Peteypab from The Brew Crew talks about home brewing your own DnD campaign, and what it takes to forge your own fantastical world and uncover its mysteries with friends and fellow gamers.
You are a god. Conjuring vast landscapes and bringing to fruition insurmountable dilemmas for fickle demigods and fabled heroes alike. You control every point of creation. Natural disasters are your brush, tragedy and chaos are your canvas. You were given this world to be your plaything and you are its master. So, you Omniscient Olympian. Why are you so bored?
For many, diving into the world of tabletop role playing games is already a massive step. You need to learn rules that can appear at times un-intuitive and arbitrary. There is an etiquette both on the table and off the table that is expected of every player. Socializing with your fellow human beings is not only encouraged, but also expected. Finally, there is a massive time commitment, especially for the uninitiated who don’t know what it’s like to lose entire evenings to fantastical landscapes and lovable characters.
Homebrewing your own campaign is a big step. It requires that your players be aware of the above nuances of gaming and that they are on board with trusting the game master with creating an interactive and enjoyable world that they have never experienced before. It can be a lot of pressure for new and veteran players alike.
Hopefully this guide makes that process a little easier for new GMs because at the end of the day. The point of a homebrew is to take the favorite aspects of your imagination and brew them together with a game that you and your players, hopefully, love to play.
The first thing you want to decide when building your homebrew campaign is the setting. What do you want your world to look like? If there is a particular established universe that you read in a book or watched in a movie, you need to know what about that universe makes it immersive, and how your players can interact with it.
My very first homebrew was set in the world created by Magic the Gathering. Where a rich multiverse of thousands of planes interacted with each other through unforseen ways, and were linked by beings called planeswalkers. Who could traverse these worlds at will, and share (or abuse) the knowledge they gained from their travels.
This world was a good one for me to start with. It gave me the ability to scale the plane to whatever my groups needs were. All with an underlying narrative law established by the amazing writers at wizards of the coast. I had source material and established characters and races. More importantly my players were familiar with the world already, and thus, were able to interact with it on a deeper level.
I’m not saying you should go out shoehorn your favorite My Little Pony adventure onto your players. However a homebrew should be geared to the group and it’s interests. If you’re gaming with a bunch of star wars nerds, throw in a lightsaber or two, and watch what happens to your normal DnD campaign. This is by far the easiest way to establish a homebrew, and there are already guides and books that you can acquire to help you enjoy the content you love to consume.
Let’s say you want to create a homebrew world of your own. Maybe you want more agency as a DM to flex your creative muscles. Or maybe none of the worlds and universes you find in today’s pop culture resonate with you. That’s perfectly fine. Just remember, creating a homebrew from scratch is a journey and needs to be taken one step at a time.
Speaking of steps, here is a great start to creating your own magical world. This Fantasy Worldbuilder Guide is a 30 step process meant to give you all of the information you need to create your world. You don’t have to follow it step by step, but it’s a great reference to use for checklisting aspects of your world that you need.
One of the pitfalls in creating your own homebrew is also managing the expectations of your players. In a new world, your players might not be aware of customs, traditions, and physics that are present in your created world. Therefore, you need to communicate to them about what they should expect from your homebrew campaign, as well as what you expect from them. Maybe in this world unicorns are rabid sadists hellbent on destroying the galaxy. That’s cool, you do you boo. However you better make sure to tell that druid in your party before they encounter one natively in the wild.
The same goes for anything else you plan changing that can effect your players. Just make sure to communicate everything first, and be a little flexible when things inevitably go astray.
This is honestly a topic I could spend entire podcast seasons on (spoilers!), so I think i’m going to cut it down to just this last tip. When building your homebrew campaign make sure your rules are consistent and fair.
There are entire pintrest and reddit threads devoted to DnD 5e homebrew. With fleshed out and (mostly) balanced monsters, rules, and characters. Don’t be afraid to use these in your campaign. Creating a new race and rules for that race is hard. Make it easier on yourself by googling. You don’t need to be the millionth person to homebrew your own Kitsune Fox People race. Instead take inspiration from the thousands of people who have already put in that work for you.
Another way to make sure your homebrew campaign’s rules are consistent and fair is to stick to one system. Don’t try to incorporate a d6 based system in pathfinder. Or create GURPS, but with DnD forgotten realms content. Stick to one system, or preferable 1-2 core rulebooks for your players to follow. You don’t need to just play DnD, there are hundreds of other alternative game systems out there. However, it is probably best if you don’t mix them.
That’s all the time I have for today! Let us know about some of your favorite homebrew campaigns in the comments below! Also remember Frontline Gaming sells DnD products in their webcart!
Want more fun DnD Home Brew Content? Check out more articles written by The Brew Crew