You’ve created every character your mind can conjure, rolled more ability checks than you can count, and explored every corner of your fantasy world. And now—you want to delve deeper. Far more than the sum of its parts, the 5th edition of the world’s oldest fantasy roleplaying game offers a flexible and fun framework for creating your own homebrew content. But where to start? Whether it’s custom monsters, brand-new spells, or a from-scratch world, Kobold Press offers tools useful for both players and game masters wanting to try their hand at homebrew game design.
Start with Something, then Make It Yours
Homebrew game design might seem overwhelming at first, but consider that even the best creators in fantasy writing and game design start with something that already exists. Lean on your inspiration, borrow from designers you admire, and start simple. If you’re looking to design your own monster, start with the statblock of a similar creature and modify as you need. When crafting a custom magic item for your players, look at those that already exist and use them as a foundation for your own. To create a new faction for your homebrew world, base their ideals and methods on an example you dig from a TV show or video game and then hone them into something truly unique. Read on to discover some great resources for getting started in homebrewing your own content for your game table.
Balance: Why It Doesn’t Matter
Many homebrewers worry about creating “balanced” content for their favorite roleplaying game—that is, mechanics that achieve a semblance of synergy with existing content, neither outshining nor underperforming. However, balance isn’t much of an issue at your local game table where at most a dozen players might encounter the monsters you’ve crafted or the subclass you wrote up. When creating stuff for your game group to encounter, worry less about the rules and more about fun.
Making Monsters: Homebrew Enemies
For both experienced homebrewers and those new to custom design, nothing scratches that creative itch quite like designing your own monsters. Whether you’re reskinning an existing monster to better suit your unique concept or building an epic enemy from scratch, monster design helps stretch and develop those designer muscles and provides fresh and fearsome foes to toss at your players. To help turn your idea into a living, breathing creature, look no further than The Kobold Guide to Monsters, featuring essays by design veterans like Monte Cook, Wolfgang Baur, Mike Mason, Crystal Frasier, Mike Shea, Shanna Germain, Steve Winter, and many more. And for limitless ideas and options to stat out your custom monster and create a truly exciting enemy, check out the Tome of Beasts, featuring hundreds of new monsters compatible with the 5th edition of the world’s oldest fantasy roleplaying game.
Custom Artifacts: Homebrew Magic Items
The rogue cracks open the chest, lifting the heavy oaken lid with the creak of ancient hinges, to reveal something truly special: a magic item you created yourself specifically for your game group. Perhaps an instrument keyed specifically to your group’s bard or a throwing dagger crafted with the swashbuckling fighter in mind, there’s nothing quite like receiving a magic item that feels unique to your character. Kobold Press’s Vault of Magic for 5th Edition provides more than 900 magic items for your game, which each can be used as a foundation for your own custom magic items, enchanted artifacts, or sentient evil weapons.
Spells and Sorcery: Homebrew Magic
Magic missile, burning hands, and sleep are all classic spells—which all started as simple ideas in a game designer’s head. There are hundreds of official spells to choose from in the 5th edition of the world’s oldest fantasy roleplaying game, but nothing hits quite like a spell you’ve made. Whether based on an existing spell—reskinned and modified to fit your concept—or created whole cloth, navigating the mechanics of magic can be tricky, even daunting. The best authors and designers in fantasy came together to create The Kobold Guide to Magic, which features essays on creating magic systems, conceptualizing the arcane, and designing your own spells.
Adventure Awaits: Homebrew Campaigns
Maybe you’ve run every prewritten adventure you can get your hands on, and now you’re looking to craft your very own campaign. For game masters, few things are more satisfying and fulfilling than running a homebrew campaign for your game table—to unleash twists and turns of your own making, explore locations concocted in your mind, and awe and terrify your players with your own adventure hooks and story beats. It can be a daunting task, surely, to craft a homebrew campaign—but there are plenty of awesome tools out there to help fill the holes and keep your game running smoothly, no matter in what odd direction the players decide to journey. Kobold Press’s Prepared and Prepared 2 both include a dozen “one-shot” adventures that can be quickly and easily prepped, customized, and dropped into your custom campaign at a moment’s notice. And for truly epic dungeon crawls and climactic showdowns, consider the Lairs series, which includes multiple adventures set in incredible locations and featuring some of Kobold Press’s best custom monsters.
A World All Your Own: Homebrew Settings
When it comes to homebrew, creating your own custom world can be a daunting task. Far more than just a map, a homebrew world often necessitates considering factions, politics, history, cultures, magic, gods, and monsters—and trying to tackle it all at once can be a fool’s errand. In The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding, eleven of adventure gaming’s top designers share valuable insights and tested techniques to build a world your game group will never forget. Featuring essays by Wolfgang Baur, Keith Baker, Monte Cook, David “Zeb” Cook, Jeff Grubb, Scott Hungerford, Chris Pramas, Jonathan Roberts, Michael A. Stackpole, and Steve Winter, with an introduction by Ken Scholes.
Bring It to the Table
The best thing you can do after you’ve created something uniquely yours is to show it off. Bring it to your game table next session and watch your players react—to a monster they’ve never seen, a spell they’ve never cast, or an enchanted item forged specifically for them. Take each new creation, as well as your players’ interaction with it, and let it springboard you into the next, trying new things and taking risks in the safe space that is your game group. Keep at it—the more you create and craft, the easier it gets.
2 thoughts on “Level-Up Your Game: Best Resources for 5th Edition Homebrew”
I have been home brewing for the past 20+ years. The material your company (Kobald Press) has produced (ToB, CC,etc) is always used in my 5e campaigns more than the traditional MM.
Keep up the awesome work!
Excellent service and classroom guide for beginners, what is needed to study. Thank you for the work done!