A conversation today about conveying campaign information to players reminded me of something I did long ago.
Every session, I would provide each player with a sheet of information the character could be expected to know. This information was often relevant to the current situation (a druid might know things about the local terrain, a fighter might know of notable warriors or military in the area, and so on).
Obviously I had more time on my hands than I do today, especially since I didn’t just copy and paste, or bullet point it. I’d actually write something out (aiming to have different voices), include pictures, and so on. Even so, I think the idea could still be used, though I’d do it differently now.
Each time a character levels up (not each session), the character gains a number of facts based on class abilities, feats, and skills. These facts are true, and can be directly related to current, past, and anticipated future events. For instance, if the PCs are traveling through a forest, a character might know of threats or opportunities relevant to this forest.
- Each rank gained in a skill gives one fact related to that skill (Knowledge skills might provide two facts).
- Each level gained in a class gives one fact related to that class: even without Knowledge (local), a fighter could be expected to know of notable warriors and militia in the area, and a cleric would likely know of notable churches and the like.
- Class features gained at other levels but still relevant might also provide facts. For instance, a ranger could gain a fact for each favored enemy and/or favored terrain that is relevant.
This does not replace Knowledge checks and the like, though it might remove the need for certain checks because the PCs already know the facts. It is a way to convey certain information to the players on an ongoing basis without needing to have them conveniently find diaries and letters and books with only a handful of facts, or periodically having in-character info dumps that carry only specific information.
Most of the time it means providing a handful of facts to each player each time they level. Characters with more skills can expect to get more facts, but if you want you could modify the number of facts by the character’s Intelligence modifier, base it on level, or set some other formula.