Deadway: a Language-learning Classroom RPG About Rebuilding Hope in a Post-apocalyptic World

Deadway is that latest game that I’ve run enough times and tidied up enough to publish here. Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, your students will need to band together in small groups as they navigate the perils of a world gone wrong, while at the same time seeking to forge a new society based upon their own ideals. A Vygotskian-inspired work, 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.

Similar to other games here, you will need character sheets and about 10 dice to run. There’s also a mission templates file and an xp chart in Google Docs. For more info, check out the Deadway page.

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KOTESOL Gangwon Spring Symposium

I’ll be presenting at the KOTESOL Gangwon Spring Symposium on Saturday, April 13th. It starts at 12 and is at Yonsei University’s Wonju campus. My presentation begins at 1:50 and I’ll be demonstrating how to run the TaleCrafters framework, the classroom RPG my ELTons nomination is based on. There are a few new tweaks to the mechanic that I’ve been experimenting with this semester that I’ll also talk about. So, hope to meet some new people there!

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ELTons 2013 Nomination!

My Ever Realms concept has been nominated for an ELTon in the category of Innovative Writing! The Ever Realms is the working title for a course book series based on game mechanics similar to the TaleCrafters framework. It’s sort of a campaign setting for TaleCrafters in the same way that The Forgotten Realms is a campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons, but of course these are in a primary school course book format. Details should be posted soon to the British Council website…


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Business English with Office World

I’ve just put up a detailed rules page for running Office World. Office World let’s you contextualize tasks in your business English classrooms by weaving everything into narratives. Instead of the typical model of asking your students to do a series of random assignments for reasons not readily apparent except to those with long-range goals of fluency or an inherent intrinsic motivation towards the linguistic, Office World engages students by framing language learning around the lives of fictional characters your students create and act through and the daily jobs they have to work on.

The theme for Office World is inspired by TV shows such as The Office and The IT Crowd, as well as the movie Office Space. The system is a little different from previous ones because the jobs students work on aren’t rated by difficulty. Instead, there is a drama level to each job which is based on how many dramatic things happen. This is inspired by how danger dice are used in John Harper’s Danger Patrol or the way details are added to scenes in Daniel Bayn’s Wushu Open. Also, despite the name, it’s not actually based on Vincent Baker’s popular Apocalypse World, except for the way that it’s more concrete in how it deals with resolutions.

So, if you’re looking to try something new in your classes, check it out!

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Office World Character Resumes

I’ve been slow at making a detailed document to describe this business English framework, however I do have the character resume sheets which include all the rules you need to run the class in the back. I hope to finish by the end of the month, but until then the PDF can be downloaded here. Also, here are images of what the front and back look like:

Office World Character Resume Front

Office World Character Resume Back

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Quick Update: Calling an NPC for Help

I realized after ditching achievements for combos in the TaleCrafters framework that I forgot about rewarding students for acting as NPCs, which is fairly integral part of the system. So, I added a new section on the character sheet for when the students act as NPCs in their role-plays. It’s a circle that they can fill-in a part of each time they are the main NPC in a quest. Once they fill it all in, they get the chance to call on an NPC during a quest to re-roll a failed die. I included two new sections on the TaleCrafters page which give more details about the exact mechanics. You can download the updated character sheet PDF here.

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Updated Character Sheets

I made a few changes to the character sheet for TaleCrafters to reflect the combo system, which replaces the achievements mechanic from before. The pdf is located here. Also, the rules page has also been updated with an explanation on using combos.

Basically, the way combos work is by students keeping track of when they’ve succeeded or failed at each skill by filling out part of a circle. Once they’ve filled out the circles for two skills, they can they combine them to do a combo, which gives them a bonus die for the quest. I put an example of that in the rules, which talks about the Spaniard from the movie The Princess Bride who says, ‘You killed my father’ before a sword fight. In this game, that would be an example of either a history/sword combo or a scare/sword combo.

I was also going to get rid of the attributes, but when I took them out I realized it made the game to one-dimensional because students basically relied only on skills. So I instead added some more examples of how to use attributes in a more simple manner to cure conditions.  There are also circles next to the attributes now because I’ve changed the rules there a bit. Students need to use a different attribute each time they want to earn a trait. Next week I’m going to talk more about controlling the games difficulty level through the way conditions and attributes work. I also plan to put together lots of examples for conditions and traits to make the game more accessible to the youngest learners.

Finally I added a level/xp chart for levels 11-20 and also tweaked the xp chart for levels 1-10 a little so that more skills are given out. Check the rules page for info on the special things characters get beyond level 10. That’s all for now…



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