A lot of this fall has been spent tightening up the awesome games and campaigns we offer here at Questers' Way - Game On!, the supplemental fiction and world building, and the our online presence. With this growth comes reflection, and a greater sense of CLARITY. I've been curbing my two big loves - Knight Owls and Gray Owls - to be more transparent with what players can expect moving forward, and to better clarify the format that is expected for each, because, as anyone who's played in both can attest, THEY ARE CERTAINLY NOT THE SAME. So let's get into it.
Knight Owls - Episodic Hack & Slash Role-Playing (12+)
Knight Owls has had a long and sometimes confusing run through its personal identity. The first session had 11 adventurers for crying out loud, and ran 3 hours over (ending at the ripe old time of 3 a.m.). Since then, we've curbed most Knights into ending around 1:30 a.m. with a few exceptions (like the season 2 two-part finale).
Knight Owls has gone through a lot of growing pains, too. It, along with many of our other late-night offerings, had to have a price adjustment, and a small group of the players were demanding a higher level of customization, online extra play, and lore depth. An overcomplicated Time Passes system, a failed private Facebook group, and many, many blogs of past adventures later...it just got too much. For me, and for many of our players. Many of us don't want to have extra homework just to play our silly D&D game, and why should we?
The ultimate realization came with the advent of the Gray Owls project. This starkly different game approach provided a much-needed contrast to the much lighter Knight Owls, and I began thinking seriously about what type of adventure Knight Owls always was meant to be at its heart, assessing the mistakes I'd made in the past, and how best to move forward.
So. Let us begin.
Season 3 _______________
Knight Owls moving forward is intended as an episodic Hack and Slash campaign intended to run an ever-changing roster of adventures from levels 2-10, or 10-20, depending on the track being played. Each session is an Episode, with implied time passing between each, and, not unlike Justice League: Unlimited, the possibility of a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT roster each Episode. The Knight Owls are considered a pretty large organization, just like our aforementioned "league," and would support a revolving door of possible builds and players. Plus, no matter what, each episode features characters of the same level, so no power imbalance.
Our focus is also much clearer. If we place weight upon each Pillar of Play (3 being highest focus, 1 being the lowest focus), then Knight Owls reads as: COMBAT - 3, SOCIAL - 2, EXPLORATION - 1. Mechanics, strategy, and combat are the primary focus, with social encounters to provide a break to the tension, and a slice of world building that gets wrapped at the end of the Episode. New players to the system are always welcome.
I think this clarifying approach will help support players new and old in providing an awesome experience with transparent expectations.
Knight Owls Season 3 picks up on February 2nd at Level 2, 25 years after the events of the Season 2 Finale.
Hope I see you at the table. :)
Gray Owls - Character-Driven Narrative Play (21+)
Gray Owls was born from my personal desire to provide a more mature, intimate, and character/narrative driven experience for my veteran players. Just being considered for play requires DM approval by me in the first place, and there are some important player and setting expectations that were discussed and presented at the onset that I'd like to detail here so there's no confusion:
1) This is not a happy place. The setting is very dark, dangerous, and the conflict is not always clear; the monsters that lurk in the darkness may just be other people, and that makes it much more terrifying.
2) This setting is built for players who already possess a strong understanding of the mechanics of the game. That way, we can get the game out of the way and play in a deep story together; embracing a communal flow.
3) Sessions are called Chapters, and seasons are called Books. Each Chapter takes place more or less immediately following the previous Chapter, with a party that is (mostly) consistent session to session. Shopping, and other developments, are done IN SESSION as role-playing opportunities. So if you want to do something, it is your responsibility to make sure it happens when you come and play. Play is automatically more intimate and character focused, without a lot of downtime opportunities.
4) Obnoxious characters will have a very difficult time in this setting. There are many powerful entities in the world; magic is nearly illegal in some areas; laws are very strict; secret organizations and cloak and dagger plots abound. You have to be smart to survive.
5) Of the Three Pillars Of Play... SOCIAL/EXPLORATION = 3, COMBAT = 2. No Pillar is at 1, as Combat is an ever-looming possibility, and often serves as a powerful cap to the immense amount of character development each session.
All these being said, I don't think any of us playing realized how much Social and Exploration were going to be featured, but it seems exactly what the group wanted and needed. Slowing it down, allowing deep character development, dense and personal lore, and lots of possible story avenues. Bring a character, not a cartoon, and you'll get a lot out of this.
A Note on the Snap-Shots (Gray Owls Blog)
I've said it once, twice, a thousand times at this point. I learned my lesson from Knight Owls - I WILL NEVER REQUIRE ANY EXTERNAL BLOG FOR PLAY. Read the Snap-Shots if you want some extra immersion. Or don't. That's entirely up to you.
The Snap-Shots are parallel, tiny stories. They DO NOT involve the party; they are not summaries or recaps of their exploits. All they are are a means to build the world and augment my writing for a setting I love dearly. It helps me flesh out characters, introduce elements into the world, and HAVE FUN. Reading it is NEVER going to be a requirement of play.
Miss a session? Get the recap at the start of the next session you attend. Don't know what's going on? Ask in character. You wouldn't know anyway, so just ask. Asking questions in character upgrades play anyway - it provides opportunities to react authentically to events you weren't present for (that's a good thing). Feel out of the loop? Fix it through interaction, observation, and interpretation in play.
One Shot Wonders - Play Something New (12+)
Our one-shot game is ON POINT moving forward. Plenty of concentrated D&D games on the horizon, as well as an adapted Werewolf one-shot, Tales From The Loop, Tiny Dungeon, Deadlands, Savage Worlds, Exalted, Star Wars Saga Edition, and Fate Core. Keep your eyes peeled - there's always something to play.
Modular Madness - Multi-Session Mini Campaigns
And now we're tackling full modules over 4-6 six hour sessions of dedicated development and play.
It is assumed that each module set has a consistent party of players, so multiple sessions are expected when you sign up. Not as concentrated as any One-Shot, and not nearly as huge as a Knight Owls season, but your character's development is just as epic. And let's face it, there's something really cool about developing a character over time.
First up? Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (already FULL!). SOCIAL/EXPLORATION = 3, COMBAT = 1
That's my piece, everybody. Hope it clears up any confusion.
See you at the table.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, and aspiring fiction author.