Deadway is a language-learning classroom role-playing game about rebuilding hope in a post-apocalyptic world. In this game your students will band together in small groups to forge a new society in their own image.  Amid dire circumstances they will come up with solutions to numerous dilemmas, deal with issues that will stress them both physically and mentally, and interact with a cast of colorful characters, while at the same time cultivating their own sense of beauty to bring a new aesthetic to the depleted world. Deadway can turn the ordinarily mundane task of language production into an engaging experience for students as their trials become part of a grand story jointly created in a shared imaginary space that takes center stage in your classroom.

Like the other games in this site, Deadway functions as a production stage task that can be used regularly to create meaningful speaking opportunities for your students. This game is meant for middle-school and older students at around CEF A2, though the exact level can be tuned based on how you present missions. The game mechanics, underlying philosophy, Vygotskian inspired assumptions on second language acquisition, and process of classroom execution are most similar to Office World. So, rather than write-up a long-form rules explanation here, the rules for Deadway are condensed to what is printed on the back of the Deadway character sheet, and assume teachers have already read Office World. The character sheet pdf can be downloaded here. Take note that the back side doesn’t need to be printed for students, as rules should emerge naturally over time. Here is a preview of the front and back of the PDF:



For creating missions, you can use this sample missions template in Google presentations, which is embedded here:

In addition, a Google spreadsheet for keeping track of students characters can be viewed here. The students level and total XP is automatically calculated by how much XP is entered for each lesson’s data cell, though you’ll need to save your own copy of the spreadsheet for it to be writeable. Here is an embedded XP database:

While the most up-to-date rules will be on the back of the character sheet because that’s the same Dropbox file that I use to print copies for my own classes, I will also post the current rules from there here:


Ss fill out name, purpose (i.e. “to find my brother”, “to find en­ergy sources”, etc), tenet statement (i.e. “mutants are people, too”, “no more war”, etc), a skill from each category with ‘2’ in the box for skill level: job (fast food worker, boxer, politician, doctor, etc); school (Physics, Art History, Geology, Psychol­ogy, etc); social (bargain, argue, deceive, charm, intimidate, etc); self-defense (shotgun, knives, small arms, big arms, etc); survival: scavenge, hunt, camouflage, cook, etc), and 3 items.

Mission Assignment

Present non-player characters (NPCs) with problems that need solving (I.E. “Please help me create a mushroom farm.”)

Mission Engagement

Ss in groups of 3-5 consider their characters as they plan out what actions they take and what complications will arise. Each mission will have one S act as protagonist with up to two other Ss as helpers, while another student takes on the roles of NPCs. The actions they do in their missions earn them dice. The more dice earned, the higher the chance of passing a mission.

Protagonist skill + (skill value)
Helper skills 1 & 2 + 1 each
Purpose encountered? + 1
Trait / Item / Combo: + 1 each
Health modifier + / –
Total Dice  =

The more complications in a mission, the more potential XP re­ceived, while the chance of failure also increases.

Complications + number of unique complications
Tenet Violation + 1
Total Complications  =

T gives feedback on role-play and confirms actions and complications. Protagonist rolls total dice. Each die that shows 4 or higher is a pass. Number of passes should be >= number of total complications to pass a mission. Outcome of mission is based on the margin of pass or failure from that die roll.

Margin Mission result
1+ Ss receive XP equal to total complications; choose 1: +1 health, +item
0 Ss receive XP equal to total complications
-1 Ss receive XP equal to total complications; -1 health
–2 Ss receive half expected XP; choose 1: -1 health or -1 sanity

Ss narrate mission ending based on the result before moving on to a new mission. Margins in excess of previous chart can be scaled by awarding/decreasing earned XP, applying conditions to more Ss, or destroying items.


After mission, fill in pass, help, or fail circles next to skill based on mission outcome. When all filled for 2 or more skills, string together skills in a mission to receive bonus dice.

Purpose & Tenet

  • If purpose is encountered: P = double XP & redefine. / F = subtract 1 sanity
  • If tenet is being challenged: P = +1 sanity / F = -1 sanity

If sanity = -2, erase tenet and write new one once sanity recovers to 0.

Sanity, Health, & Conditions

  • Health modifies earned dice; Sanity modifies earned XP
  • Conditions is a just a description of current afflictions based on sanity and health

Relations & Things of Beauty

  • After mission, student who plays NPCs f ills out 1 relation circle. When all filled, can reroll 1 die.
  • If unique thing of beauty encountered f ill one circle at the end class. When filled, recover 1 sanity.
Level XP Bonus
1 0-9
2 10-19 +1 skill point
3 20-30 add a skill
4 31-42 + trait
5 43-56 +1 skill point
6 57-72 + trait
7 73-90 add a skill
8 91-110 +1 skill point (max 4)
9 111-135 + trait
10 136-165 +1 skill point (max 4) OR add a skill

One Response to Deadway

  1. Pingback: Deadway - A Language Learning Role-Play Game | ...

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