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I'm running my first campaign, which will take place in Eberron. I want to put together a campaign handout for the players, to be kind of like an intro to the world, a run down of what to expect in the campaign, maps, etc.

What should be included in this handout to really make it helpful and get the players excited to get started?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted


Seriously, I printed out a bunch of “cards” for my players: one for each dragonmarked house, religion, nation, class, and race (two for warforged, to cover that sidebar about warforged souls in Eberron Campaign Setting). Each card was a half-page, front-and-back (so a full-page total in text), with a description of the faction, race, class, or whatever, plus some basic mechanical stuff for the races and classes (I was using the Legend Roleplaying System, so racial statblocks were very concise to include in the corner and basic information like KOM/KDM, HP, saves, and skills for the classes were similarly easy).

These allowed the players to pass the cards around, collect the ones that interested them most, and so on. They were a lot more interesting to work with than a book they would have had to share, or a wall of text document to look at on a computer screen.

I also printed out the giant map of Khorvaire on eight sheets of paper, which helped a bit. The cards were better though. I also wound up wishing I’d printed out the timeline from Eberron Campaign Setting.

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I definitely like this idea. Thanks for the input. – leigon May 9 '14 at 19:15
Hm! The nice thing about organising it this way is that you can always add to the collection of cards to fix omissions, while a tradition document packet is fussier to fix. – SevenSidedDie May 9 '14 at 19:47
I think I will still do an intro packet but smaller than I originally thought. I will do the cards as you suggested and just have the intro pack contain character sheet and the basic overview for the campaign. Thanks so much for the idea. This will work great! – leigon May 9 '14 at 20:13

Worlds Are Complex

There are two main styles of 'handout' that I endorse. One is informational - 'This Is What Your Character Knows', i.e. information focused on the nation they grew up, facts about life, working, families, how much magic there is in the world, poor people and rich people, kind of names you'll have depending on where you grew up. Races, race tensions. Street-level stuff.

The other is in-game documentation. For investigatory games this can be files, photographs, police reports. For Eberron, it could be a pamphlet talking about the wonders of , a church propaganda flyer about the terrors of the wastes, an 'informational pamphlet' extolling the virtues of one of the merchant Houses, etc.

Anything overarching or beyond that, should be presented in-game. Shown, not told. Otherwise it removes the growth of characters learning stuff in character, which is like 99% of the point of roleplaying vs collaborative storywriting. Background info, or stuff that is a facsimile of stuff their character is looking at - that's my rule.

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I like to do quicksheets - simple things that can be printed on a single sheet of paper, front and back. Partly because I know players are lazy in reading, but also because it's easy to handle at the table.

I usually do one quicksheet that's the basic rules to refer to (especially for new players or hard to remember rules) and one quicksheet that is setting.

The setting quicksheet involves:

  • The local situation/area that we're starting and focusing play on
  • A few known issues/angles of conflict - so players can build their characters on it
  • Who's in charge? Who are names the players may interact with?
  • What's common/rare in terms of character types? Knowing if your character is easily accepted or part of a local power structure vs. a visitor trying to get connections is useful.
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