What is the difficulty (monster wise) of the AP? And, due to the pirate/swashbuckler theme - can those types of characters function in it?
I have a party of totaly NOOBs playing 1/2Orc Barbarian, elf wizard, human rogue, human cleric, human druid. I even gave the druid a wand of cure light wounds (20 charges). It was a TPK on the Blue Nixie.
I started the party over again at 2nd level and put them back on the boat to try again...
We'll see if they can survive it this time.
HOWEVER, reading through the adventure it is obvious that if the party is bent on fighting everything they are all going to die again. The point of the Module is to use the gray matter between your ears to figure out ways to out-smart the opponents.
Is the Savage Tide campaign too difficult or nuanced to use as a first campaign for a new player?
It depends. How old and how mature is your new player?
I was planing on running it for a group of 16&17 year old new players (my son and friends from school). They are just cutting up and acting like everything is a joke. I killed two characters (the cleric at -1 and the wizard at -4) on the second round at the blue nixie. The rest had to jump off and swim back to the pier.
I am going to run a hack-n-slash dungeon-crawl using the Undermountain map. Where I just throw equivalent level monsters at them.
If you have an experienced group and a mature new player, I would say it would be ok.