Campaign of the Month: March 2014
The Trouble Pool
|Stakes Type||Trouble Pool|
|Scale Type||Trouble Pool|
|Note: The X in each case is the default, so if you have an Act that’s both Historic Scale (4dX) and has Catastrophic Stakes (Xd10), it’s a 4d10 Trouble Pool to start with.|
The Trouble Pool is the GM’s resource for adding to the characters’ opposition. Dice in the Trouble Pool are called Trouble Dice. By default, the GM starts each session with 2d6 in the Trouble Pool, although some sessions may begin with larger or more dice.
Building up the Trouble Pool
The Trouble Pool grows as the session progresses, because a d6 is added to the Trouble Pool whenever the a player receives a Plot Point for rolling a 1. If multiple 1’s arise on the same roll, then the GM can step up the die by 1 for each additional opportunity. This doesn’t cost extra Plot Points. If the GM wants to instead add multiple dice to the Trouble Pool, each additional die costs another Plot Point. Instead of adding a new d6 to the Trouble Pool, the GM may step up the lowest die in the pool by 1. This gives the GM a means of making some of the Trouble Dice larger without waiting for the players to roll multiple opportunities. When adding dice to the Trouble Pool, the GM can narrate something related to the action that was just taken—something that explains why the stakes are rising or the threat of imminent doom is increasing.
The GM may add to the Trouble Pool directly rather than inflicting a complication on a character. This represents the villain causing general chaos and mayhem, threatening innocent bystanders, or grandstanding. It might not directly harm the characters, but it makes things difficult for them later.
Stakes & Scale
The starting Trouble Pool is determined by two elements, it’s Stakes and Scale. The Stakes are how dangerous or risky things are at the start of the session. The Scale is how big the conflict at the start is.
There are three measurements for Stakes, each one escalating in difficulty.
Normal: There is trouble but it’s not out of the normal.
High: The Joker has escaped.
Catastrophic: The League of Shadows is active in Gotham City.
There are three measurements for the Scale, each one escalating in size and ramifications.
Local: One of Gotham’s three islands is being effected by the situation.
Gotham City: All of Gotham is in danger.
Historic: Not only is current Gotham City in danger, but events are piling up that have sweeping ramifications to Gotham’s past or future.
Using the Trouble Pool
During the game, as the GM you may use dice from the Trouble Pool in much the same way as players use their Plot Points. Each use “costs” the die used to trigger it; remove the die from the Trouble Pool unless otherwise specified. In some cases, the size of the dice in the Trouble Pool limits what you can do with them.
Add a Die to a Dice Pool. You can spend a Trouble Die and add it directly to a dice pool before you roll the dice. This can be for any action being performed by your GM characters. You’re just moving the die from the Trouble Pool to your dice pool for that action. To move it back to the Trouble Pool after you’ve used it like this, you have to hand over 1 Plot Point to the player or players the action targeted. Otherwise the die just goes away.
Add an Extra Die to the Total. You can add more dice to the total. To do this, you need to spend a Trouble Die of the same size or larger than the die you want to add. Adding a d8 to the total would require spending a d8, d10, or d12 from the Trouble Pool.
Create a New Scene Aspect. You can spend a Trouble Die to create a new Aspect directly in the Scene. The size of the die spent from the Trouble Pool determins the size of the Aspect created. These must be entirely situation or location-based, like Burning Hallway or Panicked Crowd. These primarily exist to oppose the characters in your opposition pool or be used by the villains, although creative players may find ways to use these Aspects for their characters.
Interrupt the Action Order with a GM Character. In any scene, the order in which the characters act is fluid and passes from player to player, and occasionally to you as GM. If you want to interrupt the action order and have one of your characters act before the next character, you need to spend a Trouble Die. The default spend is a d6.
End the Scene. As the GM, you have the power to end a Scene before the normal goals, requirements, or achievements have been met by spending 2d12 from the Trouble Pool. This is useful in a big pitched battle, which can drag out for a long time when the two sides are evenly matched or there are a lot of characters involved. This rule gives you a helpful pacing mechanic for these larger scenes. Usually, the use of the Trouble Pool to end the Scene means cutting away to a later point in the story, with the outcome being narrated by the GM with input from the players.
Reducing the Trouble Pool
In conflicts with GM Characters a Player can opt to reduce the Trouble Pool instead of dealing a Complication. After a Complication Roll the highest die may be used to reduce the trouble pool by stepping back a larger die by one, or eliminating a die of the same size or smaller. The Trouble Pool can’t be reduced to less than 2d6 in this manner.
The Trouble Pool as Opposition
The Trouble Pool stands in as the opposition dice pool for anything the characters want to try that‘s important enough to break out the dice but for which no opposing characters are present. Natural forces, sheer luck, that growing sense of dramatic tension— the Trouble Pool acts as a generic pool of opposition when the situation demands it. The GM takes two dice from the pool and rolls them for the total. These two dice are then added back to the Trouble Pool.
If he wants extra dice, he may pull them from the Trouble Pool but after the roll they are considered spent and are removed from the Trouble Pool. If there are other traits in the Scene that might add to this pool, like inanimate objects, they can be included as well but they do not go to the Trouble Pool after use.
The GM can also spend dice from the Trouble Pool after rolling to keep more dice for the total. These have to be dice that were unused in the previous roll and remained in the Trouble Pool.
The Trouble Pool and Reflection Points
Players earn Reflection by rolling dice and engaging with the story, but they can also pick up additional Reflection when you use the Trouble Pool at its fullest. As the GM, every time you spend (not use) a d12 Trouble Die from the Trouble Pool, all affected characters gain 1 Free Reflection Point. If a character is the target of the D12 Trouble Die because of its use in a die roll, or if the Trouble Die has altered or changed a Scene they’re in, they get the Reflection Point. If they’re not in the Scene and the D12 Trouble Die is spent on something that has nothing to do with them, there’s no bonus. Note that with the End the Scene function of the Trouble Pool, which costs 2d12, that’s a 2 Reflection Point award to every character in the Scene.