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Clue Cards

by Mike on 21 July 2014

We lazy dungeon masters are always looking for simple tips and tricks to make our game easier to organize and more fun for ourselves and our players. In a past article, we've talked about sharing secrets to keep your players tied into the story of the world. Today we're going to physically manifest these secrets onto a tool useful for both GMs and players alike. We'll call these artifacts "clue cards".

Clue cards for Moonwreck

Creating a Clue Card

Building a clue card really couldn't get much simpler. It comes down to a single instruction:

Write a useful piece of information on a 3x5 card and give it to your players.

If you don't already use stacks and stacks of 3x5 cards in your game, you're missing out on one of the most useful tools for running a roleplaying game. You can use them as a reminder for environmental effects in a battle, for passing secret notes to players, for writing down quick monster stat blocks, keeping track of your PCs, or building the simplest initiative system we've seen.

In this case, we're using the almighty 3x5 card to help us organize the important parts of our game and to help players organize and remember the main points of what is going on.

Though on the surface clue cards seem like an extremely simple idea, the implementation can be a bit tricky. Let's dig into the details.

The Clues

Clues can be just about anything, but there are a few good rules for building useful clues for your players. Here are some good guidelines for writing down a worthy clue.


Knowing the right time and place for PCs to discover clues can be as important as the clue itself. Clues can come from many sources. Here are a few potential sources of clues:

The Greater Benefits of Clue Cards

Besides some of their more obvious uses, the use of clue cards offers many benefits that may not be so apparent at first. Here are a few.

A Simple and Powerful Tool

Sometimes the best tools we can add to our games are also the simplest. These clue cards are an example of a simple tool with a whole lot of benefits. Give them a try.

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This work includes material taken from by Michael E. Shea available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.

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