A little while ago my friend Baz Stevens of the excellent Smart Party podcast let me know that he was going to be running a game of Amazing Tales for his class of 31 nine year olds. Now “would this work in a classroom?” is a question I’ve been asked pretty frequently since Amazing Tales was released, but, not being a teacher I haven’t had a great answer.
Baz has the answer – and here it is… (I added the links)
“So it went astonishingly (amazingly?) well. We had already genned up characters as a whole class. Some wanted to ‘multi class’ straight away. Most were fine to run with their ideas. Abilities ran the gamut from almost mundane (“I can be nice to people”) through powers (“I can fly”) to bonkers (“laser parkour”).
I chose the five best written ones to be run by tiny committees. Each hero had an artist to record scenes, a writer to do same (all done in real time on a poster in the middle of the table), a caller to speak on behalf of the group and advisors to actually make the decisions. You can’t take the D&D out of me completely…
Each group had a table. And off we went.
I have the luxury of a smart tv as a teaching aid. It runs interactive wipe board software and a visualiser which I use to display work, or model writing etc. I’d loaded it up with imagery intending to improvise and bring up pics as and when. Essentially I built a Pinterest board instead of writing an adventure. I used the works of Jean “Mobius” Giraud. Check him out.
I sent the heroes into the starting situation: kid ambassadors for their respective planets attending a field trip on Station Alpha X (see Valerian. It’s good)
Question: how do you get there?
Each group got chatting, then shouting. Loads of excitement and debate. I went to each caller for their heroes action. Can’t decide? Too long. Move on. They soon got the hang of teamwork and leadership.
I saw an opportunity to roll dice. One hero travelled by alien horse. Another by hover board. Sounded like a race to me. I asked them for abilities, and it threw them all. They hadn’t looked to those. They were used to writing fiction where you can be anything as the story demands. Spot rule: no ability means you need 4+. Done. I rolled real dice under the visualiser, and the kids lost their minds! Brilliant.
Next question: it’s a party reception. What do you eat, drink and what’s a problem that happens? Cue furious engagement.
I slapped on a plastic crown and made up an NPC. Brian Blessed as host. I asked them all what they enjoyed from my table and got great answers. The artists and writers went overtime.
Then the problems. I picked two. Bombs placed under the guests beds, and the arrival of the Red Knight, a nemesis of one of the heroes.
Dice and carnage ensue. The Red Knight is defeated.
The dust settles and I display a picture of a warrior on a pink alien unicorn.
“This bursts through a window and lands among you. The woman on the creature stands up in her stirrups and announces “I am She Ra, Princess of Power, and you kids just killed my brother””
The room erupts. In real life.
Bell goes. The kids will not leave. I insist they have their lunch, they eventually leave buzzing with the stories yet to tell.
More to come…”
If there are any other teachers out there who have tried Amazing Tales in a classroom, or are thinking about it – let me know. Once Baz has a bit of down time he’s offered to share his lesson plans – so watch this space.