When preparing a Numenera adventure, I always write down a few intrusions that are relevant to the environment or story that I’m trying to convey to the players. Before I started writing these ideas down, I would invariably forget to give a couple of players an intrusion, causing an inequitable distribution of experience points in the group.
Writing these intrusions ahead of time gave me more freedom to focus my creativity on conveying the world and interesting characters that the players encountered. I’m also pretty good at handling impromptu intrusions based on the characters actions. I thought I was as prepared as a GM could be… until I encountered “that” player. That player happened to be my son. On two separate occasions, he rolled five ones in one encounter. The first one was funny and I came up with something pretty fast. “Okay, your weapon flies free from your grasp and lands a few feet a way, it will take an action to get it back“.. or.. “the last cypher injection that you took had some kind of strange effect on you, your next task has an increased difficulty of one“… “or you trip and fall“.. It can be taxing to dole out a high number of memorable or meaningful intrusions in one encounter.
There are a couple of ways to handle that many player created intrusions. Monte Cook Games recently released a fantastic GM Intrusions Deck. Having these cards at the table is like having an extra GM there helping you come up with ideas when you need a helping hand.
While the GM Intrusion deck is great, I have found another way to handle player rolled intrusions using Dungeon World‘s GM Moves list. A GM Move is essentially an action that a GM can make in response to the player failing a roll. So basically, its just like a player rolling a one.
Dungeon World GM Moves
- Use a monster, danger, or location move
- Reveal an unwelcome truth
- Show signs of an approaching threat
- Deal damage
- Use up their resources
- Turn their move back on them
- Separate them
- Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities
- Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment
- Offer an opportunity, with or without cost
- Put someone in a spot
- Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask
As you can see, these moves are very much like intrusions. Print out this list and tape it to your GM screen and you will never run out of good ideas when your players roll too many ones!