Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’

The Empires Strike back – also, Geiger counts again.

I am currently teaching a group of 9th and 10th graders roleplaying games (though I’m interpreting it very broadly, and including a lot of board games). This week, I had three (almost – more like 2½) whole days – so now was the chance to do something with a longer scope than the usual three hours every Monday. So Tuesday, I had them play Geiger counter, while Thursday, I had three of them run a short story from either Imperiet or Imperiet 40k each, with the others rotating between the three games.

Zombies in inner Copenhagen, and Werewolves in Miller’s Hollow

Tuesday, they played Geiger Counter. Turned out we had just about enough time to do it, then talk about it afterwards.

One group started out with a great idea: to convert Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow into a Geiger Counter game. That group had most of the strong players in the class, so I left them to their own devices, and they seemed to do pretty well.

The other group consisted of mostly inexperienced and weak players, so I decided that I needed to nurse them quite a bit. In the end, I was faced with a dilemma: to what extent should I coach and coax them into playing the game how I thought they should play it, and to what extent should I allow them to play on their own, and experience the game on their own. I think I was rather controlling; on the other hand, I feel like it was my duty to make sure everyone was having fun, and when  someone fails at setting a scene in Geiger Counter, they risk taking the story down a road that’s unsatisfying for someone else, and can leave a story thread hanging unresolved and unresolvable. So I felt justified at the time, though I have since been wondering whether I was doing it wrong.

New hope

For Thursday, I had asked three of the more promising students to prepare three different short scenarios: Averheim Averessen by Johannes Busted Larsen from Imperiet, and Hendes Mørke Skønhed by Morten Greis and Under my Hive by yours truly from Imperiet 40k.

Hendes Mørke Skønhed went very well, as I knew it would. First of all, I had given it to the strongest of the GMs: a guy who’s big and mature, and is doing a performance line here – so I knew he could do both the whispering and the screaming, the two things that, to my mind, makes the scenario great and lifts it over a mere dicefest. It’s a scenario that uses some cheap tricks to great effect: though it is not really a “semi-larp,” it assigns in-game effects to how you act at the table. At times, you need to be quiet, or more aliens will arrive, at other times, you need to scream and make gun noises to get dice. It makes for a great effect, and I wasn’t particularly surprised when all my students seemed to have enjoyed it.

Averheim Averessen went pretty well as well. This scenario lives off of stress and confusion. It should be played as semi-larp, with everybody doing something all at once. The scenario instates real-time limits to its scenes, and asks for hectic activity within these time limits. Add to that that the action is often completely ridiculous, and it is a sure comic hit.

And finally, Under My Hive. I have a very ambivalent relationship to this scenario. As far as I know, it only got played once at Fastaval that year. On the other hand, that group apparently really enjoyed it. I have run it once myself, last year at around this time, when Hyggemester David asked me to put it up as an intro scenario for Hyggecon. I think people enjoyed it, but I didn’t get a whole lot of feedback. My group certainly went ok.

So, it was with mixed feelings I gave it over to a student to run. And unfortunately, he didn’t quite get it – and his first group of players didn’t, either. Under my hive is a story telling  game. The game revolves around a Russian roulette motif, but the real game is the memories the players have to tell every time they get the gun, asking them to explain why this town is worth fighting for, why they hate their opponents, or how they have made the town less attractive to the opponents. It’s a rather cerebral exercise, and if you aren’t used to telling stories in roleplaying, it can be difficult. And so, the first group played it as a Russian roulette game, and were done within half an hour.

The second group, however, got it. They didn’t finish within the hour and 20 minutes they had – which means they must have been telling a lot of stories. This second group contained some of the stronger players, and I’d made that group from the people I thought would appreciate the game. It didn’t play in the third round, because there weren’t four people who hadn’t tried it yet – the others were played with three players instead of four, something which is not ideal, but which is doable. That is much more difficult in this scenario, where you are supposed to have two pair sitting across from each other.

Anyway. Hurrah for the two Empire anthologies. There are a couple of scenarios that I’d like to try myself, and some I’d like to run with these kids – and it’s great to know there’s a backup plan available.

Ps.: If you wonder why I skipped Wednesday, we had only half a day, so we played games. One group had something to finish up, while the rest played Shadows over Camelot. They didn’t have a traitor and won comfortably, so they need a traitor next time to keep them humble, methinks…

 

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That is not dead…

…and with strange season, dead blogs may wake again.

So, I had a first half of the year with relatively little in the ways of roleplaying and other things fit for this blog. I did play a bit, but not consistently, being a teacher at a school without any significant game playing presence and far away from other roleplayers. I did play one (semi-successful) round of Geiger Counter and one pretty good round of Venetian Tragedy. I, of course, also went to Fastaval’s amazing 25th anniversary, but I was mostly engaged in the organizing team, and not so much in the creative group. I did get to run Brabrand (which was a very enjoyable experience, though I was unfortunately kindly asked to sacrificed the great blockbuster of the year, Fifteen Men, to do it) and play a very intense and thoroughly enjoyable game of Venetian Tragedy, playing the lecherous cardinal opposite Johanna Kohljonen’s grand old Venetian dictator, with my girlfriend playing a very gleeful Spirit of Revenge, nudging us all towards the place we were all heading anyway: towards a very nasty and horrible end (Hurra!).

So, anyway. I had a bit of a roleplaying draught. And thus, I had very little to put up here.

That’s changing. I can now see a decent amount of stuff to write about here, which means I’m reopening the blog. This stuff is, amongst other things:

  • That I have moved closer to… everywhere, but particularly Copenhagen. This means I can now join stuff happening in Aarhus and Copenhagen, and would even feel like I could invite people down here to Slagelse for a night of gaming (and offers for both are welcome).
  • That I have moved to a school with a significant contingent of roleplaying students. These guys are keen to play, and we are in talks about making a mafia LARP at the school. I am also teaching a roleplaying subject, in which I am including a lot of boardgaming – not least because I’m alone, and I want to be in charge of showing the students new games, so I need to be in charge for a lot of the games – and thus, I need to split the group.
  • That I want to write a Fastaval Scenario. There, I said it. I will hand in one, maybe two, synopsees, and I haven’t decided what I’ll do if they don’t accept it. Give it to another con, possibly. I have two ideas, one of them an old, but never realised, idea about an anthology-scenario (no, not scenario anthology, but a scenario composed of short scenarios) about Søstrene Grene, the other a scenario about a fraud who will be required to get real.
So, that’s it. Filemonia is back. I think I will also post about boardgames, nerdy fiction (I’m currently reading A Song of Fire and Ice), and maybe even computer games. Only time will tell.