View Full Version : To Homebrew, or not to Homebrew?

2006-12-20, 04:22 AM
Browsing through the variety of homebrewed masterpieces on display here, I've constantly been surprised at peoples' ingenuity and creativity.
And it's gotten me wondering, why do people homebrew the way they do?

What one person makes as a whole new race, another thinks is better off as a template.
Base classes get turned into prestige classes, and vice-versa.

So what I'm curious about is, in terms of both balance and fluff, what are the pros and cons of each available option?
More specifically:

classes (prestige or base)
anything else relevant (items? variant rules? etc)

2006-12-20, 04:46 AM
it makes your campaign (as a DM) more personal. It suits your style, your players intrests, peronal preferneces, etc. better to take the rules and add a new monster, feat, spell, change a combat rule that no one at the table can justify, mod a class beyond recognition just to have fun, etc.

As a DM you can do anything with the game (barring copywright infringements and so forth... keep it legal, dont blame me...): its in the DMG "it's ok to use house rules". Homebrew is a THE* way to share ideas about house rules.

*best ever

2006-12-20, 04:55 AM
I homebrew so that I've got things that no-one has met before, and can't second-guess or meta-game.

Races, I tend not to invent from scratch, more to modify. Usually, I only modify races by tiny amounts, maybe just flavour-wise. I don't think we need a whole load more sentient species in the D&D world! In any case, using an existing race as a start is useful, 'cause assuming it is already balanced, you just need to replace bonuses with equal bonuses and penalties with equal penalties.
Classes - again, I tend to modify existing classes: replacing features with new ones is easier. A feat for a feat, that sort of thing. If a class casts spells, they need a BIG replacement if you're daring to substitute that!
Feats can be tricky. Think about how the feat would effect the game if everyone took it. If a feat makes a character much stronger, it needs to only be available to higher level characters. What would be reasonable pre-requisites? Watch out for putting scaling in feats too - "add +1 to [X] per character level". If a feat becomes something that EVERYONE would take, it's probably too powerful.
Templates - I've never even tried to do a template, so I'll not comment!
MONSTERS!!! I can't believe you left out monsters! This is where DMs can really go wild - but thankfully, the Challenge Rating is the Players' Friend. The rules in the Monster Manual and DMG explain how to assign a CR, so you can't go far wrong with monsters... Just watch out for the unbalancing things like invisibility, concealment, incorporeality and so on - they can really make a monster far harder to defeat than the CR bonus they give, especially at lower level play.

2006-12-20, 06:49 AM
One of the best reasons I can think of to Homebrew is to fix what's broken in D&D. One that's bandied about a great deal is armor as DR rather than AC. This makes sense to me as armor really doesn't make you harder to hit, in fact it's easier to hit someone in armor because it's harder to get out of the way. It does stop you from being hurt when you are hit.

Now, I'm just using this as an example. I know that there are great arguments over exactly this subject. I do know that it is a lot of hard work to come up with these rules, probably more effort than its worth, but at least people will feel that they have fixed something when they do.

2006-12-20, 08:16 AM
In my game I threw out Paladins and made up a PrC Paladin class - several months before WotC did it too.

What I reasoned was that the Paladin as a base class was too pious and divine, and that it detracted from the Cleric, and given my dark setting, they seemed too able to cut through the moral issues I wanted to vex the players with.
So I made a PrC that gave Paladin powers to higher level characters - but only if they'd been blessed by the Holy Powers. Essentially, I reversed the Blackguard. If a player wanted to be a Paladin, she'd better be ready to go on a Holy Quest to plead with Angels and really earn that divine power.

2006-12-20, 10:25 AM
What you seem to be asking here is "why homebrew something in a particular way?" - PrC vs Base Class, Template vs Race.

Often, there's just one obvious choice: if I want to add flying toadstools to the game as a playable race, I need to produce a homebrewed race writeup. If I want to provide a general way to convert existing monsters into brain eating monsters, I would invent a Brain Eating Monster template.

Prestige Classes versus base classes is a more difficult one, since purpose of Prestige Classes is muddled. Looking at the classes in the core rulebook, there is zero reason why - say - Assassin should be a prestige class.

Of course there is the other difficulty dividing line when Homebrewing, which is the line between "D&D Modification" and "Completely New Game". I tend to go for the latter these days.

2006-12-20, 09:54 PM
First of all, thanks for the answers so far, it's pretty much exactly what I wanted to know.

Secondly, I should perhaps have been a bit clearer in my original post, the second part of my question seems not to have been understood.
Dan got it right, but I'm still curious about the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and I've found a great example to illustrate my question.

Why are Dragonmarks implemented as feats? Why isn't there a Dragonmarked template, or race? And yes, there are classes but they are centred on the feats themselves.

So, in terms of flexibility and limitations, when you have an idea just waiting to be brought to life, why do you choose the forms you choose?

purple gelatinous cube o' Doom
2006-12-20, 10:01 PM
personally, I think most people homebrew, especially settings/worlds because most of the prefab ones suck. ( my personal exception is FR).

2006-12-21, 02:30 AM
Here's a good guide:

- Its a feat if you learn, perform or develop it yourself. (Powerattack chain, Dragonic Heratige chain, etc)
- Its an aquirerd template if it is aquired, but not wholy on your behalf, weather you are willing or not. (you need a special ritual, an item, someone else, etc). (Lich, Aflicted Lycanthrope)
- Its an inherent template if you are born with it. Technically, you have no choice whether you are born Half Dragon or not.(Fiendish template, Natural Lycanthrope, etc)

Essentially: feats a character chooses, a characters template is often not. (lich being one example of not)

Templates tend to be much stroger to feats. Feats are part of the ECL, templates usually add to it (I do not actually know of a template without LA)