This is my first time running a homebrew campaign, the setting and rule set is Forgotten Realms dnd 5e. My group really wants to have high seas adventures as the main theme of the campaign. This type of campaign is new to me and I would like to know what easy to fall in pit falls I would need to avoid to keep this as a viable and interesting campaign for as long as possible.
Also I am starting the group at level 3, but I would like to emulate the magic items if any they might have came across in their adventures up to that point, anyone know of any balanced way to do this?
I like high seas campaigns-- it's a great way to have a framework to travel from interesting place to fantastic locale; no two sessions need to be alike.
The campaign won't be so different than others you might come up with, but there are definitely some key features and questions you want to confront before you start.
First and foremost, the characters.
Are you characters already seafaring? Do they have oceanic professions and backgrounds? Do they have nautical themed 3rd level Class paths?
Or are they landlubbers? Were they pressed into sailor service? Are they seeking a new life, or fleeing their old one?
What draws them to the sea? Have they heard rumors of exotic ports rife with adventure? Are there tales of sunken treasure and cities? Do the seas hold some threat?
These are great session 0 questions for your players, be ready to prompt them with content you know from your homebrewing. A handout will help.
Second, and this is my favorite, your ship.
If you are using the ship as constant transportation from scene to scene, it will be a persistent location and home base.
What is its layout? How many crew her? What is her history? Is she a charter, an explorer, a work ship? Who is her captain, and where does she make berth?
What is the economy of its operation. How does she make venture and profit. Who owns her?
How many masts? How many yards of sail? Does it use magic propulsion? How many days provisions in her hold? How many repairs?
I'm a nautical nerd, so I love these details. Your results may vary. None of them are absolutely crucial, but all of them can be prompts for adventure hooks or complications.
This blog is actually a tremendous resource for me; the author is creating a scale model replica of the HMS Terror, and I found it invaluable to understand how ships were constructed, and how they work.