Should a Dungeon Master Allow Homebrewed Content?
This is another Dungeons and Dragons question I’ve seen come up some with new players, in particular. Should the Dungeon Master allow homebrewed content, or shouldn’t they. And I think for a new Dungeon Master, it can be a tricky question to answer. The same is true for new players though, it can seem like it’s a good idea to do homebrew, but is it really?
What is Homebrew?
The question that some people might have is what is Homebrew? I know it in two contexts, the first is beer, the second is content for Dungeons and Dragons that isn’t official. So this is something that a person has created for their own character. It can be a whole new class, and you can find some of those on the DM’s Guild or Drive Thru RPG. Or it could be as simple as changing Fireball into Lightning Ball and doing lightning damage versus fire damage. So, it is simple as something that isn’t official from Wizards of the Coast or one of their partners.
For Dungeon Masters Should You Allow It?
Let’s start with this from the Dungeon Master side of things as that is in the title. And I am going to say, maybe. There are two reasons why players want to use homebrew. One is that they wan it to be thematic. Maybe they want to theme their whole character around lightning, but there aren’t enough lightning spells. The other is to power game. Maybe they know that lightning is less common for monsters to be resistant to.
The first I’d consider letting someone use homebrew content for. It is for a gaming and thematic reasons. Theoretically it won’t break everything and if something is flat out immune to lightning damage, I can always bring that in if need be. The second way, I am going to say no, or if I think that it might break the campaign even if it’s not intentional I’ll say no.
The same goes for bigger things like a custom class. I have a whole bunch of different rune magic classes that I got from Drive Thru RPG and DM’s Guild. I’d like to present them as an option for my players, but to do that, I need to spend time going through them myself. I need to know that they won’t be broken, either being too strong, or too weak. Because neither are fun for players.
For Players Should You Want It?
Honestly, I’m going to go with no. Unless you have a hyper specific build that makes 100% sense for the campaign, I don’t think you need it. Dungeons and Dragons gives the players a ton of options out there. And that is great and gives you plenty to play around with already. And there are more that are coming. I have five or so official books that give different class options. Now it might not give exactly what you want, and that is okay, you can tweak what you want slightly.
I think as a player, sometimes it can be tempting to create this precise vision of a character. But most of the times that won’t match up precisely with what you can do in Dungeons and Dragons. And really, that is fine. You can get close enough. I think like how a Dungeon Master needs to hold onto the story loosely and just guide it, the same is true with how you develop and build your character.
If there is a new class that someone has created that you really want, it probably is broken. If you need more lightning spells, maybe look for more support spells. There are ways to build your character still while being focused on a specific element. It just takes more work than changing how Dungeons and Dragons is set-up to work.
So Homebrew is Bad?
No, it isn’t. It can be a blast in some campaigns. Like I said, I have a whole stack of rune casters that I need to go through because the concept to me is really cool. I would love to play one some day. Why, because I think the concept of them is cool, not because I want to create an overpowered and broken combo. I want people to have fun around the table, and me creating a broken combo isn’t fun.
So there is a balance. It is something that, especially for new players and Dungeon Masters, I don’t recommend doing. I think that there is a lot of temptation to do that because you don’t know how to make Dungeons and Dragons work for you. The best advice I can give when you feel like you can’t do exactly what you want is to hold on loosely. It is a cooperative story telling game when it comes down to it, so don’t hold on too tightly to your perfect vision.