Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Taking the Narrative By the Tail: GM Intrusions and Special Effects

Product– Taking the Narrative By the Tail: GM Intrusions and Special Effects


Price– $0.99

TL; DR-Length hurts this short book 83%


Basics-This small, six-page guide give ideas and suggestions for how to better implement GM intrusions and new ways critical successes and failures can impact your game.


Crunch or Mechanics AND Fluff or Story-GM intrusions are a mixed bag.  As the guide and main book point out, the GM doesn’t roll dice.  Therefore, this is HOW the GM rolls dice.  Want a character to trip and make a scene?  Offer an intrusion.  Want an item to start beeping strangely?  Offer an intrusion.  This book honestly offers NO new mechanics, but it really explains mechanics that are already part of the system.  And it explains the hardest to grasp of the Numenera core rules.  For that, I really liked it.  There is no story whatsoever, but this is all about how to tell the story.  You’re adding to the story through these intrusions since its part experience offer and story alteration.  It’s the same story as mechanics. Here is HOW to write a Numenera story, and, HOW to mess with the players/story on the fly.  For that goal, it’s done really well and taught me how to better execute that part of the rules and story.  I would have liked more discussions on how often to do intrusions.  I’ve never been in a game of Numenera, so I don’t know how often other GMs add intrusion.  Are they a major way to add experience points to a game?  This guide should have addressed that.  Special effects kind of get half a page.  For an idea that gets top billing in the title, it really needed more! 8.5/10


Execution– This is an extremely short book, but it’s also less than a buck.  The product does have some new art, which is nice for such a short book.  It reads quick and well, but there isn’t a lot there to make it long.  Its well done, but I would have liked a bit more.  I’d suggest a few more suggestions for both the intrusions and especially the special effects.  Also, if you publish a six page minibook, the seventh page should not be a giant advertisement!  I’ve bought all those books, but for a dollar, I don’t like 1/7th of my book to be an add or half a page is old art from the bestiary! 4/5


Summary– This is a short book that any Numenera GM should really read.  There is nothing for players in this book.  I can say from experience that the hardest part of GMing Numenera is intrusions.  When/how should I do it is a major problem when I run my games.  I do feel better equipped to add better thought out intrusions into my game more often.  However, I do have some remaining problems.  The addition of special effects was kind of a joke.  It’s got equal billing, but less than one half a pages.  That should have been its own six page guide.  All said, this is a decent guide to GM intrusions, but not much in the way of special effects and its extreme short length hurts the guide. 83%

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