D&D General Possible Pirate Game for Teens?

dave2008

Legend
Found this: Pirate Campaign Compendium (5e), that might be helpful (from Legendary Games)
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It includes:
From the jeweled islands of the tropics to the ice-choked polar seas and everywhere across the bottomless briny blue, the Pirate Campaign Compendium from Legendary Games offers 450 pages of amazing expansions for any nautical campaign using the 5th Edition of the world’s most famous roleplaying game. This beautiful book is perfect for embarking on epic journeys of exploration above or below the waves, voyages to distant shores, or full-on pirate campaigns of plunder and pillage! The Pirate Campaign Compendium brings you an incredible collection of rules for nautical campaigns of every kind, including:

  • Dozens of archetypes, class features, feats, and more for nautical characters like the privateer, and ship mage, new sorcerer metamagic and wild shape options, and tricks for underwater combat like Eel Strike and Sea Shooter, plus new character backgrounds and expanded firearm rules!
  • Maritime magic with over 60 new magic items and nearly 70 spells drawn from traditional Caribbean pirate lore but also from the distant corners of the fantasy world, from Arabia to the Arctic, to the Far East and South Pacific!
  • FIVE complete adventures for characters from 4th to 14th level!
  • Over 40 savage sea monsters ranging from Challenge 1/8 to 23, from coral golems and seaweed leshies to deep ones and the star-spawn of Cthluhu!
  • Nearly 70 ready-to-use NPCs from common pirates to officers of the line, as well as richly detailed and evocative heroes and villains ideal as recurring characters and playable pirate PCs.
  • Simple and advanced ship-to-ship combat rules, plus a dynamic and exciting fleet battle system for running major naval engagements and modular rules for shipbuilding and special ship modifications.
  • Plus tons of bonus material for navigation and storms at sea, fame and infamy, aquatic and underwater terrain, shipwrecks and plunder, shipboard roles, pirate punishment, grog, seasickness, sea shanties, a pirate glossary, and even peg legs and eyepatches!
The Pirate Campaign Compendium is your indispensable resource for any 5th Edition campaign that charts a course for adventure on the open sea! Grab this book and your compass and sextant; it’s time to leave the shore behind and Make Your Game Legendary!
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
This weekend I was approached at a neighborhood pool party to run a game for some enthusiastic players. Apparently, they had a neighborhood D&D group before my wife and I moved to the area, but COVID stopped their meetings. They are now eager to start playing, and their previous DM wants a chance to play. This includes two families with adults and teen children - a combination of 8 players.
I am prepared to be fast-and-loose with the rules, with so many players and younger gamers - especially one who is already talking about playing an intelligent parrot henchman to her older sister. I plan to just roll with it and have fun.
They told me they wanted to play a pirate game, and I was secretly worried. I've never been a part of a successful D&D pirate game. Most of them have devolved into mutiny, characters being tortured and keelhauled, captains overtaking the party's fun, etc.
What tips would you have? If they are all subservient to an NPC captain, that could take away player agency. If they are subservient to a PC captain (such as parent who was the former GM), I could see that not being fun.
I was thinking about having a backstory for all the characters that they all put up money to buy the ship and are running it like a corporation, so they all have votes for what they should do.
Any ideas about what to do? Any good ideas for pirate adventures? What about running for a multi-generational group?
One trick I like to use with younger players to... channel or redirect ...that tendency to ultimately undermine their own fun when engaging in pirate / bandit fantasies is to lean into a relationship table roll at the beginning. I'd write the table to model Pirates of the Caribbean type relationships and not the contractual relationships of historical pirates.

For example:

1) While trying to escape the law, you fell through the roof of --the player to your right-- and they helped you hide despite the authorities giving them a hard time. You owe them one.

2) You adopted a disguise to fleece Baron Duvold during the high-stakes poker game, only to discover that --the player to your right-- was ALSO there disguised as the Baron himself pursuing another score. You may have thwarted each others' heists, but you have a begrudging respect for the others' talents, and would call upon them for your next job.

EDIT: Oh! And if you're looking for 5e adjacent systems stuff you could look at our old Skull & Crossbones PbP campaign page: [5e] Spell & Crossbones A lot of it is adapted from Green Ronin's excellent d20 Skull & Bones.

EDIT: EDIT: And I just stumbled upon this gem of a Mork Borg hack: https://www.patreon.com/posts/54357835 Probably not so kid-friendly, but man that looks cool!
 
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Have them start with or quickly fall into acquiring a boat, and have them be in charge of it. Maybe one of them is the "captain" of whatever NPC crew members you throw in, but make sure that captain understands that this is still an adventuring party where fundamentally decisions for the group are made by the group. That's more in line with the pirate ethos anyway. These folks didn't jump ship from whatever stern and disciplined navy they learned their seamanship in just to live a life of discipline. Make sure things are semi-democratic.

Let them do a little actual piracy. Have them come upon some merchant ship laden with wealth (and adventure hooks) real early that's just a sitting duck. Let them play through the moral condundra of actually being pirates as they may. Let the law chase after them.

But, remember that fundamentally nautical travel and nautical battles aren't really all that fun to roleplay. Boarding an enemy ship (or getting boarded) is fun two or three times, and having waterbreathing magic opens up all sorts of undersea exploration, but "pirate campaign" should mostly be a land-based campaign where the characters are pirates, with some high seas adventure replacing the distance travel parts.

If there is going to be a mutiny against them don't let it be just because they didn't pass the right charisma checks with the crew or something; make it central to the plot of the story. Getting even with the guy who got their crew to mutiny and abandon them on some deserted island (doubtlessly full of monsters, ancient lost treasures, and other adventure-worthy wonders) is actually some pretty great character motivation.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I still have the complete Savage Tide from back in the day, but I just don't know about running any published material again, considering my bad luck with APs.
Use the Paizo forums, and any online resources. So much good stuff is out there from folks who have run these adventures. Things to add, things to avoid, ways to run successfully.
 

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