The End of Theory


An AP Literature Simulation

What Is This Game and What Do I Have to Do?

Everything we do in class will both train you for the AP Exam, but more, open up your thinking about literature and ways of interpreting texts.  However, wherever we are and in every method of our communication, some opportunities around the game are likely embedded. Some choices and actions will become routine and predictable over the next few months. Others will be harder to initially identify as we go through the year. Just be aware that this class operates on (at least 2 or 3 levels). All that is required of you is to complete the academic work placed honestly before you. The rest is . . . creative (and dangerous?) enrichment. The simulation is divided into chapters, each two weeks long (though there will be an “emergency week” built in to accommodate tight schedules). 

Current Chapter Time Remaining








What is The End of Theory?

The End of Theory is the online role-play game that leads you through the course–live, online, and through all of our tech. Each of you has been recruited by The Academy to learn from the great Masters, but there seems to be something else happening behind the scenes.  As you study, there will be challenges based upon the assignments, connections to make to uncover the game’s secrets, and even some danger to your character as you work to advance in levels and skills. While the game is fun, its story line is also working to help teach you another dimension to our class curriculum. Doing well in the game can sometimes grant you additional opportunities to learn some fascinating things or to modify some of the assignments I offer. Finally, though, if you’re not into the gaming/story part, know that only the assignments count towards your grade, not the game aspects of the course. If you decide to ignore the game events (or even if you are injured in the game!), your grade cannot be affected in any way.

What’s Online?

  • Practice exercises and projects of all kinds
  • Summative standards to meet
  • Content to learn
  • Helpful strategies and tips
  • Many of the simulation activities

You might treat much of our online work as daily homework in a math class or similar. It’s designed to give you the practice and materials you need to succeed on the May Exam and beyond. The practice you do there will help prepare you for the more formal projects. Online work will count towards your grades, and some of it will have a larger weight on the Standards you meet. 

That said, there is far more you can “do” online than you are required to do or–more accurately–there are more opportunities for practice and learning than are technically required to score 100%.  This is because the learning and practice are more important than the “points” you receive.

Finally, by practicing well, you earn skills and experience in the End of Theory simulation. The more skills and experience you receive, the more likely you will succeed in the storyline (and the less likely you will die in it!).  In addition, the more practice you do, the more likely you will “unlock” benefits that other players do not receive. Likewise, successful game play will likely teach you more than the mere activities will!

For every successful point you earn, you earn credit towards your overall class grade (each game chapter has a “denominator” target goal), and you earn experience points for your game character.  The more points you receive, the more experience you have. Experience points move you up levels which makes you more powerful in the game, and all points are cumulative.

Note: At no point will your End of Theory successes and failures negatively impact your class grade. Successful quiz scores earn you game experience, but being trapped or losing a fight cannot prevent you from practicing the quiz for class credit.

Also, note that the key word for all of this is “successful” points.  Game points which fall below a certain threshold of success do not count toward either score.  This prevents “point scrounging,” moving brainlessly through the activities to pick up a few quick points here and there. The goal is to earn success by learning.

The threshold for success is set fairly low early in the game, but it increases as the year moves on. The success threshold will be posted with the activity, where applicable. Therefore, if a Vocabulary Quiz has a posted success threshold of 60% and you earn 40%, you know you have earned no points towards the denominator with that effort (but most times a new opportunity will arise).


Students who work conscientiously through assignments will require an estimated 10-15 minutes of work per night during the regular year. However, this is across a two-week window. Therefore, if you wish to work 60-90 minutes every five days or so, you will keep up with us. Each game chapter will post an estimated number of minutes required to earn the denominator in points across the two weeks (though this varies depending upon the activities you choose to do).

In addition, each chapter is open one additional week–an “Emergency Week”–if you need more time. Be careful, though: a new chapter will open during that Emergency Week and you will find yourself doing twice as much work if you procrastinate.

Take this Advice to Heart:  Work routinely, with others, and consistently, planning to meet the regular deadlines. Students who procrastinate to the Emergency Week always end up failing more assignments and feeling rushed, pressured, and even angry.

Finally, note that game activities and choices (challenges, builds, trades, questions, auctions, etc.) always and without exception work on regular deadlines; there is no Emergency Week for these.

Here are a few ideas to keep your scores strong:

  1. Log on frequently, if for no other reason than to double-check due dates. Missing a Workshop deadline, for instance, can be really damaging. You can also Export the calendar to your phone or subscribe to it.
  2. Review all of the new assignments when a chapter opens. Procrastinators have been surprised to find that the higher-point projects actually take a little planning to do well, sometimes with other students.
  3. Watch for new opportunities:
    • Success on some assignments (or combinations of assignments) can open new opportunities, clues, side quests, and other resources.
    • Additionally, even failures at some assignments can offer you additional opportunities to learn the material, second chances to pass a quiz, etc.
  4. Review the rubrics carefully when they are attached to assignments. If an assignment requires that you reference two readings and you only reference one . . .
  5. Print out poetry and other readings that you will be quizzed on. Annotate them in advance of the quiz, too. That way you will know the reading well and score higher, and it’s a lot easier to refer to the page than to switch back and forth between screens, especially on a timed quiz.
  6. Didn’t do well on something and want another opportunity?  Ask!  The assignments here exist largely because they were requested by students earlier!

Yes and no.

Remember that the goal of the work is to practice and learn in order to prepare for the larger assessments for the course later. Cheating–whatever that means–seems like a self-defeating strategy designed to grub points, instead. Since there are so many points available each chapter, “gaming the system” doesn’t make a lot of sense. More, it’s an approach that has backfired on many.

But can you work together to help each other learn?  I wish you would!  That doesn’t mean offering quiz answers (see above, and this strategy is often impossible–you’ll see), but helping each other understand the ideas will always benefit all of us!

The Academy
The Academy is a place of learning, where most of our online study will occur. It is staffed by some of the greatest minds and teachers of literature. There you will learn what the College Board needs you to understand about passing the AP Exam. It also, as one might imagine, carries its share of secrets.

When you enter the Academy in the fall, you will be entirely safe from harm. “Safe as Hogwarts,” say its alumni. However, once you leave the Academy, any number of dangers await. 

The World of End of Theory
While the world of The End of Theory is like our own, it is also essentially operating outside of ideas of past and present. Many characters who are dead historically are alive here; characters who are alive in the present (like yourself) are also so.  This does not mean that death is impossible, but that the conditions for how and why a character dies are different. 

As the world appears to be somewhat contemporary in technology, weapons and equipment employed are often more primitive in nature. Rather than puzzle over the logic of this, think of it this way: the items you see and use, the characters you meet, are not so much logically or rationally real, but more conceptual or even symbolic or mythological in nature.  A sword does more damage than a dagger; whether it is an automatic weapon vs. a pistol or an ICBM vs. a grenade, it is the representation that matters here. 

And, like all things literary, you may be better advised to think of the events in terms of their literary value than their physical ones. 

Literary Theory
I will be teaching you literary criticism (or literary theory) through the year. However, for reasons which will become clear, classroom instruction and readings are not sufficient for you to understand all of the implications and arguments for and against the various theories. The game fills in these gaps.

Therefore, play it for fun. Or, if you are cautious and thoughtful, you might also make an entirely new set of connections between literature and our class concepts that the classroom experience alone will never approach. The characters are not speaking idly, and your choices in the game are not merely “game consequences.”  The End of Theory is another curriculum sitting on top of (or beneath) AP Literature. Good luck. 

What Can I Do?

There are two kinds of “actions” you can take in the game: limited and open.  

Limited Actions are those offered by Choice Activities, Meetings, and other Activities that offer you multiple choice options. These become clear to you when you open them intentionally (or unintentionally!) and are compelled to choose. These choices most often work to determine storylines, which vary year to year depending on how students choose. Think of it, perhaps, as a giant individual- or class-sized Choose Your Own Adventure progress chart.

Open Actions are from a wider array of choices you can make. These are in equipment purchases and use, attacks and defense against other characters (players or otherwise), and possibly a few surprises along the way. 

Finally, communications to the other players and to the non-player characters (NPCs) offer a wide range of options and teaching. Often these NPCs are represented by real people that aren’t Mr. Chisnell, so think carefully about how you interact with them!  (Yes, the game has “guest actors”!)  Communications in the game are always done through our standard tech chosen–You won’t receive a random Snap from Charles Dickens that is legit. 

Don’t worry too much about these actions for now–each area of action will be taught to you in the first few chapters of the game.




“The cave you fear to enter

holds the treasure you seek.”





“Every story you tell

is your own story.”



What is Karma?

Karma (K) is something you gather for your thoughtful, provocative, or spirited work on  It may be found through posting regularly to the forums, through class contributions, or perhaps some other ways.  Karma is good energy, and your karma points on may be spent on equipment to assist you on your journey.


Equipment? Why do I need it?
Players may receive equipment through their various actions in The End of Theory. However, with karma, you can also purchase equipment. Gear for the game falls into four categories. Each option is explained more completely in our Store.

  1. Offensive weapons (for use against game villains and even other players);
  2. Defensive gear (to defend against game villains and other players!);
  3. Surveillance Equipment (which offers you extra options for assignments); and
  4. Miscellaneous gear which has a a variety of functions.


What are Professions?
Professions or character classes are designed around the way you like to learn and where you are most successful.  Once you’ve chosen a profession (Scout, Warrior, Poet, Dilettante, Scholar, Litterateur), the game will give you certain advantages through the year. For ideas on what to be, try the questionnaire at the bottom of this page.

Profession Choices:


For the serious and perhaps bold player who prefers to work alone or work quietly, the Scout succeeds by removing threats.


  • Fights best with Stealth
  • When attacking, cannot take damage.
  • Score + 10 + (5 x LEVEL)


Best for the player who works hard and diligently, succeeding by sheer force of will and solid work ethic.


  • Fights best with direct force
  • In Attack and Defense: Score + (3 x LEVEL)


A lover of words, to read or to write, the Poet succeeds by immersing the world in verse, inspiring through nuance and complexity.


  • Fights best with Verse
  • In Attack or Defense: Score of Poetry or Author Studies or in Voice Lessons x 2) + LEV


The Dilettante avoids fighting, working to persuade others to take more pleasurable paths. A diplomat and mediator (or manipulator), she succeeds by bringing others to her side.


  • Fights best with Suasion
  • Ability to shift the field/activity of attack or defense 1x / LEVEL to one of her choosing..


The Scholar is highly competent at most any task, learning quickly and working efficiently to solve problems, often finding success through technological skill.


  • Fights best with Technology
  • Devices and Icons are used to 2x the regular effect


A lover of books and reading, the Litterateur thinks deeply and enjoys reasoning out the most complex of problems, finding success in contemplation, the posing of questions, and the sometimes risky speculations.


  • Fights best with Philosophy and Reason
  • In Attack and Defense, (Score x 2) + LEVEL for all Forum activities
Here’s a fun way to help decide your Character Class.  No need to decide right away, but all players should decide by the end of Chapter 3.