September 19, 2008

How Much Do You Love Your Homebrews?

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; Hombrew.

As a DM, I love to homebrew, it's another aspect of fun in RPGs that lets me flex my creative muscles for things in a much wider scope other than deriving ways of TPKing our players. Mostly because I get to feel like a real 'god' and because I see things larger than the players sees them.

Everytime I embark on a homebrewing project, it is out of an act of love and inspiration that I spend hours of reading, researching and writing about them. Slowly building them usually from the ground up and letting them occupy my absent-minded minds every now and then when I'm bored and not thinking about anything else.

I like to say this for most DMs, but homebrew creations are our most beloved and treasured ideas come to life and we give every proper dedication of our time, commitment, thought and effort to cherish them as their benevolent 'god'. Afterall, if it's not fun, then what pay so much attention?

Much as I love my homebrews, there is a slight chance that I am loving them too much. While RPGs gives me an outlet to spawn my homebrews and give them a place to exist in my minds, it should be remembered that hombrews are spawned for one purpose and that it is meant to be used for gaming by other players. Homebrewing for a game means that it is shared with other people, even though I end up doing most of the work.

I fell into this trap once when I was homebrewing a setting for a campaign that I was planning during my early secondary school years. The campaign that I had in mind revolved around an evil archwizard who tricked and mind controlled all wizards in the campaign setting and used them to start an uprising against the king and evidently the world.

I started out by creating the BBEG, the kingdom, the king and his loyal cohorts and the NPCs that the players were meant to meet along the way throughout the course of the campaign. As time went on, I started imagining the heroic deeds that my players and their characters would be performing to thwart the evil plot of the BBEG and the final showdown.

As I was doing this, I was running another campaign with my players and we're quite far from over but I wanted to plan ahead for the next campaign since I was running the current campaign based on pre-written notes.

As I continued imagining, I, for some reason or another, started filling in the faces of the characters that were supposed to be played by my players. Gradually, I created a party of NPCs that were supposed to represent the PCs; A female elf wizard, a human rogue, a human fighter and a pair of half-elf twin rangers. Whenever I started thinking about what sort of encounters or events that the PCs are about to face, I imagined them being roleplayed by these characters instead of my players. I had even started planning the romantic development between the elf wizard and the human rogue and the final showdown which involved the elf wizard being turned into a mind controlled minion and the rogue had to kill her in order to free her curse. The characters evolved and developed so much that they took a life of their own in my campaign and homebrew.

Eventually, these placeholder characters took over the role that should have been played by my players. I became afraid that if I let my players played the characters that they wanted for the new campaign, they would derail everything that I had imagined prior and ruin the flow of the campaign that I had imagined.

This is a case in point for me that as a DM, I sometimes can get a little obessed with my homebrew and ideas that I often forget the purpose that they are made for. Needless to say, this homebrew and the campaign that it was made for was never played. Although it was for mainly other reasons (my players went on to occupy their time with chicks, computer games and other commitments) but I take it as a personal reminder that if I hadn't been so caught up with my own self-indulgence with my own homebrew (the irony!), the campaign could have been fun to run for my players with their characters.

It is something that I still try to keep in mind when I'm homebrewing a new campaign or setting but habits do die hard. The fear that once you have a shiny new homebrew, it gets unappreciated by the players for all the effort that you put in it is still there. It's like you've finally detailed every corner and arrowslit of a castle but all the players wants to do is launch a trebuchet at it.

The whole idea of homebrewing for a game is to relax and stay focused. It's alright to keep some things vague once in all while and always review the playability of the homebrew. If there's something that you should let the players decide, resist the tempation of filling it in for them. If you want to have your work appreciated, leave clues instead.

That's all about the story of my unrequited (and pathetic) love with my own homebrew.

What about you? Has there been any of your own homebrews that you loved and treasure them a bit more than you should have? Or maybe there were homebrews that should have been given more love than their deserved?

Tell us about your experience!

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