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'm talking about using GM text. This just presents the relevant information for the GM, and leaves it up to the GM to present it in whatever manner seems most effective.

The Example:

The earl explains that the heist requires a vault key from Countess Elena Mariposa (who won’t want to give it where she’ll be overseen) and a password from General Archibald Sulder (who just blurts it out publicly if the PCs aren’t diplomatic). Both are easiest to access at the king’s dinner party, which requires nice clothing and some polite mingling for the PCs to blend in. The evil Cardinal Happ is at this party as well, and the PCs have to be careful to not raise his suspicions.


When to use GM text to convey information:

It saves space. Using GM text generally takes the least amount of space on the page (or the screen), allowing the GM to absorb the information more quickly.

If you wrote it. If you’re writing something you’re planning to run, you probably don’t need a lot of back-and-forth information, and the GM text is fine. You got this.

When the GM is already looking ahead. The GM text doesn’t need to have a lot of detail, because the GM is assumed to have read the rest of the adventure and knows what’s going to happen anyway. Much of the time, GM text refers directly to upcoming events, by encounter number or by page number, so the GM can just go there to review it. How much of that the GM communicates to the PCs is then up to her.

For ultimate flexibility. The information in GM text can get to the PCs in a lot of ways, and some adventures require that. Perhaps the example adventure has the PCs rescue the earl from the cardinal’s assassins in a prior encounter. But if the assassins succeeded, someone else has to give the PCs information about the party. GM text disconnects this from the specific information source, allowing the GM to share it through another NPC—or through divinations, information gathering, or other methods entirely. These alternate sources of information might be incomplete, but the text gives the GM all the pieces. Note that the GM text above notes that the NPCs are easiest to reach at the dinner party, but leaves the door open for PCs to try to reach them in other ways, too: this is all in service of empowering the GM to tell her story as she sees fit.