3 x 3 History Clues

This has been the hardest (and most time consuming) aspect of the game for me. Fleshing out the history of the world and distributing clues for the PCs to gather and understand it. I have an idea to help me with it.

I read about a method for crafting adventures and plotlines some time ago called the 5 x 5 method. Basically, you takes 5 quest ideas and interweave them all together to create this rich and interlocking tale. I’ve decided that I want to use a similar method to weave my world into my history. Instead of 5, I’m going to use 3.

Here’s how it works: I pick a location (you can certainly use the location your PCs are next going to…) and at that location I want to plant 3 clues that lead to 3 other locations on my DM map. These clues can be vague or direct, but ultimately need to get the PCs wheels turning and set them in motion toward some other objective outside the current adventure locale.

I haven’t exactly began this process, but I intend to do this very shortly and I’ll be posting some examples when I hash out a couple ideas.

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3 Responses to “3 x 3 History Clues”


  1. 1 p_armstrong January 4, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Happy New Year,
    I have been waiting with great anticipation to hear how this has been going. Any update? Any examples of your 3×3?

    • 2 Michael Pfaff January 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm

      Hey P,

      Sorry I haven’t updated in a while. The holiday has been extremely busy for me and I’m starting a new job next week, so updates might be scarce for at least another week or two.

      But, I do want to post one of my examples of my 3 x 3 method to wet your appetite.

      Here’s my most recent example:

      The 3 x 3…

      Creature Clue: Siolim’s conversation is important in determining what happened to the residents of this land prior to Port Havenholde – he mentions something of the “Maddening” and the Hag’s hurt on the northern edge of the swamp.

      Treasure Clue: The PCs find a black dragon idol – it appears to be made from the time of humans and its name is written in Draconic on it with a phrase. “Hail the Lord of the Bog, Syvestrix, for he has spared us from his wrath. May this idol show our gratitude, sitting majestically on our doorstep.”

      Journal Clue: The PCs find an ancient journal. It appears to be the warden of this prison’s personal journal. The journal is intact, and is probably quite valuable as a historical archive. The date on the journal is 486 A.E. – whatever that means. It is written by an apparent human named Reginald Balkstaff IV. Mostly, the journal details daily happenings and various criminals admitted here. (PCs can roll History checks pertaining to criminals of the ancient Human realm).

      1. It appears this land was once a verdant pasture. Since the coming of the black dragon, however, this place has sunken into a wretched marsh. The lord of this region has kneeled before the dragon at the behest of his captains and myself. He wishes all nobles to place idols on their doorstep to show our gratitude for the beast’s mercy. If I had the backing, I would travel to its lair past the once great Lake Genevene (now a lake of mud) and slay it myself. Argh! Damned the lord and this wretched land. I have applied for transfer to command a company on the warfront with the Dwarves of the North.

      2. A very infamous criminal, Sedrick the Butcher, has been recently incarcerated. The captain confiscated his weapon of legend and has hidden it in a secret room detailed on the map of the prison. (Unfortunately, this weapon has already been looted… It is now in the hands of a dragonborn prince. The glass case it was in has been smashed and is covered in mold and the felt has been ripped.)

      3. Later in the journal, the warden mentions prisoners and guards starting to “lose their mind” and exhibit irrational behavior, even ones he would normally consider some of his best guards and most behaved inmates. The last few entries in the journal appear to be erratic and nonsensical.

      That’s about it for that location! Hope that helps!

  2. 3 p_armstrong January 8, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Looks great. I am looking forward to hearing how it works in play.

    Good luck with the new job!


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