I’ve been playing around with the idea of adding “intrusions”, from Monte Cook’s Numenera, as a new GM move. Here’s the basic idea:
Intrusions allow the GM to make sudden twists in the fate of a player. When a GM makes an intrusion, she gives an XP to the player directly affected, and that player gives one XP to another player. This is an exception to the rule that a soft move should always precede a hard move, but it is not an excuse to grief players. The intent of intrusions is to mix up the typical flow of play. A player expects bad things to happen on a 6-. Intrusions are a here to spice up the players lives. Just remember that too much spice leaves a bad taste.
(Edit: For those of you familiar with Numenera’s rules, note that players cannot refuse the intrusion in this adaptation.)
(Edit2: I’m realizing I was totally unclear. Intrusions can be taken at any point during the flow of play. It breaks the normal rules for when a GM is allowed to make a move. In fact, a GM should never make this move on a 6-. The point is to add twists that surprise the players. Again, use sparingly.)
(Edit5000: Remember damage is the least interesting hard move.)
I thought to share this because of a thread discussing dangers that are both unknown to and hidden from players. An “intrusion” could be used to blindside players in such a case.
As an aside, I can’t recommend this article enough when it comes to controlling and conveying the level of danger:
Edit3: I want to add an example!
“GM: You make a good pace through the Radiant Forest. The sparse trees let all of the morning sun shine through, and a gentle radiance glints off the golden brown fall leaves. Each crunch of leaves is like the spark of a cozy fire. It seems the locals were right when they told you this route is safe and uninhabited.
Sam: It’s about lunch time, and we’re low on rations, I’m going to forage and see if I can find us some food.
GM: As you finish telling the others your plan, you begin to turn your head only to feel the slightest prick of steel on your neck. You can tell someone is standing behind you now. What do you do?
Sam: I duck and draw my sword!
(no Defy Danger roll)
GM: You duck and draw your sword and face what you can now see is an elf woman that had an arrow to your neck. She is unfazed and unflinching. Your sword falls to the ground as a staff deftly breaks your grip. You see now two elves in front of you. They’re not attacking, but they seem to have you completely at their mercy. Sam, take one XP and give another to whomever.”