Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ever Teach D&D to 30 People?

[First, I apologize for the blogging hiatus. Getting this spring course underway has taken every waking moment of my time for the last 10 days.]

I'm not quite sure how I imagined it, but teaching D&D to 30 people at the same time was a very interesting experience.

In short, we have had three classes and I've used a combination of fish-bowl style modelling where I DM a small group while the rest of the class huddles around with questions flying from all directions, walkthough-style step-by-step instructions for character generation and one-page dungeon generation, short-video clips, much discussion, and tonight, for the first time, a video-conference with the DMs of Red Box Vancouver. SO I've tried to cover all the different learning styles.

Dan Proctor from Goblinoid Games graciously sent me some hard copies of Labyrinth Lord to use as the gaming texts. They, of course, have access to the no art version and I see that most of the students printed that off and bring it to class. I'm actually indebted to a bunch of very cool OSR folks for making electronic materials available and helping me facilitate this course. I'm going to recognize them all in a single post shortly.

Remember that this is a spring course, effectively 10 classes (2xWeek) for 3 hours each. So there's no time to play silly buggers, we needed to get going from class 1 and that's exactly what we have done. It's a lot to throw at them, but that's the nature of taking a course in the spring session.

The first tutorial assignment was a walk-through of character generation. In addition to rolling their scores and starting gp, they needed to write a short backstory. I can sum that process up concisely in two sentences (the above), but the sheer volume of questions was hectic. Assumed in all this, of course, is getting familiar with the subcultural lexicon - all the stuff we take for granted HP, AC, Saving Throws, etc. The second assignment was a 12-room one page dungeon scenario. This also had a full step-by-step walkthrough. It was really interesting to see how some understood there was a methodical process and followed it, and others who were frustrated by it. I'll have a better idea tonight, but I think most grasped the concept.

The first night, after using the first hour to go through the course outline, I threw them right into a scenario (mean, aren't I?). We switched out players every 10-15 minutes or so. I had a very short contextual blurp to start the game, indicating that their objective was to plunder the tomb, find the treasure, and claim it as their own. I finished with "Your standing outside the tomb, what would you like to do now?" Some of the facial expressions were priceless as they all started to grasp the idea. The second group were particularly gregarious and wanted to do all sorts of things and spent much time in debate about how to proceed. These tutorials are busy, but fun learning experiences.

The front-end of the course is tutorial heavy - to facilitate play - and the back-end of course is more academic in nature with assignments, etc. So there's a natural transition over time.

The next assignment is to read Clark Ashton Smith's The Colossus of Ylourgne with the idea of 1) summary and review of the story, and 2) pulling aspects of the story for gaming sernarios.

I probably won't get to post again until next week because I'm busy serving on the organizing committee for the Popular Culture Association of Canada conference this weekend in Niagara Falls, Ontario. If you are interested in the types of papers you can go here and to the conference program.


1 comment:

  1. Hahahaha :-)

    Sounds like fun. Just wondering - how old were the students? (or how young?)