Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Want to Try Something ...

Short version:

"Can I manage to get 25 middle school students to play Dagger for kids (Brave Halfling Publishing) and learn something at the same time?"

Long version:

Okay, so I've been hooked on tabletop RPGs since about 1981 when, sitting on the floor across the coffee table from my older brother, my brain was irrevocably changed by the weird rattle of that nearly illegible little brown 20-sider, coupled with my first taste of Erol Otus artwork. It was positively mythic.

Since then I've introduced this odd little hobby to perhaps 70 or so other people, my taste, choice of rules sets, and preferred campaign styles changing frequently and widely along the way.

That brings me to today -- I'm a public school teacher now (largely due to the influence of that singular game dreamed up by Gary and Dave) and I have the privilege of working with dozens of young people. Somewhere, in the midst of all the other distinctives and oddities that make up American Public Education, I've got this one class ... it's sort of like a study hall for kids who need extra help with a certain subject, except I've got the kids who don't actually need extra help. It would be a great opportunity for additional art, music, or physical education, but all of our elective teachers are tied up with other classes and duties at that time.

I want to see if I can get all 25 or so kids (I'm really privileged to have such a small class!) meaningfully engaged in tabletop role-playing. By meaningfully engaged I mean that, as a result of the activity, my students become better at reading, writing, critical thinking, creative problem solving, spacial reasoning, or just communication in general.
I'm going to use Dagger for Kids (available for free here) because the rules are dead simple and, at least initially, I plan to be the sole GM. I need to think through the process of course. Here are some first (unfiltered) thoughts:

  • Smaller character sheets - maybe 3"x5"
  • Each turn students write out their orders on a post-it and attach it to their character sheet
  • Initiative among players will be in the order that students complete and hand in their orders
  • Orders that arrive with hideous grammatical errors or in text-speak will be given back to the students for correction and resubmission
  • A timer will be set for 5 min between each turn's resolution
  • Maps will be displayed via projector, perhaps with an icon for each character
  • Select monsters and locations will be projected on interactive whiteboard
  • Dice rolls will be ... Don't know. All the decent virtual d20 rollers I've found so far are blocked at my school
Crossing my fingers!


  1. What a great idea. I would have loved to participate in something like this when I was growing up. I wish you luck and will follow your progress.

    1. Thanks, that's very kind of you! The kids are having a blast and I must say that they are teaching me quite a bit along the way. I'm sure I'll want to try some version of this again next school year, modified by this experiment's "learnings".