This is my first time participating in a blog carnival and I have decided to unleash my thoughts on this. So this is (hopefully) one of my many entries to the 2nd RPG Blog Carnival; Homebrew.
Roleplaying games runs on the concept of creation in imagination, which is essentially the element of homebrewing. To create something almost out of nothing. It is something that anyone and everyone can do, in their basements or backyards because it's all in their heads. It is our day-dreams, our 'what if' moments, our fantasies or our deep thoughts personified with an imaginary life.
I agree with Greywulf that roleplaying is an act of constant creation.
From a player's perspective, when we are generating a new character, we are, in fact, homebrewing something. The fighter that we want to make is different and unique from the fighter that someone else could be making somewhere at the same point in time and space. A player always wants to differentiate his character from others and makes it unique in some way, whether from mechanical stats or the backstory that he has written for the character, which makes the player own that character.
Although, there are times when a player wants to play Conan the barbarian, Drizzt Do'Urden and Elminster but there is nothing more rewarding than the feeling of making a character that is originally theirs. This is perhaps why players fondly recall the characters they made more than the NPCs they encountered. There is a sense of ownership that we want to have over our creations which we hold dearly to.
But the appeal of homebrewing is far greater for DMs. It is an art, a craft, a tradition and a constant self-indulgence to the one who holds the mantle of being a 'god' in roleplaying games. As a player, we are given rules to create our characters as our homebrew. As the DM, he is given the endless possibilities of creating a homebrew for the same characters to live in. He is given the power to unlock his own imagination and become the master of his own creation. Creation starts with a thought in their heads rather than from a vision. The DM indulges himself with visions and workings of the universe, the cosmology, histories, cultures, empires and other thing of magnificent scope that resembles anything larger than life itself.
It is a tradition that homebrewing should come naturally to a DM because he is able to recognise that it is by homebrewing that makes roleplaying a game. Unlike the player, the DM sets the stage, the lights and the narration which he shares with his players, who act as characters, to be a part of an imaginatively crafted campaign world. However, all these work and preparation starts from within the DM's mind; his homebrew. The DM has to breath life into a world before a player's character. Without homebrewing, there would be no roleplaying.
In roleplaying, the player's game are about their characters. For the DM, the game is about homebrewing.