On pg. OM13 of the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game:

If the Watcher activates one of your Limits, it costs a die from the Doom Pool, but you don't get any PP. You get first refusal on this if you're the player--the Watcher may decide to spend Doom Pool dice, but only after giving you the chance to earn PP first.

On pg. OM93:

Conscious Activation If stressed out, asleep, or unconscious, shutdown Power Set. Recover Power Set when stress is recovered or you awake. If Trauma Type is taken, shutdown Power Set until trauma is recovered.

Can I spend Doom Pool Dice to activate this Limit? Can the player activate to earn PP? If the player is not capable of activating the Limit at will, should the player earn PP when it is activated by circumstances?

My reading of it is that it cannot be activated in either way because:

  • Some Limits (Gear) explicitly mention PP. Therefore, any Limits which do not mention PP should not receive any.
  • Anything which cannot receive PP cannot be activated by Doom Dice, since the rule mentions offering the player the chance to get PP before spending the Doom die.
  • The Limit specifically mentions the circumstances which must be present to activate it. Without those circumstances, activating it by the player receiving a PP or the Watcher spending a Doom Die doesn't make sense. I can't just spend a Doom die and make someone unconscious.

Compare to the "Gear" Limit:

Gear Shutdown Power Set and gain 1PP. Take an action against the Doom Pool to recover.

The Larger Question:

Are some Limits ineligible for Doom Dice expenditures or gaining PP? The rules cited at the top of the question lead me to believe I could activate any Limit, but the rules blurbs in the Limits themselves seem to conflict with this idea.

I prefer rules references to backup claims, but given that this is a largely interpretive game, I will accept answers that cite how Watchers have used this, or similar, Limits at the table.


1 Answer 1


BLUF: I read this the same as you. Limits like Conscious Activation, Mutually Exclusive, Wolverine's Toxic Metal, Growing Dread, and many others do not pay out a PP, and they have specific conditions for activation that, RAW, do not logically allow for Watcher activation. As written, when the condition it met, they trigger.

As to the larger question, although the generic sections about Limits don't mention any cases where you can't activate with Doom Dice or gain a PP, as I read them it's clearly not logical for some Limits as written. Since Limits and SFX are basically character specific rules, I let the specific, local rule trump the broader, generic/implied one and I don't try to force PP/Doom Die mechanics on Limits where they're not mentioned.

It's also worth noting that SFX specifically discuss the cost/benefit aspect, and make it clear that you don't spend a PP for every SFX, just the ones that mention it specifically. Carrying that specificity rule over to Limits, while not RAW, would be consistent.

Additional Thoughts: Now, I prefer limits that provide PP and are triggerable by the Watcher. For me, a big part of having Limits is to be able to make that trade when you're desperate for a PP, and taking that limitation usually provides good narrative hooks. You don't get that with limits like Mutually Exclusive, which is always in effect, or Conscious Activation, which has such a specialize trigger.

So, to go a little deeper, some of these could be re-written to include a PP/Doom Die reward/cost, such as:

Conscious Activation 2 If stressed out, asleep, or unconscious, shutdown Power Set to earn 1 PP. Recover Power Set when stress is recovered or you awake. If Trauma Type is taken, recover Power Set when trauma is recovered instead.

Now, as I read this, what I've done here is add a condition. This Limit now needs to be triggered by the player or the Watcher. This is really just like a Gear or Exhausted Limit now, except it has the added requirement that the character be stressed out, asleep, or unconscious, i.e. out of the scene. It remains a Limit designed to set up the drama for a later scene, but now it takes an effort on the part of the Watcher (or provides incentive for the Player).

(And you still can't knock someone out by spending a Doom Die. I suppose you could write a Limit that would allow someone to be taken out under the right conditions with a PP/Doom Die exchange. Certainly there's no rule against such a Limit, and it's done with certain SFX like Moon Knight's Moon Copter Extraction.)

I can see adding the PP/DD structure working with some of these types of Limits, like Growing Dread (with a clause that you must activate it before you roll) or Wolvie's Toxic Metal.

However, with others like Mutually Exclusive, adding a PP gained and allowing a Watcher Doom Die spend would, IMO, be problematic. For example, if I write:

Mutually Exclusive 2 Shutdown POWER SET A to activate POWER SET B and earn 1 PP. Shutdown POWER SET B to recover POWER SET A and earn 1 PP.

As written, this opens up the possibility of the Watcher changing the powers, but it might lend itself to a player tripping this once per action for the PP, or a constant back and forth between the player and the Watcher, which might not be good for your game. Now, you could probably think up a way to make it work, but I'm guessing it would be a very specific rewrite in each case. Plus, Limits like Mutually Exclusive follow a different formula because they're trying to model a different type of limitation, so it may be best to leave them as is.


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