How should GM intrusions be paced throughout a Numenera game?

My players are currently finishing up the Shadewalker adventure. Each PC can earn up to 4 XP based on what they accomplish in the adventure.

However, PCs also gain XP based on GM intrusions. Intrusions are one of the main tools for the GM to participate in the story. How should I be pacing GM intrusions? I'm worried that if I use too many, players will accrue too much XP and some of the challenges will become too easy. Sure I could adjust their difficulty, but I'd rather avoid the problem if possible.


2 Answers 2


According to page 108 of the Numenera core rules:

As a general rule, the GM should intrude at least once each session, but no more than once or twice each session per character.

So, at least once, but no more than twice for any single character, per session. Assuming a group of four players, that's between one and eight intrusions.

That's the guideline I stuck to in my own campaign, and it worked pretty well. The players ended up earning between one and three experience points each in any given session, which was enough for a slow but steady feeling of progression.

That said, I wouldn't stress too much about this. Numenera is designed such that experience points don't make that much difference to player characters' ability to survive adventures. They help, certainly, but your players can live without them as long as they're not too far below the reccomended minimum tier for the adventure.


It depends on your players and the types of challenges you want them to face.

If your players are XP hoarders that only ever use it for character advancement, then you may want to artificially limit that by maybe dropping only a single intrusion per session or so. If they regularly use them for rerolls, limited skills, etc then be more generous with them.

Typically I try to intrude at least once per character per session, and my players tend to hoard for advancement. I generally offset this by either offering intrusions that inject a huge change in the direction of the narrative (they'd journeyed somewhere for a special device only to find on their arrival the whole place is a smoking crater) or by ramping up the difficulty of encounters and challenges considerably to encourage XP usage for rerolls and skills.

Ultimately there is no right answer as every group is different. The important thing to remember is that intrusions don't have to be bad or negative for the players, so just have fun with them and try to make intrusions create situations where the players will want to spend their XP.


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