a plot point apiece, if you want to effect more than one target, like Spidey swinging out of the rafters to kick two thugs at once, or Hulk smashing heads together.

The effect die size is the magnitude of whatever effect you were going for with your action. If you're trying to punch someone in the face, this is how much physical stress you're going to deal. That's right, damage would be something like, "one d10 physical stress". In this case, the next time you attack this opponent, you've got that d10 you inflicted with your punch that's now available to add to your dice pool.

It would be pretty boring if all you did was punch people in the face or shoot them, but lots of games have got by on just that just fine. You can deal physical stress with fists, bullets, and bolts of energy, but what if you want to shut down The Blob's mind with Professor Xavier's "Omega-Level Telepath" powers? Luckily, we've got three kinds of stress to track, with both mental and even emotional stress in addition to physical. Like everything else, there's detail on all these things to come later. So frustrating.

Anyway, here's a little taste of The Doom Pool because it's cool and I want to talk about it. One factor that contributes to the pool is anytime a player rolls a one. Remember, we set those aside before we added up the total. Yeah, they're called opportunities , but this isn't some feel-good self-delusion crap about softening failure, this is an opportunity to sell that "1" result to The Watcher for a plot point . We'll get to exactly what The Watcher does with these opportunities later, but for now, every opportunity purchased becomes one more die in The Doom Pool arrayed against our heroes.

Players can use opportunities too, if The Watcher rolls any. What can you do with them? Well, among other things, one thing you can do is use them to activate those SFX the authors keep dodging around. Damn and double-damn you, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying !

That's it for dice, mostly, for now, at any rate. Did I mention organization is a bit of an issue here? Anyway, I want to keep these short, to keep things focused, so I don't succumb to the disorganization myself. Anyway, it looks like we'll be at this a while.

Next time: Some Clever Title With A Pun On Plot Points!

Plot Points

posted by PrincessWuffles Original SA post

Lemon Curdistan posted:

It is foreign, therefore dity, godless and communist.
I always thought the Thai cookbook right next to the bound cat was meant as a jab at the stereotype of Asian restaurants using less than desirable ingredients.

But enough racism ...

Better late than never, it's time for another thrilling installment of MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING: BASIC GAME!

Last Time: I gave a broad overview of the game and how awesome I think it is. Then, I talked about Hero Datafiles and Dice. All of which you can read here .

Now, without even further ado,
There Ain't No Point to a Plot With No Plot Points

Chapter 1: Introduction
Plot Points

When we last left this examination of a really cool superhero game, we were talking about all the damned dice it takes to play the thing properly. All through the previous updates, there has loomed a spectre in the shadows, a feature only almost glimpsed, but never fully observed. That spectre, my friends (because this is Marvel not DC where there's a character with that name), is plot points !

At their most basic, plot points are like Action Points or Bennies or any other such dramatic currency with which the reader might be familiar from any of a number of other games. The main difference is that plot points are totally awesome.

Most games that have this sort of thing will start a player with a set number of them, per session or otherwise. Then, it's up to a gentlemen's agreement between players and GM to see that more are given out over the course of play, even as the things are spent on making things more interesting for everyone involved. I had a regular GM who gives out Action Dice in SpyCraft for making him laugh, for example.

Back to the point, or plot point as it were, plot points are basically like Awesome Dollars. You get them for investing in the story, for your own good or ill, and making things interesting, and then you get to spend them on being even more super-heroic! If you really go for it, and really try to do something super amazing, but you fail, you can actually earn back plot points for screwing up!

I come from a wary school of player thought that says I should always hang onto expendable special advantages like these, and so might prospective players of this game, but fear not GM's of wimpy players! One of the things that makes the plot point mechanic so much fun is that the idea is for these things to be going back and forth across the table from GM to players and back so often that no one would think of just sitting on such sparkly tickets to Awesome Town. We'll get to how you get more plot points in a little bit, but for now, you might be asking ...

What can I really do with Plot Points anyway?

I'm glad you asked, disembodied voice of the idealized reader. Plot points can be used for all kinds of things. You can use them to add to your dice pool, in the form of an extra d6 called a push die , use another power or distinction , a stunt die , or use an SFX from your power set. What's a stunt die ? What's SFX ? Patience, True Believer. You waited just under a year for this post, you can wait longer, and the book is going to make you.

So that's stuff you can do before you even pick up the dice. What about after? Well, you can keep an extra die toward your total , but you could also keep an extra effect die . Extra effect dice let you effect another target with your action, so you don't necessarily have to prioritize which of the fleeing muggers to stop in his tracks with Spidey's webs or Punisher's bullets.

What else? If the Watcher rolls an opportunity (1 on any die), you can activate it with a plot point to make things more difficult for the opposition. You can also use a plot point to use an effect die from a reaction roll.

A more interesting use comes in the spending of a plot point to change stress damage to a different type. Before, we looked at the fact that there are three kinds of damage in MHR , and maxing out your damage taken in any of the three categories is a bad thing. We'll talk more about that later, but for now, you can use plot points to avoid this. Think of it like mind over matter in a really literal sense.

Plot points can also be used to buy resources , which are basically temporary advantages drawn from a character's specialties . Usually, resources are bought between action scenes, when there's time to acquire the special device, knowledge or whatever advantage this particular resource is.

Plot Points sound awesome, where do I get more of them?

Everyone starts the game, and every session, with at least one plot point . The easiest way to get more plot points is so easy you'll literally fall into it by accident. Every time a player rolls a one on any die, they can trade it on a one-to-one basis for plot points .

Another way to earn plot points is using a hero's distinctions against him. It might seem counter-intuitive, but bear with me, and those who remember the previous example with Captain America defending protesters from riot police, bear with me especially.

MHR: Introduction: Dice posted:

... if you choose a distinction that might actually hurt you in succeeding, you still get a d4, but you also get a plot point to use on this or a later roll. ... Maybe you just want to build up a pool of plot points . That's cool, but you're going to take a cut to your distinction die on this action, which helps to deepen your character by exposing a weakness. I mentioned before a hypothetical situation wherein Captain America sees some protesters being pushed back by riot cops. Maybe Cap sees this as the authorities impeding the right of these protesters to express themselves. Obviously, if riot cops are on the scene, there's probably a reason, but not necessarily so bear with me. Maybe the protesters are out in force against a corrupt politician, who's using the police to keep back his dissenters. In this belabored example, Cap's status as the "Sentinel of Liberty" might actually work against him, as engaging the riot police will likely endanger not only him, but also any other heroes on the scene if the cops decide to strike back. Hell, Cap might be seen as leading a charge of sorts that ignites the protest into the full-blown riot that the cops are trying to prevent. Cap's player gets a plot point for taking the smaller die that shows a disadvantage to his character's personality or convictions or status or whatever, and the scene is made more interesting as a result. Awesome.

A hero's powers have limits , which are also a potential source of plot points . Limits are things that can shutdown a power or even an entire power set. The fact that Iron Man needs his suit to fly around and fire off repulsor blasts is a limit . Activating a limit complicates a hero's situation, and limits their abilities, but it also nets a plot point . There's more about limits later on, but for now they're just another way that heroes can make a situation more dramatically interesting for themselves in exchange for a later mechanical advantage. The Watcher can activate limits too, by spending dice from the doom pool instead of paying off the hero with a plot point , but we'll get into all that later when we look at the doom pool .

Next Time: Beware the Doom Pool!

The Doom Pool

posted by PrincessWuffles Original SA post

This time, there's no escape from another installment of MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING: BASIC GAME!

Beware The Doom Pool!
Chapter 1: Introduction
The Doom Pool

Last time we talked about plot points , but now let's take a look at their nefarious opposite, the doom pool .

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game posted:

The doom pool is the Watcher’s resource for adding to the heroes’ opposition and, at the end of an Act, populating the Event with additional threats, challenges, and situations.

Like the push dice that players can add to rolls, doom dice begin life as d6's. The doom pool itself begins every Act at 2d6. Acts, Scenes, and Events aren't really explained until later, but basically, an Act is like in a film or play, it's a set of Scenes, and an Event is made up of Acts. Depending on how high the stakes are for a particular Act, The Watcher gets more dice. Makes enough sense for now.

So we talked before about how The Watcher can buy players' opportunities with plot points , and then add a die to the doom pool , right? Well, they can. They can also, instead of just adding a new d6 to the pool, step up the lowest die in the pool by one, so a d6 already in the pool can become a d8.

If a player rolls more than one opportunity in the same roll, The Watcher can just straight up step up a new doom die once for each additional opportunity past the first, paying only for the original die. If you're just adding d6's to the pool, though, every one costs a plot point. These doom dice can come in the narrative form of a hero's actions causing collateral damage or otherwise adding chaos to the scene.

Another way to add to the doom pool is with effect dice from a villain's action. Instead of directly attacking the heroes, they're putting that effect to work in stirring up further chaos for everyone caught in the fray. Some hero powers also have SFX that add to the doom pool. There's those that SFX again. I swear we'll get to them.

So What Does The Doom Pool Do?

Mostly, doom dice work just like plot points. The Watcher can add them to a villain's dice pool for a roll or activate villain SFX.

Let me just stop here to clarify that SFX are basically like d20-style feats that you activate with plot points.

Anyway, Doom dice can also be spent to add a die to the total, after a roll, just like with plot points. They can also be used to keep an extra effect die in the same way. The difference with doom dice is that the extra die, whether to the total or effect, has to be of the same size as the doom die spent or smaller.

Okay, how about cool new things that separate doom dice from plot points? Well, a doom die of d8 or larger can become a new distinction for the scene, something like a burst steam pipe or a plummeting wrecking ball, or anything else that gives an advantage against the heroes.

A Watcher character can use a doom die to interrupt the established order of action. If I haven't established it yet, and I don't think the book has at this point, the usual order of action is determined by, usually, the Watcher asking a player, "What do you do?" and then that player selects the next to act and so on. So if the Watcher wants to get an action in edgewise, they can spend a doom die to do it.

Remember how some characters work better on a team, with a buddy, or alone? Doom dice are how the Watcher can separate a team or pair, or even force a loner in with a companion or companions.

In addition to power SFX, a spend from the doom pool can activate special effects tied to a Scene or even an Event. Maybe the scene takes place in Dr. Doom's castle, so this could have the effect of summoning fresh doombots to the fight, or maybe this spend advances Dr. Doom's progressive doomsday device another step toward it's catastrophic purpose, or whatever fiendish thing the Watcher desires.

The other thing doom dice do is force the end of a scene. It's expensive at 2d12 from the pool, but it can help keep things moving when a fight goes long or some other element of a scene is proving tedious or otherwise standing in the way of action progression.

In addition to being a spendable resource for enhancing actions and scenes, the doom pool stands in for opposition when there aren't any villain characters to represent it. Let me clarify because that's a terrible sentence. When it would be dramatically interesting for a character to fail in doing whatever it is they're doing, it calls for a roll, but not every roll is directly opposed by another character, villainous or otherwise. This is where you actually roll the doom pool. Of course, the doom pool as a resource for enhancing rolls also extends to rolls made with the pool itself.

Oh, every time the Watcher actually spends a d12 doom die, any hero affected by the spend gets 1xp. That means if the Watcher uses 2d12 doom to end a scene, all the heroes in the scene get 2xp. Those look like pretty small numbers, I know, but this is a narrative game, where xp values tend to be low, so don't worry about it, and we'll talk about it later.

In the meantime, I'm spending 2d12 to end this update, so take 2xp and join me ...

Next time: The End of the Introduction! (Stunts, Resources, Push Dice, Assets, Stress, and Complications)

And then: Playing the Game! (Finally!)