Poor Quest Giver. The guy can’t catch a break. Whether it’s convincing recalcitrant heroes or struggling with basic communication skills, the role of guy-with-floating-exclamation-point-over-his-head is a thankless one. And as the closest thing Handbook-World has got to a GM stand-in, it should come as no surprise that I sympathize with the dude.

As a forever-GM, I’ll often find myself sitting there with a wealth of backstory information and no way to convey it to my players. This happens most often whenever I’m running a module, but it’s just as likely to come up when you’ve got a surplus of homebrew exposition.

The Axebeard Clan settled in these parts after the Jabberwocky Wars. 

Lord Flake was Lady Duplicity’s first betrothed, but he left her at the altar. 

Local legend tells of a beast that haunts the roads outside of town. It’s known by many names, but folks ’round these parts call it That Monster You’ll Totally Have to Fight Later. 

Long-time readers may recall my early struggles with a certain elven ranger from Varisia. It remains my best example of the phenomenon. Exposition is hard, and finding a natural outlet for that exposition is harder. As the guy behind the screen you know that there’s useful intel buried in the info-dump, and so there’s a temptation to bust out ye olde plunger and ram it down the players’ throats.

And so, pointy hat in hand, I turn to the rest of you for advice. What is your favorite narrative device for exposition? Do you go for handouts, complete with calligraphy and coffee grounds stains? Do you populate your taverns with skalds and bards and troubadours, all armed with plot-relevant epic poems? Of is it simply a matter of switching into narrator mode at the drop of an Intelligence (History) check? Tell us the best way to Insert Knowledge A into Player Head B down in the comments!


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