What is homebrew?
Homebrew is a term that we use to call all that content that is created by users. It’s not official related to the original product, generally made for personal use.
Taking D&D as an example, you can see homebrew in house rules, custom monsters, own adventures and in many more places!
Why should people homebrew?
Everyone has a project inside their minds just waiting to be brought to light. Have you ever played a game and wished it had a feature that you or your friends would love? Well! If it doesn’t, make it yourself!
If you can imagine it, you can make it. Even if it’s a “small thing” such as a minor rule or a mundane item, if you think it can enhance your experience, by all means, create it!
How to get started?
First of all: become familiar with the game you’re playing, learn at least the core rules / mechanics and have a place you can look for those that you don’t necessarily know by heart (such as the Dungeon Master’s Guide or the Player’s Handbook).
Then, identify what is what you would like to add. Maybe there’s a rule that is not very popular within your table, or maybe you want to have a weapon similar to the one you saw on that TV show or video game, perhaps people would be more inclined to have more character options. There’s plenty of room to choose.
After that, start adapting your creation to your game system. Search the existing content to see if there’s something similar you may use and simply re-flavor it. Or if you want something that doesn’t exist yet, try to look for anything that might be similar and create yours based on that.
Let’s say that you would like to make a Stun Gun for your games. If there’s nothing like a gun in your setting, you could look for something like a hand crossbow, lower/remove the damage and add a property that would impair the target.
In 5e it would be something like this:
Simple Ranged Weapon Name: Stun Gun Cost: 100 gp Damage: 1 lightning Weight: 1/2 lb Properties: Ammunition (range 5/15), light, loading, special Special: A Large or smaller creature hit by a stun gun is stunned for 1 round. The attacker does not add their ability modifier to the weapon's damage. The range on the weapon can't be modified by features that increase the normal weapon's range. A stun gun has no effect on creatures that are Huge or larger, or creatures that have resistance/immunity to lightning damage. When you use an action, bonus action, or reaction to attack with a stun gun, you can make only one attack regardless of the number of attacks you can make. Ammunition: Stun Gun Cartridge (5) Cost: 25 gp Weight: 1/2 lb Description: Each cartridge is a tiny reinforced wooden box that has a slot to be attached to the stun gun, on the opposite end it has two sharp copper prongs that will attach to the target. Once a cartridge is used it's discharged and can't be used again.
Look for alternatives
If making a whole new weapon doesn’t seem right or necessary but you still want to have that stun gun, consider making a special kind of ammunition (even magical) to be used with bows or crossbows or guns that have similar properties.
Well, that’s about it for a first draft of a homebrewed item! Here are a few things I took into consideration while making it:
- The stun gun should be an item anyone could pick up for personal defense, so it’s a simple weapon.
- The fact that most people can use doesn’t mean that it’s cheap to make.
- A stun gun uses “non-lethal” high voltage electrical currents to stop an attacker by disabling their muscle control, so damage should be of lightning type and should be very low.
- Should it have a DC save to avoid being stunned? Maybe, but that links to the next point:
Testing, testing, testing!
Once you finish your homebrew you will probably think “Wow! this is so awesome, I can’t wait until everyone else uses it!” and that’s valid, but before then you have to see what other people’s thoughts are.
See how it compares against the existing features, and consult others frequently. Balancing a feature right off the bat is a very difficult task and you’ll often see that the final version is different from the initial concept you had.
Also, seek feedback, if you’re creating content to be used in your home game ask the other players, ask the DM, see what they think and modify accordingly, be flexible with your opinions.
If you want to create for a larger audience seek feedback from a larger group and be aware that you won’t be able to please everyone, but still take their feedback in consideration and settle down for something that pleases the most people.
Do’s and Don’ts
These are just a few considerations to have when creating your own homebrewed content:
- Have a goal for your created content.
- Research similar existing features.
- Look for creations that others have made.
- Keep it simple!
- Think outside the box.
- Seek feedback from relevant parties frequently.
- Have an open mind for changes.
- Practice, a lot.
- Make the ultimate overpowered feature.
- Try to “balance” your creation perfectly off the start.
- Force your content into others.
- Make it sound complex.
- Go crazy trying to please everyone.
- Treasure your creation and not show it to everyone until it’s perfect.
Some final thoughts
Those are the basics, see what is that feature that you’d love to have in your game, think about how can you make a reality and then start working! Hopefully this gives you some insight on how to make your own, and feel free to share!