After much discussion and decision making, my group and I have decided to run the Jade Regent AP. Due to our group being spread out over the country, the only feasible way we're really going to play is via the internet. Now, I would prefer a video conference kind of service (ie skype, roll20, etc) but as this is my first time running a game - and indeed being involved in an online chronicle, I'm not entirely sure what the best option is going to be. We are on a limited budget and can't really afford to be paying out for any kind of premium services. It's going to have to be cheap, easy to use and set up. does anyone have any suggestions?
Also, I''m starting to have a good read through the books and I've noticed that the first adventure pretty much drops you straight off into the swamp. is there any kind of prelude or introduction scene available (a-la the Goblin attack in ROTRL) that can help set the scene for the party leaving Sandpoint?
I've used roll20 a while back and thought it was pretty good but I haven't used it as I moved and now have gaming groups to meet in person.
I've been running JR for 2 years now we just started book 5 its a lot of fun I think you're group will have a blast. Re introduction if I recall I had my group bringing a caravan in with Sandhru when they ended up being attacked by a horde of skeletons dressed in Minkai armour that emerged from the swamp chasing Scribbles the goblin who had a Minkai lantern. Its been awhile but I recall inserting that as a hook and way to meet Scribbles (who was a favourite NPC).
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Regarding virtual tabletop, I recommend Roll20 used as an app through Google+ Hangouts for better video and sound quality.
Regarding starting the adventure, it's been a while, can't recall if this is in the book or from a forum thread, but I had it start as Ameiko inviting her friends (the PCs + relevant NPCs) to the Rusty Dragon to try out some new potential menu additions as a free meal. Some initial roleplay to introduce characters and NPCs and establish banter and relationships. During the meal Sheriff Hemlock comes in and asks Ameiko if he can put up some posters of the reinstated goblin bounty. Some discussion of the goblin troubles between the sheriff and NPCs to provide the players with an overview of the situation, and turning that into encouragement of the PCs to be the ones to start collecting on the bounty. Mentions of Walthus Proudstump as a potential guide or someone who knows where the goblins are. Any other rumours you want to drop about old Megus or different paths to take or disappearing youths. Then let the players prepare and enter the swamp however they'd like.
The initial adventure hook is very much 'the Sheriff hands you a goblin bounty because they might have some dangerous fireworks, kill them for $$$'. It's... adequate, but not great.
My table began with the PCs also gathering with the relevant NPCs in the Rusty Dragon, where Sandru was holding a surprise 150th birthday for Shalelu. It led in with some nice characterization of the NPCs. Shalelu doesn't understand why humans celebrate birthdays - after all, they come around once every year, so it's nothing special. Koya feels old, despite not being physically older than Shalelu, Ameiko is kind and wants to help her friends, Sandru is obnoxious-in-a-nice-way and hasn't realise this will annoy the anti-social Shalelu.
Sandru was anxiously awaiting his gift for Shalelu, which was coming in on an imported caravan - intercepted by the firework throwing goblins. The PCs wanted to get out there and get that present back, as well as get some $$$ and XP for goblin killing. (It also created a nice reason why Shalelu, goblin-killer, didn't go with them - she can't see the present in advance!)
An alternative might be to have them out with Sandru on his caravan (either testing the wagons, or returning from a short trip to a neighboring village) when they come across a burnt-out caravan with a wide-eyed merchant talking about goblins with magic fire-sticks...
Why not start off with a bang ala Runelords?
While the party is in the Rusty Dragon having some drinks and meeting the npcs, the goblins decide (chuffed by the force multiplier they think the fireworks gives them) to seek revenge against Sandpoint for trying to cull back their numbers.
A couple of goblins break into the Rusty Dragon and start firing off fireworks all over the place, with little effect other than to stampede the commoners.
As the fight spills out into the streets, have the party see a chaotic montage of goblins, fireworks, and panicking commoners.
Hilarity ensues :D
|Mythic Super Jager Overlord|
I strongly recommend that you run We Be Goblins! as the intro to the game. That is the prequel that gives the players the background info on how this problem originated.
As for play, our group uses Roll20 for the gaming sessions and Obsidianportal for campaign info and stories. Both are free and they work great for our purposes.
This is a great adventure path. Our group loves it. But it is more difficult to run than I had anticipated. I am finding that I have to put more prep work in before game sessions than I have had to for other printed adventures.