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Created by WJWalton4831 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Tue 04 of Aug., 2015 21:42 PDT
(376 Posts | 1771133 Visits | Activity=2.00)

RPGs in schools: Norway and Brazil

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 11 of Sept., 2009 20:06 PDT
Matthjis, one of the good people who follow my Twitter account pointed out two great sites on roleplaying in schools - one that I knew about and had been meaning to mention, and another that was completely new to me.

I saw a website for the Lærelyst method about a year ago, but their website appears to be down. There is a site called Nordic Serious Games that mentions APlay Motivation, which uses the Lærelyst method - but there's not a lot of information available:
Lærelyst uses traditional tabletop role-playing within a motivational framework to structure and reward schoolwork. Teachers run role-playing scenarios, and intersperse them with learning exercises. When students work through their exercises, they gain points to use in the game. The exercises can easily be differentiated, so that students can be challenged on their own level. Teachers can create their own exercises or download them from the Ratatosk database.

(I seem to recall seeing some unusual dice on the original website - d10s with pips that didn't go higher than 5 or 6, and I'd love to know more about how they are used.)

Next is a PDF I was unaware of - Role-playing games and education in Brazil: how we do it, brought to us by the intriguing website LARP, the Universe, and Everything:
While still a minor phenomenon, role-playing game techniques have increasingly found a use in education in Brazil. In this article we will present a brief historical survey, focusing especially on teaching materials such as adventure books, tabletop books and some of the larp techniques used by educators inside and outside of classrooms. But we also aim at presenting some examples of how these techniques work in practice, including our own experience of them, and we will argue the importance of having a strong basis in educational theory to guide such interventions.

What follows is a brief history of RPGs in Brazil and a listing of various textbooks that feature roleplaying in one capacity or another - including a series of GURPS books that teach history. The article is brought to a close with a section on considerations on using RPGs to educate.

Great stuff. If only we could find a way to encourage these methods in other countries - especially here in the States. If you know of other such programs, or even know more about the ones I have listed here, please let me know about them - in comments, email or through Twitter.

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Tell Me About Your Character: Ambrose

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 11 of Sept., 2009 04:17 PDT

The latest Tell Me About Your Character interview is up. Say hello to Ambrose!

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RPGs in schools: Roleplaying studies course in Finland

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 10 of Sept., 2009 18:42 PDT
The blog Worlds in a Handful of Dice featured a post about a course in roleplaying studies that is being offered at the University of Tampere, Finland:

(The course) is worth six study credits and only includes the lectures, a 3,500-word study diary and, I kid you not, playing or running a roleplaying game session. The list of approved games is fairly short, but of the seven games, four (Under My Skin, Fat Man Down, the LARP Prayers on a Porcelain Altar and The Upgrade) are distributed in PDF as study material, and the other three (Praedor, City of Itra hah! and “Joutomaa”, out of Juhana Pettersson’s Roolipelimanifesti) I own.

The university website's page for the course is in Finnish, and Google gives a passably good translation into English.

The author of the post promises to post updates about the course as it unfolds. I can honestly say that I've never heard of such a course being offered here in the States. Could we ever see such a day?

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Villains for Kids at the KORE blog

Posted by DrAwkward16 points  on Thu 10 of Sept., 2009 05:26 PDT
Dr. Awkward here. The esteemed Mr. Walton has given me permission to make log entries in his electronic journal as I wish, to bring you any news items that I happen upon that could be of interest regarding adventures with young people. And I think I have just such an item for you now:

The electronic journal of the KORE role-playing game has begun to post weekly entries on "Villains for Kids." These are descriptions of bad guys that can be dropped into an adventure game for young people - no statistics are given, so you can use them with the rule system of your choice.

The series begins with first dastardly fiend, The Tricky Trickster, and more are promised each week. Kevin, the author, has even been kind enough to tag the log entries for ease of reference. Just visit when you're in need of a good bad guy.

Keep your dice dry! Awkward out.

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Planning a mini RPG convention at a library

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 09 of Sept., 2009 20:03 PDT
Patrick Benson at Gnome Stew is planning a mini RPG convention at his local library, and he's looking for your advice. Visit the post to read more about it and join the discussion, if you are so inclined.

It's a great idea, if planned and executed well. A mini-con like this could be an excellent way to meet new roleplayers in your area and maybe even try out some new RPGs. You could even try to get local game stores and other businesses involved, too.

Have you ever organized a mini-con? Let us know about it!

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RPGs in schools: a 10-year-old email

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 09 of Sept., 2009 11:39 PDT
I was going through some old papers in my filing cabinet last night, and I found a printout of the following email, sent to me nearly ten years ago by a professor at a university in São Paulo, Brazil.

In it, he discusses his success with using RPGs in high school education, especially with encouraging youths to apply what they've learned to situations - and he mentions taking the same plan to the university level.

I'd love to know if he's had any further success. I tried to contact him at, but the email bounced instantly. While I'm not to surprised by this, I am a little surprised that I can barely find any info on him online.

I'll keep searching, but in the meantime, here is that decade-old email, which I'm posting both to inspire roleplaying educators, and to act as an internet beacon if Professor Bogsan ever Googles his name!

Subj: RPG as a tool for education !
Date: 12/16/99 2:28:05 Eastern Standard Time
From: (Silvio Cesar Bogsan)


I'm a professor at Ibirapuera University, Sao Paulo, Brazil. I'm trying to use RPG as a tool for my students here.

We need to find a way so the students could have practical training before they go to work. Specially here in Sao Paulo where a degree is very important. So I'm a player since 1989. GURPS and Vampire mostly of the time. In this year I found some students who used to play, and we formed a group and I mastered for them. They were very stimulated by the game. They did a research of 200 hours at internet, about hackers and counterfeits.

Nexy year I will apply RPG to a whole class (almost 100 students) in a big adventure and I'm collecting suggestions. I'm thinking about Cyberpunk genre, or maybe something involving our real world, but applying their knowledge.

The students will be at the Computing degree. I hope this e-mail will be published as some kind of "news from Brazil."

We have a few cases involving RPG's. I've heard about nothing bad at all. In a high school near here, Magic the Gathering was considering "Interesting and contributes to the development of the youngers" the director said.

I'm using RPG as a tool for the high school classes since 1997, but I'm starting at University now, and I find it very useful.

Thanks for "hear" me. And I hope I can contribute more with you all.

Prof. Silvio Cesar Bogsan - MBA - Universidade Ibirapuera - São Paulo - Brazil

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NZ Defense Force trains with roleplaying

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 09 of Sept., 2009 07:36 PDT
Soldiers and workers in the New Zealand Defense Force are preparing for a reconstruction mission to Afghanistan by doing some role-play simulation:
This week in Waiouru the team have been doing role-playing exercises using stand-in actors as local tribesmen, playing out meetings with the PRT engineers in a tribal village scenario.

Read more here: [article | archive]

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RPGs in schools: MJ Harnish

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Mon 07 of Sept., 2009 08:00 PDT
MJ Harnish at Gaming Brouhaha replied to my call for folks running RPGs in schools and libraries. I linked to a blog post of his a few days ago, but he gave me a few more details of his gaming plans:

I've run a gaming club at an international school for the past 6 years. The first few years we focused largely on miniatures gaming but over the past 4 years we've been gradually expanding the club's roleplaying activities.

Currently we have about 20 members, with 12 regular roleplayers, ranging in age from 12 to 18. Although we've run a variety of traditional RPGs in the past (e.g. Red Box D&D, 3E & 4E D&D, Savage Worlds), these days I tend to focus on games where the players have a lot of narrative control in order to encourage the students to participate more creatively in our games.

This year we've started off with several sessions of InSpectres, which they've all loved. Next up is either "A Penny for My Thoughts" or "Sign-in Stranger." I also have plans to run "Swashbucklers of the 7 skies", "Mouse Guard", "The Princes' Kingdom", and perhaps "Big Eyes, Small Mouth."

Right now I'm in the process of trying to train a GM or two because a single group of 12 doesn't allow the students enough individual screen time and tends to lead to very chaotic games.

MJ promises to post regular updates on Gaming Brouhaha, so if you're interested, be sure to subscribe to his feed!

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College 'LARPers' arrested for rough play

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sat 05 of Sept., 2009 18:34 PDT
Seventeen University of Tennessee students and members of the Campus Crusade for Christ were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct on September 3rd during what appears to be some sort of "ultimate LARP championship."
Sharp (director of UT's chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ) said men, all members of the on-campus Christian group, were playing "Fugitive," an outdoor tag-like team game popular with many UT students, Sharp said. It was a social activity planned for male students following a regular Thursday night Bible study, he said.

But there seems to be some confusion about the name of the game.
But Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk contends the men told the officers they were playing Fuzion, a role-playing game involving combat, and said they were "fighting and running down Cumberland Avenue" around 10 p.m. when officers intervened and ordered them to sit on the ground.

Or maybe "a role-playing game involving combat" makes for more interesting news than "a bunch of guys horsing around and playing too roughly."

Just for the record: for those who may not know, there is a tabletop RPG called Fuzion - it's not a LARP, and doesn't involve running around and getting your fellow players into chokeholds. These guys weren't playing that.

Read the full article here: [article | archive]

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Tell Me About Your Character: Theodore Dudek

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 04 of Sept., 2009 08:44 PDT
Theodore Dudek of gives us the first Tell Me About Your Character interview in nearly a year. Read it here!

And when you're done - submit your own!

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RPGs in schools: the first responses

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 04 of Sept., 2009 07:20 PDT
Since school has (mostly) begun again here in the United States, I've been putting out the call on Twitter and here on the blog for information from anyone who is running (or planning to run) RPGs for kids at schools or libraries.

My plan (as always) is to gather stories, experiences, tips, and advice that others can use if they want to organize such a program - and to give a bit of a nudge to those who have been thinking about it and just need a little push to get it started.

I received the following email from Dan (who, for privacy reasons, has asked that I not name the school where he works):
I am the Network Administrator at a New England private high school. Last year, I ran a D&D game every other week. Almost all new players, a mix of freshmen and seniors. We played 4th edition, and started on Keep on the Shadowfell. We had about 6 regular players. The only issues we ran into were of a scheduling variety, as the underclassmen don't have a lot of unstructured time, and we don't quite get a 4 hour session, which leads me to the second problem. KotS was too long an adventure for an every other week 3 1/2-4 hr session game to fit comfortably in a school year.

If there is interest I intend on trying to make this a tradition, with a couple of changes.

1. Modules designed for 4-hours. Either delve format or more likely living forgotten realms.
2. One module/session
3. Entertaining the possibility of opening up the game to other genres/systems/games
4. Limiting participation to Juniors & Seniors (Grandfathering the sophomores from last year though)

Things that I learned:

1. D&D 4 is very accessible, to non tabletop gamers (the kids were geeks however)
2. Human Fighters aren't the 'safe' newbie class anymore
3. Explaining power sources and roles are very important to a new player matching up to a class that 'clicks' enough that they're easy to learn (related to #2, the human fighter's player had a really tough time being relevant. After a talk about what she wanted her character to do, she picked a cleric, and took to her really easily)
4. Was surprised that the players gender-ratio was practically 1:1, with a slight favoring of girls
5. There was a fair number of kids who wanted to kibitz. This caused some problems, as they were a distraction to an already too big group. In the future, I'll probably give them NPC's and monsters to run.

I also received an email a little while ago from Eric Basir, who ran the Marvel Super Heroes RPG for a small group of kids as an after-school role-playing club at a parochial school in Illinois. His description of it is too perfect not to share:
My attempt to work with children, teens (and youthful adults) to use their imaginations to interact with one another in a make-believe environment with the purpose of promoting good manners, spirituality and righteous competition.

He has collected the videos into two playlists - you can watch them here and here.

That's all of the response I've seen so far, and while those are two excellent testimonies, I want MORE! Are you running any RPGs at schools or libraries? Share your knowledge and experience with us!

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Nonsense Podcast gives a nod to The Escapist

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 03 of Sept., 2009 06:05 PDT
Nonsense Podcast is one of my favorite critical thinking podcasts, and they've just released episode 9, which features a short bit on the Utah hammer attack, and mentions a certain roleplaying advocacy site in the process.

Give it a listen - not because they plug the site, but because critical thinking is good for you! -

(Fun fact: Andrew, who reports on the story in this episode, starred as Pathos Feralwolf in my 25th anniversary tribute to the Dark Dungeons comic tract!)

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Where was your first game of D&D?

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 03 of Sept., 2009 05:32 PDT
Yesterday, the famous (and infamous) Ed Healy posted a picture of the house where he played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. I liked the idea so much, I decided to steal it, and maybe even tell some of the story behind it.

I love "how I started gaming" stories - so much so, that I included it as one of the questions for the Tell Me About Your Character interviews. I know I've told mine on the site more than once, but what's one more time? So here goes:

I didn't live in a very good neighborhood as a kid, so in the late 70s and early 80s I would spend part of my summers with my sister and her family in Newark, Delaware, about an hour's drive from my home in Dover.

It was a very good confidence-building experience for me, a kid from a bad neighborhood who was also having problems with getting acceptance at school. I met a lot of kids around my age who didn't have any preconceptions about me, and that helped me make a lot of new friends.

Two of those friends were twin boys, Joey and Smokey (and to this day I'm not sure if 'Smokey' was a nickname or actually on his birth certificate). One summer day in 1981, while talking with both of them, I found out that they played Dungeons & Dragons

Instantly, I started to nag them to teach me how to play. I had heard so many bad things about the game - and even been told by a teacher to avoid it at all costs, because it was so 'dangerous' - that I had to find out for myself what was so terrible about it.

Eventually, they gave in, and one of the twins DMed a game for me, his brother, and another friend of ours named Debbie, on the front steps of their house on Scottfield Drive.

The house is still there, and looks a lot like it did back in 1981:

(Yes, you heard me correctly - my first game of D&D was played in a group with a girl in it. And now that I think of it, almost all of my gaming groups have had at least one female in them. So much for stereotypes!)

Of course, I was hooked instantly. Later that summer, when I returned for another visit, I rode my bike to the nearby shopping center, went into the little hobby shop on the inside corner, and spent my lawnmowing money on a copy of the purple box, Erol Otus cover Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set.

(The shopping center is still there, but the hobby store closed a long time ago, and I can't for the life of me remember the name of it.)

And that's how and where it happened, nearly thirty years ago.

So, what's your story? Where did you play your first game of D&D, or any other RPG? (Bonus points if you include a picture!)

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A Practical Guide to the Practical Guides

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 02 of Sept., 2009 05:00 PDT
At the Young Person's Adventure League, Dr. Awkward has posted his review of a series of Mirrorstone lorebooks, along with some tips on using them in your adventures. He calls it A Practical Guide to the Practical Guides. Check it out!

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LARPing in Boulder

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sun 30 of Aug., 2009 07:30 PDT
The Boulder Daily Camera just published a great piece on the Denver-Boulder International Fantasy Gaming Society, one of the longest-running LARP groups (if not the longest):
Boulder County's scene makes "Roles Models" look weak. The Denver-Boulder International Fantasy Gaming Society organizes live-action events as often as every other weekend May through September. The society began in 1981, as one of the first live-action groups in the world — if not the very first.

The local society boasts about 60 "very active" participants, plus an additional 100 to 200 people who have been involved over the past 30 years, according to Ray Appling, of Longmont, who serves on the international board of directors, among four other titles.

There's a fairly good description of how LARP works here, and a nice representation of the people who play:
In their other life — the realm beyond role-playing in the field — one of the participants is the VP for the Robinson Brick Company. Other players are grandparents, triathletes, doctors, lawyers, mortgage brokers, professors and business-owners, not to mention actors, video gamers and "Dungeons and Dragon"-ites.

Read the full article here: [article | archive]

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