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make sure usability is at/near the top of your list. It may have lots of funky features, but if they are hard to use, no one will use them.
make sure you test it thoroughly before you launch it. Fixing bugs while people are using the system is a lot harder than being able to take the site down to fix it.
Unless you are approaching this project purely as a programming exercise, I second netchicken - start with one of the many good forums available for free or for little money, and work from there.
A lot of thought, testing, admin feedback, etc. has gone into the feature set of the popular forum packages, and even if the base package doesn't do what you want you can probably find an existing hack for it.
Either way, good luck!
dont limit ur board to just 3 forums but make it as u can make as many as u wish just from ur admin control panel.
and i suggest one more, if u care to read my msgs.
instead of making one from scratch, take any existing like IPB or phpBB or VBUlletin and change it as u wish, i think it consumes less time than making from scratch.
Can't really recommend any free packages though.. no experience with them (purchased mine).