At any time, the GM can introduce an unexpected complication for a character. When he intrudes in this manner, he must give that character 2 XP. That player, in turn, must immediately give one of those XP.

Often, the GM intrudes when a player attempts an action that, according to the rules, should be an automatic success. However, the GM is free to intrude at other times. As a general rule, the GM should intrude at least once each session, but no more than once or twice each session per character.

Anytime the GM intrudes, the player can spend 1 XP to refuse the intrusion, though that also means he doesn’t get the 2 XP. If the player has no XP to spend, he can’t refuse the intrusion.

Example 1: Through skill and the aid of another character, a fourth-tier PC reduces a wall climbing task from difficulty 2 to difficulty 0. Normally, he would succeed at the task automatically, but the GM intrudes and says, “No, a bit of the crumbling wall gives way, so you still have to make a roll.”

(Monte Cook 108)

This is where I’d like to open the blog. This mechanic. As you read it, I encourage you to imagine the multiplicity of responses gamers would have to it. You may have your own response, your own part to play in the conversation within your imagination, but hold off on it.

Listen to those other voices.

There are those rejoicing that game masters (GMs) now have a fair, mechanical way to engage in otherwise “unfair” behaviors – bringing up a seemingly unfair plot element into the mix which players can refuse if they wish.

There are those who decry this sort of mechanic as being disconnected from the fictional world, breaking immersion and entitling players to actually change the GM’s plot.

There are those with no particular opinion on this mechanic. They neither see its potential for expanding the tabletop roleplaying genre nor its potential for harming that genre.

There are those who will be happy to try it out just because it’s a shiny new thing they’ve never seen before.

There are those who will bemoan it without any reasoning beyond that it is a new trick and they are old dogs.

There are those…

…this orchestra of voices is the community you are a part of. It can be cacophonous at times – the arguments, the factionalism, the sheer noise of it all. But hear always the hum of passion underneath. You can sense, if you remain open to sensing, the communal desire to discuss these things, to play these games, to seek the best game that we can play, to talk about games, to share games.

This blog is primarily about my own views, as all authored blogs are, but in welcoming you, I want to make sure you don’t forget the bigger picture. The world of tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) is a broad one, filled with a menagerie of gamers. We are enriched by the diversity of passions, even if we do not welcome each individual passion into the private comfort of our own games.

This blog celebrates that menagerie through the medium of discussion. I hope that throughout the various topics I explore here, you will remember this big picture which I mention here, and only here:

As long as you post in good faith, you have a part in the conversation. I welcome you.

But imagine those other voices first. Disagree and agree with them, as I’m sure is natural to you, but also cherish them. Hold them close, for it is the big picture, the conglomeration of voices, which gives our hobby its richness.

Works Cited

Featured Image by Kieran Yanner.

Cook, Monte. Numenera. 1st ed., Monte Cook Games, LLC, 2013.

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