Dungeons and Dragons in the Present Continuous

Dudes, I am super excited about my upcoming English class activity: I have bastardized Dungeons and Dragons so my students can practice using the present continuous (sort of with future aspect). For example, they’ll be saying stuff like, “I’m jumping on the Orc’s back and biting its ear”. Sure, it may not be as strictly correct as having them practice things like “I’m wearing my red dress with my black sneakers to the party tonight,” but I’ve already had a bunch of kids come up to me outside of class talking about their characters so I really don’t care.

But let me backtrack a little. If you’ve read my blog before you might be asking yourself, did Samgrace quit anthropology? What is this English class nonsense she’s talking about? Fear not, friends, I’m only volunteering to teach an extra English class here in one of the Ecuadorian high schools where I am doing my fieldwork. As it happens, I’ve been teaching English on the side for years (what can I say, I love teaching even when it’s not my main thing), but anthropology still has my heart.

THAT SAID, it’s my English class and not my class-based participant observation that has me most excited this weekend. My students are learning clothing vocab and the present progressive and it occurred to me that it would be super fun (for me, at the very least) to have an ongoing D&D game that we play for about 15-20 minutes out of each 35 minute class. I’m so excited about the idea that I want to share it here, so if you’re interested in this sort of thing, read on!

So I start them out choosing a Name, a Species (Human, Dwarf, Elf, or Halfling), and an Occupation (Warrior, Magic-User, Thief, and Priest/ess). Then I have them draw a picture of their characters and label the appropriate clothes. Instead of having spells or special weapons, I am letting them choose two Special Articles of Clothing

Warriors can choose two of the following:

  • Steel Jacket (extra protection against terrible monsters)
  • Lightning Pants (incredible speed in running and dodging)
  • Warm Socks (magical protection against the cold)
  • Steel-toed Boots (makes your kick as powerful as the blow from a hammer)
  • Iron Gloves (same deal as the boots, but for your hands)

Magic-Users can choose two of the following:

  • Invisibility Hat (works for up to five minutes)
  • Whirlwind Skirt (creates a small windstorm around the wearer)
  • Warm Socks (magical protection against the cold)
  • Solar Bracelet (a magic light on your wrist)

Thieves can choose two of the following:


  • Shadow Tights (provide magical camouflage, especially in the dark)
  • Bottomless Backpack (even big and heavy things will fit with no extra weight for the wearer)
  • Sneakers (allow you to move without being heard)
  • Knife-belt (comes with its own stealthy knife)

Priest/esses can choose two of the following:

  • Solar Bracelet (a magic light on your wrist)
  • Holy Necklace (protection against monsters with demonic powers)
  • White Hat (gives your companions extra help with their actions)
  • First Aid Robes (the pockets are filled with little healing objects)


Although I’m giving them all the same bare bones of an adventure (going on a quest to recover a magical Wardrobe that is a door to another world that has been stolen by an evil dragon living underneath a temple), I’m going to split them into smaller groups for the campaign.

But my favorite part is that instead of rolling a die, their success will depend on how well they are able to formulate the statement of what they intend to do (they say it right, they succeed, they say it wrong, their action fails). And because they are working in a group they should get help with that (and write it down) before its their turn to act.

So, my fellow geeky friends, what do you think? You got any suggestions about how I can make this even better?


Voting for Carmona

Richard Carmona for U.S. Senate

Living in Arizona, caring about politics can sometimes be depressing, but I am actively excited about the Democrat candidate for U.S. Senator: Dr. Richard Carmona*. I know I’m always going to be pretty far left of any major candidate running for national office, but being raised with para-governmental social justice advocates gave me a strong appreciation for thinking about politics pragmatically.

Lucky for me, even though Carmona is super centrist, he does care about issues I’m motivated by:

“I’ve known my whole life that I am not a perfect fit in either party, because I am truly independent,” Carmona told Bloomberg News during an interview between town halls this past weekend. “I looked to see where Republicans are in my state on issues like women’s health, access to health, immigration issues. I couldn’t support what the state Republicans are doing.” (from Crawford at Bloomberg.com)

Even though I don’t plan on using this blog to talk about candidate often (ever again? who knows …), I know some of my Democrat Arizona buddies read this and may not think their vote counts because Arizona will go red in the presidential election. But while Flake initially led the polls by double digits, the two candidates are now within the margin of error (some have Carmona ahead, some have Flake ahead). In other words, for the first time in a very very long time, Arizona could have a Democratic Senator – but only if Democrats turn out to vote.

You can read more about Carmona at the New York Times, his campaign website, or you know, just use the Googles.


* I wasn’t sure what kind of title to give him – I could have also gone with “Former Surgeon General,” “Vice Admiral,” and “Professor” at my very own University of Arizona.