I’ve almost been in Korea for a week now and I’m still not one hundred percent sure of what exactly I’m going to be teaching. I’m getting closer to knowing, but it’s hard to say without having the textbooks in my paws. I do know that four of the classes will involve TESOL and the fifth will most likely be a senior seminar geared towards preparing them for American universities. At least I now have a room. There was only so much I could do during the prep. parts of orientation without a room to prepare or textbooks to lesson plan from. Lord willing, the textbooks will be there tomorrow. With school starting on the 29th, I sort of need the textbooks to plan. So that is my current main quest.
As for my sidequest… While in Seoul on Saturday I encountered many groups of police officers in riot gear and surreptitiously snapped the following photo.
One of my fellow teachers tried to get some officers to explain what was going on, but they didn’t really speak English and eventually one of them made an “x” with his arms and said, “Secret.” We happened to be in view of a platoon of officers and all of them turned their heads and looked right at us. Then one of them came over and asked us if we needed any help. We explained that, no, we didn’t need help, but we were curious as to what was going on. The officer tried to explain, but repeatedly said, “It’s hard to explain” and mentioned something about it being cultural. My fellow teacher guesses it is probably some sort of training or drill.
After much thought, I have decided that while my fellow teacher is probably right about it being your normal sort of police readiness training or drill, it is much more fun to think that I had stumbled upon precautionary measures for the event of a Zerg invasion. For certain segments of the Korean population, Starcraft has become cultural (at some point I hope to go to a live match at the GOM TV station – and for those of you who don’t know, it is a televised event with leagues and teams), and it would make sense to keep such preparations a secret (wouldn’t want to scare the populace…). The riot gear would provide slight protection against the Zerg, though it probably would do more for morale than for stopping Zerg weaponry. And the patrols sent into the subways would be to ensure the burrowing Zerg wouldn’t make use of the extensive network of tunnels beneath Seoul. Of course, I was too busy gawking at statues, palaces, and a bookstore to make any progress on the Save the World Quest, but at least I picked it up… (I probably should have done as the old man said and stayed a while to listen, but there were so many interesting books…). At least we weren’t wandering about in a Blizzard (though it would have been a nice alternative for a few moments to the hot humidity…).
Speaking of sidequests, one of my good friends from university gave me the rulebook/handbook for Ironclaw, which is an anthropomorphic fantasy role-playing game. We played for a few hours using the sample characters (while eating cheese, of course. It isn’t a gaming session with them anymore without cheese… ^^ ) and found that while it was a strange system at time, it had good potential and was rather enjoyable (credit must be given to my friend, as he makes one of the most entertaining DM/GM/Host/What-you-wills I have ever known, perhaps because of his [or our] tendency to destroy quest hubs without intending to). So my other sidequest is to investigate whether the edition he gave me (ca. 2001) or the newest edition (2010) would be more in line with our playing style and preferences.
My findings so far indicate that while the newer version of Ironclaw streamlines things and makes certain aspects, such as combat, easier to manage (think D&D 3.5 to 4.0), it loses one aspect that made it rather interesting: character flaws (a system similar to Shadowrun’s). Basically, in the older version you had 20 points to allocate towards skills and gifts, but could gain an additional 10 points if you gave your character various “flaws,” such as being wanted, lacking sight, epitomizing one or more of the seven deadly sins, being honorable or a pacifist (not flaws in my book, but they do constrain an adventurer, so I can see why they fall into this section), and so on. Some of the flaws require the player to role-play them and/or adjust things on the mechanics level (i.e. a blind character would have penalties to many actions and would create interesting RP opportunities) while others require the GM to add in elements (such as the constabulary chasing after a wanted character). So while I can understand why they got rid of flaws, it makes me rather sad, because they made for more rounded player characters.
When I have my final “report” on Ironclaw, I’ll make sure to let you know. Also, I haven’t forgotten about writing a poem or something for you all – it’s being worked on.
May the grass be greener on your own side for a change