Improving Jade Regent~!


Jade Regent


Hello Paizo community, who I can only hope can bat away enough of them annoying regenerating trolls long enough to aid me in producing an epic adventure!

I'm a decently experienced DM whos run a few adventure paths and has a good overall sense of the game's mechanics and generally regularly throws in his own elements into adventure paths, his own NPCs, and acknowledges that as much as he loves paizo products, sometimes you just find inspiration to do something different or better. That said, I do like to retain as much of the core identity and spirit of the AP as possible!

My question is for those who've played or DMed Jade Regent at least a decent bit, how would you go about changing or improving things, particularly early on? This, I know to be a broad question, as there's a myriad of different items on the subject, and opinions can vary. As such, I'll try to give you context on my group and what I'm already pondering.

Firstly, my group consists of at the moment 6 players, generally my maximum. Pushing on the too many without being impossible, it nonetheless divides attention a decent amount, however, I've found myself able to juggle different players well. This, generally, means I have to upscale the enemies somewhat. Any suggestions, be they broad (Such as the 'Add more mooks') to the specific encounters?

I myself am a DM who puts alot of emphasis on RP, and believe that having a character that I enjoy roleplaying is generally more important than combat savvyness, and that's reflected through my DMing. As such, I wanna make the 4 starting npcs, and the caravan as a whole, a major emphasis. To me, it seems it should be their mobile home base, their sanctuary, a source of aid, comfort, and social interactions that the more dungeony sections lack. I've some idea on the characterization of the 4, having DMed Rise of the Runelords, but I was hoping to acquire input on how useful they should be, and how I can tactfully aid/deny PCs their help, especially with 6 players. I was also curious if I should consider buffing them slightly, as it seems extremely easy for PCs to overtake them, which seems like it might diminish their later value and importance.

Additionally, I was hoping to get some input on the Caravan system, which half my players are rather intrigued by and hoping to indulge it, but I've heard translates to be somewhat janky in practice. I was curious if there were any ways to fix or round it out, as I'd like to keep it if possible, to make the journey from Sandport to the Castle eventful, and of course to keep the Caravan a significant element of the adventure path.

Any advice or thoughts would be lovely and appreciated! Except you trolls. Back I say! Back, or fire and acid for you!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

When you go over 5 players, just adding more levels or minions to the opposition might not be enough. Consider adding an assisting GM, someone that can help run friendly, neutral, or even a few key opposing NPCs.

This helps the NPCs to develop more interesting tactics (two heads are less predictable than one). It also helps you manage things should the party split for any reason. You should still retain outline control of the possible branches in the campaign.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

6 Players is not unmanageable but the interactions with the friendly NPCs will suffer because there's less spot-light time per player.

One option is that as a Move Action a PC can direct a friendly NPC to do a thing, and that player gets to make the rolls for the NPC while they do the thing.

As for challenging the players. Increase encounter budgets by 1.5.

So if an encounter is worth 400 xp, then add an extra 200 xp worth of minions to the encounter (goblins or skeletons etc), or give the NPC an extra level or 2.

There's plenty of discussion on what to do about Caravan Rules littered throughout the Jade Regent boards.


I GMed with four (fairly optimized) PCs.

My PCs were tough enough that they had no need of the NPCs to help them out in battle. I'd throw one in occasionally but usually more as a person who needed protecting than someone to help them.

You can level up the NPCs whenever it suits you - you're supposed to keep them in the 'not useless, but not overshadowing the PCs' zone.

The caravan rules didn't seem to be worth the effort. I ditched them all, along with the romance rules.

I'd typically replace a caravan battle with 'the PCs are scouting ahead with Shalelu and they are attacked by a group of bugbears' or something like that.

The AP gives you very little in terms of making the NPCs memorable or interesting. That is to say, it never encourages you to make them have conversations with the PCs except when railroading them into following the adventure. (Also, it adds more and more friendly NPCs as time goes by; it's fun having a busy caravan, but it only makes it harder to connect to anyone.) So if you're trying to be creative, one of the places that needs this most is coming up with interesting interactions.

There were some ideas for Brinewall here.


Don't ditch the caravan rules out of hand. Nor the romance rules. Some players really enjoyed that experience. Now I suppose you can if you don't want to give your players the full experience the AP has to offer.


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The caravan rules summarized:
In combat, the two sides take turns rolling to hit and then rolling damage with no tactical decisions. One player can do this; the rest can check their email. The fact that your PCs could easily win the battle with a couple of fireballs does not factor into the result. Eventually one side is destroyed. It is usually the PCs' side that will be destroyed because the rules weren't play-tested. At this point you can ditch the caravan rules because there's no more caravan.
Until that point, you have to keep track of food, even though by the time it's an issue you can probably cast Create Food & Water multiple times per day, which by RAW creates enough food to feed dozens of people.

The romance rules summarized:
In order to gain XP and bonus powers and have sex, you have to give gifts or insults to all the NPCs. You can gain one relationship bonus point per level this way. You must also make a Diplomacy / Intimidate check and if you fail you get nothing. If you're not focused on Diplomacy or Intimidate, then after a while it will be impossible to advance your relationship. (Characters who haven't put at least ten skill ranks into Diplomacy can never have sex.) So if the group are adventuring and close to leveling up, they must stop what they're doing, round up the NPCs and start handing out the gifts. Bring multiple gifts because you might fail the Diplomacy check. If all the PCs in your party want to be friends with all the NPCs, they will need around 1080 gifts. (6 PCs, 15 levels, 4 NPCs, and 3 gifts per level to allow for failed Diplomacy checks and inappropriate gifts.) Since you won't usually be near any shops, you should aim to buy most of your gifts well in advance - try to have several hundred in reserve by the end of book two, plus an extra wagon in your caravan to carry them all.
Make sure you role-play out every present-opening scene because you can gain a bonus or penalty of up to 4 on your roll this way. It's a good idea to set aside an hour or so at the start of each play session exclusively for gift giving, but try not to let it go beyond that so as to leave time for other activities, such as buying gifts. (The NPCs, of course, will never get presents for the PCs or try to initiate a romance; the NPCs are prizes to be won and have no free will of their own.)

You might be able to make these rules work for your group, but you shouldn't expect them to work well unmodified.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My review of the AP, after GM'ing it to completion. You might find helpful ideas there.


I’m about to start running JR in a few weeks.

I will have 6 players so I will adjust encoutners up 50% when they are parts that they are at the same level as written.

I’m going to run my party on slow track so often times they will behind and the APs encoutners will not likely need asjusting.

I really like the plug-ins by Legendary Games so I am going to use all 3 of them.

I’m going to drop the caravan rules as it seems just about everyone recommends that.

I personally like the idea of the Relationship scores. However, it seems, the gifts part is a bit clunky. So, I’m going to change it up a bit. For each level each PC gets to auto add 1 point to one NPC just as written.

At each level a PC can make one Diplomacy or intimidate against each of the main NPC’s this replaces the gifting roll. I will adjust the +4/-4 based on in-game interactions with the NPC throughout the session.

If a PC figures out what the gifts are and acquires them within the adventure (not by buying them) they can give the gift to the NPC for an automatic +1 but each gift can only be given 1 time.

The insult rule will be kept as is. I think players will accidently do these rather then seek them out.

. With this method they will go a little bit faster with the relationship scores but this will be balanced by being a level or 2 behind the AP.


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With six players you will have to increase the number of bad guys and/or boost their level / hit dice. You will probably need to tone down the NPC interactions as this will consume a lot of playing time (as a rule the difficulty in running any game tends to be proportional to the square of the number of players).

We generally keep the NPCs out of combat, simply because it slows down the game (a lot of stuff gets handwaved, e.g. the NPCs will keep four bad guys occupied for five rounds). The caravan is the base, the PCs do the exploring and generally deal with the encounters. Spivey has proven to be an excellent cohort (Spivey makes a great healbot-summoner)

Our group has turned Ameiko into a player character (pure Bard) and most of the rest of the PCs are related to her. This gets rid of the feeling that the PCs are a bunch of bodyguards who protect the focus of the adventure. This might not work if you have players who will whine about one of them being made the focus of the adventure – I suspect that this will only happen with groups who haven’t grown up.

As other players have said you should not use the caravan combat rules unless you want to wipe out the PCs with an encounter which they would normally stroll through. They are bad; really bad.

During a caravan combat most of the players will be twiddling their thumbs as only one of the players can do anything. All that a player character does is add +1 to the caravan’s combat value. No other contribution beyond that. The result is that the PCs input to a caravan combat is trivial compared to what they would do if you ran the combat as an actual encounter.

How bad are the caravan combat rules? Just consider this example. There are three identical caravans; A, B, and C. Each caravan contains twelve 1st level characters and no magic items. The fight is A + B versus C. Using the caravan combat rules A and B are all but guaranteed to win.

Now let's give C a passenger; a 20th level Sorcerer with the usual plethora of magic items. A and B will still win using the caravan combat rules because the 20th level sorcerer only adds +1 to C’s combat value. But if the combat was played out as an encounter then A and B would probably be obliterated in a couple of rounds without C taking a scratch.

The Caravan logistics rules are pretty good. It helps if you have players who are very comfortable with a bit of accounting (no problem in our group as it contains an accountant and an actuary!).


roysier wrote:

I will have 6 players so I will adjust encoutners up 50% when they are parts that they are at the same level as written.

I’m going to run my party on slow track so often times they will behind and the APs encoutners will not likely need asjusting.

OK, let's run the numbers on that.

Let's say an ordinary four man group would earn enough XP to let them reach 15th level (in medium track) for the final battle.
That's 635K each, 2540K total.
If you were running a group of six players through the same encounters, and dividing up the same experience six ways, they'd have 423K at that point, making them nearly level 14. They could probably get to level 14 just before the end, but not 15.
If the encounters were typically increased by 50%, then they'd reach level 15 around the same time as the four-man group - 50% more experience, but it's shared further so it amounts to the same, 635K each.
If you were running a group of six players through on slow-track advancement and increasing the encounters by 50%, by the end they'd be on 635K experience each, but they'd need 665K for level 14. This would be pretty tough since they're fighting larger encounters at lower level.
If you were running a group of six players on slow-track and not increasing the encounters (because they are lower level and can't handle bigger encounters) by the end they'd have 423K each and be 12th level. Some of the end game encounters would be very nasty for level 12 PCs, even six of them.


roysier wrote:
The insult rule will be kept as is. I think players will accidently do these rather then seek them out.

Careful. Players trying to game the insult system is going to be just as annoying as gifts.

"OK, we're nearly ready to level up."
"But we haven't insulted the NPCs yet! We'd better retreat!"
"But we're in the middle of rescuing Ameiko from the torture chamber! How can we insult her if we haven't rescued her yet!"
"Maybe we could send her some kind of magical message?"
"The important thing is, we abandon the rescue attempt for now and get in some insults. Have you got yours planned?"
"Yeah. Koya's easy, since we can just blaspheme against Desna repeatedly until we pass an Intimidate check. I've got some new anti-Varisian racist slurs lined up. Pity we don't have Ameiko - I can easily upset her with my relentless misogyny. Shalelu's the hard one. What did we have on her?"
"Calling her 'frigid cow' seemed to work, though it's hard to think up good variants on that. Did we try anti-elf racism yet?"
"Hey I'm an elf!"
"Doesn't matter. We need the XP."


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
6 Players is not unmanageable but the interactions with the friendly NPCs will suffer because there's less spot-light time per player.

This is the main balancing difficulty. For the players to feel important, their characters need to be influencing the events around them. But if Ameiko arranges the raid on Brinestump Marsh, Koya leads the caravan, Sandru defends the caravan, and Shalelu scouts for hazards, then the PCs are minions. If the NPCs are herded to the background, then the PCs have no interaction.

One solution would be to ask players to play toned-down versions of the NPCs: "Who wants to play Ameiko Kaijitsu, bard 1 rake archetype and rogue 1? You get 2000 starting gold because she owns the Rusty Dragon Inn in Sandpoint, but you start with 10 fewer points in her build. At second level, instead of going up a level, you get the points back." Even a single player taking up that offer would create ties to the other NPCs that let them interact with the party as cohorts. But that solution would eliminate the Relationship Point system.

Another would be to sideline the NPCs until the second part of the adventure, the caravan trip from Sandpoint to Brinewall. That journey north is not written in the module, so you can write adventures that have the PCs interacting with the NPCs frequently. Shelelu and the party rogue scout ahead together on the buddy system, Koya and the party paladin deal with stubborn town officials who refuse to let the caravan pass without a bribe, Sandru and the party fighter team up as co-captains of the caravan guard, etc. Ameiko and the party wizard research her family in the libraries of Riddleport and uncover a local mystery to solve. And so on.

My campaign started with an eight-player party, possible because my wife served as an assistant GM while also playing a ninja. Thus, I permanently sidelined the NPCs, even replacing Ameiko with her quiet half-sister Amaya.


I've been running JR for a group of 8 players (1 being a more occasional guest star as Ameiko). We're on book 5, been running it now for nearly two years. The campaign is a lot of fun and mostly as written it is good to go.

A few recommendations:

1. Kick the caravan and romance rule systems to the curb. These add nothing but pointless mechanics that could be done with some rping and a little GM interpretation (i.e. how much money the caravan makes in Kalsgard) and from others on the board here this seems to be the consensus.

2. Even with a large group of PCs the caravan community is important. Encourage players to build those lins b/w them and the NPCs. Also, suggest that players take on those characters (as starting lvl 1 characters). Having a player as Ameiko adds alot to the game. I did remove Shalelu entirely so as to focus on Sandhru, Koya and Ameiko. The caravan really acts as a town that the party returns to throughout. It is a great feature with lots of RP potential.

3. Re caravan combat, my method to run raids and such were to simply focus on one aspect of the battlefield and narrate that the NPCs were also fighting valiantly and essentially their performance mirrored the party's results (i.e. getting beaten up good or stomping on the raiders)

4. In terms of the supporting cast I did have them aid the PCs here and there rotating them when the party went on a mission.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I started the game with 6 PCs, but we've gone down to 5. We've had a lot of fun with the NPCs and relationship rules. I gave the players cards with each of the 4 key NPCs and added cards as they added more characters to the Caravan. At this point the Caravan consists of 16 named NPCs, 10 unnamed NPCs (a great pool to draw from if the players need backup characters). Basically I treat it the way I'd treat a village or hometown in a usual Pathfinder game, a place to rest, resupply and roleplay between forays into the wilderness/dungeon etc.

I've also changed up the Caravan rules a bit, basically Sandru is in charge of organizing the Caravan stuff and the players simply helped him decide priorities:
Defense, Mobility, Morale, Offense, Resources. The resource management stuff is fun, and working out when to unload Trade Goods, and whatnot. I also run Caravan Combat concurrently with normal combat.

Example:

Last game I rolled a random encounter with some Forest Drakes. My player's characters are level 7 with 1 Mythic Tier, with 5 Players and one Supporting NPC. So roughly APL 8.5 (Encounter Budget: 5,600 xp, or roughly 4-5 Forest Drakes).

The Caravan on the other hand may have a Caravan Level of 7, but because it only gets one action its real APL is 4. Since a Caravan represents a whole group of people, fighting and wotnot Caravan Encounter monsters should also represent a whole group of monsters. Using the Forest Drake Caravan Stats for a CR 4 creature:
hp: 42, Defense: 17, Offense+8 (3d8+3), Morale: +4. Special Acidic Cloud (Instead of making an Offense Check, foe must make a Security Check or take 4d6 Acid Damage and gain a 20% miss chance for rest of caravan combat).

So I described the battle thusly:
A group of 20! Forest Drakes bursts forth from the Forest. On the battle mat I put down 4 Forest Drakes, and the PCs, and some Wagons/Horses. The PCs get into their fight, then at Initiative 0 (or whatevever the last Initiative for the round is) the players rolled for the Caravan and I rolled for the Forest Drakes. Every time the PCs killed a Forest Drake in their combat it reduced the Caravan Combat Forest Drake hp by 1d6.


After running the campaign, I did come away with a few thoughts about what I would change if I ever ran it again and they are more or less focused on the friendship/romance and caravan rules.

The relationship rules put too much emphasis on Diplomacy and Intimidate. Eventually the characters who don't have either skill (or don't want to have a rivalry-based relationship) just end up becoming less interested with dealing with the whole affair.

Without revamping the rules too heavily, I would add additional skill options fitting more with the PCs interests. If a character has Appraise or Profession, they could be used to talk shop with Sandru in place of the gift. Characters with survival might go on missions tracking, hunting, and gathering with Shalelu. These would be in place with the gift checks. They are less for ability boost and more as a reward and reminder they are currently there and keep them interacting with the group. Use those encounters to build small non-combat encounters with them (although one on one outings should be avoided as that will quickly eat into time and leave other players not engaged.

The caravan rules operate a bit clunky. I would suggest a bit more of a revamp of them. Doing it again I would make it more like a less hostile version of Oregon Trail. There should be a few numbers that the party can respond to (like morale or damage to the wagon). Events should be resolved quickly, I would recommend against anything that happens over multiple rounds where damage is accumulated.


Matthew Downie wrote:
roysier wrote:

I will have 6 players so I will adjust encoutners up 50% when they are parts that they are at the same level as written.

I’m going to run my party on slow track so often times they will behind and the APs encoutners will not likely need asjusting.

OK, let's run the numbers on that.

Let's say an ordinary four man group would earn enough XP to let them reach 15th level (in medium track) for the final battle.
That's 635K each, 2540K total.
If you were running a group of six players through the same encounters, and dividing up the same experience six ways, they'd have 423K at that point, making them nearly level 14. They could probably get to level 14 just before the end, but not 15.
If the encounters were typically increased by 50%, then they'd reach level 15 around the same time as the four-man group - 50% more experience, but it's shared further so it amounts to the same, 635K each.
If you were running a group of six players through on slow-track advancement and increasing the encounters by 50%, by the end they'd be on 635K experience each, but they'd need 665K for level 14. This would be pretty tough since they're fighting larger encounters at lower level.
If you were running a group of six players on slow-track and not increasing the encounters (because they are lower level and can't handle bigger encounters) by the end they'd have 423K each and be 12th level. Some of the end game encounters would be very nasty for level 12 PCs, even six of them.

My goal is to keep the APL one level below what the AP is written for so i will balance out encounters, story awards etc, to shoot for that goal.


roysier wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
roysier wrote:

I will have 6 players so I will adjust encoutners up 50% when they are parts that they are at the same level as written.

I’m going to run my party on slow track so often times they will behind and the APs encoutners will not likely need asjusting.

OK, let's run the numbers on that.

Let's say an ordinary four man group would earn enough XP to let them reach 15th level (in medium track) for the final battle.
That's 635K each, 2540K total.
If you were running a group of six players through the same encounters, and dividing up the same experience six ways, they'd have 423K at that point, making them nearly level 14. They could probably get to level 14 just before the end, but not 15.
If the encounters were typically increased by 50%, then they'd reach level 15 around the same time as the four-man group - 50% more experience, but it's shared further so it amounts to the same, 635K each.
If you were running a group of six players through on slow-track advancement and increasing the encounters by 50%, by the end they'd be on 635K experience each, but they'd need 665K for level 14. This would be pretty tough since they're fighting larger encounters at lower level.
If you were running a group of six players on slow-track and not increasing the encounters (because they are lower level and can't handle bigger encounters) by the end they'd have 423K each and be 12th level. Some of the end game encounters would be very nasty for level 12 PCs, even six of them.
My goal is to keep the APL one level below what the AP is written for so i will balance out encounters, story awards etc, to shoot for that goal.

Matthew Downie explained the math, but let me clarify how the first module, The Brinewall Legacy, interacts with the math.

When a party runs through Brinestump Marsh as written they encounter 8000 experience points of challenges, then on the Journey North the GM can throw 12,000 experience points of challenges at then, and finally at Brinewall Castle they encounter 16,000 experience points of challenges. I did not add up the numbers in the module; instead, these are the figures necessary to prepare the party for the next module, Night of Frozen Shadows.

For a four-player party on the medium advancement track, after Brinestump Marsh each PC has 2000 xp and reaches 2nd level, after the journey north each PC has 5000 xp and reaches 3rd level, and after Brinewall Castle each PC has 9000 xp and reaches 4th level.

Now suppose you run a six-player party through the unchanged adventure. They have a cakewalk in Brinestump Marsh, but since the xp is split six ways, each player gets only 1333 xp. So they begin the journey north at first level still. But by the end of the journey, they each have 3333 xp, so they are 2nd level. After Brinewall Castle, each PC has 6000 xp and had reached 3rd level right before the last section of Brinewall Castle.

Running a six-player party through unmodified encounters automatically leaves them low a level by the end of the first module. Paizo deliberately designed the levels to do that.

On the other hand, if you enhance the challenge of each encounter by 50%, you also boost the xp by 50%, so the six-player party would level up at the same rate at the four-player party in the unenhanced module.

The problem with running a slow-track six-player party through unenhanced encounters is that the party's APL is hit twice: they lose a level to the slow track and they lose a level spreading the xp among 50% more PCs. On the slow track, a PC with 6000 xp is still 2nd level, two levels below 4th.

As for me, I ran an eight-player party through The Brinewall Legacy, and enhanced the encounters by 50% rather than the 100% required for a double-size party. They ended the module at 3rd level on the medium track, as I intended. Then three players moved out of state and a fourth became busy as a new father, so the party dropped down to four players. So much for my clever planning. Before The Night of Frozen Shadows I told them to bump their characters up to 4th level and 9000 xp.


If the goal is to keep the APL 1 below what's indicated, then the easiest way to achieve that is to drop XP entirely and just level them up when they achieve certain milestones.


Mathmuse wrote:
roysier wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
roysier wrote:

I will have 6 players so I will adjust encoutners up 50% when they are parts that they are at the same level as written.

I’m going to run my party on slow track so often times they will behind and the APs encoutners will not likely need asjusting.

OK, let's run the numbers on that.

Let's say an ordinary four man group would earn enough XP to let them reach 15th level (in medium track) for the final battle.
That's 635K each, 2540K total.
If you were running a group of six players through the same encounters, and dividing up the same experience six ways, they'd have 423K at that point, making them nearly level 14. They could probably get to level 14 just before the end, but not 15.
If the encounters were typically increased by 50%, then they'd reach level 15 around the same time as the four-man group - 50% more experience, but it's shared further so it amounts to the same, 635K each.
If you were running a group of six players through on slow-track advancement and increasing the encounters by 50%, by the end they'd be on 635K experience each, but they'd need 665K for level 14. This would be pretty tough since they're fighting larger encounters at lower level.
If you were running a group of six players on slow-track and not increasing the encounters (because they are lower level and can't handle bigger encounters) by the end they'd have 423K each and be 12th level. Some of the end game encounters would be very nasty for level 12 PCs, even six of them.
My goal is to keep the APL one level below what the AP is written for so i will balance out encounters, story awards etc, to shoot for that goal.

Matthew Downie explained the math, but let me clarify how the first module, The Brinewall Legacy, interacts with the math.

When a party runs through Brinestump Marsh as written they encounter 8000 experience points of challenges, then on the Journey North the GM can throw 12,000 experience points of challenges at...

Not really because boosting by 50% does not always increase XP. If for example I added 1 warrior level on baddies who can take class levels, the CR increase by 1/2 and rounds down netting to no extra XP, but the creatures get a +1 hit, +2 fort, and +5(& con bonus) to HP.


Jade Regent absoultely excels in providing prime RP opportunities, provided your players want them.

This isn't just an AP you can pick up and play because the cover is cool. The only way this game works is if your players are already sold on the characters provided in the Player's Guide, and the only way to do that is to play Burnt Offerings. I know it's just a suggested thing, but I can't see anyone starting this game not knowing who Ameiko is and playing a believable relationship that will add anything to the story, since the intro relies on it too heavily.

The second part is padding. If you run as-written, this adventure works like a string of world-map-transitions with nothing in between. You need to pad it out, not just with caravan encounters (in fact, I would advise against piling those on), but with caravan play in general. At least once per session, every few days of travel, require the players to stop and "make camp", a scene in which they can sit down and converse with the NPCs with them, improve relationships and discuss plans, and plot out their travel route. I use the big, really nicely hand-drawn Varisia map from the Gazeteer, and have the players roleplay with Sandru the act of plotting their travel route, since obviously they don't know what's ahead or what the towns are, and he can provide that info, they can choose what towns to stop in and what areas to avoid, etc. Make it an active thing. Make things break and get damaged or lost in the caravan, so they have to stop in town to make repairs and unload goods, it gives you time to drop rumors or plant sidequests.

Use the Legendary Games plugins, too. They're cheap, easy filler content, which certainly isn't bad and provides some interesting insight, and can be used to pad runtime, which is the goal.


roysier wrote:
Not really because boosting by 50% does not always increase XP. If for example I added 1 warrior level on baddies who can take class levels, the CR increase by 1/2 and rounds down netting to no extra XP, but the creatures get a +1 hit, +2 fort, and +5(& con bonus) to HP.

Sorry, I lapsed into jargon and lost my clarity. Boosting a challenge by 50% means adding 50% more of the creatures involved. For example, if the module throws ten goblins at them, boosting by 50% raises that to fifteen goblins instead. It is the easiest way to adjust an encounter to six PCs.

For encounters with a single monster, enhancing by 50% would be adding a second monster worth half the XP as the first monster.


If any of the players express interest in playing a bard, ranger, cleric, or rogue, you could suggest Ameiko, Shalelu, Koya, or Sandru as PC options. I was skeptical at first, but it's really awesome to see how these characters develop. (It also helps that I don't have to explain why the NPCs don't accompany them into dungeons again.)

We had a couple of people who joined the group mid-campaign and now have a player playing Ameiko and another playing Sandru. Those NPCs really came to life when they became PCs. Not wanting to deprive the PCs who'd already invested in friendships with them, we kept the relationship scores going. They now roleplay gifts/insults with each other while I sit back and enjoy the show.


Mekura wrote:
I was also curious if I should consider buffing them slightly, as it seems extremely easy for PCs to overtake them, which seems like it might diminish their later value and importance.

I level up the NPCs so they're just one level below the PC group at all times. The PCs are the heroes but the NPCs could and should be able to help when needed.

Mekura wrote:
Additionally, I was hoping to get some input on the Caravan system, which half my players are rather intrigued by and hoping to indulge it, but I've heard translates to be somewhat janky in practice.

I tweaked caravan combat so it functions on its own apart from the PCs. But I left the trade rules the same. My players love them even though they don't exactly get rich off it. All the same, they can't wait to sell and buy whenever they stop at a settlement.


Well, I'd liked to keep the Caravan rules in, even if I have to heavily revamp them, as it would be a shame not to provide some influence the caravan has on the overall party. To know they need to keep it functioning and not be abandoned, to make it a resource and valuable.

I somewhat regret not having offered PCs to play the NPCs, as it might've been more fun that way. I know I'd have enjoyed play any of them. Alas. So far I haven't had trouble shoring up the encounters, although I'm somewhat dismayed at our twenty strength Wild Rager berserker, who thankfully has opted not rage whenever possible. Still, the threat of a power-attacking raging berserker makes me wonder if my bosses will ever last the first round. Oy vey.

Beyond that, I'm wondering how I can draw out more of the oriental flavor and lore and bring it into things more, even if subtly. How can I be clever about it? Hmm.


You can role-play the caravan without using all the rules. Get the players to describe what they're buying for it, where they're keeping all the food and trade goods, what their policy is on the order they travel in, etc. When the caravan is attacked, you can use this knowledge to set the environment. You can replace caravan morale checks with Diplomacy checks to rally the NPCs, etc.
If the caravan is doing well in your opinion, then it can make more profit in trade than it costs to feed everyone, and the players get a share. If it's doing badly, they have to spend their own money to make things right.

Oriental flavor usually doesn't play much of a part until book 4 (aside from the occasional ninja, etc). One way you could try to compensate for that is making more use of the kami that sends Ameiko into a coma for the last part of book 1. It normally doesn't communicate directly with the players, but you could make it more of a character in its own right - maybe it could talk to the PCs in the form of koans.
Later on, there's Suishen in book 2 who could fulfill a similar role.
You could also use visuals (eg, hanging up the illustrations of the Jade Regents treasures on the GM's screen) and sounds (eg, when Ameiko plays the Samisen).


One way to introduce oriental flavor and lore is through Ameiko. He has been long separated from Minkai for her entire life and to my knowledge her experience has been with decedents of immigrants. There are signs of oriental bits in book two as well, but along the journey Ameiko might find an interest in the culture she is heading to serve as a ruler for and she might seek help from the party on that.

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