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I'm a new DM, with a group of new players. I am the most experienced of the group, but mostly from watching Critical Role. There is a player in my group who multi-classed two homebrew classes; Witch Hunter and Dragon Slayer. Adding insult to injury he didn't prepare at all, and what he did know was overpowered stuff. So we said, look, find a different, simpler class and now he's a half-devil (specifically not a tiefling however) hellblazer.

It's mostly a difficulty of familiarity. When he played the dragon slayer class, he reeled off spells that were overpowered and because they are technically in the list I suppose he could very well use them but I think the difficulty there is obvious. Essentially he is asking a new DM to work without any real rule guides; he wants to be a half-devil but there's no race information for me or him to look over, not to mention how difficult it's going to be for him in cities and stuff.

What should I do to control this situation before I kill either him or myself?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you talked to the player about this? If so, what's been his response? (Also, be sure to edit the question to reflect the clarifications you've provided in the comments.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 9 '16 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's also unclear to me why you just can't specify the classes that are allowed in your game \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs May 9 '16 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually guys, I've just decided he can go ahead and do it. I've told him the difficulties that he'll face and that he'll need to prepare more. Hopefully he'll do so. Thank's for the help anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Mr Anonymous May 9 '16 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Wibbs Some people don't know how to say "no" \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 9 '16 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Now that the question has been clarified and reopened it will likely get more answers. It's OK if this is what you decide to do, but it might still be worth checking back for what other answers turn out to be. Even if you don't though, the answers may help future visitors, so thank you for the question! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 9 '16 at 18:06
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Your world, your rules

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, the DM is the one deciding which home-brew rules, if any, the group is going to use. The DM always has final say. So if you feel that you cannot properly handle his home-brew classes, you need to tell him so. Especially if you are new at this. Tell him he can't do it.

Which brings me to my next point

Talk to your players

You can't solve any problem with your players if you don't communicate. Talk to this guy, tell him you're not going to allow him to play home-brewed classes. And tell him why. Let him know that you're new at this and you don't have time to research all of these strange classes. Tell him that you'd rather play vanilla classes so you can get the hang of DMing. Limit him to the PHB, it's got everything he needs. He should be able to find something fun out of the original classes.

Finally, he seems like the type of player that likes to be creative in his builds. This is fine, but you need to let him know where the line is and both of you need to understand that there are going to be some disagreements on some of the rules. The best thing for him to do is to just do as you say. Sessions are always 10 times more fun if people aren't arguing all the time, even if someone has to bite their tongue. The best thing for you to do is remain firm, but fair. Remember, this player isn't doing this to spite you (hopefully), he is just trying to have fun. Remind him that you're a player too, and you're trying to have fun creating and running a world for the players and you can't do that with all these extra rules. I would also let him know that maybe down the road, you might be experienced enough to deal with home-brew classes, but right now you'd prefer things to be vanilla.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to indicate somehow that “your house” is metaphoric; some readers might interpret this to mean that whoever is hosting gets to set the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 9 '16 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you have the time, and if you're willing, could you also come up with the rules required to accommodate the player(s)? \$\endgroup\$ – Ben May 10 '16 at 1:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ben There are no extra rules involved. All the rules you need are outlined in the PHB and DMG. The only extra "rule" you might want is "if it's not in these books, it's not in our game" \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov May 10 '16 at 2:15
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As a newbie DM, you're well within your rights to restrict players to official races and classes.

But it might be useful to have a chat with your player and find out why he's going for homebrew races/classes, first. It's likely to be one of two reasons:

  1. He wants to powergame (ie, he's doing it for the stats)
  2. He wants his character to be unique and different (ie, he's doing it for the flavour)

If the reason is #1, and in particular if he wants to be more powerful than the other PCs just to show off, then you're well within your rights to say "nope, official material only". There are lots of players who are simply powergamers, they get a kick out of making the most powerful character possible. In that case it's the DM's job to rein them in and make sure no PC has an unfair advantage.

But it's possible that there's an underlying issue causing this behaviour - maybe a lack of confidence in his own skills? Some people may try and make the most powerful character possible because they're not sure they're going to be any good at playing, and want to make sure their character is valuable. If that's the case, you might be able to work with him to make sure he knows that every class is useful and valuable, and talk about ways you can utilise their abilities in particular situations.

If the reason is #2, that's something quite different. As someone who frequently falls into this basket when creating characters (and causing all kinds of angst for my poor GMs), it could be that, like me, he just really likes the "outsider" character archetype. I get a kick out of my character being different from the other PCs, and particularly having that reacted to by the other PCs and NPCs (even if it's in a negative way, which is why other characters acting with suspicion and disdain towards my character isn't a bad thing, in my book - it gives me opportunities for interesting interactions).

If he's that sort of player, there is a potential compromise - you can always re-skin an existing race or class (or both). Let him make a cosmetic changes to the look of his character (anything from changing skin/hair/eye colours, to adding stubby horns, a non-prehensile tail, basically anything that won't give his character any kind of practical benefit), or class (eg, let him flavour all his spells with 'ice' or 'darkness', or whatever other theme he desires, but with identical ranges and effects to the original spells). Maybe he could even swap some spells or abilities in or out with other classes, as long as they're of comparable value. Let him re-name his re-skinned class or race, give it a backstory or history, if that floats his boat.

None of these methods is guaranteed to work, especially if your player is unwilling (or unable) to tell you why he's doing what he's doing. But trying to dig down into the 'why' may reveal something you can work with. Good luck!

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I have someone like this in my group. He must always play something outside of the rules, and refuses to play a majority of the regular races and classes. Now, I have found that putting him through danger or discriminating against him usually ended with him winning and thinking he is unstoppable. So, I have found 2 options that work.

  1. Deny his homebrew creations. This is the less preferable option, as it usually leads to resentment and anger. However, it does solidify your position as the one in charge. Before you just shoot it down, read up on the class beforehand. Think about how it could combine with other classes, and what its strengths and weaknesses are. If you can't see any weaknesses or notice strengths beyond that of other classes, veto it. Also, think about if it fits in your world or not. If you are playing a low magic medieval campaign, don't let him play a gun owning wizard. Remember, heroes may be special, but that doesn't mean they get to break your rules and your world.

  2. Have his differences stand out. My homebrew friend once played the "Drunken Brawler". His character began outpacing all the others in almost everything. He broke through walls, broke fights and generally caused resentment. Eventually the party split in game. Instead of just making the world hard for him (which is a good idea) and have him hate you, have him be different than the party. This works differently based on party. Some parties might silently resent the person, some might confront him and occasionally it will do nothing. This method discourages the use of overpowered, unbalanced characters through social pressure and/or awkwardness role playing in game.

Now, these methods tend to alienate the homebrew character. Just remember, unless he is definitely breaking the game and upsetting the balance, let him be creative. Homebrew is fine with DM approval and balancing issues solved, as it lets heroes be unique and creative. And you don't have to allow homebrew if you feel it leads to too many problems.

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I am this guy.

I play D&D 3.5 but I expect the experience to be generic.

I know some players who just pick an off-the-shelf character and roll with it; deciding on their options as they go. Essentially, they see the mechanics of character creation as a chore and prefer to move on to actual play. It's fine by me, I like playing with them...

... but I prefer my characters to have a bit more depth.

For me, character creation is fun. I'll got back and forth between races, templates, bloodlines, classes, traits, feats, flaws, skill tricks, familiars/animal companions, items and fluff until I find a point where everything meshes together; where the mechanics and the fluff are in line. It's a lengthy process, sometimes requiring a week or two just to get the first 5 levels planned fully and a rough sketch of the next levels.

Oh, and I am not above using early entry tricks either, nor am I above asking the DM if some requirements may be waived (rarely though)... and yes I sometimes use/create homebrew.


Could the DM know about every single option my character uses?

Yes, but honestly the investment would be huge. And there's another player like me in the group.

So instead, we proceed differently. We present a concept to the DM and the party, which they approve (generally), and the DM leaves the mechanics up to us, with the understanding that we have researched the rules fully and will make sure to follow them.

It's our responsibility to be on top of our characters.

With some players playing off-the-shelves characters and others playing highly customized/researched characters, what of group balance?

Our group is not balanced, and there is no issue.

As most role-playing games, D&D has roles. Every character specializes in fulfilling a number of roles, some they'll be the best at, some they'll be able to support others in and some they'll just do a poor job in. There are many roles: crowd control, crowd damage, focused control, focused damage, party face, party support, scout (infiltrator/sentry/tracker), skill monkey, ...

Not all campaigns give all the roles an equal share in the spotlight, but all campaigns should give the opportunity to a couple of roles to shine. When starting on a campaign it should be made clear what situations will occur (and their frequency)... though normally the theme is sufficient to get the idea.

It is generally expected that these roles will be distributed somewhat in the party: the Barbarian is a front-line fighter, specializing in focused damage; the Bard is the party face and party support, jack of all trades and master of none; ...

It does not matter that all characters are not on an equal footing, what matters is that:

  • at any point, all characters should be able to contribute (if a little)
  • most of the times, all characters should be able to contribute well
  • regularly, each character has a chance to contribute greatly (be in the spotlight)

In my current party, this is accomplished by my character excelling at absorbing damage and crowd control. None of the other characters were controlling crowds, and none were willing to play the meat-shield. They care little that my character excels at it, all that matters to them is that they can play their characters in the way they want!

It's okay for an optimized character to play in an unbalanced party as long as (a) the party accepts it and (b) the others still have ample room to shine; it's easier if this character fills a vacant role.

But this character is so optimized it's blazing through all encounters!

That's an issue.

All characters should have ample room to shine... without the OP'ed character holding back.

This can be taken up with the player, asking him/her to introduce a flaw. Personally, I like flaws, I think they give some depth.

I often joke that my current character is blind-deaf. She's not... but she has such a low perception that she's always the last to pick up on things. And she's a bit naive. That makes her the natural target for an ambush (from foes) or a prank (from friends).

The "optimized" character should have at least one glaring flaw. An obvious string to pull by the DM if need be, it can also be a comic relief.


I think the underlying point here is that role-playing is a group activity; all members of the group should have fun playing, and all members of the group should therefore work toward enabling others to have fun with the understanding that others are working toward enabling their own fun.

I do not see the custom/homebrew/optimized character as an issue per se. There are many characters that can hamper everyone's fun (a Wizard never knowing her spells, a Druid never knowing the stats of her summoned animals, ...), and in all cases it's just the player's responsibility to make sure not to drag the others' fun down.

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