Need an RPG to help teach English to South Koreans

edited November 2007 in Story Games
I have a friend currently teaching English to South Korean students and has hit upon the idea of using tabletop RPGs to help increase their vocabulary and ability to think through problems in English. Now she was planning to do this with AD&D since she is familiar with that from her gaming days but I thought I would pick the brains of the Story Games community for alternatives that might be better suited to the task.

Ideally we are looking for:

A game with easy to understand rules
A game requiring minimal equipment (unsure of dice availability in South Korea)
A game available for download (unsure of quality shipping to South Korea)

I am especially interested in the opinions of any non-native English speakers as to what games translated well to your culture both in terms of language and genre. If anyone actually has first hand knowledge of gaming resources in South Korea that would be wonderful to hear about.

Thanks in advance for the advice!

Comments

  • Shipping to South Korea shouldn't really be a problem, as long as he can pick up small packages at his apartment. They're a first world country!

    This is a great idea. South Korea isn't big on the tabletop RPGs -- they're considered scary things for very smart people, AFAICT. But in a classroom context that might be better.

    I could probably provide some form of Polaris to her, if she wants it.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • Is this in a school classroom environment (aka "40 students at once", all of which are there because they are forced to be there), or an adult conversation school environment (2-6, or up to 10 people but no more, all adults or kids who *want* to be there).

    I've used RPGs in both environments as a teaching game (not so much a ground up lang-learning tool, but a reinforcement game), and depending on the situation the suggestions will be totally different.

    -Andy
  • Oh, also, I've used RISUS for this sort of thing with adults. It's awesome, and pre-laden with English vocabulary. It got over the wonkiness inherent to stats and skills, and got down right into the English-teaching/roleplaying.

    -Andy
  • I have to back Andy's recommendation of RISUS. It's perfect for what you want to do here, and has the added bonus of being short and basic enough that someone could even translate it as a project.
  • Thank you all. I will recommend RISUS to her and see what she thinks.
  • I re-read and noticed that your friend wants to focus on vocabulary and solving problems in English, and also she's played AD&D, so she has some preconceptions about what an RPG is like. South Korea also has a rich online gaming culture, and the game "Lineage" is a part of that. Because Lineage is about leaders and followers, a game which mirrors it in some ways might be good. I can recommend Reign for that, and wish I could recommend the Riddle of Steel, but it's poorly written and everything outside combat is less good.

    Lastly, I kind of recommend Pendragon. It's very much about families, bloodlines, leaders, and followers; it will hold up to repeated play over time; and it embodies Western values deeply, which may be an interesting lesson.

    There isn't a good game about Korean history or folklore, which sucks, because it's a very interesting area.
  • edited November 2007
    Posted By: Clinton R. NixonThere isn't a good game about Korean history or folklore, which sucks, because it's a very interesting area.
    On the side, Clinton's Heroquest game very loosely inspired by Korean folklore was one damn cool mini-campaign (I still hold that "General Chae-rok" is one of the coolest names in the galaxy). I'd love to see some folks put their heads together for Korean fantasy (perhaps a rule-less supplement for all games) because there's some awesome in there that can be mined.

    -Andy
  • Posted By: AndyOn the side, Clinton's Heroquest game very loosely inspired by Korean folklore was one damn cool mini-campaign (I still hold that "General Chae-rok" is one of the coolest names in the galaxy). I'd love to see some folks put their heads together for Korean fantasy (perhaps a rule-less supplement for all games) because there's some awesome in there that can be mined.

    -Andy
    Cool idea, but in general Koreans are likely to prefer Western fantasy when it comes to fantasy. For Eastern themes Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a safe bet, especially with men. The themes and events are likely to be a little too difficult for all but the most skilled English speakers to express in that language, however. Emulating MMORPGs is a cool idea, though I think the Lineage system of leaders and followers works because it's such a massively multiplayer environment. In general, a standard quest-based hack-and-slash adventure is a pretty good idea because it's simple and on safe ground. Many Koreans are huge gaming geeks, and system-wise CRPGs are dungeon crawls of some sort at heart: Search map, get treasure, kill things.
  • Posted By: EldirCool idea, but in general Koreans are likely to prefer Western fantasy when it comes to fantasy
    Sorry I wasn't clear:

    I wasn't thinking about FOR Koreans.

    /I/ want to play a Korean-themed fantasy game. :-)

    -Andy
  • We sell a fair amount of Panty Explosion and Classroom Deathmatch in South Korea. the games seem to be well recieved there.
  • edited November 2007
    Posted By: Andy/I/ want to play a Korean-themed fantasy game. :-)

    -Andy
    Doubly cool idea! Like you said, lots of awesome to be mined there. I wrote a long blog post about roleplaying in a Korea-flavored background, though it's centered on the Chosun period--and dragons.
    Posted By: jake richmondWe sell a fair amount of Panty Explosion and Classroom Deathmatch in South Korea. the games seem to be well recieved there.
    Panty Explosion transplants pretty seamlessly to a Korean setting, though I don't doubt that it's fun with the original Japanese setting in place as well.
  • In hindsight, it's obvious to me now that S Korea does psychic school girl way better then Japan. Should have set it in S Korea instead, I guess.
  • edited November 2007
    Hey all, I'm an English teacher in South Korea. What I would recommend is:

    -Not D&D, waaaaaaaaaaay too many fiddly bits and would confuse the hell out of anyone who's not a native English speaker.
    -Nothing with too much of a narrative focus, kids get really competitive and trying to get them to do what's good for the story instead of what's good for their character is a recipe for a headache.
    -A system that includes some kinds of descriptions of the character that have a mechanical effect. Give the kids practice with adjectives.
    -For a system I'd probably recommend Fate 2.0 with a short skill list or maybe Fudge. Maybe Risus would work too? Have heard good things about that but haven't played it.

    Oh and if anyone knows any people in the Seoul area who want to RP tell them to email me at dboshko at gmail dot com, I'm part of a gaming group that currently is running a Spirit of the Century game, a D&D game and an Alternity game.
  • Would Primitive work, at all? I have never played it and know little about it, except that it imposes limits on people communicating through the easiest way.
  • You know, come to think of it, what age kids?

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • edited November 2007
    Posted By: jake richmondIn hindsight, it's obvious to me now that S Korea does psychic school girl way better then Japan. Should have set it in S Korea instead, I guess.
    I really want to play it someday with a shaman's daughter as the psychic schoolgirl. Her enemy or best friend would be the preacher's daughter. :) Too bad I'd probably the running the game, not playing it.

    Oh, and that reminds me. I tried to send an e-mail about this article some time ago, but the e-mail bounced for some reason. I'm the writer of that Korean review, and I wanted to give you the gist of what the review and comments were like. I've just posted that e-mail in a separate blog post instead.
  • Posted By: Eldir
    I really want to play it someday with a shaman's daughter as the psychic schoolgirl. Her enemy or best friend would be the preacher's daughter.
    OH MY GOD IT IS FULL OF AWESOME.

    Daughter of the Kannushi/Shinto Shrine Priest
    Daughter of the Buddhist Temple Priest
    Daughter of the Christian Pastor (for extra awesome credit, make the father an ex-yakuza "Irezumi Christian")
    Duaghter of the Zaibatsu President
    (or, instead of that last, maybe daughter of the suspicious Buddhist splinter-sect cult founder, but that is probably too dark).
    (better yet, instead of the zaibatsu daughter, maybe just "the normal girl", or "the normal lower-class girl with 6 siblings")

    -Andy
  • Posted By: AndyOH MY GOD IT IS FULL OF AWESOME.
    Awesome, and rapidly off-topic! (Honest, officer! It's because we haven't heard from the OP in awhile!) This would be a better place to follow this train of thought.
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