TL;DR: – the term “homebrew’ is just a warning label, so stop using it. Oh, also Pop-tarts aren’t breakfast.
“I had a Pop-tart, that’s breakfast…”, I said.
“I should be fine to look through the internets at RPG posts,” I said.
Oh, how I was wrong.
I was browsing the internet again in search of something to entertain me while bored, and I ran into a post about someone’s new “homebrew” campaign for their DnD group. My first thought after reading the title, “Starting a new homebrew campaign…”, was: “Why are you belittling your work? Is it not good or something?”
When I hear the word “homebrew” while someone is describing something RPG related to me, the first thing I tend to say in my response to them is, “there is no such thing as homebrew.” Then I continue as usual with my thoughts about what they said to me like a normal person.
Is it slightly abrasive? Probably.
Do I believe it? Hell yeah
Is it completely necessary? Probably not. It wouldn’t be a rant if we left it at that though, so let’s get to it.
I think it’s about time I sit back and give my argument about why I believe its true. So let’s start with the differences between something thought up by a creative GM and a Licensed Product the giant gorilla of WotC:
Licensed Products are flashy and tend to have some production value behind them.
Okay Rusty, time to reel it back.
I have a question for those that think homebrew is a thing: What’s the point of tacking on the extra word besides to say that your stuff is different? To me, it is a way to tell people that your stuff is lesser because it’s not the same or on par with the big name products. Just because it was published and had money thrown at it doesn’t mean shit for the quality of the product itself.
If you think I’m wrong, go check out Hoard of the Dragon Queen from Wotc.
I have played in and heard of many an excellent story told at a table because the players and GM were on point with their creativity and were very invested in the world in which they played. So if they wrote down the game primer they used to make their super awesome world, is it lesser because they don’t have a big name label on the book? Is it just some “homebrew” junk?
I see people running games from books where the world is not as thought through or as intriguing as some fellow nerds in the back of the store are hatching up right now. So why tack on that extra word? What’s the point besides to add a warning label? Why can’t we simply call our setting primers and games what they really are: campaigns and settings, not “homebrew” games. We’re all nerds in the hobby, just like those that publish the iconic adventures we all know, so what difference is there from what we can produce?
When a pop star records an album in an expensive recording studio, its called an album.
If a band in a homebuilt recording room records an album, its called an album.
The status of the artist isn’t what dictates what the product is referred to as. I think the same needs to be said about TTRPGs. So please stop using the warning label and just call your games and modules what they are. Your work can be great if not better than what big-name brands can make. The only thing that should determine success is the quality of the product.
That being said, go out there and kill it. Make some dope ass shit and don’t degrade it with a dumb label. I know I won’t.
-Rusty, the DM