Complication Gimmicks

Some optional rules that change the way the Complications are handled.

Dice Can Only be Added to Dice Pools

Submitted by Roy Penrod

The core rules allow dice to be added or subtracted from dice pools.  This rule prevents dice from being subtracted from a pool.  Any event that would logically be justified as subtracting dice from a pool is instead added to an opposing pool..

NOTE: I use this Rules Gimmick to make sure we never end up with an empty dice pool (no dice to roll).

For example: A named character only has 1 die to contribute to a Complication (e.g. his name). He does, however, have a Trait that can be used against him (e.g. Cowardice). Using the standard rules, the character would end up with an empty dice pool. Using this Rules Gimmick, the character still contributes 1 die to his dice pool while the opposing dice pool is also given 1 die for the character’s negative Trait.

Nested Complications

Submitted by Ralph Mazza

A nested Complication is nothing more than a new Complication that is Originated before an existing Complication has been completely resolved. This sort of Complication can either be internal to the current Complication or external to it.

An internal Nested Complication is one where the source of the new Complication was generated within the current Complication. For an example inspired by Ron Edward’s Sorcerer, imagine a Complication which involves a party of sorcerers fighting an enemy deep in an underground stronghold. One of the players seeks to draw upon Traits from a powerful demon that a character is bound to.  This demon has not had its Needs met in a while and so is likely to resist its master’s commands.  Another player begins a new Complication pitting the character against his demon in a battle of will to see if the demon will obey or not.

An external Nested Complication is one where the two Complications are entirely separate and running parallel to each other, but where the outcome of one Complication can influence the outcome of the other. The classic example of this is where one group of characters is responsible for establishing a “diversion” while another group proceeds with the mission. These Complications could be going on separately within the same scene or actually simultaneously in two different scenes.

Both types of Nested Complications are handled the same way. One of the Complications must be resolved first and has the capability to impact the Dice Pools of the other. In the case of multiple Nested Complications going on simultaneously, they all might impact the same primary Complication, or they may all impact the next Complication up daisy-chain style. A word of caution: multiple Nested Complications are an advanced technique that, while they can be extraordinary fun, requires lots of dice, lots of table space, and careful organization. Which Complication is resolved first is up to the player Originating the new Complication. Almost always it will be the new Complication being resolved first.

Each Nested Complication will have its own set of Dice Pools, and are separate Complications for purposes of Drawing upon Traits. Resolving the Nested Complication is handled just as any other.  Common uses of the bonus Coins generated by a Nested Complication include: purchasing a new Trait attached to the scene which can then be Drawn upon to provide dice to another Complication; describing Events and Facts related to the Nested Complication that can be used to provide justification for Drawing upon Traits in another Complication that otherwise couldn’t be used; to Introduce or Create new Components that can be used in another Complication; or to  damage or even eliminate Components that could be useful to another Complication before they’re Drawn on.

Using d6s Instead of d10s

submitted by Jonathan Nichol & Wilhelm Fitzpatrick

When resolving Complications one normally rolls d10s with 1-5 being successes and the sum of the numbers rolled being the bonus Coins received.  In a thread in our  discussion forum.  Jonathan and Wilhelm described using d6s instead.

Simply treat odd results as successes (which maintains the same 50% chance of success) and add the numbers normally.  In this case the numbers 1, 3, and 5 have the exact same average sum as the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 when using d10s.

— As Wilhelm said, “the simple elegance of that approach is astounding”; which leaves me a little embarrassed that I hadn’t seen that myself. — Ralph



Extended Complications

submitted by Christopher Bradley

After dice pools are assembled for a Complication but before the dice are rolled, a player can make the complication “extended.”  This means that rather than resolving the complication with one roll of the dice, the dice pools are divided and each is rolled separately.

The person who pays to extend the complication gets to decide how many sub-pools the complication will be divided into.  The dice in each side’s pool are then divided as evenly as possible into that number of sub-pools.

The smallest sub-pools on either side are rolled first.  Edge dice are accumulated in the sub-pool that rolled them.  The winner narrates the victory as usual.  Then proceed to roll and narrate each of the other sub-pool pairs in the same way.

The purpose of this Gimmick is take a complication and convert it into a number of separate stages allowing the full complication to be narrated back and forth in multiple steps rather than resolved all at once.  This is especially useful for climactic battle scenes with arch villains and other similar scenes where players might want the action to trade back and forth.

Using Cards Instead of Dice

submitted by Jonathan Nichol

Instead of coins, each player gets a deck of cards to use as their “coins”.  Another deck is used for the Complications placed face down to the side.  Shuffle the decks and draw your starting Wealth in Cards into your hand.  When you use a coin, play the card of your choice from your hand face-up into a discard pile.  When you refresh draw new cards from your own deck.  For Complications play cards face down secretly, to be revealed during the resolution.  Only cards 1-5 count as successes.  When drawing upon existing Traits draw the top card from the Trait Deck and play it to the Complication.  Cards are reshuffled only when that deck is exhausted. Be sure to discard cards into their appropriate discard pile.

Complications would be resolved a lot faster since the coin spending and die rolling is combined into one card-playing action.  Also, there is a little resource management going on as you play the higher cards for traits and such but save the lower cards for complications.

Quirk #1:  Drawing from the Bank Deck in Complications won’t have the same 50% chance of success.  Ignoring the fact that cards mess with probabilities as they become “used” there are 13 different cards in a suit, making a success as defined above 5 out 13 (somewhat less than 40%) rather than 5 out of 10.  You’d need to discard out of play the face cards (or find some cool new Gimmick where they represent something special other than a normal “coin”) to keep the odds the same

Quirk #2:  The current rules reward developing permanent Traits for Components and then reusing those Components throughout the game (so you can keep getting free Dice out of your initial investment).  You lose some of this when you go to a hand of Cards that you can choose from.  Calling on an existing Trait may give you a free draw from the Deck, but its a random draw.  Inventing a new Trait or environmental feature on the spur of the moment, however, lets you play a card from your hand…where you can select intentionally the card you want to use; guaranteeing success if you have the right cards.


submitted by Ralph Mazza

Play as above but keep each player’s Wealth in a face down stack in front of them.  When ever a “Coin” is spent draw the top card off of the Wealth stack.  When additional Wealth is earned add the new cards to the bottom of the stack.  When Bonus Coins are kept following a Complication shuffle the kept cards into the Wealth Stack.  As an alternative rule have players discard the kept cards and draw fresh cards from their deck to add to the bottom of the stack to maintain randomness.

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