Secrets Database in Notion

Welcome back to building our D&D campaign management system in Notion. Today, we are looking at another of our procedural databases: Secrets.
Secrets are powerful tool in your DM toolbox. I first heard about them from Mike Shea at Sly Flourish. Mike’s article is really to standard to describe how a dungeon master uses secrets. I recommend reading it if you aren’t familiar with the concept.
But I’ll do my best to summarize. Secrets are a part of your adventure preparation. They are little bits of information that add fuel to the adventure. Ideally, you keep them source agnostic. That way, you can use them as necessary when an appropriate time comes up within the game.
For example, lets say your player’s are exploring a thieves den. They find a leather bound journal that has information. Information that can help drive the adventure forward. What exactly is that information? Well, you could determine it ahead of time, or you could take a piece of information from your list of secrets. One that would help the PCs out in making an informed choice in moving forward with the adventure.
Its easy to generate secrets and clues, and then potential avenues to find them. Journals, hostages, ancient runes, monsters and so on are all sources for secrets. You’re options are only limited by the clues you make and the areas you allow them to be found!

Descriptive Properties

The secrets database is simple. I keep it too the point. Here are the descriptive properties I include in my Secrets database.

ColumnProperty TypeDescription
SecretTitleThe entirety of the secret is spelled out in this cell. Keep it to one or two sentences max.
Used?CheckboxCheckbox indicates if you have used the secret in the adventure already or not. Note, that you may never use a secret. That is perfectly okay.


Relational Properties

Events tie to different databases in my Notion system. They include:
  • Adventure. What secrets support your current adventure? Link them.
  • NPC. Is the secret about a NPC? Does the secret come from a NPC?
  • Immortal. Is the secret about an Immortal? Does the secret come from an Immortal?
  • Fronts. Does the secret pertain to a specific Front? Link it together. 
  • Event. Does the secret pertain to a specific Event? Link it together.
  • Locations. Is the secret about a specific location? Is the secret found at a specific location?
  • Sublocation. Is the secret about a specific sublocation? Is the secret found at a specific sublocation?
  • Faction. Does the secret involve a faction? Does the secret come from a faction? 
  • Item. Is the secret about a specific item? Does the secret come from an item?
When I put everything together, this is an example of what my Secrets database looks like:
Secrets Notion Database Preview

No Notion Templates for Secrets

I don’t use templates for secrets. Their entire essence is captured in the “Secret” column of the database. These are best to keep simple. You can expand on them as necessary at the gaming table. They can be a great way to improve your improvisation skills as a Dungeon Master.
Stop and pause if you find yourself anxious about adding more context to your secrets. If you are itching to add more depth, I’d argue that they shouldn’t be a secret in the first place. Information with context and depth is something that you’d want to flesh out. Keep those as a central pieces built into the adventure.
Next time, we’ll cover the Encounters database in Notion.

Further Reading on Notion:

Feature Art Credit: Ede László