Homebrewing Basics

In honour of the announcement of Pathfinder 2nd edition, Duck and Roll is celebrating March as Homebrew month! We’ll celebrate all the homebrewers who intend to vigilantly keep pathfinder first edition running long into the next decade. All month we’ll be looking at how to homebrew, why you should, and what makes it truly exciting. To start off we’re going to take a look at the basics of homebrewing.

To start off, let’s look at the simplest part of making your own content for your favourite tabletop RPG. First and foremost you need a core idea for what you are trying to create. Ideally you want to be able to summarise whatever you’re making into one or two sentences. If it takes more than that to express the basics, you might need to focus more tightly.

Once you have a basic idea of what you want to make you need to establish some familiar ground. It’s important to be able to relate whatever you’re making to another official part of the game. Some systems make this incredibly easy. Making anything new in world of Darkness comes with a beautiful framework already in place for you. Working through a system like pathfinder it can be useful to find a similar class to compare yours to, or a feat or feat chain or item ect you can match up with side by side.

Once you have something to compare to, you can start thinking about how you’re deviating from the most similar work and why. You can think about stylistic differences, about mechanical rules permutations, and about adding, removing, and changing other major qualities. All of this is to better suit your core concept.

Now that you have your first draft, look it over. Read over everything you have, and how it works. Does it stand up on its own? Is it free of typos or other copied and incorrectly altered text? Does everything make sense, even for someone who isn’t familiar with the original material it was similar too? And lastly does it match your concept? If anything isn’t satisfactory, go ahead and change and reword it.

Finally you’re ready for the most intensive and fun part. Playtesting. First, make something using your new content. A new character, a monster, a dungeon. Whatever it is, make something with it and see how it feels. Did making the character run smoothly? Does the NPC feel right and make sense? Did anything give you trouble or make the creation process more difficult? Fix those things. Now do it again different. Make a character stronger or weaker, or a different dungeon with the same device or trap, or another character who uses the item differently. Does everything still hold up? Have all the problems been smoothed out? Good. Repeat one more time from a third perspective, with a third different use.

Now that you’ve tested out your content, you like it and you think it’s done it’s time to watch it be handled by others. Get someone else to use and test your content, as many people as possible, as often as possible. And take notes of what people ask you, what they think, and what they do and want to do but can’t. Now you have to carefully make sure to sort out the valuable and important ideas, from the irrelevant. Sometimes people will have incredibly useful of insightful ideas, other times they might not really have any clue as to what they’re really asking or suggesting. Remember, your final product is yours, but the more people can use and enjoy it, the more rewarding it will be.

Hopefully this has been a helpful outline of the basics of how to homebrew your own content for whatever your favourite game may be.