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Ashoka: Becoming the Dharma King

by J. Noel Hubler

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Seeking collaboration between the Brahmins, Jains, and Buddhists.

In 260 B.C.E., Ashoka returned from his successful war against Kalinga, grieved at the great suffering and loss of life he had brought to the land. He was determined to become a better Buddhist and a king who ruled not through force, but through the Dharma (literally “law,” but it comes to mean “true teaching” and “order of the universe”). As members of the Council, students represent the major traditions operative at Ashoka’s time: Brahmin Traditionalists, Jains, Ajivikas, and Buddhists who must advise the King on the policies that will help him become the Dharma-king. However, each of the King’s proposals is controversial because the Kingdom is home to so many different traditions. The King must seek to navigate between the different interests of the traditions. At the same time, the King believes that all traditions should honor and learn from each other. The King cannot afford to rule autocratically. He needs to keep peace within the Kingdom so he cannot simply impose his Buddhist views. He also knows that many kings have fallen before, so he must always be one the lookout for plots against his rule that can even come from his own family. He cannot afford to alienate any of the traditions that could serve as a base for opposition to his rule.

This is a Level 3 game that is still under development but has been approved by the Reacting Editorial Board (REB) for general use. A detailed explanation of the editorial process and game levels can be found on our REB Page.



Philosophy; Political Science and Government; Religion; World History

3rd Century B.C.E; Ancient History

In a Few Words
Holding to one's truth vs. living in a diverse community

Notable Roles

King Ashoka, Princess Sangamitta, Sattuka

Themes and Issues  
Religion and Government: Asceticism; Women in Religion; Non-Violence; Collaboration Between Traditions

Player Interactions 
Factional, Collaborative, Competitive

Sample Class Titles

Encountering World Philosophies

Level 3 game (what's that mean?)

Formal Podium Rule, Rolling Dice

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
There are some additional mechanisms, but they are spelled out in the game book and have die role tables for resolution in class.

Primary Source Highlights
The Majjhima Nikāya; The Rig Veda; The Acharanga Sutra

South Asia

Using the Game

Class Size and Scalability
This game is recommended for classes with 6-47 students.

Class Time  
For this game, 2 to 4 prep sessions and 3 to 5 game sessions are recommended. 

Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive.  Birth of the Public Sphere may pair well with:


You can adjust the assignments to fit the desired learning outcomes of your game. This game can include traditional paper/research/thesis-driven writing, journalism, and creative writing. All roles are required to give formal speeches.


Reacting Consortium members can download all game materials below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.  

Please Fill out the Permissions Request Form Before Using Ashoka in Your Class!


All students need a Gamebook, which includes resources and historical content. Members can download the Gamebook, and provide it to students for free or at cost.

.zip folder with .pdf and .docx files

VERSION 1.02 Updated January 2023.

Instructor's Manual

The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.

.zip folder with .pdf and .docx files

Role Sheets

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, suggestions for further reading, and role-specific info or assignments.  

.zip folder with .pdf and .docx files

Additional Resources 

Resources for Introduction and/or Debrief

  • Altar of Fire


J. Noel Hubler

J. Noel Hubler is a professor of Philosophy and Politics at Lebanon Valley College and author of Overcoming Uncertainty in Ancient Greek Political Philosophy (2021).


Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


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