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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Authors Note: Before I begin, I want to explain what I'm doing here. There are obviously two really good guides already stickied on this forum, one explaining the mechanics of homebrewing by Fax Celestis, and one explaining the theory of homebrew by Djinn in Tonic. My guide is (hopefully) more like explaining the process of homebrew. Help getting started, turning an idea into a process, editing, receiving and utilizing PEACH, etc. That said, welcome to...

    The Homebrewer's Handbook
    By NeoSeraphi


    Introduction

    People homebrew for many different reasons. Some of us like to omage certain media or memes we think are cool or funny. Some of us just want to make a class WotC published playable. Others want to take an existing fighting style that is currently underwhelming and make an entire class around it, to give it more options and power. Whatever the reason, what's important is that homebrewing is a fun, exciting and often time-consuming experience, and in order to make the most out of it, you should try and come up with your own style of homebrewing. Whatever is most comfortable to you, stick with that.



    Table of Contents
    • Homebrewing Styles
    • Getting Started
    • My Table Looks Ugly! The Process of Filling in Dead Levels
    • How Do I Explain This? The Process of Correctly Wording a Cool Ability
    • I'm Finally Done! Now What? The Process of Post-Homebrew Editing
    • Heated Debates and Good Ideas. The Process of PEACH and Editing





    Homebrewing Styles

    Now I'm sure a few people are confused out there. What do I mean by "Homebrewing Styles"? Well, let me tell you. Everyone out there has an artist inside of them somewhere. And that artist likes to come out and express his creativity in certain ways. For us, it involves writing and balancing new material for the game we all love. But the thing is, artists can be picky. If you try and go against your style, you probably won't have much success.

    Here's an example. A long time ago, when I was first getting started, I homebrewed a class called The True Hero, based on Haku-men from BlazBlue. I was eager to get some of the rest of the cast out, so I started working on The Observer, a class for Rachel Alucard, but I needed to go to school before I could finish. So, I saved what I had typed in a word document and headed off. By the time I got back, though, I just couldn't get any of my ideas down. I opened that word document and stared at it for a while, unsure of where the ideas I had already written had come from, and where to go next. To this day, that class sits unfinished in my documents.

    The reason I just couldn't work on it was because I was going against my typical homebrewing style. My style is to sit down at my laptop, click "New Post" in the homebrew forum, and type. That's it. I type and type and type until I'm done, damnit, and then I post. One clean sweep, no hesitation, no re-examination. That's just how the artist in me likes to create, and if I try and fight it, my muse just vanishes.

    There are lots of different styles, of course, but once you find yours, I urge you to stick with it. My style might work for some people, but others like to type everything in a word document and do the abilities one at a time, bit by bit, maybe even leave the class for a day and come back tomorrow and read back over it, to make sure it still sounds good. A meticulous style is by no means inferior to a rushed style, and if that's what works for you, by all means, take your time and develop your class into something unique and interesting.

    What's most important here, more than the finished product, is that you enjoyed making it. A finished product can always be edited. If you have fun, then you're more likely to create again, and you'll have more fun doing it.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Getting Started

    So how do you get started homebrewing? Well, you need a concept. A base point to revolve your creation around. This is a complex issue, so I'm going to break this up into as many different points as I can:

    Monster

    If you're homebrewing a new type of monster, the first thing you should decide on is the type and Size. If a creature is Medium or Small, bipedal, and has no obviously monstrous characteristics, it is generally Humanoid. If a creature is Medium to Huge, bipedal, with incredible strength and could be pictured as throwing huge boulders or wielding large clubs or swords in both hands, it is generally a Giant. If a creature is bipedal, Small to Large, and would appear humanoid if it wasn't for some oddly monstrous or animalistic characteristics, such as hair made of snakes or the head of a bull, it is generally a Monstrous Humanoid. Etc.

    Sometimes you'll have a hard time deciding on the Type of the creature, because it will share characteristics of two different types. (For example, inevitables are obviously constructs but they are also not native to the Material Plane, so you might think they were outsiders). In this situation, I would advise either going with the Type that seems most logical, or seeking outside help. (It might be confusing to you, but plain as day to someone else, who notices a key factor about your concept that would define it as one type or another).

    For more on homebrewing monsters, please see Fax Celestis's Guide to Homebrewing.


    Spells, Et Al

    You wish to see something magical happen in the game. Not really a whole class, just something that could happen every once in a while. The best idea here is to make that a spell or something similar, and put it on an existing class's list. For example, I wanted to see a permanent transformation ability that allowed a creature to spend XP to grow larger, like a Pokemon's evolution, so I made a psionic power called evolution, and it was convoluted and long-winded, but it was so much fun to do.

    The first thing to decide is whether you want your ability to be a spell, power, maneuver, soulmeld, utterance, or whatever it is that shadowcasters call their stuff. If the ability is fairly physical, just seems particularly fancy or adds a ton of damage, it's probably a maneuver. If the ability is mostly mental, involving telepathy or telekinesis or somehow changing or altering reality with just your mind, it could be written as a psionic power. (The main difference between psionics and spells is that psionics often have a "psychic" feel to them, or in the case of a psychic warrior's powers, the ability to improve oneself through mental concentration)

    If the ability is mostly magical in nature, and involves certain themes in any way (necromancy, illusion, resurrection, healing, etc) it is definitely a spell.

    With enchantment, conjuration, transmutation, and evocation effects, there is often a fine line between what is magical and what is psionic. In that situation, you have to decide what you want. Often times, unfortunately, psionics are much harder to homebrew than spells, because of the augmentation process. Additionally, a Sor/Wiz or Clr spell is more likely to see play at a wider variety of tables than a Psion/Wilder or Ardent power. Finally, a lot more people are comfortable PEACHing spells than they are PEACHing powers, because spellcasting is a more supported, accepted, and studied system than psionics.

    Please don't misunderstand. I'm not telling everyone to only homebrew spells when it comes to magic, I'm just saying that spellcasting is more common for most groups, and so it is often times the default solution for this kind of thing.

    After you decide which system to go with, you need to decide which schools/classes get it. Arcane vs divine can be tough sometimes, but usually you can just go with your gut decision. For the rest of spellcasting, again, please see Fax Celestis's Guide to Homebrewing, she has a great section on picking schools and balancing.


    Feats

    You want to homebrew a feat? May Asmodeus have mercy on your soul. (Just kidding, Asmodeus doesn't even know what "mercy" is). Feats are a complex issue. Sometimes people want to use feats to add extraordinary special attack options to their characters, other times they want to use them to give extraordinary qualities or boosts to characters, and sometimes they want to use feats to add a level of customization to certain class features. There are exceptions, but generally feats fall into one of those three categories. Thus, I will begin discussion of Attack, Quality, and Meta feats.


    Attack:
    Attack feats are sadly rare in official D&D published material. In the PHB there are only six: Stunning Fist, Manyshot, Power Attack, Combat Expertise, Ride-By Attack, and Shot on the Run. The reason for this is because in the PHB, the designers were making feats mostly passive features that augmented a character while he moved up and hit with his sword. (Stunning Fist is a notable exception, but given how it was written, it's really just a class feature that the designers weren't sure how to give to monks while granting other options, so they just wrote it as a feat)

    If you want to make an attack feat, I applaud you, but be aware that some people will frown on this, just because of the current power level of feats in 3.5. Generally, an attack feat will offer one of two things: Either a way to get more attacks of opportunity based on what your opponent is doing, or some kind of special attack that allows a scaling saving throw with a useful ability if the opponent fails their save.

    So what do you want from your attack feat? Do you want to shoot beams from your eyes, or deliver some kind of save-or-die? Please note that complex abilities like this are generally better off as class features. What makes a feat a feat is its inherent generality. Attack feats should be available to a wide number of classes and character archetypes. If you want to be able to shoot a character's eyes out, it should be vague, so that you could do it if you were a ranger or a bard or a rogue or a fighter, not specific, like "You take aim through your 10x scope and put his eye out with your sniper rifle". See what I mean? That's a pretty ludicrous example, but the feeling is still there. After Complete Warrior and the PHB II, tactical feats became an interesting option for Attack feats, so if you want to give a character plenty of options, I suggest making a Tactical feat and somehow tie your three maneuvers together.


    Quality:

    By far, the most common feat type in D&D. Quality feats are often pretty boring, unfortunately. You gain 3 hit points. You receive +1 to hit. You get a +4 to grapple checks and are no longer gimped by provoking an attack of opportunity when you start your grapple. Meh. Often times, if you want to fix a weak style or type of fighting, a quality feat is the quick and easy way to do it, and indeed, WotC set the precedent for that. You need a quality feat to grapple properly, or trip properly, or to shoot into melee, or to attack with two weapons.

    Quality feats have quite a gap in power, so you have a real issue balancing them. Natural Spell is much more powerful than Toughness, and Improved Overrun is just a tax to any player who wants to even use that option, while Words of Creation doubles a bard's bardic music bonuses. Basically, just remember that most characters only get 7 feat slots in their entire adventuring career, and so this feat should be worth 1/7 of your entire life. Also, heavy prerequisites are useful for balancing a feat, just as long as they're not too rough. (A feat chain that's four or five feats long often isn't worth it, especially if the first two or three feats are otherwise worthless at higher levels)


    Meta:

    I personally hate Meta feats. They are way too powerful, and many sub-systems would be able to have their base spells/powers improved if it wasn't for the existence of meta feats. (Instead of having Empower and Maximize Spell, how about you just raise the average damage of all evocation spells and let that work?)

    That said, Meta feats are often expected in a new sub-system, and are key to "optimizing" a system. What's important here is that you balance the feats carefully, and impose a serious penalty on the character for using them (and for the love of arcane spellsurge, please don't include any way to reduce those penalties!)


    Class

    Okay, now that I got through the others, let's talk about the one that really stumps everyone, making a whole class. The first thing you have to decide is, are you going to make the class a base class or a prestige class? Often times, this depends on the level of customization and broadness of the focus you are offering.

    If the class is very narrow and focused, both fluff-wise and mechanic-wise, it is generally a prestige class. Base classes are famous for providing options, like the monk, ranger, fighter, rogue, and all spellcasters. Prestige classes are often more strict, granting specific but powerful abilities or augmenting base class abilities.

    Realize that if you are making a base class, you have no options but 20 levels. That is a daunting task to most homebrewers, and I strongly suggest you get some experience making 5 and 10 level prestige classes before you make your first base class.

    Now, how do you get started? It starts with a premise. Say, "I want to make a shield warrior who doesn't suck" or "I want to make Captain America!" or "You know what would be an awesome ranged weapon? A tower shield!" All of these premises can lead to the same class. My point is that in order to take a premise and turn it into a class, you need to think in terms of mechanics. "Okay, I want to make a shield warrior who doesn't suck. What does that mean for the combat options of the class? What can I offer that will make the class worth taking, while still retaining some of the original flavor?"

    For prestige classes, it starts with prerequisites. What base classes do you want to allow in? What level of entry should it be allowed in? Keep in mind that almost all base classes in published content have an entry level of 6th-11th. That is also when most players will be looking to enter a prestige class. You should have some real requirements as well. Feats that make sense, spells if it advances spellcasting, skill ranks that fit the theme of the class, etc.

    Now that you've picked your premise and your class, we can move on to the real challenge: writing abilities.
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2012-01-22 at 04:09 PM.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    My Table Looks Ugly!
    The Process of Filling in Dead Levels


    Dead levels are by far one of the worst ideas in the existence of 3.5. When you are fighting monsters and gaining XP in a class, you should be excited and eagerly awaiting your next level, and when you do level up, you should feel more justified and get more of a boost from your level than a higher BAB, more skill points, better saves and extra hit points. Even if the bonus you fill in with is just a simple boost to one of those things, it's still a lot better than nothing.

    Trust me when I say this, as a 3.5 player, I will very rarely agree to play AD&D 2.E, for the very reason I just listed. If you're not playing a caster, almost half of your levels are generally dead. It doesn't feel like your character gets any stronger when you level up (in my opinion). That's definitely something you want to avoid when homebrewing. The fighter would probably be a half-way decent class if fewer than 9 of its class levels were completely empty.

    So how do you fill in dead levels? Well, first, let me say that for a full caster/manifester/initiator, dead levels are going to happen. They just are. You're already granting probably close to a hundred different class features, so chances are, unless your caster is highly specialized (like a dread necromancer) you're going to find some room to stash a dead level or two. This is perfectly okay, because casters are already powerful enough. Flavorful abilities help, but are by no means necessary.

    Now then, to the task at hand. Often times, when I'm homebrewing, I find myself focusing too much on combat and crunch, and not enough on out-of-combat and fluff. These are two areas that really shine when it comes to filling in a dead level. Take that shield warrior from earlier. Say you made a stellar class that involved throwing, bashing, and all-around pwning with your shield. You made the class well, gave the abilities at the right level, so you ended up unsure what to throw in at 5th level. You have plenty of cool features you could push up, but you put them in the back because that's where they belonged, at later levels. 5th level and below are great places to put some fluff abilities, though. For example, if you fluffed your shield warrior as a seasoned soldier of a royal army, you might grant him a boost to Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) and Diplomacy checks at 5th level, to represent that fluff (like Nature Sense for druids). Or perhaps you were making a nature-themed class, and you had a bare level around 3rd? Woodland stride would be a welcome addition there.

    If a skill boost wouldn't be relevant, or if you're trying to fill in dead levels for a class that already features an impressive skill boost, what do you do? My advice is to go with a utility feature (such as woodland stride) that will assist your character in his adventuring career, but won't contribute too much to the actual combat portion. By "utility feature" I mean something that will help your character stand out and assist the party during interaction with NPCs, searching and gathering information or equipment, or other obstacles where brute force would either be unhelpful or not a preferred solution. A great example of this is the PHB bard's fascinate, suggestion and mass suggestion class features. These are all very useful, and, in the right hands, downright unfair, but they generally can't be used in combat (unless the bard manages to stop combat, and if he's doing that, he's probably got the other players' agreement, so there won't be too much of an issue). Utility features can vary in power, but they are often situational, and as long as they're flavorful and don't seem too out of place, they will generally be accepted as helpful, and a good way to plug up a dead level. Some examples of PHB utility features include Wild Empathy, Track, Swift Tracker, and Inspire Competence.

    As a general rule of thumb, adding a small boost to skills or out of combat abilities is not going to change the balance of your class too much, and often times will even make it much better (certainly better than having a dead level). It's up to you to decide how to fill in dead levels, but if you can't, feel free to post your creation anyway. Plenty of PEACHers out there hate dead levels and will gladly come up with some suggestions that you probably didn't even think of to help you fill the gaps. I know I've had to resort to that a couple of times myself.

    The most important rule of dead levels, though? Every class needs a capstone! Seriously. If you have to have dead levels, A) spread them out, so there's at least not a two or more level gap between new abilities, and B) don't put any dead levels at the last level of your class. There is a reason you don't see any builds on this site that say Rogue 20. Most games will never make it to 20, but for those that do, you have to reward your player with some kind of epic, sweet, flavorful capstone that epitomizes awesome and power. Don't be afraid to break all WotC-established balance here. If you're getting this 20th level ability, it is just one level before you go Epic, and it is a reward for sticking with a single class for all 20 levels, instead of multi-classing, dipping, or prestiging. That is an amazing feat that shows a player's consistency, and often his dedication to both roleplaying and the flavor of his character (your class) so definitely make it powerful. The dread necromancer, warblade, swordsage, and knight all have great examples of powerful and useful capstones, while the fighter, rogue, monk, barbarian, paladin, and ranger all have capstone that would be considered lackluster at best.
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2012-01-22 at 04:07 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Heated Debates
    The Process of PEACH and Editing

    The purpose of homebrewing a class is often times to make a class actually playable so you or a friend can use it in a game. However, unless you're the DM of that game, it doesn't matter how balanced you think it is, just how balanced your DM says it is. So how do you know for sure that you aren't going overboard, and that your class really isn't abusable or unfair or gets cool things too early?

    This brings us to PEACH. PEACH is a commonly used acronym in the Playground, and it stands for Please Evaluate and Critique Honestly. I don't know its origin, it's been around this site much much longer than I have. So this guide is for giving and receiving PEACH, as well as for how to interpret critiques and how to draw attention to your thread.

    Giving PEACH:
    This is probably the most important section. It's for all the readers and lurkers out there. Most of you really do enjoy browsing the Homebrew forum, right? You see cool classes, you check them out, and you file a mental note away saying whether it's good or bad, but you don't actually take the time to leave a comment. This frustrates a homebrewer more than anything else.

    When 12 hours passes, and there are over 100 views but not one comment, a creator feels bad. Like his work wasn't good enough, or didn't stand out, or anything else. I know this isn't a fair thing of me to say, but when you read a piece of homebrew without leaving a comment, you are contributing to a growing number of lurkers that passively hurt the homebrewer's feelings and self-esteem. An artist wants to be recognized!

    So, how do you leave appropriate PEACH? Well, here's a few things I want you to realize:

    1. Just because the point you want to make has already been made, it doesn't mean you shouldn't say it too. Say you're reading a class. All looks fine, until you see that the character is getting the ability to use harm as a spell-like ability 3 times per day at 7th level. This bothers you, since clerics don't even get harm until 11th level. You scroll down to leave a comment, only to see that someone else has already suggested exactly that. So you figure "Okay, it's been said" and move on. But really, it would have been okay for you to reinforce the statement. PEACH is about getting a wide variety of opinions and trying to form a consensus. If I see one person telling me my ability is too powerful, I might just brush them off, saying "Well, of course I should have harm earlier than a cleric, I don't get any other spellcasting, and it only deals 70 damage at that level, so it's not as bad as that guy thinks!" but if I see four or five people saying "Why are you doing this?" "This is too much." "You should push it back." then I'm going to say "Whoa. Maybe I was underestimating the power of direct damage at lower levels, when people are still throwing around fireballs and stuff. I should push this back a few levels." Even if your opinion is only adding to the majority, it will count. This isn't like some faceless ballot vote, a homebrewer examines every person's post carefully.

    2. Please try to be helpful and supportive. Posting something that says "this is unplayable" or "that ability is just useless" is much more appreciated than you'd think, but if you're going to try and point out a flaw, please include a helpful suggestion, if you can come up with one. For instance, if you saw someone was letting a character add his modifier to Spot checks to his ranged damage rolls, you could post saying, "This is a neat idea, but skill checks are pretty easy to optimize. You might just want to reduce it to their ranks in Spot. That will scale with the character's level, and encourage him to stay close to his archer fluff by spending resources improving an archer-based skill, but it isn't a variable ability and there is a definite ceiling that cannot be broken." A homebrewer would probably rejoice at this, change it right away, and thank you. The whole situation is both more pleasant for the homebrewer and will more likely lead to the change you want than saying "What? Adding his Spot modifier to damage rolls? That's crazy! With a +20 custom item and an Item Familiar you'd be cranking out close to 300 damage per round!"

    3. Official Examples are Good. If you see an ability that you think could be improved, or you see some awkward wording for an ability that is similar to existing WotC content, post that! It saves a homebrewer so much effort if he is able to simply copy and paste from an existing ability. We all like to have our effort saved. And really, if our ability is already so similar to an official ability, but has more awkward wording or strange rules, circumstances or restrictions to activate it (at our attempt to "balance" it), we'd rather just use the official wording. For example, someone posts a berserker class, and they have a bunch of restrictions, trying to limit what the character can do while he's in his blood frenzy or whatever. And there are specific limitations, like "Can't use Bluff to Feint in Combat, can't attempt Diplomacy or Gather Information checks or any other skill check that takes more than one round, can't try to Appraise an item's worth", etc, then really, that guy needs help. Posting the barbarian's rage ability and suggesting gently that maybe they should just use those restrictions would be a lifesaver for time and balance. (I know this is a pretty unlikely example, and if I come up with a better one, I'll update)

    3a. Unofficial Examples are Bad. I might be the only person who thinks this, but if you see some a homebrew thread with a similar theme or mechanics to another homebrew thread, posting a link and saying something like "I've already done this" or "I'd rather use this" or "This is better" is just rude and it borders on thread derailment. Even people who are posting those links to help, saying "I did something similar, you might check it out and see if you want to use my mechanics" is not a good example of PEACH. If you want to do something like that, please, send it through a PM directly to the homebrewer instead, rather than hijacking their thread with your own work.

    4. Please, write SOMETHING. Already stated, and pretty common on these forums, but I'd be remiss to leave this out. Comments are appreciated, even supportive comments that don't offer any critique. (Hell, they've helped me so much I made a post just for them). By posting something like this, you can put a smile on a person's face. Isn't that worth the ten seconds it would take you to hit New Reply and type "I like this class! Keep up the good work!"?


    Receiving PEACH: Okay, now that I've talked to the lurkers and the readers, it's the homebrewers' turns. You've got PEACH, so what do you do with it? Here's a few tips on interpreting and using PEACH.

    1. Be grateful, respectful, and understanding. Part of the reason that people lurk in the first place is because they feel like their comments won't be appreciated or even noticed. If you take the time to reply to as many comments as you can, even just to say "Thanks! ", that will encourage that PEACHer to comment again on someone else's work. When I said before that by not commenting, lurkers were passively hurting the homebrewer, I now say to you: By ignoring someone's comment, you are passively reinforcing the idea that that person's comment was "not as good" or "not helpful", and discouraging them from trying to participate again. That covers the grateful part. I hope I don't need to get into why you should be respectful and understanding here.

    2. Keep in mind that each comment is like a favor to you. People don't have to PEACH. They don't receive any compensation for it, and it is not some kind of fee in order to enjoy your work. Their opinions and advice are assisting you in making your creation better, and they get absolutely nothing out of it, other than the satisfaction of being a good person and helping someone else, which they depend on you to feel. Dismissing someone's comment is both harsh and makes you seem like a jerk, and before anyone posts, I know I've been guilty of this too. More on this below.

    3. If you disagree with someone, try to explain your point of view. Just like a PEACHer doesn't need to comment, you aren't required to implement their suggestions. But ignoring their suggestion is not the right answer (see 1) and waving it off is definitely not the right answer (see 2). If you disagree with someone, try to explain why you won't be using their suggestion in your work. This lets them know that A) you read their comment and B) you considered it enough to state your rebuttal. Be polite about it, as well. For example, in a recent thread that I made, someone suggested I add cold resistance to my werellama. His reasoning was sound, and the ability would only make the creature better. I was pleased to see it, and I admit the idea hadn't occurred to me. My only objection was based on current WotC work: animals don't generally have energy resistance. Now, sometimes going against the norm is the basis for homebrew, but as this particular thread was only statting up a monster and applying a template by RAW and involved no actual homebrewing, I couldn't use his suggestion, so I thanked him for it and explained my side of the argument. He understood well, and that was that. Neither of us walked away feeling any worse, and we had a good four post discussion about it. It could have been much worse if I had just said "No, that's a stupid idea.", which again, I am very guilty of, and I apologize to any PEACHers that I disrespected so harshly. (Wyntonian specifically, though I was being critical of WotC's policy on blackguards and paladins, not his suggestion).

    4. If you don't understand, ask. If someone posts a comment that calls your ability overpowered, or weak, or irrelevant, or downright confusing, but they don't give you any suggestions as to how to fix it or don't even explain how, you should ask them to explain. This one is kind of obvious, but let me just say that by starting the conversation and asking the question, you are more likely to have someone else come along, read your question, hit the "Quote" button and explain for that other person, who clearly didn't feel like explaining himself, or he would have done it when he posted (that, or he was baiting you to ask, which is unfortunate, but all you can do is take the bait).


    Getting more PEACH: You posted your thread. An hour passes. Two hours. Six. Ten. Twenty Four. And no comments, or only one or two that weren't very helpful. The views are racking up, but no one seems motivated enough to comment. What do you do? Here are some tips on drawing attention to your thread.

    1. Make the Title Interesting. I'm sure plenty of people out there have wondered in the past why I use weird and long titles for my threads, instead of just saying things like the name of the class. It's actually all because of one post:

    Quote Originally Posted by YouLostMe
    Neo, I'll be honest, I've passed this class six or seven times going "oh, great, another brawler class". I finally checked once I saw discussion had hit four pages, and I am truly amazed.
    The title of the thread was "The Brawler (3.5 Base Class, PEACH)". But that title was so generic and predictable that it spurned someone from reading it. After that, I started to use more creative and interesting titles, and I got comments like this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse
    You definitely sucked me in with the title.
    Quote Originally Posted by SamBurke
    I stalk you end up looking at most of your threads because of the afore-mentioned titles.
    I know there's an old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover". But that wouldn't need to be a saying if everyone followed it. Interesting covers tend to grab a reader's attention. More readers, more PEACH.

    2. Bump. This one is obvious, but a direct approach is simply to bump the thread back to the most recent page with a post of your own. There are a few ways to approach this. You can simply say "It's been a few hours and I've got this many views, does no one have anything to say?", or you can beg, "Please guys, I really want to know what you all think. Please leave a comment, even if it's only to say you like or hate it.", or you can bump indirectly, by updating your post, changing it a bit, adding a new ability or something, and then post saying "Update. Changed my Rage ability to give +8 Strength instead of +6. How does it look now?".

    Some of you are probably thinking "Well, it was on the front page when I posted it, and it didn't get any view then! How will bumping help?" Well, take into account that different people log in to Giant in the Playground at different times of day. Maybe a PEACHer would like to read your comment, but he was at work when you posted it, and by the time he got home, you were on the second page? Maybe some of us were asleep? This is a world-wide site, after all, and we get comments from every time zone. But if you're wondering whether a bump will really affect your lurkers, I will say this. My suggestion is to go with the pleading bump. A gentle reminder to the reader that this is someone's hard work and they want to hear feedback is sometimes all it takes to get someone to post a comment.

    3. Ask someone directly. Everyone on this site has a life, but that doesn't mean that we're always busy. A PM is generally hard to ignore, thanks to the helpful pop-up from the Playground. Asking a friend or a fellow player/DM to look over your work and post a comment will probably help get you some PEACH, as well as bump your thread to the front page and encourage more people to take a look. I know that my friends TravelLog and Wyntonian are probably already sick to death of me PMing them and asking them to PEACH my threads.

    Don't have someone to ask? bobthe6th is always willing to PEACH for anyone, just send him a link and ask for his help. He's an experienced homebrewer, and should be able to give you some good pointers. Debby is also a pretty passionate PEACHer, and she's very knowledgeable. Then, of course, there is also myself. I'm pretty open to reading new homebrew and assisting people, so feel free to send me a link every now and then asking for my opinion.

    4. PEACH someone else first. This isn't as underhanded as it sounds. Plenty of people share your grief, believe me. If you see a comment-lite homebrew thread, maybe already on the second page, bump it up and offer some quality PEACH, then after you post, send the author a PM (do not request it in his actual thread) and say "Hey, I saw your class, it looked good. I left you some comments, and I hope they help. By the way, if you get a chance, I'd really like your opinion on this piece I've posted..." You help someone, and they help you. Everyone wins!

    I hope this section helps you aspiring homebrewers get some more attention drawn to your threads.
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2012-01-22 at 04:05 PM.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Good idea. My only question is: Do you have a definite taxonomy in mind?

    Edit: Also, could you explain what "PEACH" is in the guide.
    Last edited by Grinner; 2012-01-21 at 12:25 PM.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotchland View Post
    Good idea. My only question is: Do you have a definite taxonomy in mind?
    What do you mean?

    Edit: Also, could you explain what "PEACH" is in the guide.
    Yes.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    I agree, this needs a small section for all those standardized D&D acronyms you see around here.

    This is a good idea, I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Noctis Vigil View Post
    I agree, this needs a small section for all those standardized D&D acronyms you see around here.

    This is a good idea, I look forward to seeing how this turns out.
    Can't really do that, this forum already has a thread dedicated to that, and if I tried and made a list it would be breaking the rules. Still, I'll gladly explain some homebrew-related acronyms like PEACH and WIP.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    here is a mostly done list

    also, glad to see another guide. hope you go into base class desine a bit...(fax kinda skips it, and GIT never got that far...)
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by bobthe6th View Post
    here is a mostly done list

    also, glad to see another guide. hope you go into base class desine a bit...(fax kinda skips it, and GIT never got that far...)
    I'm kind of skipping everything but class design, actually. No need to go into too much detail on monsters (since Fax's guide is so in-depth and elegantly done) or spells/feats (since they're relatively easy to explain).

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Alright, finally the first update. The Getting Started section is finished.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Wouldn't the Multishot feat count as an attack feat from core?

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    meta started to shine in later splats. fell animate, explosive spell, sculpt spell... all really nice.
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Noctis Vigil View Post
    Wouldn't the Multishot feat count as an attack feat from core?
    I don't know what feat you're referring to. However, in retrospect, the Manyshot feat from Core would most certainly count as an attack spell. I'll update that section.

    meta started to shine in later splats. fell animate, explosive spell, sculpt spell... all really nice.
    Yes, but later splats are also when Meta started to become unfair. Practical Metamagic, Divine Metamagic, Incantatrix, Arcane Thesis, etc.

    And sorry, but I'm probably not going to get the next section up by tonight...Baldur's Gate II called to me. (I've never played as a Human Archer before)
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2012-01-21 at 06:42 PM.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Added my preliminary discussion on dead levels, I might go back and be a little more in-depth there, depending on what you guys think.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    seems decent. I tend to find the problem is I build classes with a every two level progression, an every four, an every three. this leaves a couple gaps (primes suck so much... you heard me 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, and 19) so I have to shove random stuff into the holes.

    I do tend to notice on the boards a lack of skill boosts in base classes though... dunno... might need more description there.
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by bobthe6th View Post
    I do tend to notice on the boards a lack of skill boosts in base classes though... dunno... might need more description there.
    Alright, let me see what else I can come up with. Hold on...

    Edit: There we go, a small add in about utility features. This is harder than I thought, I have to provide examples, but of course the examples themselves are so specific.
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2012-01-22 at 01:38 AM.

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    ok, that looks solid then. If I ever stop writing straight combat classes I will have to use that idea...

    look forward to the next installment with bated breath...
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by bobthe6th View Post
    ok, that looks solid then. If I ever stop writing straight combat classes I will have to use that idea...

    look forward to the next installment with bated breath...
    Well, it would certainly be easy enough to add some utility invocations to your Blaster like a warlock, wouldn't it?

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    Meta magic.

    also, writing invocations is a pain and a half. much like spells. I'd rather make people think to pull of utility.
    Last edited by bobthe6th; 2012-01-22 at 01:46 AM.
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Here's a little something I wrote on an old board, where it didn't get any attention:

    Or, in other words, why do some systems become popular, and some don't?

    By systems, I'll be referring to "spellcasting" systems, like vancian, point based, and the like.

    From my own, not inconsiderable examination of systems, I have come up with a couple of criteria that popular systems seem to have, following three different subsections:

    Framework
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    • [li]The system should have a small number of states for each "itty bit (more on that later)"; for example, Vancian casting has two different states (memorized and already cast), or initiating, which has two or three states, depending on the class (Readied and Expended, with Granted added for Crusaders). Most systems actually fall within this 2~3 state range, with the exception of Psionics/Invocations (1 State), and Meldshaping (a freaking large amount; they vary based on what chakra their bound to and how "on" (i.e., the amount of essentia invested.))[/li]
      [li]The system should have a minimum amount of accounting; psionics is a good example, since all you need to really keep track of is your power points and your manifester level; on the other end, you have meldshaping again (keep track of your essentia invested, how many chakra binds you've used, etc, etc). A good rule of thumb is that the system shouldn't be so complicated that you need to keep track of more than 3~4 numbers, at the maximum.[/li]
      [li]The system should be easy to add to; by this I mean that it should be easy to gauge where in the progression an ability belongs. You should be able to look at each "level range" of itty bits, and be able to gauge where the one you want to add fits in.[/li]
      [li]The system should be intuitive; if you can't explain a part of the rules to someone in less than 10 minutes, consider axing it. If you can't set a player up with a pregenerated character with the itty bits already picked up, and have them ready to play with 15 minutes, consider that the rules are a bit unwieldy.[/li]


    Verdict: A good system will have a minimum amounts of fiddly bits in and of itself, really shouldn't have much accounting to keep track off in battle (2~3 states for the itty bits and 2~4 numbers to keep track of feels just about right). You can have more states or numbers to remember, as long as you don't need them except during downtime; this is how meldshaping gets away with having so many states, in that they don't come up that often (you end up setting up a number of overall super-states for all your soulmelds, which you swap between; in other words, most people don't worry about the essentia amounts in a single soulmeld, instead focusing on proportions between different soulmelds.)


    Itty Bits
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    By "itty bits", I refer to spells, maneuvers, etc, etc.
    • [li]FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LEAVE EXCESSIVE REDUNDANCY OUT! If a system has a number of itty bits that can be described as "like another itty bit, but a leeeeeetle different", consider folding them together. This is more of a problem with scaling systems like psionics, where you don't need multiple "range touch attack for xd6 damage" abilities. Also, if I see another system where half of the itty bits are the same, only with the elemental damage swapped, I will SCREAM.[/li]
      [li]Leave the descriptions and functions obvious and clear. A good deal of rules abuse comes about when people don't express themselves clearly and concisely. In other words, keep your word usage within the range of words that most people understand; this isn't the place to strut your vocabulary (that's what the fluff is for.)[/li]
      [li]Don't make one itty bit much more attractive than another of the same "level"; if people are always taking one choice above another one, consider altering one of the two, most probably the one that no-one takes.[/li]
      [li]Have some uniqueness in there. I have lost count of systems where all they give you are cheap knock-offs of abilities I can already be. Be creative; if you have to have that ability that gives you claws, at least make the claws interesting. This, I believe is one of the really major reasons people pay attention to a homebrew system.[/li]


    Fluff
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    • [li]Make the fluff broad. Specific fluff (tied to a single organization, or the like), should be kept for feats and PrCs. A good system should have fluff as broad as "My god gave me powers, so I can cast spells".[/li]
      [li]The fluff should sound GOOD; this is where you strut your vocabulary. I suggest making every sound grand (look at Tome of Magic; they have excellent fluff.)[/li]


    TL;DR: Keep your homebrew simple and versatile, with nice fluff and a good assortment of spell equivalents. In other words, COMMON SENSE, PEOPLE!
    As for 'brewing up classes, I would like to suggest that:

    • [li]You look around to see what has been done before, both to strip ideas from, and so that you can potentially see if someone has already made what you are looking to make; I think the fact that so many class fixes end up with a miniscule level of a differences can be attributed to this fact.[/li]
      [li]This one really applies to everything; accept that your baby isn't perfect, and that none of the people giving comments are trying to be mean. If someone says, "No, that class feature sucks", listen to what they say; if they can't think of a way to improve it (looking more towards clarity than power, though underpowered class features can be bumped up.), then ask around.[/li]
      [li]Make sure that you have more than one idea to work with; a class, even a Prestige class, should have at least 2 ideas running around, with a good average at 5 in a base class. Otherwise, you get classes like the fighter, whose entire "idea" was "Feats are good."[/li]


    And I have one comment for people leaving comments; please, if you have something to say, leave a comment, even if the only real content of the comment is "I really liked it, especially X part." I have known 'brewers (myself included) to have given up on ideas, and even on homebrewing all together, simply because no-one showed any interest in what they were doing; and a lot of that, in my opinion, is because most people don't want to make a post with just "I liked X feature" or "I hate you for making X feature, because it sucks." I've also noticed that most threads without any responses get less comments than those with comments already; please, put a foot forwards people!

    The above might seem whiny, but really, I'm just tired of seeing awesome homebrew getting no comments outside of one or two people, like this, for example.

    And, I admit that I have an awful homebrewing style; I hate discrete, one level class features, I adore scaling features of all kinds, and I always procrastinate in adding skills.
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Here comes a new challenger! I had some requests to get to the PEACH section early, and as always, I complied with my readers' wishes. So the PEACH section is up, and I'll be covering the actual homebrewing part next.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    first time I've been called an experienced hombrewer with my whole three months of effort...

    a good description. I myself have felt the sinking feeling of the veiws hitting 200 without a comment.
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    Giving PEACH:
    This is probably the most important section. It's for all the readers and lurkers out there. Most of you really do enjoy browsing the Homebrew forum, right? You see cool classes, you check them out, and you file a mental note away saying whether it's good or bad, but you don't actually take the time to leave a comment. This frustrates a homebrewer more than anything else.

    When 12 hours passes, and there are over 100 views but not one comment, a creator feels bad. Like his work wasn't good enough, or didn't stand out, or anything else. I know this isn't a fair thing of me to say, but when you read a piece of homebrew without leaving a comment, you are contributing to a growing number of lurkers that passively hurt the homebrewer's feelings and self-esteem. An artist wants to be recognized!
    Can vouch for this part personally.

    Excellent read Seraphi, thanks

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Can I put another point in?

    If English is not your first language, I would suggest that you find someone to act as a spelling and grammar checker; in fact, this is just a good idea in general.

    I mean, I don't have a problem if there are a couple mistakes, but if its barely legible, I personally just get a head-ache, and then I hate your homebrew without actually knowing what's in it. This is not a good thing.
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Amechra View Post
    Can I put another point in?

    If English is not your first language, I would suggest that you find someone to act as a spelling and grammar checker; in fact, this is just a good idea in general.

    I mean, I don't have a problem if there are a couple mistakes, but if its barely legible, I personally just get a head-ache, and then I hate your homebrew without actually knowing what's in it. This is not a good thing.
    I have a whole section on the importance of editing in the works, Amechra, don't worry.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    I have a whole section on the importance of editing in the works, Amechra, don't worry.
    THANK YOU.

    This is pretty good. Also, I'll second the fact that a post left for days with no comments at all is very discouraging.

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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    I have a whole section on the importance of editing in the works, Amechra, don't worry.
    Wooh, thanks. I completely missed that.

    That section is the section that will probably bring me the most joy.
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Thanks for your wise words, kind sir.

    And allow me also to thank you on behalf of those numerous ones who didn't take the time to reply
    "Thanks "
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    Default Re: The Homebrewer's Handbook (All Homebrewers Welcome!)

    Two notes I'd add:

    Scaling & Active vs. Passive abilities. (Referring mainly to classes, prestige classes and monster classes, here).
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    Scaling

    This refers to the capacity of a character element to grow appropriately as you gain levels. It refers to everything from hp to saves to damage to the abilities you can use in combat/noncombat encounters.

    Here's the thing: early on, damage and AC can be a pretty big deal. First level, a greatsword can drop you to -8 hp in one hit. The issue, however, is that damage and AC fall off in importance as you gain levels. At level 20, your enemies can have 500 hp, and the damage you're dealing with that greatsword attack is still 2d6 + various modifiers from enchantments, power attack and whatever else.

    AC, similarly, is pretty important when you don't have many HP to spare... but almost inevitably, characters & monsters gain to-hit bonuses far faster than they gain AC. By the time your level is in the teens, AC is almost obsolete, barring some extreme situations and/or some optimization on that front.

    Conversely, many spells, around the same time, are introducing a plethora of save-or-fail/lose/suck/die effects to combat. When it comes down to it, and combat comes down to a warrior whacking a beast for 5-6 rounds to deal sufficient damage to drop it, vs. a mage having a 50% chance minimum on each action to take that same beast out of combat, the mage will come out ahead.

    Recognize what happens as a game enters higher levels, and accommodate this. In general, at very low levels and very high levels, the game devolves into a game of rocket tag, with the first person to act & successfully hit deciding the combat one way or the other. If your class deals damage, it's generally going to need to react to this metagame in one of three ways: By the time you're high level you need to deal a lot of damage (Barbarian can do this, as can rogue with some specialized builds), concede to give the class its own 'rocket' save-or-die effect or give it another prominent role that it won't suffer for.
    Active vs. Passive Abilities

    This is more of a nitpick for me, but I think the key to an interesting class is to give it features that are actively used. Too many classes look rich on paper, but in terms of sitting down at the actual table, they amount to the same old combat routines of attack, full attack, and the occasional maneuver.

    What I term 'active abilities' are those class features that call on the player to decide to use them. They generally require some strategy and decision making, some sort of risk analysis or judgement of possible efficiency. Passive abilities are generally 'always on'.

    Casting a spell or invocation is an example of an active ability, as is Tripping or a use of stunning fist. A paladin's divine grace is passive. It's always on, and there's almost never a situation where you wouldn't use it.

    Remember that players take an average of 13.333 encounters to reach their next level. If you're gaining 16 levels before gaining something which adds something new to your repertoire, that's 213+ encounters where you're doing nothing a peasant couldn't. Maybe your numbers are bigger, but that can only make you feel heroic and hold your interest for so long. Even 13-14 encounters of attack, 5' step, full attack, attack, disarm, attack, etc. is boring. Two hundred? Two hunded and sixty-six to twenty? Pretty meh.

    Once other options are introduced into the mix, the player is not only more engaged with the combat (and noncombat!) scenarios and feeling like the calls they're making can make them a player above and beyond the next guy playing a [insert class here]... but the choices they make are influenced by the flavor of the class/feat/prestige class. This makes them feel more like a templar, or cutthroat, or pyromancer, or whatever class you created for their benefit.

    There's the added benefit, as well, that versatility and options is tied directly to the power level of a class, and a class with no real options is naturally going to be lower tier than one with.
    Last edited by Hyudra; 2012-01-23 at 03:15 PM.

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