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Articles & News


Mastering Dungeons: When Races Attack

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I am delaying my planned post on pacing a game to talk about an issue that popped up recently with the release of the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion PDF for 5e D&D. This document, offered by Wizards of the Coast as a free download, supplies some new options for players about to take part in the Elemental Evil storyline, driven by the hardcover adventure Princes of the Apocalypse and the steady stream of D&D Adventurers...

Why Any Of This Works

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Normally on a Wednesday morning, Professor Tyriv would be lecturing on some part of Elhal’s history. But I did not get that post written this week, because my wife was out of town. Sounds like a terrible excuse, but give me a few minutes… Not to lament or ring my own bell, but my life is pretty complicated. I am a husband, father of two special needs children, an IT Project Manager, and a Game Master....

NttG#2 – The People

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Hey Folks. Back again with my second installment of New to the Game. Before I talked about getting involved and some of the ways you can do that. Now I want to talk a little about how I've leveraged getting involved into getting some work. Podcasting did a few things for me: First I met Phil, Shawn, and Bob and discovered the mantra "Never Design Alone." No matter what idea or design I come up with, someone...

Mastering Dungeons: Taking Initiative on Pacing

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Last post looked at some of the immediate, at-the-table and on-the fly methods a DM could use to keep a quick pace while DMing. This time, I want to look at some pacing issues that crop up with more mechanical parts of D&D, particularly 5e. As I mentioned in the last post, initiative is one of the most pivotal parts of the game when it comes to pacing (and all the other parts as well). I...

You (and I) Are DMing Wrong (Part 2) – Pacing

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Before 2000, I DMed almost exclusively for the same group of people using AD&D and 2nd Edition D&D rules. I knew their play styles by heart, and I could create and run with almost no effort the kinds of sessions and adventures they wanted to play. Since 2000, I have DMed mostly in the Organized Play programs of Wizards of the Coast -- most recently the D&D Adventurers League. That means most of my DMing has...

The Aftermath

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While the total domination of Elhal would take several years for the Demon King to achieve, the first month after the disposition of Emperor Arenth was a chaotic time, especially for those who lived in the Imperial District of Arelean. Arelean was the core of the corruption that would soon spread throughout the land. For those in the Imperial District this was a terrifying time. People went missing frequently and executions, both public and private, were...

New to the Game #1

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My name is Chris and I'm one of the folks over here at Encoded Designs making stuff. Thing is I haven't been doing this for all that long, definitely not as long as Phil or Shawn. Since I'm the new kid on the block, I thought I'd share some of my rose colored thoughts on this world. First a bit of background. I got my first published credit a bunch of years ago for a collaboration...

You are DMing Wrong (Part 1)

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In the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, the two main characters are in a car going the wrong way on a highway. The driver of another car, traveling parallel to them in the other lane, yells to them, “You’re going the wrong way!” John Candy’s character says with derision, “How would he know where we’re going?” Sometimes, when I am giving DMing (or other GMing) advice, I feel like that guy in the other car. I...

Why We Talk about Games

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Some firsts are memorable. Others, less so. My first time was in 1979, and memorable. Over Winter Break from elementary school, my best friend Joe invited me over to his house for sledding and games. Joe’s older brother and his friends laughed and hooted in the basement, but they were in high school and didn’t want us mingling with them. They were playing some game that was apparently too old for Joe and me. And then...

The Fall of the Empire

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Nothing lasts forever. For the Empire, its reign of over one thousand years was about to come to an end. Not even the favor of the All-Father would stop its fall. Today we are going to focus on the major events which we refer to as the Fall of the Empire. In its duration, the Fall lasted about six months. Having lived during the Fall, it was not clear at the beginning that the Empire was...