The second RPG Blog Carnival started the other day, hosted by Donny the DM. The theme is homebrew.
I meant to write up something for the first one, but the move took a large bite out of my time and energy and I never got anything done about it. It happens. This is unfortunate, since I probably could’ve mustered more material out of that than this.
The concept of the carnival is that there’s a set topic, and all bloggers who feel like it write about it within a certain space of time.
Personally, I rarely make homebrew material. I like to work within the framework of a published setting, such as Forgotten Realms, or Greyhawk, or Golarion, and weave my own story within its canon. Especially the rich tapestries of lore in Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk make this very rewarding, and Golarion has pretty much everything I could want in a setting.
Also, the guys who created those settings were better writers than me.
I used to have a homebrew world, and a homebrew system, too. I’m fairly sure I’ve managed to destroy all evidence of its existence from the face of this earth by now, though there are still some individuals at large who have had direct exposure.
Fortunately, even I can’t remember details of the system. It was something d10-based, I think.
Much the same for the setting. It’s simple to reconstruct, though. Take Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Star Wars, any one David Eddings series, Warhammer and Warcraft 2, and shake vigorously. Add Mary Sues to taste.
My defence is that I was very, very young. I was ten or eleven years old when I started it.
There were four types of magic – arcane, divine, psionics, and the Force. Also, there was a large country inhabited by kender, tinker gnomes and halflings. The setting had everything including the kitchen sink, which was a dual-classed ninja/pirate that shot laser beams from its eyes. There was your usual 90-member pantheon of deities, plus the D&D racial pantheons for elves, dwarves and orcs and so on.
There were a couple of ideas in there that weren’t totally irredeemable – the idea that arcane magic sprung from the dreams of a sleeping god is usable, and I don’t even think I ripped it off from anywhere. I also have several handwritten pages of material detailing a wizard college that I don’t dare to actually read again but probably has something worth recycling into a new project, if only because it was written quite a few years later than the main part of the setting.
The most hideous thing in it was the New World part of it, which was lifted more or less directly from Forgotten Realms’ Maztica boxed set – which was lifted more or less directly from real-world history. Captain Cordell’s journey was based on Hernan Cortés’ trip. They even had the Noche Triste.
I do realise that nowadays this element of the setting could be played up for laughs as a sort of meta-joke, but it’s also probably not worth it.
There also were the albino vrathi elves (one of our approximately fifty elven subraces, in the grand tradition), created by Georg, a friend of mine and a sometime accomplice in the setting works. They were sort of drow mixed with Melniboné. For the longest time, we worked on a novel about them attacking the elven lands. The main character was a vrathi prince who’d turned good. I sincerely hope he’s followed my lead and deleted all the files related to that. I believe that somewhere in that morass of ripoffs that makes Rifts look like a coherent whole and The World of Synnibarr like a… wait, actually, it was still better than Synnibarr. Nevermind. Anyway, somewhere in there were even space marines.
So, no… I no longer do homebrew. I can write an adventure myself, an NPC there or a township there, and create house rules or even new rules items, like prestige classes. I’ve got a couple of those out there, like the bone dancer, or the painfully derivative Lin Kuei. It’s an inherently creative hobby and I wouldn’t have stuck with it for who knows how many years if I could not produce material of my own.
But no, no homebrew worlds. That’s a crime scene I won’t return.