Friday, September 5, 2014

Classroom Activity: Tinkering with the Rules

As has been said many times, one of the great delights of older RPG rules sets is that many of them are general and suggestive rather than specific and prescriptive. They are tool kits with which a group can collectively putter around and build a game that suits them.

(c) Phil & Kaja Foglio
When, in preparation for teaching the basics of a role-playing system to my middle school class, I took a chainsaw to 5th edition D&D, boiling it down to less than 20 pages, many interesting tidbits were hacked off and left behind for the sake of simplicity and clarity.

Once the kids understand the basic concepts, however, I'd like to challenge them to customize the rules set that we will have been using up to that point. That brings us to ...

Unit Four: Activity 2

Using an existing rules framework, students will develop rules for fumbles, criticals, initiative, NPC morale, hirelings, new character classes, etc



Technique:

Brainstorming whole-class and in small groups around questions like:

  • "What would make this even more cool?"
  • "What do you wish that there were specific rules for?"
  • "What's the best part of the game and how can we enhance it?"
Students record their suggested rules changes and try them out in actual play.

Assessment: Reflective writing

  • "Did your rules change have the effect that you had hoped?"
  • "How did your changes enhance or detract from the game?"
  • "Will you continue to use your additional rules?"
This minor tinkering is really just prep work for their final activity ... which I'll post about next time.