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Storytelling in D&D: Making Potions of Lemonade

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Last week I looked at the recent D&D Adventurers League article “State of Mulmaster", which revealed that the casting of unsanctioned arcane magic within the city of Mulmaster would be punished harshly. The comments on my blog and elsewhere on the Interwebz were (generally) thoughtful and helpful in creating a dialogue to explain the various effects of the ruling and minimize the problems that the ruling might cause at the table. Many of the commenters here,...

The Fiendish

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The Fiendish are the half-demon corruption of different living creatures. Created for different purposes, they all have common traits and represent a hybrid between the un-living Demons and the natural forms of life on Elhal. Fiendish creatures are not necessarily evil, but they are not natural either. As we conclude our discussions on the tiers of Demons, I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss the half-demons, as they form their own tier; not quite a Demon and...

Know Your Limits

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So a couple of weeks ago, I pushed myself to the limit. For three weeks I'd worked 74+ hours at both my jobs, did my part to maintain my home, and took time to spend with my fiancee. This led to me going to bed no earlier than 1am and most of those evenings (or early mornings) staying up past 3am. I didn't sleep a lot, and after those three weeks of subsisting on coffee...

Storytelling in D&D: Interesting Story or Player Abuse?

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An intriguing discussion popped up last week in the D&D Adventurers League world. The administrators of the large and popular Organized Play campaign released a document called State of Mulmaster. The first part of this very interesting article highlighted the city of Mulmaster, where the second season of the D&D Expeditions adventures—in the Elemental Evil storyline—is taking place. Mulmaster is a highly volatile setting for a campaign, and is thus a very interesting one. The controversy...

The Demon Prince

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The last caste of Demons are the Demon Princes. These creatures are the apex of Demons, possessing the physical and martial capabilities of the Demon Knight, with the intellect and arcane abilities of the Demon Lord. Yet none of that makes them the most terrifying caste of Demons. It is their ability to reproduce that is far more insidious. Creation A Demon Prince is created in a special ritual, different than the previous three castes of Demons:...

The Many Hats of Making Games

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One of the things I've learned in talking to multiple designers and publishers about making games is that a lot of them are multi-talented. They don't just design games but write rules and prose, do their own graphic design, and some are artists too. Tack on marketing strategist, public relations, and Kickstarter manager, and you have one person wearing a whole lot of hats. In the case of Encoded Designs we have four people who wear...

Storytelling in D&D: Plot vs. Story

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With a background in creative writing and English academia, I’ve read a lot about creating and understanding stories. And while it is debatable if I actually learned much from all that reading, I cannot deny that I have picked up a few things. And one of those things is directly applicable to storytelling in D&D. In a set of famous lectures given by acclaimed writer E. M. Forster, he answered a question often posed to him...

The Demon Lord

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We now have reached the Demon Lord, the last of the forged Demons. This final forged caste sacrifices martial prowess for intellect and arcane ability. They are the juxtaposition of great abilities and limitations, which we will explore during this lecture. Despite these challenges, the Demon Lord plays a vital role in Demon society. Let us start as we have in the past by returning to the Demon Forge, and discuss the Demon Lord's creation… Creation As with the...

Building a Narrative in D&D

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In the last installment of this column, I fretted over the question, “Is D&D a Storytelling Game?” I looked at that question in terms of establishing semantics and defining terms. Now I have to start to work on answering those questions. For the seminar I will be presenting at Origins and Gen Con, the main question is going to be this: How can the Dungeon Master (DM) manage the narrative when running a game of...

Q1 Update

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Now that we are a few weeks into Quarter 2 of 2015, I wanted to go over what Encoded has been doing, and how things are going. Overall, things have been busy and focused for the team. We are still in the building phase, with most of our projects still in development, some approaching publication. I have a certain anxiety of wanting to get things published to prove that we are doing things, but we...

Is D&D a Storytelling Game?

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One of my many freelancing gigs is to act as the DM Training Seminar Coordinator for the Herald’s Guild of DMs. We are in the process of creating content to help DMs get better at the craft of running D&D games. One seminar that I am responsible for personally creating, in preparation for presentation at Origins and Gen Con, has to do with “Storytelling in D&D.” I’ve written a couple different drafts of the seminar,...

The Demon Knight

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Today’s lecture focuses on the Demon Knight, the most critical Demon in terms of military might. Each Demon Knight is both a formidable warrior in their own right, as well as a critical factor in the effectiveness of the Demon army. During the Reign of the Demon King, it was common to see Demon Knights in most occupied areas carrying out the will of the higher castes. If the Soldier is the laborer of the Demons,...

The Demon Soldier

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Today we continue on where we last left off , and now focus on the Demon Solider. Of all the Demons, the solider is the most iconic, because of their sheer numbers. Every person who lived during the reign of the Demon King has encountered a Demon Soldier. Today, we will take a closer look at the origins and some of the more unique aspects of the Demon Solider. Demonization As we have talked about in the...

NttG#5 – Rejection

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Rejection is a part of writing. I was recently rejected for something I submitted and wanted pretty badly. They didn't like what I put out there, at least not enough to get on the list. Yeah, almost 300 people submitted and yeah I made the short list before they chose their people to be in the design rotation, but none of that matters to me because I didn't get the job. It's a reality check....

The Demons of Elhal

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Since their creation by Ebnus, the Demons have been a blight upon Elhal. While some with more narrow minds might say the same thing about the Orcs or Giants, the truth is that those races have their own positive effects on the world, even if we do not fully agree with the norms of their societies. The Orcs have made tremendous discoveries in the areas of natural science and agriculture, and the Giants create some...

Mastering Dungeons: Adventure Pacing

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So far in this series of blog posts on pacing, I have been looking at pacing at the table, from keeping players and DMs on their toes to managing initiative. Now I’d like to look at a different kind of pacing: adventure pacing. When designing an adventure, whether for a home group or for publication, whether for a one-shot event or as part of a long-running campaign, adventures must deal with pacing and encounter flow. Just...

The Darkness and The Light

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I want to take today’s lecture to discuss two unconnected events which happened during the Fall of the Empire and the Rise of the Demon King. Where our past lectures have been in chronological order, today’s stories fit into the timeline we have established thus far. Today we are going to talk about how the lands of Arelean became known as the Demon Lands, and the fate of Ceradome. The Darkness Let us start with the land...

NttG#4 – Creating a Lifestyle

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Creating things is fun. Designing mechanics, writing stories, crafting visual art, any of those makes me feel amazing. When I don’t get to do those things I get cranky. This means I needed to create a lifestyle that would accommodate me and what I want. I wasn't always good at this, to be honest I'm still not great at it, but I'm getting better. It's thanks to Phil and his life hacking philosophies and project management...

Mastering Dungeons: A Team Effort

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When you design an adventure for publication, whether it be for D&D or any other RPG system, it is no different than performing any other creative task. You may start with certain design goals, or the traits of the end product may take form through the design process. Either way, the form of the end product is informed by the goals and the process – and if the designer has done her job, that product...

The Massacre at Nendar Moor

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After the fall of Arelean and the rise of a Demon Kingdom, the Four Kingdoms had declared war on the Demon King to liberate Arelean and restore the Empire. War in that time, much like this time, was something which required preparation. In order for the Four Kingdoms to launch an attack into Arelean it would require coordination, and grounds to stage the troops before the attack. That place was Nendar Moor. Nendar Moor Nendar Moor is...