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Articles & News


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...

The Prelude to the Fall

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It is hard for me to remain an objective educator for these next few lectures. Despite the years that have passed, the Fall of the Empire is a time which remains etched into my mind. It is a time when all we as Humans had built was toppled. There is a certain feeling of loss, when a foreign force conquers another: powerless and defeated. That feeling would be more bearable than what had happened. Rather...

The Twilight of the Empire

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Welcome again, faithful students. We are going to jump ahead now, skip over the bulk of the Imperial Age and look at the time before its Fall, referred to as the Twilight of the Empire. We are going to start by setting the stage, looking at the Empire and its Last Emperor. The State of the Empire The Twilight period of the Empire starts in the year 1000. The Empire has been in existence for a thousand...

Accomplishments of the Empire

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Our last few lectures covered the formation of the Empire. In the thousand years that would follow, the Empire would see its good times and bad times. Overall, the age of the Empire was the best period in our recorded history. I could spend an entire lecture class covering the events of this period, but this class is only a high-level discussion. I want to use this time to talk about some of the accomplishments...