This is mostly for existing STR members. All exisiting STR members are welcome to join us here, regardless of whether we personally know you.
Anyway, these questions have been answered on IRC a couple times, so this is just a summary of some of the answers All information was correct as of writing.
Getting and paying for the game
The US PlayOnline site is: US PlayOnline Website
The European PlayOnline site is: EU PlayOnline Website
These sites will give you information on payment options.
There currently is no free trial download, though some US players get a "buddy pass." The core game itself shouldn't cost more than $30 including two expansions. A bundle with all 3 expansions has not been seen yet.
The game costs $12.99 a month, depending on currency conversion rates. Once you buy the box your first month (until the 1st of the next month) is free.
Additional characters cost an additional $1 a month. The job system doesn't make additional characters necessary to try new things though, as you can switch between classes without any form of penalty in the game, but that is another topic.
The game is currently available for the PS2, Xbox360 and PC.
There are three total expansions:
Rise of Zilart - This is the original expansion, raise level cap to 75 and added a bunch of advanced jobs and end game content. You cannot buy the game in the US without this expansions.
Chains of Promathia - No new jobs, but tons of new areas and items, including many level capped areas that let groups fight together regardless of their max level.
Treasures of Aht Urhgan - This is the newest expansion, it's added mostly level 60+ content with a whole new continent and alot of new game types. It also added three new jobs; Corsair, Puppetmaster and Blue Mage. These new jobs are all unlocakbale by level 30 characters. If you are a slow leveller, or don't care about trying these jobs, you don't need this expansion (yet).
Getting in game
We play on the "Asura" server. Before you create your character, we need to get you a world pass (a string of numbers that we have to purchase in game) to allow you to create a character on Asura.
Euro and US players can and do play on the same server (along with Japanese players), but we have to invite you with a world pass.
PS2, Xbox360 and PC players all play together.
Non-STR people looking to join
We're going to go with the standard "Two people meet you and vouch for you" till we figure out any formal recruiting guidelines. New people who want to join NEED to register on the forums and have some clue what they are getting into. So, look around, read stuff, say hi.