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All of Encoded Design’s updates and latest information.

NttG#3 – Fear

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Hi folks. Today I want to talk a bit about Fear. When I make something, it’s mine. I created it, crafted it, and now it exists in the world by my own hands, and hell yeah, I’m afraid to show it off. Heck, sometimes I have the thing in my head and I’m afraid to let it out because I’m afraid it’ll suck. You know what the truth is. It doesn’t matter. It can suck. I’ve...

Mastering Dungeons: Back to Pacing

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This week we are back to looking at pacing at the table in D&D games. Just as a reminder, this pacing discussion is most relevant to games being run when time is an important factor, such as during conventions or at game stores when the game has to end at a certain time. This advice, however, even applies to home games when certain parts of the game—especially combat—are dragging on too long or not going...

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...

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...

The Precepts of the Empire

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Continuing where we left off in our last session, we will now take a closer look at the Precepts of the Empire, the divinely inspired foundation for the Empire. The Precepts are what convinced the four kingdoms to relinquish some of their sovereignty and form an Empire to rule over them. For sure there was an advantage to this, and we will discuss that in more detail as we look at the Precepts. But, before we begin,...

Four Days

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Let’s continue where we left off, and discuss the Four Days. These days would be some of the most critical days for humanity as we know it. Its success rested on one woman, First Mother Kinera. Her wisdom and insight was able to keep Elhal from sliding into war. Rather from the brink of war would come the greatest period in human history. Setting The Stage As a quick summary, a grain blight in Kotkala had prevented...

The Formation of the Empire

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Greetings, students. In this lecture we continue our discussion about the Four Kingdoms and what lead to the formation of the Empire. It has been just short of 50 years since the Fall of the Empire, but it still remains one of the greatest achievements we humans have ever created. For over 1000 years the Empire ruled Elhal, and with it brought forth prosperity to all its citizens. It was just one of two paths...

The Four Kingdoms

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Greetings fellow scholars. In the past several essay’s, we looked at the formation of the Church of the All Father, and how it spread throughout Elhal to form the predominant religion of the land. In this lecture, we are going to look at the formation of the four major kingdoms of Elhal, how they formed, and the influence the Church had upon them. The Four Kingdoms In the first lecture, I discussed the geography of Elhal, but...

Looking Back on 2014

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Encoded Designs is just shy of its one year anniversary, but with it being the end of the year I thought it would be nice to look back at how we did in our first year. Wearing my project manager hat, I will write this update in the spirt of a Lessons Learned. So just what did we learn in 2014? What Went Well These are the things that we want to keep doing in 2015. We published...