I don’t mind at all, Kingroy23! This is likely to get split off to another thread, but I’m not sure what it will be. (Maybe: experiments with game mechanics?)
So, the hurdles to using a game to teach Latin vocabulary… Two of the problems were brought on by circumstances. One was that I had two ten-year-old players, who were both relatively inexperienced. (They had played only Hero Kids before and RPG-like board games like Talisman. My son and his friends at school also have a shared sci-fi fantasy world that they develop without rules, a spontaneous creation that they elaborate in a Google doc.) At this time I had no idea of such a thing as an OSR or a Fifth Edition, and I was not even sure how long we would be playing. We used Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2e, with some modifications. So that is some context.
The main problems I had in using the game to teach vocabulary have to do with the nature of language acquisition and the Latin curriculum my kids were using. As is typical for all but the very youngest learners, word inflections are hard to acquire and use, whereas word roots and nouns are not hard. Latin is a highly inflected language. Basically the result was, at best, a pool of loan-words for a fantasy game. I was mostly conveying nouns to my kids through the game, and they had little context to apply the word endings. These nouns, furthermore, had an artificial ring to them in the context of the medium of English, and I found myself slipping merely into Latinate vocabulary. For example, if they met someone introduced the custos (guardian) of the templum (temple), they would not learn the noun stem custod- without inflectional variation. (The effort did lead me to invent a lot of new monsters with slightly erudite-sounding names, such as the Horrent or Bristle Beast.) But they weren’t learning Latin inflections, just loan-words, usually as what are called “nonce borrowings” (used once for an occasion, not repeated or acquired by the hearer). Their Latin curriculum, by contrast, has emphasized recognizing inflected forms and meanings in context, so they were unused to hearing (not seeing) Latin words outside of complete sentences, and that also was a mismatch. Basically, the attempt to do this added flavor to the game but I doubt they learned more than fifteen real Latin words each. Not nothing, but not what I had in mind.
I never realized my goal of giving spell effects to the players who could recite paradigms of inflected Latin forms. I simply didn’t have time to work it out between teaching, research, childcare, and other responsibilities, and I hesitated further to make the game into something chore-like (even though it was supposed to make learning fun). It would have required an entirely different magic system. The spell system I eventually devised for my home rules is not at all based on vocabulary acquisition.
The main reason it didn’t work, ultimately, was that we had so much fun with the adventure that we forgot all about Latin and were carried away by the fantasy. Oh, did they scream when they turned over an old boat on a subterranean beach and a sand-encrusted living corpse, trapped beneath, emerged to grasp at them! That one almost overdid it, because they were reluctant to play the next time. Playing with little kids is tons of fun, because they become so immersed that they jump up and swing their little arms around and really feel it. The downside is that they can feel things like fear more than you wanted.
These days, they are more experienced, venturing into the Barrowmaze without blinking, tracking five-minute exploration phases by means of torch cards that I printed out and wincing when they check for Random Hazards on 1D6. Their Latin is going slowly but surely, completely apart from the games, while they certainly have learned how to explain ways to search for imaginary traps and to negotiate with Mongrelfolk. They did learn English vocabulary, too, such as brazier, parapet, and crenellation!
To make it work, I’d have to have a game that was really about teaching Latin, not about adventure. The adventure should serve the educational goal, not the other way around. But we just wanted to play, in the end, so the explicit educational goal failed.