The School Trip (renamed to The Dice Game by the kids) is a super simple D6 RPG that I created to tell imaginative stories with my class. It started with them travelling to a fantasy world called Animora and we then travelled to several other worlds based on class books we were reading. These book worlds included Percy Jackson and The Borrowers. The idea of The School Trip is like most RPGs) to encourage imagination, teamwork and collaboration within the class.
Here is a very basic rule set that you might want to try out.
A session of The Dice Game runs with the Teacher playing the Narrator who helps move the story forward and gives ideas to those children who aren’t sure what to do on their turn. They will set up the situation and ask the children individually what they would like to do. I worked my way through the register to ensure every child got a go. The child then tells the Narrator what they’d like to do and the Narrator gives the child a die roll goal. The child succeeds or fails the roll and the Narrator explains what happens (always try to fail forward) and then it is the next child’s turn. The game can run over days, weeks or even months.
Here is an example turn:
The Narrator tells the class that they are being chased through an ancient forest by ferocious, green goblins. The Narrator looks at the register and sees that it is Miia’s turn next and so asks Miia what she’d like to do… Miia isn’t sure and so the Narrator offers some options:
“You could try and climb up one of the trees to hide from the goblins, you could try and talk to the goblins to see what they want or you could try to attack the goblins and scare them off. What would you like to do?”
Miia decides to talk to the Goblins. The Narrator asks what Miia will say to them?
“Why are you chasing us?” Miia shouts.
“You stole our Gem of Wondrous Wonderment!” the Narrator cries in a goblin voice.
“No we didn’t, we’ve never heard of your silly gem!” Miia replies defensively.
The Narrator asks Miia to make a roll to convince the Goblins that they didn’t steal the Gem.
“Roll to see if the Goblins believe you. You’ll need to roll a 3 or more as you sounded very convincing.”
Miia comes up to the front of class to roll the giant 6 sided dice on the interactive white board.
She rolls a 6 and the class all cheers. The Narrator smiles.
“Wow, that’s the best roll you can get! The Goblins completely believe you. In fact they ask for your help – Oh no! Well if you don’t have it, who stole it from us? Could you help us find it? We’ll give you a reward if you do!”
The teacher thinks it is now a good time to move on to the next kid’s turn.
“Well done Miia, you stopped the Goblin’s attacking the class. Tanvir, it is now your turn. Will you help the Goblins?”
This is how the game generally plays out. Try to keep the story moving forward and have a general outline of where the game is heading. Be prepared for the children to take the game on some very exciting tangents too. I usually ran the game for about 30 mins at the end of each day where we would usually have story time. The children really looked forward to these sessions and would ask when the next session would be.
Here is some advice on how to make the games even more enjoyable for you and your class:
Find the fun of exploration.
Each trip should be an adventure, there is a moment of imaginative transition from a real life situation into a sprawling fantasy land or an epic historical landscape.
If you are teaching your class about the Greeks, Romans or Egyptians, start them in the British museum. It’s a location some of your students may have visited in real life. You could even visit the museum through google earth to show them around. Use every resource you can to help build the students knowledge of the world they are about to play in. Have physical objects linked to the topic or text of choice to help children build their connection to the world as much as possible.
The joy of the dice
Like most roleplaying games, TST uses a D6. Most importantly it needs to be BIG. The dice roll is to be shared as a group, celebrating and enjoying each roll of the die together. You could have a giant spongey D6 to roll across the classroom floor or show an interactive rollable dice on your classroom whiteboard if you have one. Google dice roller works really well as it actually rolls the dice so that there is a moment of suspense before the result is shown:.
Whenever it is a student’s turn they tell the class and you the teacher what they’d like to do. The teacher decides how difficult the task is, some things are easy peasy actions such as picking up a cake, where as other actions may be almost impossible such as throwing the moon at someone!
An average task such as jumping over a gap or climbing up a rickety ladder would need a roll of a 3+
Finding a hidden object would be a 4+
Jumping down from a treehouse without hurting yourself would be a 5+
Throwing a melon out of a bus window so that it hits a flying dragon on it’s bottom would be a 6+
Woeful 1 and Super 6
Whenever a 1 is rolled on the dice, something terrible (but silly) has happened, this should be a banana skin moment. They’ve slipped up and caused a chain or unfortunate events like knocking things over or accidently insulting the goblin they are talking to. It’s a failure but keep it light and silly so that the child doesn’t feel too bad and they get a giggle out of it instead.
A 6 however means something incredible has happened. They have achieved an almost impossible task! The class are encouraged to cheer every time a 6 is rolled.
Make it a quest
Keep it fun, keep it epic, show them incredible things they wouldn’t usually see and let them interact with these worlds as much as possible.
Give them a goal, something that they can do to save the day or help characters and historical figures from their favourite stories and eras.
Rules of the world
Try to set the rules of the world or time period they are visiting. They won’t be able to change history but they can certainly mess with it a bit. Also, unless they are given magical items or special powers they can only do what they could normally do. Most children can’t fly or fire laser beams from their nostrils…
Let them be themselves
In a big game with 15+ students, I find it is often easier for both the teacher and the students if the children play themselves (or exaggerated versions of themselves). This saves you and the other student players from having to remember a whole lot of new names and helps keep the flow of the game whilst immersing the students themselves in the worlds they will explore on their school trip.
When a student does something brilliantly imaginative or comes up with a unexpected solution to a challenge or just acts admirable during the game, you can reward them with lunch money. When they spend this lunch money, it gives them a re-roll of the die. They can spend this on their own roll or ‘buy some-one else’s lunch’ so that they can re-roll their die instead.
Remember, they’re the goodies
Kids like to push the story in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. Remind the students that they are the goodies, the heroes and heroines of the story and should act as such. Reward the brave and clever students who are actively trying to save the day, give them lunch money, give them in game rewards such as cool stuff and helpful contacts. Try not to put down the students who want to be a bit bad, they can enjoy being a little bit mischievous but they should not act evil or malicious. Remind these children about the collaborative nature of the game and give them a helpful nudge in the correct moral direction. Hopefully they will pick up on the rewards the other children are receiving for their chivalry and they will soon follow. If a kid wants to buy a nine headed hydra from the mythological pet store and use it to destroy Athens, give them a baby hydra that is always hungry and loves cuddles. They’ll have got half way to their goal but realise their new pet is incapable of the destruction they hoped. Maybe it could help them with something else instead. Hydras are very good at playing ‘I spy’.
Watching the show
Some students might not want to play, or they might pass each turn. That’s fine, some children just enjoy watching the show. Let them have a free pass to jump back in when they’d like. They can raise their hand and be added back onto the register tracker.
Hopefully, these tips help you to run your own games.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.