Dungeons and Dragons in the EFL classroom – a basic adventure ‘Rescue the woodcutter’s daughter’

I played Dungeons and Dragons for many years as a teenager and enjoyed the role-play, the creation and the dice rolling and it’s only recently that I’ve got back into the game. I’ve never taken it too seriously and so, I thought,  why not try it with my EFL / ESOL students. After all, it is a game that requires a lot of talking, communication, reasoning, reading and even some writing – all the skills you need to use a language. This adventure wouldn’t make a good lesson, it’s something you could do as part of an English club or similar.

If you don’t know what D and D is, and you’ve never played before, then this lesson is definitely not something you should try.  You can visit the official D and D website to get a quick explaination.  It’s a role-playing game set in a swords and scorcery world where you control a ‘character’ and a ‘dungeon master’ controls the game.

Set up

I played the game with four pre-intermediate students. The first thing I did was give students a character sheets and quickly exlpain how to role-up a character. I used a great and very simple character sheet from here – http://rpgcharacters.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/dyson-logos-bx-character-sheet-small.jpg. I also had a the full range of D and D dice including the pyramid shaped D4 and the mystical D20. I filled in t he THACO and the saving rolls from my old D and D rule books.

Races students could choose – orc, human, elf, dwarf, hobbit, half-elf

Classes students could choose – warrior, hunter (ranger), thief,  (no magic users to keep it simple)

Making characters took ages and ages, it required explanation of tradition equipment and an overview of what a role-playing game is, some of my students had never played an RPG before and it took a while to explain to them that they could make their character do whatever they wanted. It’s probably best just to start the adventure. 

Playing the adventure

 Again, if you’ve never played D and D and don’t know the rules – this will be meaningless. Players arrive at the woodcutter’s house on the map at the top left. Here they find the woodcutter, a tall blond man in his fourties, he’s bitterly upset because his daughter has been kidnapped by goblins and taken into their cave. The woodcutter explains that the goblins live deep in the cave under the mountain in what was once a great dwarven city, now in ruins. Hopefully players will take on the task of rescuing his daughter.

They follow the path around the great lake to the entrance of the cave with two bronze statues of ancient kings standing outside. Inside and after they come to a wooden door which is locked. They can try to smash it down provided anyone has strength of more than 16. If they knock the door will be answered by the four goblin guards inside. Player need to fight their way  past them. Players get 200 xp for any goblin they hit.

After the small goblin guard room, players encounter a giant spider. Details of this beast are on the map above. If they kill the spider there are four D6 healing potions in a chest near its web. Anyone who hits the spider gets 200 xp.

Players go through the next door into the gobin king’s throne room. Here there are four goblin guards a nd the goblin king himself to fight. Any player that hits a goblin guard will get 250 xp and anyone who hits the goblin king will get 300xp. The players will find the woodcutter’s daughter tied up in the corner if they win the fight and also some treasure in the chest near the goblin king’s makeshift throne. If they search, they will find the secret door that will quickly lead them back to the woodcutter.

The adventure ends when the players return the woodcutter’s daughter to him. He has no reward to give but players all get 500xp for finishing the adventure. That should give them enough xp to go up a level.


D and D is perhaps a little too complex for first time role-player, unfortunately it’s the only RPG I know anything about.

Some students will not be able to do this, not because they don’t have the lingusitic skill but because they lack the imagination or creativity.


I looked for other ESL teachers playing D and D only and here’s what I found. There aren’t too many of us.

A blog thread on playing D and D in the classroom http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/273198-d-d-classroom.html

How D and D made me a better teacher http://randomology.org/2011/04/how-dungeons-and-dragons-made-me-a-better-teacher/

Nice ideas on running D and D in your classroom here http://waygook.org/index.php?topic=24517.0



  1. Chris,
    This is great. I really like this use of role playing in the classroom. You may want to pick up the Pathfinder Begginners box. It breaks things down into more understandable bits. It would be easy for you to adapt the story you already have.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s