Thursday, April 6, 2017

Gaming in the Classroom underway

So at long last I'm getting to use RPGs in the classroom again.

I have a solo young student who particularly needs speaking practice, yet has a solidly high level of English. So I've introduced him to RPGs. It's kind of the perfect tool for the job - his challenge is finding the English words to express what he's trying to express. Give him a paper man, and have try to solve the paper man's problems with his words and some dice.

So I made up a character using GURPS Lite.

The system is simple enough - roll low to accomplish things, roll high for effect. Four stats. Four secondary characteristics. A few skills. A way to roll for skills you don't know.

His guy is a warrior in a generic TL3 world which may or may not be the same one with Felltower on it.

We didn't have a lot of time. I made three mistakes:

- I forgot to do any prep until right before class. I remembered to bring my stuff, but I really did need a little more prep. I'm not sure he noticed but it would have been more smooth if I had more than just a character and a rough idea.

- I should have just started off playing with less explanation.

- I gave him his character sheet all at once instead of revealing stats and elements as needed.

I decided I'd make it a fantasy game, start him off as a prisoner (make him focus on what to do, not what he has) and let him escape from a simple area. Once that's done,

The situation was that he's a warrior-scout who wants to be a great and famous warrior, and he and some other men were scouting the borderlands where the orcs live. They were attacked and he was knocked out. When he came to, he was a prisoner in a 10 x 10' cell and shackled to the floor, and an orc told him he'd be back later. We started there.

(I started him as a prisoner as I figured he'd be less likely to play "find the thing to roll against" given that he had nothing to try and use. I was right.)

He quickly searched around, making a Search roll, and examined the shackle. He found the shackle was meant for his ankle but they'd clamped it around his wrist. He said he wanted to try and work it free. A default Escape roll taught him about trying things you don't know how to do, he made it, and he got free.

(I had decided on these details as I described the room. I was pleased with how quickly he went from "What on this sheet is the answer?" to "Check everything around me and try stuff that makes logical sense." And how well he expressed the idea in English, which is the entire point of the exercise.)

He moved to the bar-windowed wooden door and decided to kick it open. I pointed out that he could do this but it would be noisy - still okay?

No! He decided to listen at the door, and quietly check if it was locked. He heard nothing, and it was locked . . . but peering through the keyhole he could see a snoozing orc guard with the keys on a stool just across from the hall.

That's where we ended. He's got a couple weeks to think it over, and I told him we'd spend 10-15 minutes on this each class if he's finished his other work. Given that he's an enthusiastic and hard worker, that should be no issue.

I figure I'll let him escape from the (small) orc-held fortress and then let him go on adventures with some hired help or recruited soldiers at his side. Maybe I'll use S1 In Search of the Unknown*, or a modified Caravan of Ein Arras, or just make up my own small dungeon or outdoor area to explore.

Oh, and because I get lost in GMing just like players get lost in gaming, I ended up running a bit long. It was like, "What do you do? Oh, wait, think it over until next time, class ended a while ago." Next time I'll keep it tighter. Fun, though, and it's a place and student for whom I think gaming is really ideal.

I briefly considered S&WL or even D&D5, but I decided those would take more explanation than GURPS Lite does given pregenerated characters. Besides, I could run it with no books, no lookups, no nothing - and it's about speaking practice more than gaming. The fragile lethality of S&WL and the complexity of character details of D&D5 seemed like they could get in the way of him getting the speaking practice I want.

Fun, and we'll see how it goes. You may see more updates on this as long as I can easily file off the details enough to avoid any privacy issues.

* Speaking of which, what the heck edition is that for? My two copies, 1st and 2nd edition, are for Basic Set. Yet both feature a Dwarf (race-as-class) with 18/54 Strength, which is an AD&D or OD&D Greyhawk feature (where Dwarf is a race but not a class.) What the?


  1. This is the epitome of Inquiry based learning. Bravo, brother.

    1. Thanks! Kids have to learn about the Tomb of Horrors sooner or later, may as well get to it now.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...