The art of homebrew: How to create your own rules for D&D

One of the fun things about writing as a career, especially in marketing, is that you end up with a very solid framework in how you think about your writing. You learn very early on to follow a problem-solving formula:

  1. What’s the problem?
  2. What’s a possible answer?
  3. How can I refine that answer if needed?

It sounds pretty dry like that, but today, it’s going to be a little more helpful than you might think. Because today, we’re talking about the Big Problem that every DM faces at some point in their game.

How can I add homebrew without accidentally breaking the game?

I’m glad you asked. Here’s my advice!

Think about what you want to solve.

Usually, when you start thinking about adding homebrew to your game, it’s because there’s something specific you want to change up. Maybe it’s something little, like adding extra traits to make roleplay easier for new players. Or maybe it’s something big, like solving the issue of how limiting spell slots can be.

No matter the actual scale of what you’re solving, make sure you know what it is and why you think it needs to change. You don’t need to know how it will change at this point; this will just help you stay on track later on!

Look for potential ways to solve it.

This is where you get to have some fun. You know what the problem is, and you know why you don’t like it, so now, you can use that information to find possible solutions. With this step, I like to take a contradiction approach, where I try to find a solution that directly addresses the reasons why I don’t like the problem.

For example, if your issue is that you want to give casters more flexibility, that could have two different sources: You could dislike how limiting the number of slots are, or you could dislike how they’re distributed across spell levels.

Each of those could have a very different solution, so it’s up to you how you want to tackle it!


At this point, don’t limit yourself. Come up with all the ideas you can, even if you do think they won’t work in the long run, and save them all for the next part.

Balance your solution and the game.

If I learned anything from my time as a witch in Pathfinder, it’s that there are reasons why you don’t break some rules. You don’t want your players facing off with the final boss of the Rise of the Runelords campaign, just for your witch to throw an unavoidable sleep hex at him and the fighter to do a coup de grâce.

Of course, as a player, I sure appreciated it, but I can only imagine the frustration our poor DM felt after the months of preparation she’d put into everything for us for the fight to be over in three seconds flat.

So when you’re thinking about adjusting the rules of your D&D game, it’s important to think about how those rules will impact the game. Will your solution throw off the balance? Is it something you think you can work with?

If you’re unsure, or have decided it will definitely make the game unfair, try to think about how you can balance what you want to do with what you think is reasonable both for you as a DM and for your players.

For example, with his latest campaign, Shane wanted to change up the magic system within 5e so it wouldn’t be so incredibly strict on casters. Instead of just giving casters free rein, he ended up coming up with a complex formula that turned spell slots into a mana pool that casters could use however they wanted, but would still run out after a similar amount of magic was used.

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