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Types of Secrets

by Mike on 14 June 2021

Secrets and clues are the powerhouse step in Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master. They're the glue that ties our games together. They're the reward for exploration and discovery. They're the interface between the characters and the world.

Secrets can be tricky, though, when you're just starting out. It's easy to over-think them. It may be easier to think about the types of secrets we can write up and go through these types when we're writing up the ten secrets for our next session. Some of these secret types include:

Let's take a look.

Character Secrets

Review the characters is the first step from Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master for a few reasons. Most importantly, it helps us remember that the characters are the center of the game and thus the rest of our prep circles around them. Secrets are no different. Character-driven secrets are a powerful way to draw the character (and the player) into the game. Here are a few character-driven secrets:

Character-driven secrets can tie characters to historical facts, NPCs, villains, items, or be self-contained.

Location Secrets

What information might the characters learn about the locations around them? These secrets can capture and reveal the history of the world by the physical locations the characters explore. Here are some example location-based secrets.

Use secrets to give the characters and players insight into the locations in which they delve.

Historical Secrets

Vast histories of our campaign worlds usually don't stick in the minds of our players and no one wants to hear us read a history book for two hours. Secrets and clues help the characters (and players) learn the history of the world around them while they engage in their adventures. History and location-based secrets often overlap.

Add historical secrets to expose the world of the campaign to your players one sentence at a time.

NPC and Villain Secrets

In our dynamic D&D games, our NPCs and villains are living and (sometimes) breathing beings. They're doing things. They came from somewhere. NPC and villain secrets show their movement in the world otherwise invisible to the players. Here are some examples.

Use NPC and villain secrets to show players the history and movement of the NPCs in the world.

Adventure Hooks

The eight steps from Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master don't include adventure hooks. Secrets and clues are one great place to add adventure hooks into our prep notes. These might take the place of rumors the characters hear or plots driven by their enemies. Here are some examples.

Use secrets and clues to drop adventure hooks in front of the characters.

And Many More

These are but a few of the most popular types of secrets and clues. Above all, remember that secrets and clues serve you. Use them however you will to give you the lore you need when the opportunity arises in your next game.

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