I've been GMing for a JR PbP group for about half a year now, but now I'm going to GM a real game via Roll20.
This will be my first time being a "real" GM, so I'm still a bit worried and nervous.
I've read through Clark Peterson's great post and a few of the others as well. I too decided I will kick it off with a We Be Goblins.
And like him I think the end of We Be Goblins is a bit abrupt, and so I decided to tweak it a bit.
And while I'm sure that his group loved his approach, I'm not really happy with it. Here's some of the reasons why:
- Scribbleface: I just don't see it. If the PCs encounter him as Goblins, why would they let him live? If they don't meet him, then it's just a name that means very little to the players when they finally meet him in JR. So not much emotional connection here.
Even if I go that way, I still don't see the Licktoads afterwards accepting him as chief or not just blaming all the bad luck (and they had lots of it) on him and killing him.
- Using Slorb instead: That's something someone suggested, and it eliminates the above problem, but the next one not so much.
- Goblins asking for help: Again I don't see it. The Goblins have a huge hate for humans in general and Sandpoint in particular. I just don't see them turning to humans for help. Especially if using Slorb instead of Scribbleface.
It also changes the entire tone of the first part of the adventure from "protecting our hometown" to "helping the little critters that tried to burn it down countless times".
- Narrating the skeleton attack on the Goblin Village. Ok, that might work or not, but I think it takes a bit away from the surprise for when the PCs finally reach the village in JR. I want them surprised and shocked at the unexpected destruction.
So instead I have this idea:
Since it seems that some or most of my players might actually be new to PF, at first we'll examine char sheets make sure everything is alright, talk about character motivations and stuff.
Then I tell them to put the char sheets away, they won't need them today, as we'll do a one-shot adventure first, so we all get to know each other and they can get familiar with the rules without actually killing their characters right away.
After We Be Goblins concludes as written, Chief Gutwad will send the new heroes out to explore the second shipwreck and the cave, which - unbeknownst to the players - sets in motion all the events of the AP, with the skeletons raising up etc.
Now I'll narrate how the Goblins over the next week or so become increasingly bolder and raid caravans, which eventually cumulates in the Chief's decision to send his best warriors under the leadership of the PCs to raid Sandpoint itself and burn it to the ground. After all, what can go wrong with so much fireworks?
I might actually go out of my way to never mention Sandpoint or anything else that they might have read in the Player's Guide, so they don't realise that what they were doing is just happening 2 miles away from where the AP starts. They can't read so the ships name will also never come up and give it away, and they probably have their own name for Sandpoint. "Longshank's town" or something.
I plan to end the session here, saying that the raid itself will be too long to finish today and we'll play it out next week. I might actually let them do some planning already, as to attack Sandpoint the best.
I hope I get this far in one session, I really don't know. If it spills into the second session the following transition may be a bit more awkward but should still work.
Next week, when they hopefully look forward to playing out the raid, they're in for another surprise. They're not goblins anymore, they're now the actual characters they've rolled up and find themselves on the other side of said raid, even though they hopefully don't know that yet. Maybe I make an excuse like "Ah, I think you're ready, we should get started with the real game now" or something.
I plan to borrow from the festival and subsequent goblin attack in RotRL #1. Not quite sure yet what the occation is, maybe a big wedding or a birthday by someone important. Doesn't really matter as soon after it starts the goblins fall in and start killing and burning.
By that time they hopefully realise who it is they're fighting right now (if one of the PCs speak goblin they hear their old Licktoad song now). If not, the "endboss" of that encounter will obviously be the Goblin PC party.
I might have one or two of the NPCs fight side by side with the PCs here as I don't really want the goblins to win.
This raid then is the reason the Sheriff reinstates the old Goblin Ear Bounty and recruits the PCs (who proved themselves capable goblin slayers already) to attack the village.
At this point the JR AP kicks of as written.
The Goblins never knew that while they were raiding Sandpoint the skeletons came to their village and devastated it, neither do the PCs till they actually get there.
I might actually end it after the return from the cave and narrating how they're getting bolder and succeed on lots of caravan raids. And not having them start the Sandpoint raid themselves. It's possible they get disappointed if they can't actually play it out, or they insist on doing it "We may be ready, but we really, really want to finish the goblin adventure", and then I can't really say "Oh but I don't wanna do that!" without sounding like a jerk or spoiling the surprise.
I think those changes will make the "Go kill Goblins" quest a little less random and a little more meaningful for the characters.