Last week I wrote a well received article [link] featuring 50 different things that could easily be used as either a Hard Move (for games Powered by the Apocalypse) or a GM Intrusion (for those games of Numenera or The Strange). In fact a few people mentioned they would also work for various FATE games as well. The concept behind these elements is simple enough but as many of us have found it’s easy to run out of ideas or to just keep recycling the same ones while you’re in the middle of running the game.
To help you mix it up and keep your players guessing this week I’m putting out another list of 50 Hard Moves and GM Intrusions. Last time we focused on combat situations but this week we’re going to take a look at these elements in non-combat encounters, specifically social encounters. If you’re a GM I hope you find these useful and inspiring, if you’re a player, well, I hope your GM is generous with the XP…
Interaction with Nobility
- You are fined a steep fee for your breach of etiquette.
- Your words are taken as a flirtatious advance toward an unintended person.
- You are seen as little more than an uncouth lout.
- An infuriated noble hires an assassin to kill the person that insulted him in public.
- You are required to kneel and keep your head bowed in order to speak.
- You make a complete fool of yourself and word spreads like wildfire.
- Making a beloved noble look bad results in the common folk making your life difficult (inflated prices, information not available, etc.).
- Not only do you fail to gain the boon you requested, the noble will begin actively moving against your interests.
- A massive amount of bureaucratic red-tape delays you and interferes with your progress.
- The noble’s bodyguards attempt to beat you for your insolence; fighting them might make things worse…
Interaction with Criminals
- As you speak a stealthy assassin moves into place.
- A pick-pocket with fast hands deftly steals some valuables while you’re distracted.
- Those you are speaking with tell you what you want to hear but have already sold you out.
- You are given false information, dangerously false information.
- After you leave a hit is placed on you by the organization.
- They will only continue to talk to you if you survive The Trial…
- A criminal observing your interaction gains insight you’d rather they not have.
- You are maneuvered into a position to do the criminal’s dirty work and take the fall for it.
- Your drink is laced with a drug preventing you from lying.
- It’s a trap! The “criminal” is actually the law in disguise.
Interaction with The Law
- Nothing you’ve said is considered to be even remotely believable.
- You’re recognized as having a high bounty on your head.
- You’re mistaken for someone with a high bounty.
- Questioning by the guards severely delays you.
- You are subjected to an extremely invasive, unclothed search.
- You accidentally implicate yourself in an extremely high-profile crime.
- During a quick search of your person or gear a guard disastrously activates an item.
- In order to proceed you need to pay out a hefty bribe.
- You are barred access to a specific location (could be a building or even an entire city).
- They know you’re a trouble-maker and the law goes out of its way to harass you.
Interaction with Clergy
- Your presence is an affront to the divine, they want to sacrifice you to their deity.
- The clergy believes you to be an agent of a rival deity.
- You will only be listened to if you assume a position of supplication.
- You are forced into a position where you must agree to assist the organization with a dangerous task.
- Your offenses result in the faith declaring you an apostate and enemy of the faith.
- Some observing your interaction believe you to be the prophesied “chosen one” of the faith.
- To prove your sincerity you are asked to partake in a ceremony that will allow high-ranking clergy to detect your whereabouts.
- Followers of the faith are ordered by church edict to have no interactions with you.
- A huge charitable donation is expected in order to proceed.
- Something about you (tattoo, piece of jewelry, a scar) marks you as an agent of evil and enemy of their god.
Interaction with a Group
- The crowd begins a death-chant focused on you and drawing unwanted attention.
- Several members of the group become infatuated fans making life complicated as they try to gain your affections.
- Your words incite a full-on riot to break out in the streets!
- The crowd surges forward overwhelming you, knocking you prone and trampling you.
- The crowd engulfs you and moves on. You’re uninjured but missing important items.
- You over-motivate the group and they won’t leave you alone, following you around and singing your praises.
- Your words motivate the group into action, unfortunately their actions are the opposite of your intentions.
- You insult and outrage the group turning them into a mob looking for your head!
- The group wants nothing to do with you and begins telling others to avoid you as well.
- The group becomes united in purpose, but not the purpose you wanted.
Hard Moves and GM Intrusions can be particularly hard to create on the fly during social encounters. Something to bear in mind with social encounters in general, and some of these intrusions specifically, is that there might not be an immediately obvious effect, unlike combat. Many of these things will make the characters’ lives more interesting after the fact. It’s important to remember that poor social interaction most often has a negative impact on your reputation. And as a creative GM you can use a character’s reputation for all sorts of complications and exciting developments.
- Hard Moves & GM Intrusions 1: Combat Calamities
- Hard Moves & GM Intrusions 2: Social Blunders
- Hard Moves & GM Intrusions 3: Magical Mishaps
- Hard Moves & GM Intrusions 4: Botched Skills
- Hard Moves & GM Intrusions 5: Unforgiving Environments
- Hard Moves & GM Intrusions 6: WTF!? (coming soon)