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by Mike on 4 April 2022
For a video on this topic, see my Secrets Serve You YouTube Video.
The concept of "secrets and clues" from Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master is a powerful tool. They changed my own game so much that I had to write a whole new book just to include them. Secrets and clues help you prepare to improvise. They give you the fuel and rewards for exploration and discovery. They break down whole worlds of information down into ten bite-sized chunks of information you can reveal wherever they best fit during the game.
I've talked to a few people recently who get some stress from secrets and clues. Are they doing them right? Do they cover the right material? Are they too vague? Are they too specific? Do they give away too much? Do they not give away enough?
This led me to an important point I think we all have to remember: secrets work for you. They're a tool to help you run your game. Thus, there is no wrong way to use them as long as they serve that purpose. You don't owe secrets and clues anything at all. You don't serve them. They're your tool.
There's no single format for a secret or clue. There's no perfect formula. For me, a secret and clue follows these guidelines:
Secrets and clues can be about anything. Here's an incomplete list of types of secrets and clues:
This isn't a complete list, of course. Secrets can be anything the characters might learn in the next game.
Above all, remember that secrets and clues (along with all of the other steps in Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master) serve you. These are your tools to use however they best serve you. If they take away some of your anxiety, save you some time, and help you run a great game; they're doing their job.
Each week I record an episode of the Lazy D&D Talk Show in which I talk about all things D&D. Here are last week's topics with timestamped links to the YouTube video:
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