I think everyone at some point has thought to themselves how they could make a better role playing game than the big name companies. Homebrew is my favorite style of gaming, but at the same time can be the most difficult. After years of refining my creativity in this style, I have a few helpful tips to share with those interested in creating their own Homebrew game.
Everything has to be based on something. It is almost impossible these days to be completely original. I have tried, and realized there is a reason big name role playing games make the money they do. Their systems work. Some of you may know systems such as d20, GURPS, Dice Pool, Cardplay, Resource Points, and many more. I can only guess that most people have only played a small number of these systems. I suggest to try out as many of these systems as possible because what you may find lacking in one you can find in another and possibly avoid the whole fiasco of creating a homebrew.
I have found certain systems work better for different kinds of roleplaying games and DMing styles. Zombie Apocalypse roleplaying games have to be the most difficult game to create and play. I have tried, on many occasions and failed miserably because Zombies are incredibly stubborn to work with in battle. They die only if hit in the head, therefore they don’t really have HP, and if the zombies make contact with your characters than the character dies so there is not even HP to work with for the characters!
What I have learned is that people get pissed if you try to play this out realistically, because their characters are constantly dying. I have had several people rage quit my first attempt at a homebrew zombie game. After that I came to the conclusion that I had to become a hipster because a homebrew zombie game cannot follow main stream gaming mechanics.
I found this unique and mostly unknown style that to my knowledge is called Blurbs, but very possibly is called something else completely. Everything in the game is based off of a list of characteristics and traits about your character. They can be about likes, dislikes, memories, goals, relationships, etc. Anytime someone wants to do something outside of a normal action, they have to use one of these “Blurbs” about themselves to say why they can do it. This style completely lacks numbers and turn based fights. I used this as the base of my homebrew zombie game and now those who were rage quitting before were jumping for joy!
One of the best homebrew games I have had the honor to enjoy is the Avatar the Last Airbender roleplaying games created and run by Matinee Adventures. I think some of the most attractive homebrews arise from a desire to turn a fantasy world from a movie or show into a roleplaying game. I currently am working on turning my favorite video game, Fire Emblem, into a playable homebrew. Luckily Fire Emblem already has a well put together fighting system that is easily transferred to Table Tops but some are not so lucky. I once tried and failed at making a Naurto roleplaying game. One day I shall try again because a Naruto Roleplaying game would be marvelous.
Making a homebrew can be difficult and time consuming but it can turn your deepest fantasies into realities, or at least playable realities. I have a friend who has currently been working on and developing a roleplaying game for five years. On the other hand I just recently made one up in under an hour. The more effort and experience put into homebrews, the easier it will be to create them.