[RPG] How to give players additional information from a journal


How would you convey information contain in a journal to the players?
For example, if the players were to come across the journal of a wealthy NPC which, as DM, you want to be relevant to the current quest but also contain hints/clues about other goings on. Such as secret societies or dodgy dealings that aren't necessarily important but could be part of some side quests/whatever.

I don't think it makes sense to just outright tell the players that "by the way, the journal also has mentions of a fun time the owner had at a cannibalism party last Thursday" but then if the players don't know to ask, how would you tell them?

In real life you could flick through and certain things might jump out at you but without going OTT and making a real journal to give to the players I don't know how you'd do it.
I wanted to use it as a tool to tie two quest lines together as well as give quest B a leg up whilst the players are looking at quest A.

Best Answer

You say that "I don't think it makes sense to just outright tell the players", and others may feel the same, but I do not agree. Unless the text in question was written in code, anyone reading through it will obtain the information. So the only question is: how much time does it take to find the relevant passages?

If the reader knows what to look for, it will be a simple matter that could be done during a short rest for example. If time is an issue (say, the guards have raised an alarm and they can't take the book) calling for an Int(Investigation) check would be appropriate.

If they do not know what to look for, maybe just have a hunch or hint that something interesting might be in it, it will take more time, lets say 8 hours to read the whole thing. That will take a day of downtime or 2 long rests for an elf. (Hey, we made use of the Trance feature!)

If the thing was written in code, assume the writer has the Linguist feat (PHB 167) and calculate the DC accordingly to crack it. I would recommend that doing so takes 8 hours of light work too.