A critical part of many adventures is when an NPC gives the PCs the quest, a summary of the situation, or critical information about upcoming events. There are a couple of ways to present this information: in boxed text, in bullet-point lists, in likely-questions-and-answers format, or just in text informing the GM to convey how she sees fit. This week, I’ll break down a few of these and how and when to use each in your adventure prep or adventure writing.

Today, I'll talk about bullet points. This breaks down the salient points to the GM to present how she sees fit—which often is a give-and-take conversation. This isn’t like a strictly question-and-answer format, which I discuss next time.

The Example:

The earl gives the PCs the key points of the dinner party, as follows:

* The PCs should obtain elegant clothing appropriate for the affair. Those that lack the right clothing and accoutrements won’t be taken seriously. If the PCs lack the right contacts to get appropriately attired, the earl can provide some recommendations.

* Once the PCs are admitted, they should behave appropriately as dinner guests, partaking in hors-d’oeuvres and making small talk with at least a couple other guests. Getting right to business with their contacts will seem both boorish and suspicious.

* The PCs should meet with Countess Elena Mariposa to obtain the vault key. Meeting with her discreetly is best, as she’s unwilling to simply hand the key to the PCs where the evil Cardinal Happ might see her do it.

* The PCs should also meet with General Archibald Sulder to obtain the passphrase to the vault’s magical entrance. The general is blunt and direct by nature, and might simply blurt out the passphrase when asked—the PCs should instead look for a way for him to impart the passphrase in what seems like idle conversation.

* Cardinal Happ will be keeping an eye out for the PCs, noting carefully which dignitaries they approach and what transpires between them. Trying to fool or distract the keen-eyed Cardinal is important.

* The earl can describe all of Countess Mariposa, General Sulder, and Cardinal Happ in good detail, as he’s met each of them many times at similar functions.

When to use a bullet point list to convey information:

When there is a lot to say. There’s a lot the PCs need to know going into this dinner party, and it’s possible to go into a bit more detail with bullet points. Compare this to the boxed text of the prior blog, and you’ll see the PCs get a lot more specifics in this format.

To expand further on points the PCs might need. A good example is in the first bullet point above. The PCs might be new to the city, or a bunch of lumbering barbarians, and not know where to even start to get the right clothes. Dropping in a relevant point is easy in the bullet-point presentation.

To more easily go back. Players invariably forget. When, in the excitement of the dinner party scene, one of them asks, “wait, how were we supposed to approach the general again?” the GM can simply look to the point about General Sulder and repeat that point on its own. They don’t have to get the whole boxed text again, and the GM doesn’t need to pick out the right answer from a whole paragraph of text.

Getting to the point(s) is sometimes the most helpful method, but there are a few others to discuss in more detail this week!