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To provide a slower flow to the spending of expendable points (action points, experience points, etc), GMs may chose to use these Ready Pool mechanics with the Action! System Core Rules to add a flavor of building tension between the heroes and villains, or to simulate the use of heroic luck. Rather than allowing the players to spend their points right from their total numbers, the GM can tailor his campaign to restrict point spending in a tighter direction.
A Ready Pool is a temporary staging area usable by characters to temporarily store expendable points, preparing these points to be spent during role-play conflict. This space may be set aside for each player character, non-player characters, and game master controlled characters. Expendable points are placed into and removed from this pool by the player or GM, when the opportunity presents itself, usually during some form of conflict. Points removed from a ready pool must either be spent by the character, or placed back into the character's point totals. Points from shared ready pools, however, disappear when the conflict is over, and cannot be regained.
Ready Pools can only be used in campaign rules where action points, action dice, experience points or any other expendable points can only be spent if they are already waiting in a pool (these points cannot be spent from the character's point totals).
At the beginning of conflict, all character and NPC pools are empty. Any points not used from the pool are removed and placed back into the character's point totals. After a character performs his action during a combat turn, the player has the option of allocating expendable points into his character's ready pool. The minimum and maximum number of points available to put into a ready pool depends specifically on the type of ready pool and what house rules the Gamemaster has imposed.
Once expendable points have been allocated into a pool, the player may access this pool to retrieve those points at any time, and spend those points (up to the maximum points allowable) according to the Action! System Core Rules on Action Point spending (or any house rules that the GM may provide). The points can be spent to boost attack, defense, damage, and skill rolls, etc.
GMs may allow their player groups to maintain a "group pool" of expendable points to be shared among the members of the player group. A group pool holds points for the duration of an adventure, a subplot, or even as short as a scene; the duration depending specifically on the game theme (realistic games may only allow points in a group pool to last until the end of a scene, where cinematic or pulp games may allow points to last until the end of an adventure, after the villain has been vanquished!). Expendable points that have been allocated to a group pool disappear at the end of their duration, and are not regained by the participating members.
To spend points from a group ready pool, all the players participating in the pool must agree that someone in their party has access to these points. Once a consensus has been established, the character wishing to spend pool points may do so. Combining character and group ready pool points may not exceed the maximum number of allowable expendable points (Example: In an action point pool, the character may not spend more than a total of 3 action points using group pool and his own pool action points).
Ready Pools can be depicted in many ways during game play. Action points (or other expendable points for that matter) may be represented by using poker chips, life point counters (from trading card games), coins, toothpicks, paper clips or other small transportable item. Small cups may represent pools, a special box on your character sheet or just a pile on the floor for your point chips. As the points are allocated and spent, the point counters can be placed in the pool cup, and taken out when they are spent.
Action Point Pools hold and prepare action points to be spent during role-play conflict. Each player character has one action point ready pool, and may share in an optional group action point pool. During a player character's action, the player has the option of spending action points from his ready pool as if he were spending an action point as described in the Action! System Core Rules. After the character acts that turn, the player may allocate an action point into his action point pool. Once the conflict is over, the action points allocated to the ready pool are removed and reallocated to the character's total action points, paying close attention to the 3-action point per adventure limit.
Action Dice Pools function the same as Action Point Pools, except that when a player spends action points from the ready pool, he rolls 1d6 for each point he spends (up to three), and adds this total to his skill roll, attack, defense, or any other relative total as defined for action point use in the Action! System Core Rules.
Experience Point Pools are long term storage of experience points for player characters to spend at a later date to purchase adds to attributes, skill points, powers, or other abilities that are available to be purchased using experience points. Players can create multiple pools corresponding to separate aspects of their characters to restrict spent experience to develop those aspects (a skill only experience ready pool will allow a player to only spend experience from the pool for skill levels).
Other pools can be created and used with action points or other expendable points. Attribute pools can be created so that action points may be allocated for resistance or skill rolls. Damage pools may be used to apply extra dice to weapon or power damage, so as to simulate a power trick or stunt. Movement pools may be used to simulate sudden bursts of speed or help with control rolls. The options are endless...