One year later...
Welp. Here we are. One year since the first "pilot session," back when I thought "we'll just have a one-shot format, once in a while...we'll see if folks want to continue with this..."
Fast forward to now and we have freaking Waiting Lists to come and play D&D. And about that One-Shot format? Yeah... Oops. It wasn't for lack of trying, but a larger narrative began to take hold. I quickly discovered that I fully enjoyed the episodic, but split up nature the Knight Owls format allowed. Now we've got a (nearly) fully-functional website with interactive content, lore, adventure archives, and tons of custom rule sets for use in our little fantasy world...and for some, they can't get enough.
Many of you know that I come from a background in teaching. As of writing this, I am still a music teacher in a public school. I mention this because a good teacher's existence is marked by consistent (and sometimes intense) reflection of your teaching practices. With every gaming session, I would go over it again and again and again, trying to make something a little better for the next one.
This approach I think helped create a rising tide of a plot, which, again, many ate right up. The hangup that I've had as it got deeper and deeper into a narrative was centered around newcomers. How could we better involve new players in this grand story, without them feeling left behind...
And unfortunately, at the penultimate of this year, I did not yet have in place my plans for Year Two, and a few new players felt that disconnect...
The night was not ruined; but for me, I belabor the details, especially the ones that I could have fixed on the fly. I could have made a quick ruling, but I did not, and those new players suffered for it. To them, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. It was really the first time I felt a set of players disengage during the evening (one expressed that he was exhausted beyond reason, so I understand), and I am so thankful to have been able to speak to those players on what they felt impacted their experience. Though they still had fun, their input was extremely valuable.
Moving forward, I'm making a few changes. I was going to make them anyway, but this new information helps affirm my original beliefs, and I feel more confident rolling them out.
Starting Level - 5 and Acceleration adjustment
Originally, the start level was 4. Justification was: 1) Straight levels in a single class will have already made an archetype/school choice; 2) Feat or Ability Score Increase #1.
In practice: though the accelerated leveling helps minimize the problem session to session, a new person coming into the game at Level 4 alongside Level 11's (folks that attend often) is a little...stupid. The Level 4's don't feel impactful, and the 11's just keep getting stronger.
Also, the casters get pretty stuck at level 4, unable to access those clutch spells (Counterspell, Fireball, Haste) that help out in ways standard spell attacks don't, and remain awesome as the caster rises through their progressions.
So, our first major shift is to make the starting level for a new player Level 5.
That may not seem as super cool up front, but casters tend to get access to those amazing level 3 spell slots that can make or break a session and damage dealers tend to get that awesome Extra Attack feature at the same time. Funny how one little number can make such a big impact.
This ALSO means that the Accelerated Leveling System will be adjusted in two ways:
1) If start level is now 5, it only takes one session of attendance to become level 6, then 2 each until they hit level 10.
2) It should take longer for characters OVER level 10 to level up. Both to create value in the progression AND to allow players below double digits time to catch up (especially with players that have the opportunity to play often).
In the Knight Owls' current format, having "seasons" of play (a la Adventurer's League) doesn't exactly fit, BUT I'd like to adjust sessions in the following ways:
1] Moving forward, each Knight Owls session is for ages 12+. We have an awesome, passionate, dedicated, and creative set of teenage adventurers, and it just doesn't sit well with me to have a massive story where episodes can't be accessed by everyone that wants to play. That's just bogus.
2] There will be some sessions that are for specific level ranges, and may offer other boons to new players. We could start giving recommended level ranges to certain sessions where I know there might be need for it. The level 5 bump, I foresee, is going to make a pretty big difference. As more Owls join up, though, the level gap is going to get bigger, so when our numbers support it, I'd like to offer certain adventures for levels 5-9, or another for 10-15, etc.
3] First-time players should get a discount on the registration price. Because...duh.
4] Consider any Knight Owls event as "story mode" AKA a part of the larger epic story, continually updated in the archives and augmented through the (OPTIONAL) Interludes and other events.
5] Because we have to keep the lights on later, prices will have to be adjusted (nothing extreme, I'm good at running numbers, it'll be fair), but in order to keep offering cool content, we've got to increase a tad.
I love my world of Io, the continent of Erena, and the seven ages that are available for play... But remember, the original idea here was to support One-Shots. Tiny, concentrated, awesome one-time events in a vast variety of settings (and systems). And that vision still rings true. So, we're doing a little more come January 2018.
+ One-Time Wonders: Separate from the Knight Owls lore, these are legit ONE-SHOTS. Some are D&D, others could be Pathfinder. We could play Star Wars, Dresden, Fate Core, or Firefly! Seriously, go to the Facebook Game On page...the list is 27 games long! AND, we're talking more GMs. That's right, not me all the time. We've got experts in other systems, happy and willing to run adventures custom or module. That's pretty exciting. (depending on the system that month, it could be 12+, 18+, or 21+).
+ D&D Adventurer's League: we are very close to becoming a venue where these adventures can be hosted! (more info incoming, yay!)
+ One-Shots Live and Knight Owls Live: I became a better GM watching others livestream their adventures and listening to podcasts... We're gearing up to do the same, the first of which will be part of Knight Owls canon on January 13th, but, following that event's level of success, we want to do many, many more livestreams or podcasts with a live audience for charity. We'd run, again, a huge variety of systems; rolling dice with good friends, great food, and a valuable cause.
+ GM Workshops: fancy yourself a GM or want to become one? Learn how and test your mettle with players ready to test out your campaigns. :)
+ Tabletop Days: grab a chair and game all day, with instructors at the ready to help teach the games, clarify rules, and help you play!
So, plenty more coming.
I'll see you at the table.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, and aspiring fiction author.