The 3-Sentence Description Formula

Are you struggling to describe settings and locations in your games? Use this method to create vivid descriptions in 3 simple steps.

1. Overall description

Give your players a broad visual snapshot of the area - the key information they need to understand where they are and what is happening.

  • You enter a cozy tavern.
  • You're in a dusty study room.
  • You're in a dark and empty cathedral.
  • You see the lake in the middle of the vast cave.

Keep it brief and not overly detailed.

2. One evocative detail

Add one specific detail to engage your players' imagination and help their minds to build a vivid picture of the setting.

  • Sound
    • The fire is cheerfully crackling in the fireplace.
    • The animal sounds grow quieter as you go deeper into the forest.
    • The sounds of turning pages and frantic scribbling fill the classroom.
  • Smell
    • A damp, musty odor lingers in the air.
    • Scent of fine leather comes from the furniture.
    • Delicious smell of a vegetable stew is coming from the kitchen.
  • Physical sensation
    • The cave walls feel cold and slick to the touch.
    • Your clothes feel cold and damp, drenched in the rain.
    • The expensive rug feels soft and comfortable under your feet.
    • Gusts of wind threaten to blow you off the slippery bridge into the abyss.
    • Scorching heat evaporates your sweat faster than your body can produce it.
  • Movement
    • Rain lashes at the window.
    • Birds fly in the air above you.
    • Waterfall roars as it tumbles down the edge of the cliff.
    • The wind picks up the falling leaves, making them dance in small whirlwinds

3. List actionable things

Finally, direct your players' attention to the most notable things in the area, everything they can interact with or investigate, things that will influence their behavior.

  • The walls are covered in strange runes.
  • An enormous bear is sleeping in the corner.
  • An ancient tome is floating in the air, glowing faintly.

Describe the most important thing last because otherwise the players will immediately focus on that and won't pay attention to the rest of the description.

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