When you’re running a Dungeons & Dragons (DND) campaign, you don’t always want to follow the rules. That’s where homebrewing comes into play.
What Is DND Homebrew?
DND homebrew refers to any fan-made content for DND that is outside of the official Wizards of the Coast published rulebooks. This includes races, classes, items, spells, monsters, settings, and more. Any of this content can be crafted from scratch or by using templates and content-generators.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about DND Homebrew.
What Is DND Homebrew? (Detailed Answer)
In short, DND homebrew is whenever a Dungeon Master (DM) or player character makes up something that is not in the official DND rulebooks.
However, there is a bit more to it than that.
Dungeons & Dragons is a vast world with a lot of rules and guidelines for what is allowed and what is not. But these rules and guidelines aren’t that strict.
DND players often have a lot of leeway.
If the things they want to do aren’t explicitly stated in the rules or guidelines, players can come up with solutions to problems that aren’t in any rulebooks published by Wizards of the Coast.
The arbitrator of the game, called the Dungeon Master, can decide whether or not the solutions are viable.
If so, the DM will come up with rules related to them, as needed.
Dungeons & Dragons, at its core, is all about imaginative storytelling, and the liberty to create your own rules and solutions gave way to homebrew adventures. As previously discussed, homebrew refers to any fan-made additions or changes to the game which includes monsters, spells, magic items, and a whole lot more.
The term was inspired by regular people creating or brewing their own beer at home, thus, homebrew.
The word’s use has since then extended to anyone whose hobby it is to create products that are normally produced commercially.
The first time it has been used in a DND context dates back to 2003 when a player referred to using a homemade campaign setting in contrast to an official one.
Today, from a strictly homemade campaign setting, the word homebrew has become an umbrella term that encompasses everything fan-made in DND:
- Monster design
- Magic items
- And more
These additions have kept players invested in the game because of the vast possibilities they can come up with.
Even popular virtual tabletop sites have built-in settings for adding customizable elements when creating new characters.
These sites include D&D Beyond and Roll20, to name a few.
Homebrew adventures do not need to be created completely from scratch. Players can incorporate and pull in existing settings, characters, and so on from already published adventures to their own homebrew campaign.
Some campaigns can be a series of adventures, stand-alone, or a mix of both.
And these campaigns can be made up entirely of homebrew content or mixed in with officially published ones.
The easiest way to know whether or not something is homebrew is if any of the content– like monster design, storyline, encounters, maps, deities, classes, and so on– aren’t normally found within any official rulebook.
The official Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks are those published by Wizards of the Coast.
These rulebooks include:
- The Player’s Handbook
- Volo’s Guide to Monsters
- Monster Manual
- Dungeon Master’s Guide
- Monsters of the Multiverse
If you’re looking for these resources, here is a handy chart:
|Recommended D&D Resources||Price|
|D&D Core Rulebook Set||Check the latest price|
|D&D Rules Expansion Set||Check the latest price|
|D&D Dice Set||Check the latest price|
|D&D Accessories Bag||Check the latest price|
If you do play a homebrew campaign but use items, maps, and more that come from the official rulebooks, then the only homebrew part of that game is the campaign itself.
In that case, you could call it hybrid homebrew.
Types of DND Homebrew
When it comes to DND homebrewing, you have a lot of options.
You can homebrew anything in the DND game, so I thought we’d quickly go through some of the most common things DMs and players like to homebrew.
One of the great things about playing Dungeons and Dragons is that you can create any sort of character you can imagine.
If you can’t find a race that fits your concept, you can always create your own homebrew race.
Here’s a quick overview of how to do it.
If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to decide what attributes your race will have. Will they be small or large? Fast or slow? Intelligent or gullible?
Once you’ve decided on the basics, you can start filling in the details.
What kind of culture do they have? What are their customs? What sort of history do they have?
If you’re using an existing race as a template, you can start by making a few changes to better fit your concept.
For example, if you want to create a race of flying creatures, you could take the basic template of an elf and give them wings. Or if you want to create a race of heavily-armored warriors, you could take the basic template of a dwarf and give them extra strength and constitution.
Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to start thinking about game mechanics.
What sort of abilities will your race have? Will they have any special resistances or vulnerabilities? How will they interact with other races in the game?
Answering these questions will help you create a well-rounded homebrew race that fits seamlessly into your Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
Here is a list of some of the best homebrewed playable races:
- Aarakocra Penguin
- Animated Armor
- Awakened Skeleton
Homebrew Character Classes
In Dungeons and Dragons, a homebrew character class is a player-created class.
These classes are not officially part of the game, but they can be used in campaigns if both the Dungeon Master and the players agree to it.
Homebrew classes often reflect the unique vision of the player who created them.
As such, they can be incredibly varied.
While there is no hard and fast rule for creating a homebrew class, it is generally advisable to work closely with the Dungeon Master to ensure that the class is balanced and playable.
With a little creativity, a homebrew class can be a great way to add some flavor to your campaign.
Here is a list of some of the best homebrew classes:
- Blood Hunter
- Con Artist
In Dungeons and Dragons, a homebrew spell is a spell that is created by the player rather than being found in the official rulebooks.
Homebrew spells can be created for any class.
They can also be designed to fill any role that the player desires. When creating a homebrew spell, it is important to consider its purpose and how it will fit into the game balance.
For example, a spell that allows the caster to fly would be unbalanced if it did not also have some drawbacks – such as a limited duration or a requirement that the caster remain motionless while casting.
Once you have decided on the effects of your spell, you need to come up with a name and description.
The name should be evocative and memorable, and the description should be clear and concise. Finally, you need to choose a level for your spell.
The higher the level, the more powerful the spell will be.
However, keep in mind that players will need to have access to spells of higher levels in order to cast your homebrew spell. With careful consideration and planning, you can create a powerful and unique homebrew spell that will enhance your Dungeons and Dragons game.
Here is a list of some of the best homebrew spells:
- Aarakocra Arrow
- Storm Test Strike
- Arcane Diffusion Bomb
- Card Throw
- Shadow Clone
- Analyze Blood
Homebrew Magic Items
A homebrew magic item is a magic item created by a Dungeon Master for their campaign that is not found in the official Dungeons & Dragons books.
Homebrew items can be created for any purpose, from filling a gap in the adventurers’ gear to giving a character a signature item. If you’re interested in creating your own homebrew magic items, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, consider what sort of effect you want the item to have.
Do you want it to be a weapon? A tool? A piece of armor? Once you know what sort of item you want to create, you can start thinking about its properties.
What sort of bonuses does it provide? Does it have any special abilities? How rare is it?
Answering these questions will help you to create a well-rounded and balanced item. Remember, the goal is to create something that would be fun and interesting to use in your game, not to break the balance.
Here is a list of some of the best homebrew magic items/weapons:
- Technically ‘plate’ armor
- Dryad’s gift
- Fine mustache
- Swiss army wand
- Hag mask
- Britney spear
- Broche des fleurs
- Boots of the vigilant
- Moral compass
- Player’s mask
The fun thing about homebrew monsters is that you can throw the unknown at the players and chuckle menacingly when they think they can predict the creature’s attacks.
You probably don’t want to go for a total party kill (TPK), but surprises are always fun.
When creating a homebrew monster, think about the appearance, attacks, resistances, environment, special abilities, and challenge rating.
Here is a list of some of the best homebrew monsters:
- Tooth Fairies
- Hell Bovine
- The King in Yellow
The scope of Dungeons & Dragons is nearly an immeasurable one.
It offers something for every kind of player. Creating your own world with a rich storyline from scratch can be punishing.
Although there are many beautifully illustrated sourcebooks published by Wizards of the Coast that provide all the monsters, maps, and narratives you need to get started, a lot of players still try their hand at creating their own.
You can homebrew a DND one-shot adventure or an entire campaign that involves a connected series of sessions.
Here is a list of some of the best homebrew campaigns:
- Call from the Deep
- Murder On Primewater Pleasure
- Forest Of The Lost Children
- The Demonplague
- Saltmarsh Modules
- Tomb of Annihilation
- Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
- Lost Mines of Phandelver
- Storm King’s Thunder
There are a few pros and cons to consider before trying your hand at homebrewing your own campaign.
Here are some reasons why building a homebrew campaign can be rewarding for both you and your players:
- You have all the freedom in the world to tell your own story the way you want to
- You can choose from a wide variety of themes you want for your adventure, whether dark and gritty or mysterious and romantic, to a more heroic and action-packed theme
- Players have a chance to participate in the story-making process and alter it as it goes
- You can be flexible about which setting, classes, races, items, and so on are going to be part of the game
- You can exercise your creativity by making your own map, writing your own lore, etc.
- If things go wrong like the adventure starts to get less interesting and stagnate, you can always change the direction of where it goes
Now, let’s look at the cons:
- You can easily create an overpowered homebrew class, magic item, monster, or spell
- You might unintentionally break the game
- You have to make sure there aren’t any plot holes and flaws to your scenarios that allow your players to exploit them and ruin the game for everyone
- You need to be okay with the story not going the way you wanted and expected
- No matter how good you think the game is going, chances are you will still have to rewrite some of the adventures as you go
- Running your own homebrew campaign is almost five times the work it takes as compared to running an already published adventure
A lot of players create homebrew content because it’s fun and relatively easy to do.
But making your own from scratch can be, at times, overwhelming. In order for you to have a fun experience when making your homebrew material, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Tip Number One: Use Existing Content First
It’s not a requirement to make your own content from scratch.
There are a lot of amazing resources and materials from different players across the world available on just as many platforms, that it’s almost not necessary for you to start from the bottom.
A great tip is to try searching for what you have in mind first.
Changes are good that there’s already a homebrew material that’s quite similar to what you’re trying to create.
And if the existing homebrewed content is lacking, you can still incorporate some of the elements found in already existing content into your own character, spell, or story.
Then, tweak them just enough that it makes sense to you and your players.
Tip Number Two: Start Small
Homebrew content doesn’t mean that you have to create your own world filled with your own creatures, spells, rules, language, etc.
You can absolutely do that.
But that takes a lot of time and a lot of effort that you probably won’t get to enjoy after you’re done due to burnout.
It’s best that you start homebrewing by tweaking or adding small and less important items.
These micro-homebrews are less likely to cause problems to the overall game experience.
Tip Number Three: Get feedback
It’s always a good idea to ask for feedback from others whenever creating something on our own.
Especially for homebrew content, where a lot of people would possibly be interested in playing what you came up with, it doesn’t hurt to ask for help from others.
Don’t hesitate to ask specific questions about what you want to know:
- Is your monster too overpowerful?
- Is the magical item you made ideal for its intended usage?
- How much should it cost?
- What are the requirements before others can obtain them?
The more specific your questions are, the more likely you are to get the best feedback possible.
Tip Number Four: Be Flexible and Open to Constructive Criticism
When asking for feedback, don’t take their criticisms and suggestions personally.
Most people don’t have malice when giving feedback so don’t think they’re doing so because they don’t like you.
Most of the time, they just really want to give feedback to help you.
Be open to conversation and take your player’s opinions into consideration.
The more you’re able to adjust and take into account what players want, the more likely other players will want to use your homebrew content.
Tip Number Five: Don’t Get Discouraged
Creating homebrew content can sometimes feel overwhelming to the point that you don’t want to finish it anymore.
Don’t get discouraged and stop altogether.
You can take a pause and continue some other time, but don’t abandon your creation completely.
Tip Number Six: Find Balance
It’s helpful to create homebrew content that is exciting, useful, and balanced.
Find the balance between challenge and fun.
This is especially true when homebrewing an entire campaign. Use a blend of combat and non-combat encounters to keep your players engaged.
Some players prefer to focus on one more than the others, so you’ll need to make sure to balance their preferences.
Also, make sure that you don’t homebrew everything in the game.
Otherwise, you’re essentially not playing D&D anymore. The perfect balance between official material and homebrew content ensures that your adventure stays consistent while still being interesting and understandable.
Tip Number Seven: Demo Your Homebrew
So you finished your homebrew campaign, and you think you’ve already completely polished this amazing world you created.
If you haven’t let other people try to play it, chances are it’s not as polished as you might think.
Having a fresh set of eyes can expose some plotholes that you may have neglected to think about (trust me, they’re there).
If you don’t test your homebrew adventures, players will spot the plot holes and try to outsmart you. Players love to defeat the DM.
However, don’t railroad your players when letting them try your campaign.
Instead, let them explore the world you created and write down their observations and suggestions.
Ultimately, it’s about co-creating the best homebrew setting, adventure, or monster possible.
Tip Number Eight: Mix & Match DND Homebrew
Try choosing stories from official content, already-made homebrew content, and also your own ideas.
By mixing and matching, you’ll be able to tweak the story to make it your own and fit your narrative.
This is probably the best way for a beginner to make a homebrew campaign.
Tip Number Nine: Stay Organized
Keeping notes is very important to stay consistent with your homebrew creations.
Although you are the creator, it’s not all the time that you remember what you wrote or made.
Tip Number Ten: Study Other People’s Homebrew
Instead of using other people’s homebrew content, you can study their content.
Look to the more established campaigns that a lot of players have already developed. Studying these campaigns gives you an idea of how you can handle possible scenarios that may arise.
I’ve found that studying existing homebrew content often inspires me.
Tip Number Eleven: Find Established Resources
Use the thousands of resources at your disposal for making homebrew content.
This includes all the existing homebrew content.
But it also refers to the many free and paid online tools for generating homebrew content using sophisticated Artificial intelligence.
More on those tools in a moment.
Once you’ve got the hang of homebrewing material, then you can try making it completely by scratch.
Here is a good video about how to homebrew DND content:
DND Homebrew Template
Dungeon Masters, ever find yourself stuck when it comes to creating homebrew content for your campaigns?
Worry no longer, for I have the perfect Mad Libs style template for you to follow
Simply fill in the blanks with the appropriate information and voila, you will have a brand new, original piece of homebrew content for your players to enjoy.
Here is a simple DND homebrew template for an adventure:
[Noun] of [adjective] and [adjective] once roamed the [noun]. However, after a great and terrible war with the [plural noun], they were forced to take refuge in the depths of the earth. For centuries they have been living in [adverb] [adjective], until recently their numbers have begun to grow once again. The [singular noun] has called upon brave adventurers to help this Ancient Race by venturing into their lairs and slaying the monsters. Are you up for the challenge?
Here’s a basic homebrew template for creating a monster in DND:
|Homebrew Monster Categories||Homebrew Stats|
|Name of monster|
|Challenge Rating (CR)|
|Armor Class (AC)|
|Description of Appearance|
So there you have it.
I hope these templates are helpful next time you are stuck while trying to come up with some new homebrew content.
Consider using them to create cohesive homebrews that are enjoyable both for you and your players.
If you use them be sure to let me know how it goes on Twitter (@RoleplayingLab).
Happy Dungeon Mastering!
DND Homebrew Resources
After homebrewing content for a few years, I’ve compiled a list of resources that help me speed up my workflow.
- Aidedd Character Builder – This character builder is great for new DND players because it breaks down the character creation into simple steps that novice players can easily understand. It also has a list of every published spell found in all the DND sourcebooks.
- DnD Beyond – This is a famous reference site for Dungeons & Dragons content. Creating an account is free and its character builder has a wide range of customizable options.
- Dungeon Master’s Vault – The more powerful version of DnD Beyond. It even allows you to generate random characters. However, it doesn’t have the complete list of spells, backgrounds, and subclasses found in the official sourcebooks, so you’ll have to manually add them (Bummer).
- Fast Character Builder – With this builder, you don’t have to customize any options if you don’t want to. Just random character generation that’s quick and fast.
- Levi Blodgett’s Character Generator – This generator puts together an editable character sheet. You can keep it as it is or adjust it to how you prefer, and then save it as a PDF file.
- MPMB’s DnD 5e Character Tools – One of the more extensive character builders on this list. This is not a suitable tool for beginners, but if you’re looking for something really specific then give this builder a try.
- Ninetale Character Builder – This builder excels at providing quick and simple characters made with a stat block. The only downside is it’s not very customizable as you are only limited to level 1 characters.
- Roll20 Charactermancer – This site is well-known for its DND content from rule guides to hosting games. If you join a campaign or start your own, you’ll get access to Roll20’s character sheet builder.
- 5e Companion App – Lastly, this one isn’t a website but an app, making it portable and easy to use even when you only have a smartphone. What’s more, it has everything you need to quickly put together characters for your campaign.
- Pen & Paper – The good old pen and paper. A classic option for novice and expert players alike. You don’t need any fancy materials or art supplies, as the handy pen and paper will always do the trick.
- Mipui’s Mapmaker – This map maker makes use of open-source software and is very simple and straightforward to use. It focuses on an iconographic style of map making almost similar to that of analog and old-school grid paper maps. The maps it generates are nothing too fancy but clean and functional.
- Pymapper – This map generator is designed with the creation of dungeons, towns, and wilderness areas in mind. Its drag and drop feature also provides a nice and easy way for beginners to use so that it isn’t too complicated. It’s free and easy to use with a little bit of practice.
- Inkarnate – Possibly one of the most popular map-making tools in this list, Inkarnate has a fairly intuitive set of tools to build some really stunning maps. Although it does take a good amount of experimenting and playing around with it to really get the hang of this tool. This map maker offers a pro subscription per month or per year. It also has a free trial if you just want to try things out.
- Deepnight’s RPG Map Editor – This map maker’s philosophy is “keep it clean and simple” and they absolutely do just that. It’s great for really light and simple but nice-looking RPG maps.
- Dungeon Scrawl – This map generator is specifically for making maps of dungeons, with the tools catered to that purpose. Tools like adding doors, stairs, rooms, or paths. It takes a few minutes to truly get familiarized with its tools and settings but once you’ve made your way past that, the possibilities are endless.
- Donjon – Donjon is another website with a large collection of fantasy-related generators, including map generators. You can choose your own motif, setting, size, and more to get the specific space you’re looking for. Although it’s more targeted for dungeon generation like Dungeon Scrawl, they also have a world and city builder that generally follows the same concept.
- Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator – This map generator is great for building maps of a region or even a world. They offer a lot of different layers you can choose to view because of their procedural generation of maps. You will also be able to edit the landscape according to the political, cultural, or religious context of your setting.
- RPG Map Editor 2 – This map maker is probably the most unique in this list because of its sandbox vibe. Although the layout is tricky to figure out, it’s not that complicated once you play around with it. This map maker has a website and a desktop application that you can use.
- Dungeon Map Doodler – This dungeon map generator uses a very simple set of tools recommended for newbies to draw out the spread of your dungeon. This one is probably the simplest on this list but certainly has its quirks.
- Jasper AI – This is probably one of the best and most high-quality AI text generators on this list. It can create outputs based on the prompt you give it five times faster than the other generators in this list. There are also pre-written templates that you can use based on the specific categories you want. However, it’s not free. They offer two subscriptions – a starter plan and boss mode. I have the boss mode and highly recommend it for any time of writing (including DND campaign generation).
- GPT-2 text generator – This text generator is free to use and is able to generate text based on your provided prompt. You will be able to control how you want the temperature of generated text to be. It can either generate text that is conservative or inventive, or anything in between.
- Inferkit Text Generation Tool – This one isn’t free, but does have a demo version that lets you generate up to 7,500 characters per week. The paid version costs around $20 per month for 600,000 characters. There is also a more expensive option that lets you generate over two million characters per month.
- Rytr – This text generator has a fun and friendly UI which makes it easy to use. It has a lot of options and parameters that you can adjust in order to customize the output you want it to generate. You can also choose between 15 languages and 22 tones. This tool is not limited to fantasy text generation, but you can also use it for copywriting ads, emails, blogs, etc.
- Plot Generator UK – This tool was specifically designed with creative writers in mind. It allows you to generate random fantasy names, create line-by-line plots, and more. The tool will write a short adventure story for you in over 13 genres.
- Sudowrite – For this tool, you must provide at least 50 words yourself before you can generate text from it. It also has a description tool that you can control based on the appearance, taste, smell, or sound you want. They also have a plot twist tool, character tool, and poem tool.
- Shortly – This text generator is a paid service but they have a free trial where you need to create an account in order to use it.
- AI dungeon – This text generator is built specifically for Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, you can essentially play DND with this AI text generator. It will automatically generate an introduction where you can type your actions following the prompt. Then you can use it like an AI chat app. The adventures you have using this text generator are automatically saved so that you can read the whole text chat.
- Story Generator – This text generator is able to generate non sequitur text in less than 10 seconds without having to provide any words. This means you do not have control over its generated outputs. It’s great for when you just want to add random facts to your story but just can’t find the words.
- Homebrewery – This website is dedicated to all things homebrew, so it makes sense that it has functions to generate and create your own graphic template fast and easily. You can also view other people’s creations and use them as inspiration when creating your own. Signing up to the platform is free and there is virtually no limit to how much you can create.
- GM Binder – This website was created in direct competition with Homebrewery, so they are pretty much alike in their contents and what they can do. However, one advantage of GM Binder is that it can create item cards, which is great if you want to make your custom items look official.
- Photoshop – This option is for people with a background in graphic design that want to make their templates more personalized. Photoshop gives you full control of what you want your graphic to look like, where to put what, how big the elements should be, etc.
Now that you know the basics, the question is whether or not you should homebrew your own DND campaign.
The short answer? It depends.
If you’re relatively new to Dungeons & Dragons, it might be a bit difficult to tell if the homebrew campaign you designed is balanced enough to use as it is written.
I would go far as to say that playing homebrew adventures would be difficult for beginners and advise them to stay away for now.
Use pre-made adventures and stick with the official DND books for your first few campaigns.
Once you’re a more experienced player, go for it.
At the end of the day, homebrewing comes down to creativity, flexibility, and time.
If you have a story you want to tell that isn’t found elsewhere, are willing to be flexible, and have plenty of time to experiment and dedicate a lot of effort to it, then you’ll likely enjoy every step of building a homebrew adventure.
Final Thoughts: What Is DND Homebrew?
If you look closely at Dungeons and Dragons, you’ll realize that homebrewing and bending the rules is baked into the very essence of the game.
Thanks for reading!
If you like this kind of content, we have a ton of other DND-related articles on this site.
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