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Clever ways to drop clues

JohnnFour

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I brainstormed this list for Monday's Musing. Here are some ideas for doling out clues in different ways.

d30 Fantasy Clue Methods
  1. A prophecy written on an amphora now in shards
  2. Written as a cypher on a bookmark inside a book it's the key for
  3. Carved with a dagger and scarred into the back of a powerful monster
  4. Embedded in a nursery rhyme
  5. A toy akin to a Rubik's Cube
  6. Worked into a famous piece of art
  7. Sewn as a tag inside a foe's special item of clothing
  8. Passed down from mother to child, garbled after five generations
  9. Runestones that can be ordered into words
  10. Petroglyph grafitti on a wall, floor, or ceiling
  11. An anagram of a book title
  12. A demon knows, but they must be convinced
  13. Three parts, each known by a king
  14. The result of a ritual you must cast but has bad side effects
  15. Tattoos inked onto the chest of a dangerous NPC
  16. Like the puzzle of a clever personalized license plate, but as a collection of simple objects in a box
  17. Stained into parchment and revealed when held up to light
  18. The scrambled phrase a parrot repeats
  19. Where a body points to
  20. Roll twice more with roll one being a false clue that hides the real clue via roll two.
  21. The first letter of each line of a bard's song
  22. Written on the bottom of a heavy statue
  23. Classic: the answer to a riddle
  24. Summon a demon and it quests for it but it demands an unusual price
  25. Charades performed as part of a repeating permanent silent illusion
  26. A talking animal who requires the party to play Twenty Questions.
  27. Carved into the ground or a wheat field and then seen from great height
  28. Reverse spelling of a fiend's name that summons the fiend when spoken
  29. Buried beneath the lair of a dangerous monster
  30. A secret compartment or portal that opens via chemical reaction when three types of potions are mixed together
Have any more ideas?
 

JohnnFour

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A great response from RPT GM Mark Douglas:

No. 13 in your table is rich for development and even as a theme for a campaign.

Each of three king/rulers knows a clue.

First, do they know that they know? Do they know it as a clue to something (treasure) or as an inherited prophecy that portends a destiny? If they know/learn that their clue is connected to that of another lord, what is their relationship with at head of state.

Are they at war? Would they go to war over it?

What if two find out that connecting the two is not enough? What if the third knows that two clues aren’t enough? Or is oblivious? How did each of the three come to possess their clue?

Spies, cults, factions, wars, secrets- many more questions and possibilities arise. Not even considering what the clues actually lead to.

I think one could base a campaign on this.
 
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ejnotts

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I love this set of clues - really good practical use when you know you need to drop a clue, but don't know quite have a cool way of doing so.
 

Gedece

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12 also has the potential to be a great campaign. Identifying the demon, summoning of the wrong demon by other treasure hunters and dealing with backlash. dealing with the demon wishes, dealing with false demon wishes. A world in chaos by the rumors of a demon with a secret.
 

BenS

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I once wrote a campaign where the heroes were continously cycling through five different realities and had to find out which were real and which weren't in order to survive the ordeal. For this one I also found the Alexandrian's Three Clue Rule and applied it in a way that allowed the players have multiple ways of finding out what's real and what's fake.

Still, a thing I found to be quite useful over the length of a campaign is repetition of something odd. With this I mean an occurence that is in itself not a special thing, but becomes more and more interesting and important the more times it is repeated. In my case I struck upon gold with apple pie. At the beginning of the campaign the players overfocused on a my overly detailed description of an apple pie (I had reseached that topic for a completely unrelated cause) and so I just went with it. In the end, apple pies were showing up every second session or so and became more and more notorious, up to the points that the players were visibly angry when someone offered them one. :D

Examples of this might include:
- a specific number or sign (True Detective, much)
- a specific word, or phrase ("RedRum", "Demons run"...)
- a specific action like an odd bow or handshake
- a weird smell

This technique is especially useful when used in a context of mystery and eerieness that needs to be conveyed.
 

Gedece

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Another way of doing clues, I learnt from Fate. If you want them to learn the clue, but they fail the roll, they find the clue, but it took so much time that the rest of the trail has run cold, so they'll have some complications about it. This pushes the adventure forward while still penalizing for the botched roll. In Fate this is called Success at a cost.
 

saps

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The drama Ozark had a nice bit of amateur detective work in an episode I just watched. A significant name turned up in a scheduling book for a missing person.

Calendars, diaries, schedules are all ripe for holding clue details.

In this instance our hero saw that a rival had visited the missing person a few days before and realised the very likely reason for the person's disappearance.
 

ejnotts

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The drama Ozark had a nice bit of amateur detective work in an episode I just watched. A significant name turned up in a scheduling book for a missing person.

Calendars, diaries, schedules are all ripe for holding clue details.

In this instance our hero saw that a rival had visited the missing person a few days before and realised the very likely reason for the person's disappearance.
Which episode was this, out of interest? I'm watching Ozark currently, so can keep an eye out!
 

saps

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Which episode was this, out of interest? I'm watching Ozark currently, so can keep an eye out!
One or two from the end of the last in the current season. You'll know it when you see it. I hope it doesn't take the fun out of the scene.
 
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