To everyone who wants to play Dungeon and Dragons, you should know there are two ways to play that are easily accessible. Adventurers League, which is meeting with people in official organized play. Click here for more information about it. Then there is a DnD Homebrew, which is meeting with a bunch of people outside of an unofficial group.
Which would should you play? Adventure League or Homebrew? While you can certainly do both, but if you must choose one or the other, look at these few things to make your decision on what is right for you.
Reasons Not To Play A DnD Homebrew
There are two big reasons why you should not play a homebrew. One reason is if your play-style is not similar to your groups. The second reason is if there are not enough people to play.
Now, I know there are some people reading this who are thinking to themselves that, “There is never a reason to not play a DnD homebrew”. To that, I say, “this is my article and you’re entitled to your opinion; however, I’m about to explain.” So, let’s address why not for anyone who is thinking like this.
Not On The Same Page
A DnD homebrew is a more customizable and personal experience. This is because, you have the option to create a backstory that can directly affect how the world around you unfolds, and pull off shenanigans that can make your Dungeon Master groan in agony. Due to being more customizable, the world will bend heavily based on your actions. As a result, characters have so much more of an impact on little decisions than they would expect. It is for that reason you should make sure your group for the game are all in the same mind of how they want to play as there have been numerous groups I have played in where I wanted a political intrigue campaign and another player wants to murder everyone.
It really makes the stealthy spy’s job extremely hard to blackmail a nobleman when your barbarian pal just killed him in front of the guards… anyways after breaking out of jail and killing all the guards we encountered due to a few people in our group I quickly realized my group was a bunch of murder hobo’s in a political world created by our DM. After talking it over with my DM, we decided this is not the homebrew campaign for me. So, we agreed that I would leave the party to try and find a better-suited campaign for me. I should also mention we talked about this as he was rewriting his entire campaign to fit the murder happy group.
Sometimes You’re the Villian
I should also mention that there have been times where it’s been the other way around. For example, one time I played a pyromaniac destined to burn the world bright enough to rival the sun. Then we also had a paladin who only wanted to heal and save the world from darkness. It was a fun group for a while especially when I convinced the paladin that the world wouldn’t have to worry about darkness if the world was on fire.
He was a really easy going guy and so as time went on I eventually became converted by his loyalty to his religion and renounced my old ways. This, of course, happened after a lengthy discussion of where we wanted this campaign to go as he was helping people and I was… Well, I was burning people. So, yeah, make sure you know what the group and the DM are wanting out of this homebrew. If not, you might experience less fun or no fun at all in your group as your party can’t justify being together as you are wanting to go two different paths.
Not Enough People
The other reason why you might not want to do a DnD Homebrew is if you do not have enough people to play. This can be a serious hurdle because say you and your best friend want to play Dungeon and Dragons, yet no one else you know wants to play then you could just do you or him DM’s and the other plays a character. Now, this definitely still works! That is the beauty of this game is that it’s extremely easy to play under any circumstances.
That said, it may be lacking in what you want as a lot of the fun comes with your other players doing stuff that wasn’t planned by the DM as it forces all sorts of shenanigans to happen. This is something that can’t really happen as even though the DM might have an NPC that is in your party, he already knows what that character will probably due and accounts for that. This means the only one that in the end is being creative and unpredictable is you. Which you definitely can do but sometimes two heads are better than one when it comes to causing trouble for your DM in a fun way. I do not have any personal stories on this kind of play, but I have talked to people who have played this way and they agree with my sentiment and would rather play Adventures League instead.
Then Why Should I Play Homebrews?
Now, why would you want to play a homebrew campaign if it requires all this coordination with your party beforehand? Well, for that exact reason actually. As mentioned before a DnD homebrew allows you to tailor your game to meet what you desire. Want to build a dragon ball character? Talk to your DM and build the class together. How about creating a world where you are trying to become a bloodthirsty warrior that earns his own kingdom through evil deeds? Again, just talk with your DM and boom you have a story and you know what you want to do. The possibilities are endless as you explore the routes your character can take.
Or let us say you are in the middle of a campaign and discover a plane of existence filled with beer. Now maybe your DM just wanted to make a joke for your alcoholic monk and see what he does. Well rather than drink to the point of death, your monk decides to be smart and creates a permanent portal to your plane and begins to sell the beer at cheaper prices than the competitors; cornering the market. Now instead of fighting the ancient evil lich plaguing the land, your party is now running a business and have completely derailed the story that you thought to happen. Again, playing Adventures League, you can’t exactly do that as you must finish the mission unique actions will not carry over to other adventures. So, a homebrew can change at any given moment depending on what your party decides to do.
Another example of how a homebrew can be tailored to better match your campaign is in the creation of lore for your game. In the standard Dungeons & Dragons universe, there is lore you can follow and is enforced in Adventures League. Now there is not a whole lot of racism in the standard universe as who needs racism. That said a common one added into the lore of a homebrew universe is racism toward certain creatures.
For instance, half-elves are not hated in the standard universe. That said, I have played campaigns where half-elves are considered the scum of the earth and are not permitted into almost any inns. Something my half-elf wizard had trouble dealing with. This can serve as great character development or conflict in a game and is something simple that can add a breath of fresh air to a game as now there is a new factor you have to take into consideration of whenever you travel.
Finally, the last big thing a homebrew can offer you that adventure league cannot is a change in certain mechanics. Now this I say with a grain of salt as I am relatively against this as basically you have the option of choosing to use something heavily playtested and has material you can fall back on in times of question, or you can just be like, “Nope!” and build your own rule to change the gameplay. This usually leads to some fun shenanigans, but can also make certain people become overpowered which can ruin the fun for others.
For instance, a classic rule played is the human variant feat. This is when you choose to be a human you can pick a feat at level one for your character. This is an incredibly fun rule and makes the human extremely powerful. As a result, though people customize this rule heavily in many homebrews by either banning it, limiting the feat options or with my most overpowered character, letting everyone have a feat at level 1 but humans get 2 feats at level 1.
Another common homebrewed rule is rerolling hit points. The standard rule is to roll once and what you roll is your hit points. This can be great if you roll max, or terrible if you roll a 1. This means many people run the rule of re-roll ones or roll twice and choose the highest number. So, why I am hesitant toward changing mechanics, in some ways it customizes your experience to better suit your needs. Such as a bunch of squishy players would love to be able to roll their hit points again to boost their health and make them better able to survive.
I hope this article has explained to you why DnD homebrew may or may not be for you. It depends on whether you have the same goals in your dungeon and dragons group and enough players for you to make it worth your while. If this is the case a homebrew can be loads of fun as there is nothing that can’t be altered to create a better experience for you and everyone else in your group. If you are curious on homebrew ideas here is a list of what many have done. Thank you for reading this and like always keep on rolling.