Im admittedly brand new to the game and am only now learning the system but it seems to me that the ability of the player to improve his chances at almost anything substantially by committing to the Doom pool is so obvious as to almost never be avoided? Yes, I understand the GM can make things more difficult for the players when he has Doom at his disposal but given the chance to not fail or really, really succeed at a test I just dont see the typical player EVER turning it down.
Am I wrong? Does it play out differently in actual play? Im soloing the Vultures of Shem adventure as a learning tool and Im actually have a hard time coming up with things to spend the continually replenishing and usually growing Doom pool.
I think a lot of the perceived problems with Doom come from an assumption that players are trying to beat the GM (or vice versa). If the players know the GM wants to see them succeed and is trying to give them fun challenges then that tends to go away.
Personally I find that I’ve had players generally unwilling to spend Doom rather than overspend on it. I have read GMs who have had the problems you’ve described though. Generally I think the best thing to do in that situation is to have the conversation with your players about how the game should run. Point out that if you dump all the Doom they’re giving you the game will be almost certainly a disaster, that isn’t going to be fun for anyone.
Every player I’ve brought into the system used little or no Doom at all until I explained to them the above. Most of them are still cautious about giving me too much. While I can understand the are still seeing the game as adversarial, it’s silly.
The more the players realize how much they are sabatoging themselves by overspending doom the more they will be cautious about it. UncleRiotous is absolutely right. Avoiding the gm vs pc dynamic is the best way to avoid it.
Experienced characters will have enough talents and ranks/expertise to generate so much momentum that spending Doom becomes emergency only. I finished campaign of 32 sessions and we had character that was generating momentum like crazy and filling the pool and one heavy-hitter that was the spender. In-between the doom was used only to start the momentum-generating wheel or in dire cases.
I hope the next adventures show different, otherwise the Doom is not that useful and all things that rely on Doom are literally useless as I can’t just add doom when I like (I can, but this will make the whole idea obsolete).
In my campaign (20 sessions so far, been quite a blast) I ruled from the start that players can’t buy extra dice with Doom. We wanted a little less pulpy approach (I don’t use Minions either) and it has been working great.