[RPG] Is homebrewing D&D okay


I am DMing for the first time, and I am really excited about playing D&D. I love the idea of it because it is so open ended. I want to increase the amount the players can do in terms of skills, weapon types, armour types, races, etc. Is this okay?

If so, does everyone do this, or do people play entirely with only official assets? Also what about omitting rules entirely? For example, to simplify something to make it more streamlined.

Best Answer

In about 35 years of playing role-playing games, I have seldom witnessed anyone play 100% by-the-book.

A few bits of advice:

  1. Don’t take the names of things too seriously. What really matters is the results of rules, not the names they use.

  2. The “in game” justification for a rule may be different from the “game design” reason. Unfortunately, many games only give you the “in game” justification and leave you to puzzle out the “game design” reason yourself. When the “in game” justification and the “game design” reason seem less connected, it is often an attempt to keep the rules simple enough for tabletop play.

  3. If a rule doesn’t seem to make sense, take a step back. Remember that somebody thought it made sense. At least some of their co-workers thought it made sense. At least some of the playtesters thought it made sense. Etc. Try to figure out why it made sense to those people. Seek out people who like the rule and ask them why. (You might still change it, but it will then be because you want a different rule, not because you misunderstood the rule.)

  4. It is a good idea to give a rule a try before changing or discarding it.

  5. Never be afraid to overrule a rule at the table when the results don’t make sense.

  6. Discuss rule omissions, changes, and overruling with the rest of the group. While the group ought to give the DM the benefit of the doubt when it comes to such things, the DM ought to also consider the input of the players.

  7. As much as possible, make sure players know about rule changes up-front. Players will make decisions and plans based on the rules. If a rule needs to be changed or clarified after play begins, talk to the players and figure out how to make up for a change that invalidates their past choices or future plans.

  8. Never be overly beholden to consistency. If, in retrospect, a rule change didn’t turn out well, change it again. Retcon if you really need to.

    (Retcons are often less necessary than you might think. The real world is messy and full of seeming contradictions. Why should the fantasy world be any different?)

  9. Read lots of different games. Read any design notes you can find. The more you understand what rules have been tried and what the intent behind rules are, the better positioned you are to make house rules and on-the-fly rulings.

  10. Accept now that you’re going to make mistakes. That’s OK. We all do.