Category: Agile

Gamifying Standup with D&D

As day 200 of pandemic life approaches, even the introverted engineers among us are starting to lose their marbles. A couple of months ago I started a standup rotation where each person takes a week at being scrummaster. One of the engineers, Will, decided to take this to a whole new level, and became a dungeon/scrummaster, combining standup with a one-shot D&D campaign related to the actual work we were doing in the sprint.

We couldn’t find any evidence that roll20 has ever been used to facilitate standup, so I thought I’d document it for posterity. First, we rolled for initiative to determine the order people would give their standup update in. Then, Will modified the questions slightly to work for both standup and D&D:

  • What did you do? (Standup)
  • What do you do? (D&D)

Will played fast and loose with the rules, since we have nine people in our standup and most people didn’t want to go through the trouble of rolling a character. Of course I had to make one, who I named Torb and styled after our Slack chatbot:

Torb Barakrin, Human Sorcerer

As the week went on, we tried (and failed) to slay the client dragon, guarding its pile of revenue. One of the product managers Leeroy Jenkins-ed his way at the dragon, and promptly received a debilitating fire breath in return.

The dragon retaliates

Ultimately Will drew this week’s standups to a close by having us fight a mimic disguised as product requirements. Once we untangled ourselves from the requirements, we saved the dragon’s servants from a life of tedious data entry.

I see no reason why you couldn’t do this every week, and have your team’s updates actually become their D&D actions. No one seems to have built a Jira/Roll20 integration yet.

The stats for the dragon. © Will Garrett, used with permission.