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Thread: Short Campaign

  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2020

    Default Short Campaign

    Hello all!

    I am looking to start a discussion for ideas, advice, and guidance on a short pirate campaign. I am looking for guidance because I know that sea battles, manning ships, island hopping/travel, etc will all be VERY different than what I am used to playing. Oh, and this will be my first go at being a DM. I wouldn't mind expanding a one shot type resource, but would like this to span into a few sessions - ideally 6-8 sessions, but realistically, I know the PC's can easily make this turn into more depending on their focus and decisions. However, I am thinking that I will have an NPC that captain's the pirate ship. This way, I can sort of railroad us at times when needed. It would be a world where we pirates almost seem Robinhoodish with the corruption of different government's naval crews and what not. Hoping to keep most players around some type of CN if possible, but I won't hamper them too much.

    I've also got to figure out how to manage and deal out damage to ships, HP for ships, magic items, sea monsters, etc. I also would need to decide on a level for the players to start at. Was thinking maybe something between levels 8-12, but maybe I am throwing myself to deep into the fire with high levels on my first campaign? I know the mechanics well, and I am a very quick learner...but I also know that DM is keeping up with A LOT at once, so things could get dicey quickly at the high of a level - or the PC's could make super quick work of any baddies I throw at them at first.

    I wouldn't mind ideas as to how to get the group "together" either. I was thinking potentially a ship wreck that the NPC Captain happens upon, but then that would mean the players already knew each other before hand on the ship that was just destroyed. I don't want to go the "met in a bar route" either, although a big bar brawl started by random pirates would be fitting.

    Anyways, I am open to any and all ideas/resources any of you may be willing to share. This campaign wouldn't take place anytime super soon, but hopefully in the next few months. As always, I am looking forward to hearing your advice and ideas!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2016

    Default Re: Short Campaign

    What have your players given you for backstories? 4 levels might be a 3 months worth of weekly sessions there.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2020

    Default Re: Short Campaign

    They haven't given me any backstories yet. We are in the middle of two other active campaigns. And based on history, I know two of them will submit some fantastic backstories, while the others will vary from a paragraph or two to a few sentences with the frame of a backstory but nothing much deeper. I have been mulling some idea of giving them a lottery draw that would give them some small aspect that would be incorporated into their backstories - e.g. maybe two knew each other or already adventure together, one maybe a rival of sorts with another, etc.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2014

    Default Re: Short Campaign

    For my two cents, if you’re a first time DM, definitely start with lower levels. 1st isn’t all that different from 3rd, but 5th is a whole different league. As a DM you’ll have to track a ton of things, so make it easier for you where you can when you start.

    Regarding ship combat, how nitty-gritty do you want it to be? Do you want to track every hit to the ship, or go with a hand-wavey “you fireballed the ship and now it’s on fire” abstraction? Both are perfectly fine ways of tracking it, but which feels more comfortable for you?

    Finally, I think this is one of the few cases where a tavern start is actually the best intro. If the party is disinclined to acquiesce to your NPC Captain’s request, you can always start a brawl. Or press gang them.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2014

    Default Re: Short Campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by virtualslayer22 View Post
    They haven't given me any backstories yet. We are in the middle of two other active campaigns. And based on history, I know two of them will submit some fantastic backstories, while the others will vary from a paragraph or two to a few sentences with the frame of a backstory but nothing much deeper. I have been mulling some idea of giving them a lottery draw that would give them some small aspect that would be incorporated into their backstories - e.g. maybe two knew each other or already adventure together, one maybe a rival of sorts with another, etc.
    I like that idea! Do that

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2020

    Default Re: Short Campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by NRSASD View Post
    For my two cents, if you’re a first time DM, definitely start with lower levels. 1st isn’t all that different from 3rd, but 5th is a whole different league. As a DM you’ll have to track a ton of things, so make it easier for you where you can when you start.

    Regarding ship combat, how nitty-gritty do you want it to be? Do you want to track every hit to the ship, or go with a hand-wavey “you fireballed the ship and now it’s on fire” abstraction? Both are perfectly fine ways of tracking it, but which feels more comfortable for you?

    Finally, I think this is one of the few cases where a tavern start is actually the best intro. If the party is disinclined to acquiesce to your NPC Captain’s request, you can always start a brawl. Or press gang them.
    Yeah, lower levels would make things easier, but I am also enticed by the possibility of more fun with the flavor the higher levels add. I don't want to shy away, but I also don't want to limit things with lower levels if that makes sense.

    Probably not too nitty gritty.. I don't want to get too inundated with having to fix the ship often or being raided by a large crew and keeping up with a crap ton of different NPC's. Maybe one or two battles of that type, and I just have a relative "extras crew" of our own that can just roll lump die against the others to make things easier.

    I like the idea of the brawl.. Or maybe a hodge podge of a lottery draw and some sort of tavern brawl. I also wouldn't mind some sort of crew assemblage (think Ocean's 11, Lock Stock, Italian Job, etc).
    Last edited by virtualslayer22; 2021-01-18 at 12:19 AM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Goblin

    Join Date
    Dec 2020

    Default Re: Short Campaign

    If you haven't already, I'd recommend checking out a novel called Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. It's the second of the Gentleman Bastard series, and it will help you come up with sailing jargon, maritime superstitions, corrupt naval autocracies, and dirty tricks to make your players absolutely despise their rivals. The first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora, influenced how I think about rogues and thieves guilds, and this book will give you a lot of material for pirates.

    If you're looking for gamebooks, Ghosts of Saltmash (5e) has rules for naval combat and Stormwrack (3.5e) has more rules for naval combat than you would ever care to read. My advice is pick and choose what you think is interesting and roll with it, because your players probably won't know how it works either.

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