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Homebrew Content: TTRPG Week 8

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By this point, you are familiar with all the rules and have most likely read up on some of the settings associated with the game. Perhaps you have noticed some rules are a bit clunky, or that some bits seem to work too well in certain circumstances. Maybe the primary setting is too bland, or ill-defined. Making your own changes is a viable, if tricky option to use.

Game rules are tested heavily before publication, but this does not mean that they are perfect. In addition, some actions are more complex than others and require more rules, this is why combat and spells tend to take much of the book space. Of course some things simply don't translate well - I'm looking at you, grappling rules! GMs will often make edits to make these rules flow better. This is an easier option than creating a new rule, but also brings its own problems. By editing a rule, you change how it interacts with the other rules and that can have unintended side effects. Let’s take a look at one change that became official and note the way it changed. Grappling in D&D 3.5 was clunky. It had four steps and could fail at any point, and went like this:

Step 1 – A grapple causes an Attack of opportunity. If the attacked character hits with the attack, the grapple fails.

Step 2 – The grappler makes a melee touch attack. If they miss, the grapple fails.

Step 3 – Both characters make a grapple check. If the grappler loses or ties but has the lower modifier, the grapple fails

Step 4 – You can maintain a grapple every round after should you succeed. However, you must move into the opponents square; if you can't, the grapple fails. Also, the opponent can try to get out on their turn.

Now for 5E:

Step 1 – Make a Strength (Athletics) check opposed by the target. If you fail, the grapple fails. If you have multiple attacks, you can try for as many as you have.

There are of course other conditions on both sides, but this is the main issue. You'll notice that the rule went from being overly complicated to one easy rule. What also happened is it made grapple builds very easy and, because of how grapple works, made many tough fights much easier.

On the other side of things, adding rules or completely rebuilding part of the system is extremely difficult, and requires a good deal of testing to work out all the bugs. Much consideration has to be given to how all the rules interact with each other, and thus I would strongly recommend knowing the rule set you are working with in great detail. On the slightly easier end of this, creating races and classes are a good starting point. In both those cases it's easy to take what you want from other classes/races and re-skin them. The problems that arise are balance issues; if care is not taken, these new races or classes can overshadow the preexisting ones.

On the topic of creating your own setting for a game, much of it has no mechanical impact or will fit into the rules easily. I would recommend a broad strokes approach at first - come up with a few ideas and use them as building blocks. While you can really do anything, a certain logical consistency needs to be maintained or immersion could be broken. The little logical inconsistencies and plot holes that cause this can't be completely stamped out, but research into things like history and geography can help minimize them. For a bit of advice I would recommend these videos from YouTube: Great GM: How to Be a Great GM - Game Masters World building tips: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

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