April 11, 2011
I’ve been gaming since the fall of 2004. I’ve played a mage, a rogue, a fighter, a half-elf, human, a gunslinger, a warlock, a Rebel Alliance pilot, a dragon, a demigod, and everything in between. It’s been a fun ride. At the same time, on a subconscious level, I’ve become a better teacher thanks to my years as a Game Master in various games from modern supernatural thrillers to campy fantasy adventures.
Sound weird? Let me explain.
Let the Rogue Shine
Every player likes to work a different way. Some players like to negotiate and interact with the Non-Player Characters (NPCs). Others like to solve puzzles and figure out mysteries. Still more like to get right to the battles and get their hands dirty. Giving each player a chance to do what he or she loves is a great way to keep interest high and make sure people leave satisfied.
In a classroom, I look for the students that like to answer questions. I make them team leaders. I once had a young student who liked to doodle in my journalism class. I made her cartoonist for the newsletter we were putting together and she never looked happier. I had a student once who liked to talk more than write and couldn’t figure out how to write his essay, so I told him to tell me everything he needed to say. When he was done, I showed him the outline I’d written just from what he said, and from that, he was able to finish.
Follow the Bouncing Bard
Looking for that player or two that likes to go ahead sword swinging is a good way to lead the rest of the party into the right direction for the story. More than once, I’ve had a situation where one player dictated the rest of the group’s actions because of experience or sheer personality. Our current fighter is clashing with our new wizard, but getting one to decide on a course of action is a good way to get the party moving as one.
In a classroom, I look for the ones that like to talk and answer and, if I have a few of them, I’ll have group activities where these students will help lead the others. I don’t have to move the entire class. I just have to nudge a few people the others will follow. Yeah, it’s Machiovellian, but it works.
It’s a well-known fact that the number of dice your players stack is a good indicator of how engaged they are with your story. If you ever see them actually stack all seven standard die, check to make sure you’re actually at the table and not a hallucination.
In a classroom, it’s good to know the subtle signs of boredom. Leaning on your arm is not enough. That could just be normal sleepiness. Kids that move their feet a lot are a good indication of boredom. The smart ones may try to look engaged, but if you see feet moving, they’re restless. They couldn’t care less about what you’re saying, and if they do, they’re only paying attention for the grade.
When We Last Met Our Heroes…
The best games are the ones that have continuing stories. The renegade elves moved this way and entered the dungeon. After following them into the depths of the earth, you find that they not only want an artifact of great power, but they seek to summon an angel of destruction. After dispatching the elves, the angel is still summoned and you must stop it from entering the Shadowfell and reclaiming its full power so it can cut a path of death across the land.
Linked stories build on the world on the game…
In the classroom, linking each lesson to the last is important to avoid to the inevitable, “What does this have to do with anything?” question. Well, lesson one showed you how to put an introduction and thesis statement together. Lesson two shows how to use that thesis statement to outline your body paragraphs. Lesson three shows you how to use the body paragraphs to summarize everything in your conclusion and how the thesis should still guide every part.
It’s all about running a scenario and making sure everyone gets what they want and what they need. If you plan it right, pretty soon what they want and what they need turn out to be the same thing.
No links today. It’s been a long… LONG weekend. More fun stuff on Wednesday, though. Thanks for reading, and keep sharing Randomology links!