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Understanding the Six Truths of Your Campaign Setting

by Mike on 31 July 2023

Joshua, a Patreon of Sly Flourish asks:

I'm having trouble squaring the Six Truths about a world with not providing spoilers to the players. What if one or more of the truths are entirely unknown to the characters? What if one of the Truths is also one of the Secrets/Clues within the campaign? I don't see how a DM should share that in a session zero without "giving away too much."

For reference, chapter 16 of Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master describes using "truths" of a campaign world to help you and your players focus on what makes this particular campaign different from others. These truths are known facts about the world. You know them. Your players know them. Their characters know them.

These truths aren't the same thing as secrets and clues which are bits of more specific information the characters might learn in the next session you run. Secrets and clues aren't known until the characters discover them. They don't even become true until the characters learn them.

If there are secrets about your campaign world that the characters don't know, exclude them from your list of truths. Those secrets are better kept in your own brain. You might be tempted to write out and plan the revelation of big campaign secrets but I recommend against it. These big secrets aren't real yet. You might change your mind as the campaign moves forward. Focus that energy on the things your players and their characters are going to see in the next session you're going to run.

Example Truths from 5e Campaigns

Below you'll find example truths from my [one page campaign guides] I give to players before we start a new campaign.

If you're familiar with these campaigns, you'll see these "truths" aren't the same as secrets and clues. They help players understand what's going on in the world but they don't tell them the whole story.

Campaign truths summarize the main points of your campaign you want your players and their characters to know as they begin a campaign. Secrets and clues are the elements of the story and the world the characters might discover as they explore the world around them.

Truths from Wild Beyond the Witchlight

Here's my Wild Beyond the Witchlight One-Page Campaign Guide for more details on this campaign.

Truths of Rime of the Frostmaiden

Here's the Rime of the Frostmaiden One-Page Campaign Guide.

Truths of Empire of the Ghouls

Here's my Empire of the Ghouls One-Page Campaign Guide

Hopefully these examples help you see the difference between truths the characters know right from the beginning of the campaign and the secrets they discover as they explore the world around them.

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