Work Excursion to Melaka

Previously…

I was invited by the English Department of Pay Fong Middle School in Melaka to run RPGs and give a talk during their English Week programme. With my RPG gear in tow and Ain and Irfan as my support team, I was ready to for the events in the next few days on behalf of UniMAP.

Day One: Year Zero Mini (2023-07-27)

Because we were due be at the school after lunch, it allowed us time to recuperate from the drive the previous day.

The storefronts along the beachfront road were closed except for one Indian Muslim restaurant, so we had lunch there. After Zuhur/Asar jama’ prayers, we headed there to meet with my contact there, the English teacher Kelvin. Thankfully, school traffic was not as jammed as the previous day. We easily found a parking spot.

Then we went to the school’s language lab, where I ran Year Zero Mini for the students there. I created a mini setting the day before we left, entitled Omega Librarians where players took the role of highly-skilled librarians tasked with retrieving ancient and dangerous books from nefarious people.

YZM: The Omega Librarians

The Omega Librarian retrieval team from London Library, which consists of Black (Hacker), Snow (Medic), Ceylon (Historian), Chad (Driver), Lime (Technician), Cen (Bookbinder) and Shally (Bodyguard),  is sent to retrieve the lost book Records of Cosmic Mathematics, Issue 6 in the tunnels under Paris. (The name was generated from a home-brewed random table.)

First of all a channel tunnel explosion totalled their assigned vehicle: a Volkswagen van. The blast also injured a few of them when their van turned over, but not too badly.

Because there were a lot of other vehicles nearby, they decided to steal a Humvee, then drive to Paris. Arriving at the city late, Chad drove them to get dinner. They bought croissants from Brad the Baker, Chad’s friend who lived in Paris. When their appetite is sated, it is already dark. So they park their stolen Humvee by the road under a tree. That night, a policeman knocks on Snow’s window. He puts a tranquiliser dart in his chest. The team ties him up, hides him in the bushes and go back to sleep.

The next morning, they stake out near the Eiffel Tower. By studying traffic patterns, they discover a car  entering an alley and disappearing. Scrambling to the alley, the team find controls to a secret vehicle elevator. Using it, they descend into the tunnels under Paris. They descend into a hidden vehicle bay that holds a dozen sports cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, etc.), an AMX-56 Leclerc tank & an F-22 jet fighter fully fueled and prepared for launch.

They begin exploring the corridors and discover empty hallways that lead to a command centre, a library, toilets and a weapons vault. The vault is empty but for drums of explosives and anaesthetic gas tanks. The team break up. Team One push in further while another check out the library. Perhaps the book is there. Ultimately, team one face off a horde of armed guards who were all in the mess hall having a meal. The guards fire at them as the close the door, lock it and use the explosives found in the weapons vault to set a booby trap. If the guards manages to open the door, it will explode.

In the Library, Team Two  locate the Records of Cosmic Mathematics. Black is able to shut down the laser security system. But they miss a blade trap that slices the open book in two when triggered. Then the mastermind appears: the CEO of Quantum Hypertechnology Inc. Just after professing his divine right to the book, they shoot him. Cen quickly uses her tools to repair the book the best she can. That is when Team One regroups with Team Two. They have the book, so they decide to flee.

As they retreat, the door booby trap at the end of the hallway explodes, shrapnel injuring some of the team. The guards are either dead or shell-shocked, so they run to the vehicle bay.

They decide to split up and rendezvous outside Paris. Chad & Black climb into the F-22 cockpit and align the plane in a launch tube. They launch into the sunset sky, but grazes the Eiffel Tower. Te damaged F-22 crashed in a field outside Paris.

The rest of the team take the tank into the streets of Paris, but using Ceylon’s extensive knowledge of the Paris streets and traffic pattern at dusk, they are somehow able to evade all the police chasing them.

They head out to rendezvous with Chad & Black at their crashed F-22 after dark. They are together in a meadow. Stars begin to twinkle above them. Suddenly, a trio of helicopters appear, their searchlights blazing,  asking the team to surrender the ancient book back to them…

CLIFFHANGER ENDING!

Later that evening, we had dinner with the English Department Head Jennifer & Kelvin where we traded stories and anecdotes and had discussions about law, crime and punishment After dinner, we drove to the Klebang Beach area to check out the surf, but it was already dark. Then we headed back to the hotel.


Day Two: Star Wars RPG (2023-07-28)

I had less feeling of anxiety the second day. We also spent the morning resting at the hotel. Irfan went to the swimming pool for a dip, but as he was not wearing “regulation swimwear”. After brunch, Ain, Irfan and I explored the hotel’s swimming pool level. There were no one about except for employees. We took photos of the pool and the view of the sea from there.

Then we headed back to the school. This time I ran Star Wars RPG for the students. I used this video to brief the students., but I told them not to memorise it. Just get the gist of how the game mechanics work and I will teach them the details of declaring action, rolling dice and  interpreting the results as we go along.

Star Wars RPG: Grand Theft Speeder

Eight students play roles as various rebels in a Rebel Alliance Intelligence team known as Grand Theft Speeder. The team consists of Lt. Stalker (Soldier), Theva (Smuggler), Sova (Explorer), KX-17 (Droid), Stray (Mandalorian Bounty Hunter), Calibarn (Clone Medic), Skyler (Clone Infantry) and Copycat (Clone Combat Engineer).

The team is sent to Tatooine to rendezvous with an officer only known as Commander Alpha.

Reverting from hyperspace, Captain Theva’s YT-2000 light freighter Fast Boy malfunctions. A shower of sparks in the cockpit console sends the starship into an uncontrolled dive into Tatooine’s atmosphere. But before Fast Boy crashes, they all climb into and life pod and jettison it. Theva controls the pod’s descent while their freighter crashes into the desert in a fireball.

The smuggler lands the pod well. They disembark, and Sova – using his macrobinoculars – spots a number of buildings – houses – clustered together 2 kilometres away. It is a homestead! The team attempt to recall what they know about Tatooine, but apparently all they know is that Tatooine is a desert planet, it’s hot, and there are two suns above their heads. First things first: conserve water.  Then they head for the homestead in the distance.

During their hike, some of them notice armed bandits hiding behind dunes. They were trying to flank the team. So they decided to split into two groups of four to instead outflank the bandits. The bandits are in the dark. Before long, the rebels sneak up to them without alerting the bandits. There is a skirmish in the shadow of both dunes. Two bandits are stabbed. One is stunned & another is snagged by a tangle gun.

By intimidating their lone captive, they learn that these bandits had raided the homestead. But when they saw the team’s life pod landing, they importunately believed that the team would be easy pickings. Fat chance.

Nearby, they find the bandits’ beat up speeder truck & their recent haul, raided from the homesteaders. Lt. Stalker decides to return the stolen goods. However, despite Stray’s attempt at returning the goods, the homesteaders flee from the rebels! It might be because Stray is clad in Mandalorian armour.

They dump the stolen goods on the sand for the homesteaders to retrieve, then retreat from the community. Grand Theft Speeder journeys out into the desert on the bandits’ truck to look for Commander Alpha…

ANOTHER CLIFFHANGER ENDING!

That evening we explored the tourist trap of the town, including the replica of the Portuguese carrack Flor do Mar. Like before, it was closed when we got to it. Maybe next time we should just travel to Melaka for a real vacation.


Day Three: The Talk (2023-07-29)

We got up early this morning to pack up as I had to speak at 8 am and we had a 10 am checkout. Anxiety crept back as I realised that this was something I have never done before: speaking to 2000 secondary school students at their own school hall about something they might or might not have any interest in. Also, Kelvin had asked me to do a quiz for the students, so I spent the previous night creating slides for it.

During the talk, it started to rain.  The talk went smoothly, as did the quiz. I also gifted UniMAP swag to the quiz winners. Before the end, we had an exchange of gifts on stage. The last item in the schedule for the morning was a live rendition of Billionaire by Bruno Mars with two singers and one piano player.

I also spoke to another teacher, Mr. Saw, who was enthusiastic about using TTRPGs to improve his students’ speaking skills. We exchanged contacts and I hope to hear more from him about his future activities.

It was pouring when it was time for us to depart. I was soaked to the skin despite borrowing an umbrella from the faculty so I could get the car. As we reversed out of the school gate, I saw one of the Star Wars RPG players waving and waved back.

Did I make a difference here in helping with language learning? I hope so.

All in all, we enjoyed our trip and hope we will be able to visit again some day. Ain thought it would also be a great place to live, with its ambiance floating halfway between the hustle and bustle of KL and the laid back atmosphere and greenery of Perlis.

To be continued…

Posted in Role Playing Games, RPG Actual Play, RPG One Shots, RPG Teaching Plays, Star Wars, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

Khairul Hisham J. is a tabletop RPG artist, writer, proofreader, translator, teacher, grad student and learner-in-general.

8 Comments

      • Sounds a real hoot! Wish I’d been playing. Hish you’re the best ambassador for our pastime. I’ll bet these kids will never forget your session and I’ll bet a whole bunch of them will go on to be keen tabletop gamers. And I agree with Ain (hi, Ain!), Melaka would be a pretty good place to live.

  1. Pingback: RPG Workshops for English Week, at 培风中学 – KakiTabletop

  2. This is so cool! Is this part of an ongoing series? Were these IP material new to them and did you have to provide an explanation esp with all the fictional concepts?

    • Good questions. This was just a one-off invitation bu the school. The first game is something I made up on the fly, but told them it’s basically a spy movie but with librarians, like Mission Impossible. The second game, Star Wars, I think they all had superficial knowledge of it, but their teacher who came to the session with a lightsaber replica, talked them through concepts they weren’t familiar with. Based on my experience with my own students, I believe it would be better to play something that is closer to the students’ collective understanding of pop culture. I usually ask if they know such-and-such IP, and if they don’t then I’ll run something contemporary based on action movies. But sometimes, I just bantai and the students – although they’re not familiar with the IP – play well and have fun anyway.

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