Strixhaven: Winter Break

Time to revisit Strixhaven again! In the first post, I talked about how I was inspired to create a Strixhaven adventure based on what we can learn in the real world from RPGs, starting with my favorite subject of history. Then, I looked at math and communication, which have fairly straightforward applications. Now let’s tackle the final subjects, science and art.

The fourth pub, the Sleeping Toad, goes with Witherbloom campus, focused particularly on the life sciences. Looking at lessons from RPGs, this was the most puzzling for me. I know that there is a large overlap between science nerds and RPG enthusiasts, but can we really learn science from a roleplaying game? Logic, sure, because the game world always has some sort of internal working that you can analyze, but real world science?

Then I started to think about Dungeon ecology: the idea that, even in a fictional, magical world, there should be a logic to how it would work as a real world. This is why some weird monsters like gelatinous cubes and carrion crawlers exist, as thought experiments for how lifecycles would play out in a fantastic megadungeon environment. For the challenge, then, the players end up tracing a food chain in the D&D cosmos, from the lowliest kobold to a fearsome dragon, and it also gave me a change to include some (optional) combat in an otherwise combat-lite adventure.

A large crocodilian creature lunges out of the water to eat several smaller spined creatures.
‘Spined Karok’ by Filip Burburan via, copyright Wizards of the Coast

Lastly, the Beauty’s Mirror is there for art and the Prismari college. For this one, the lesson was obvious to me, because it is one that I developed a lot over the past few years, first as a DM and then as publisher on DMs Guild: to create! One of the revolutionary things about RPGs vs other types of games is that they involve the players in creating the game, whether a single character or an entire world or somewhere in between. In a world where problems often defy the established ideas, creativity is perhaps the most important thing we can teach, and possibly the hardest.

A wizard student creates an artistic swirl of pink and orange color.
‘Sudden Breakthrough’ by Colin Boyer via, copyright Wizards of the Coast

As with the challenge in the Beauty’s Dreamer, I wanted this one to be accessible to all skill levels, because the message here is similar: anyone can create, and the importance is not in the technical detail, but what you can express.

This project was borne out of an idea that I hold close to my heart, as someone who works in education, who loves RPGs, and who has my own kids that I want to share the hobby with: that we can learn from games! Whether is is formal education, like math, or something more nebulous, like communication or creativity, I am always looking for ways to find these lessons in the games I love.

You can find The Pub that Crawls on DMs Guild.

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