View Full Version : [Brew Discussion] Creative Processes

2012-06-12, 11:58 PM
Here in the Homebrew Design section, we're all creators - artists after a manner. I'm very curious as to the various creative processes of my fellow homebrewers. How do you come up with your material? Where do you get your inspiration? How do you record your ideas?

Personally, I write all my ideas down on paper first, usually when I have other work I ought to be doing. My ideas come sporadically, based on whatever I'd been pondering, or simply unbidden. My absolute most creative ideas come in flashes while sleep-deprived, often manifesting as a "Splurge" of original ideas which I do my best to catch with a piece of paper.

So, what are your guys' processes like?

2012-06-13, 01:20 AM
Mostly I tend to let my thoughts wander until I think "Hey, that sounds like a cool idea, let's make it work!". Then I put some notes on paper, since I'm usually out and about when inspiration strikes, I do the math by hand, and I type it up later. I generally go through about 5 revisions before I post it, mostly in order to balance the math.

I also find that chatting with other people, even if they're not familiar with the rules or ideas I'm working on, is a great way to get the ideas flowing. When you're talking with someone else off-the-cuff ideas come a lot more naturally than when you're sitting behind a keyboard.

Overall, I find it's about coming up with awesome ideas and fitting them into the existing system in a way that's reasonably balanced. Ideas come before numbers, but the numbers usually end up being the most work.

2012-06-13, 01:25 AM
I get ideas, then write them down as soon as I can get to my computer for some. Sometimes ideas occur to me as general puns or whatever, and only later do I think to translate them into D&D.

My shorter ideas (feats, some monsters) I will type up in a single session right in the forum, sometimes using a text file for back-up.

Larger ideas get a series of text files (so I have back-ups if I screw things up). Larger ideas included: Falling Anvil, any monster that comes in 4 or more size classes (such as my organ undead), and such.

The Blocker/Improved Blocker feats were probably inspired by one of my players complaining about not having enough of a front line to defend a 20' wide corridor against attackers. He seems to think that clerics are much too valuable to risk in the front line (no, this group, and even I myself, didn't know much about CoDzilla making).

The ideas that were running around in my head for the longest time before I put them down in these forums were the Barnstormer Dragon (had been something for 2E and WarHammer Fantasy Roleplay), and the Grace-Gift. The basic idea of the grace-gift was "What if there were a class for whom total defense was an iconic a combat action as a fighter's full-attack? Something whose primary challenge in combat was simply to survive?" Of course, the class ended up being a lot more complicated than that. You have to decide WHICH buff(s) to drop each round and simple survival is mostly about "What can I afford to give up this round that one of my team-mates needs?"

I often have to force myself to post something before I loose my guts and let it languish on my hard-disk for months or years before something prompts me to polish it or just go ahead and post the dratted thing. With shorter projects I find myself going back and editing a lot, and this is even true of Falling Anvil.

2012-06-13, 02:24 AM
My ideas are almost entirely brought on in a sudden flash of insight after I see a particularly inspiring piece of art. Once that happens, it's impossible for me to get the thoughts out of my head, and I have to write them down in a frenzy (often involving a lot of frustration and pacing back and forth thinking furiously) until I'm satisfied with the results. It sometimes takes me a good long while to translate idea to mechanics, but once I know what I'm doing, the process of writing an entire base class can take as little as an hour of non-stop typing. (Longer, more detailed classes, like my Alchemist, are the product of days of thinking, while more straightforward ones like my Ascetic tend to take less than 24 hours from concept to completion.)

Morph Bark
2012-06-13, 07:41 AM
I prettymuch never write anything down with regards to homebrew.

I just let my brain puke onto the screen and see what comes out of it.


2012-06-13, 08:33 AM
I tend to get a single idea or mechanic into my head either from some inspiration (my campaign setting came from a casting mechanic that I wanted to play with) and then I do a bunch of research into flavor idea's and such which expands the basic idea. Then I set aside that original inspiration and look at what I have so far. I then look at what else I need to do to make this idea fully fledged out and not just be a standalone change. This is usually when I start talking to one of my nerdy friends and talk about my idea and see if we can't together see holes that I didn't. In the case of Daemons Seal it was ok well what type of world would this casting system fit into.

2012-06-13, 06:01 PM
My process usually starts while in game. I usually come across something and say to myself "well, that could be done better" and keep it in mind until the end of the game, when I then open up my laptop and go into my homebrew folder to throw down my ideas.

Once its there I usually leave it and only come back when I think of something else to add, then when I'm in the right mood I sit down and mix it all together until it looks like what it was intended to be. In the case of classes I then apply my standard procedure (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=246033) to fine tune it, then post it here for the PEACH.

Then I hope and pray I get enough feedback. Sometimes I'll get a chance to play test it too and tweak accordingly as I go.

2012-06-13, 07:23 PM
Mine usually come from something I've seen and would like to put into the game, or something that I feel could be done different/better. Normally I start with a word program and start typing it up. Much of the time, I use ideas from other brew or official books, tweaking as needed, to help fill it out. I wish I could say I was more original.

Other times, I'll see something on the site and want to try my hand at it (much like the bloodlines).

2012-06-14, 02:20 AM
Very similar to yours, actually. I tend to get sudden insight, often at night (I think that's probably what a lot of people get, because the human brain tends to work that way), but a lot of times I have to think about things for a long while to get them to really work out how I want them. I also read. A lot. Not just fiction (but I do read a lot of that), but also different roleplaying books, articles written by people who play and make games, new age magic books (a lot of my ideas about magic come from actual beliefs held by people in the real world), and a hell of a lot of other things.

With all that, I do a lot of simple work. Sometimes I find stupid little drawings make the most sense for me. Trying to make something visually appealing oftentimes makes the system make more sense for me.

One of my other major ways of looking into designing games and game materials is looking at real-world mythology and magical beliefs. I am fascinated with religions, philosophy, magic and history. I use all of that (and more) to inform my own design goals.

It's a lot, but I think it works.

Milo v3
2012-06-14, 09:29 AM
I generally get new ideas by one of two ways; firstly by noticing that their is a role in fiction I can't play in 3.5e, and secondly noticing their is a gap in my campaign world. Whichever idea it is I place it in a single sticky note on my laptop which currently has 30 ideas in it at this time. I then go down the list slowly, all the while the list itself is still increasing.

But strangely other than two keywords I never write anything down. I keep it all in my head, every single detail. If I forget something when I reach it on the list then it must not have been that important of an idea to fix into my mind.

In the time between me placing it on my list and actually doing it, I overthink about the idea in my spare time, and talk to my settings co-creator to make sure I'm not forgetting anything which would conflict with the world as it is now.

Once it becomes time to create the homebrew I do it in by writing everthing I want it to do in a word document as one-word keywords, then I just start making it in these forums from my random thoughts about it and the ideas I wrote into word.

2012-06-14, 10:23 AM
Over the years, the best thing that works for me is exposure and explanation. First, I donít miss a chance to learn something. Iím fascinated by everything, and read as much as I possibly can. I often do research on trivial or random things in my spare time Ė things that I donít particularly ďneedĒ to know anything about. Pleasure study. When in college, I took a contrasting curriculum (I called it balanced), and never denied an opportunity in which Iíd get to learn or do something new. I audited 5 classes throughout my college life on top of usually 20 credits (I only needed 16 a semester). In other words, Iím fairly certain Iím masochistic and at least mildly insane. I went to guest speakers, Latin table (never took the actual language), and was actively involved in whatever I could be while maintaining these various things and completing a double major in Art and Education. I say all this to say my point Ė the more I learn about the world, the more inspired I can be for my own fictional endeavors. Ideas can come from everywhere! I guess the root of this is the book Iíve been writing for forever. Every time I learn something my immediate first thought is Ė ďHmmmmm, how can I use this.Ē This helps with role playing and home brewing a great deal.

Second, I often find once I have an idea I have too many of them, and need to cull them a bit, or I get fixated on one aspect and need assistance in order to work it out. I usually do this by showing what I have to someone and explaining it. When they ask questions I donít have the answers to, I often pull something out of my head and BAM! There it is. The inspiration I needed. Other times discussing it with someone helps me get an outside opinion on the matter. They might point out something I didnít see. I also love to brainstorm with someone. Even if no workable ideas come out of it readily, thereís something satisfying about intelligent discussion as a whole. It makes your ideas seem more real and substantial. Even more important, sometimes it is difficult to translate an idea into an actual, workable thing. Often I have found extra-personal help invaluable to this process.

As for the rest of the process, I when I have an idea, if I can I write it down and give an example of the idea so that I remember it when I read it again. Sometimes I draw the idea. I even record messages to myself on my phone if no writing implements are available. If I donít get a record of the idea, I lose it. And since they come at any time, (even in dreams!) Iím characteristically found carrying a messenger bag with a sketchbook and notebook in it (more often multiples).

2012-06-14, 10:33 AM
I prettymuch never write anything down with regards to homebrew.

I just let my brain puke onto the screen and see what comes out of it.


This. Except usually with base classes, I'm soo excited that I just keep going until I run out of steam so close to the finish...:smallsigh:

2012-06-14, 11:43 AM
I guess the root of this is the book Iíve been writing for forever. Every time I learn something my immediate first thought is Ė ďHmmmmm, how can I use this.Ē
I have one of those projects too, although it doesn't fuel most of my homebrewing (just the Mepholk really).

2012-06-14, 11:57 AM
I have one of those projects too, although it doesn't fuel most of my homebrewing (just the Mepholk really).

Indeed, my book doesn't directly influence my homebrewing either. To be clearer, the process i use on ideas for my book often works hand in hand with homebrewing. If I were to co relate homebrewing and my book, i'd likely have to invent a new game system to account for it. While this would be an interesting challenge, I have enough of a hard time focusing on plot and not outerlaying elements as it is!

In light of my second process, if you would ever like to have someone to bounce ideas off of, the offer is extended your way!

2012-06-14, 12:50 PM
What influences me varies a lot. Occasionally I'll see a specific picture or drawing and I'll ask myself roughly what that person or thing would be. For example, that's what happened with the Dancer of the Threshold (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=12544487#post12544487) although unfortunately I still haven't been able to get a high enough copy of the actual painting in real life which inspired it. Other times, I've done stuff for specific characters I wanted to play that didn't seem to have a good way of doing the crunch- that was part of why I wrote out the two martial disciplines I've made- Broken Blade (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=122533) and Narrow Bridge (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=113982). Occasionally I have an idea for a mechanic that seems marginally interesting and I'll make some fluff for it. On some occasions also I'll just see something in a novel or the like and try to make a version of it. These spells were directly inspired by the Rift War books (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=81649).