D&D General How do you introduce new material to your campaign?

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
The game I am currently running is "core rules only," but I was spending some time looking through another supplement for some spells to introduce via a found spell book (there just aren't enough necromancy spells in the core book to make an interesting and strange mid-level necromancer's book) and I got to thinking/wondering about how others introduce new material to their games.

Do you wait for a new campaign to start up to introduce new class powers/variants, feats, etc. . ?
Do you find things in new books to recommend to players?
Do you find things to recommend to the DM to use or allow you to use?
As DM, do you make players make a case for new material or do is it anything goes as soon as it comes out?
How do you handle owning the supplemental rule books? Must everyone have a copy? Just the DM? Just the player using the new material for their character? Something else?

I assume the degree of engagement by players in your group also effects this, for example (as came up in my "I got the Long Rest rules wrong" thread), my group owns core books, but basically looks to me to introduce, explain, and enforce rules. None of them are the type to just buy a random game book to read or suggest we use it (and that is fine with me).

So far, I am only introducing the possibilities of new spells (and magical items) in-game, either from found books or from learning from someone else, like an ally or mentor. So even though, for example, wizard cantrips are not learned and scribed as usual spells, I include "notes for a weird cantrip you've never heard of" in the margins of a found book for example, allowing them to spend down time figuring it out and adding it to their list when they get an opportunity (or replacing an existing one on their list). It maybe possible that the next time the PCs have a choice for a feat I may open up the field of possibilities from another book. Maybe if I end up running another campaign with this same group I will open more access, since I will have more confidence by then that they (and ME!) will have more facility with the rules.

I think one of my (personal) issues with 3E is that from the moment it was released I was house-ruling it and trying to account for every round of new books and materials came out, when I should have learned my lesson from the glut of 2E "Handbook of. . ." books and had a simpler approach (basically, I wanted the games I ran in 3E in my homebrew to match up in some ways with the games I ran there in 2E - but now I say, F-- the homebrew!"). I am glad I approached 5E this way - but also I have only been running it for less than a year - and I know many of you have been down with it since day one - so you might feel different by now about new/old material.

then again, if you run games anything like I do, five years means your first campaign is wrapping up and you're just getting started on another ;)

So what are your guidelines, plans, approaches, limitations, stories of what worked and what didn't for introducing new stuff?
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Any of the official books are always allowed. Homebrew material of any type, just run it by me first so I can double-check for any major balance issues and we'll figure out a way to slot in the game.

I'm fairly strict on the idea that new mechanics are fundamentally player-facing; I don't run a game where concepts like "rogue" or "wizard" are in-game identities. So introducing new concepts is just finding a way to skin the mechanic so it makes sense within the current setting.

My only real hang-up is new races; if there's a new race someone is interested I like to find out if they're interested in the mechanics or the aesthetics of the race. If they primarily want the mechanics I'd rather reskin, if they really want the aesthetics then I figure out a hook to add the new race to the setting.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
Player's Handbook initially. As other books come out, options can be discussed and brought in, but new option books are not mass approved.

Most everything gets in eventually, but phasing stuff in as players request it helps me keep track of the variations and permutations.
 

I generally have a discussion with my players after each book comes out. It's generally the same spiel about working with them if they want to rebuild their characters based on new stuff, though if we're nearing the end of a campaign, I recommend that they hold off.
 

aco175

Legend
I would likely let in official books more easily than 3pp books and homebrew. I would want to look at the other stuff more closely. I generally try to find a way to incorporate things. I find the races more difficult than the other crunch stuff like feats and spells. I want to say yes, but find I need more convincing on how a tabaxi got to Icewind Dale and why the locals would not think he is a werewolf or such and kill him. A lot of times it becomes harder than it is worth to keep up the play and they just skip over it.

I tend to introduce new spells through NPCs and bad guys. The players can help, but tend to not search them out. There may be a super-shield spell in a new splat book that the player wants. I look at non-core spells as rare and homebrew spells as unique. I PC will need to search out the super-shield or buy it, or maybe get a scroll with it on and can copy it. Making the improved super-shield spell takes some work, but I like to see PCs have a shtick and players being invested, so I try to accompany. At some point though a non-core book may become core with the 3e PHB2 being one.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
For new campaigns I always establish what the character generation guidelines are, including things like classes, subclasses, feats, races, features etc. that come from non-PHB sources. If/when new player material gets released... I usually buy the book myself so I know what is in it. Then if a player tells me what they are looking for or if their character's story has lead them in a direction that incorporating this new material would make sense, I'll let them know about it and almost always let them use it.

My players care so little about ripping apart game mechanics to squeeze every last point out of bizarre combinations that I never, ever worry about any of the material that is released and could be used. I'll be able to work around any of it as necessary.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
For my groups, which source books are permitted and which rules are in play is set at the start of the campaign. I do not introduce new material mid-campaign and may not in the next campaign if it doesn't support the campaign's setting or theme.
 

Greg K

Hero
It depends. Regardless of addition, when I run a campaign, races, cultures, and deities that exist in the campaign are set prior to character generation as are, generally, the available classes. As for whether to introduce new or variant rules, (e.g. new combat or skill mechanics), new racial abilities, new classes, class variants, substitute racial abilities, substitute class abilities, equipment, feats, spells, etc., I have a whole informal flowchart as to whether something is included or substituted for something else after the campaign starts and whether or not players have a decision in updating their characters to specific changes.
My initial decision points are
1. Do I like the mechanics behind the rule/item under consideration?
2. If the answer to 1 is yes and it duplicates/substitutes for something already in use, do I prefer the new approach over what is, currently, being used?; and
3. Does it fit my vision of the campaign (setting and tone) that I am running.?

If the answer to either 1 or 2 is no, the item will never be used.
If the answer to 1 and 2 are yes, but 3 is no, the item will be reconsidered for another campaign.
If the answer to 1, 2, and 3 are all yes, the item in question will almost assuredly be used mid-campaign with the remaining question being whether or not a player has a choice in updating their character to specific mechanical changes such as new classes, variant class abilities has the option to swap for a new spell rather having to acquire it later, etc.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Someone asks if they can use it when making their character. This is usually a "yes, but" with the understanding it may be modified if it turns out to be disruptive in some manner.

Or the module I'm running includes it.

Or while flipping through a book something catches my eye and I toss it into the game to see what mayhem erupts.

I used to be pretty stern about restricting what I felt was appropriate for the game I was running. However, I now feel the players should have as much creative input as I do (if not more), and in the end it's a game as much as a story - that revolves around the characters. I'm just there to set up the situations, referee and watch what happens. The players are the ones telling the story through their characters and the options they choose.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
What, like this? "Let me spell it out for you. This experience is on a whole new level, but I believe its character suits the campaign., but introducing it skillfully will be quite a feat."
Wow. With your background, I didn't expect to see such pun proficiency; that's a rare level of expertise.
 


Azzy

KMF DM
The game I am currently running is "core rules only," but I was spending some time looking through another supplement for some spells to introduce via a found spell book (there just aren't enough necromancy spells in the core book to make an interesting and strange mid-level necromancer's book) and I got to thinking/wondering about how others introduce new material to their games.

Do you wait for a new campaign to start up to introduce new class powers/variants, feats, etc. . ?
Do you find things in new books to recommend to players?
Do you find things to recommend to the DM to use or allow you to use?
As DM, do you make players make a case for new material or do is it anything goes as soon as it comes out?
How do you handle owning the supplemental rule books? Must everyone have a copy? Just the DM? Just the player using the new material for their character? Something else?

So what are your guidelines, plans, approaches, limitations, stories of what worked and what didn't for introducing new stuff?
In an ongoing campaign, I generally open access to feats and spells as the characters level up. If they have to replace a character (due to death or whatever), they can use the new races, classes, and backgrounds. I tend to curate the options available (though I'm generally open to most stuff) and ask the players to ask before the using a non-PHB race, class, subclass, or background (I'm extra critical of 3PP, due to reasons, and only allow it on a case by case basis).

I generall require an option to be from a source that I own (and prefere that the player using it also own it). 5e is so much easier to curate than 3e or 2e as there is so much less stuff that I rarely have issues with the new options.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Introducing new arcane spells is easy: just have the PCs find a long-lost spellbook somewhere that has 'em in it. For divine spells - well, they're divinely granted, right? Your deity's just giving you new stuff today.

Introducing other new material can be more of a production. I once introduced a new class by having a PC get divinely quested to go to another world and bring a bunch of that class' practitioners back with him; but in general I'd leave something like this for a new campaign. Ditto for if I redesign a class top to bottom: the new design probably won't see the light of day until I start a new game. (exception: if the PCs go to another world or plane I might take that opportunity to give a new idea a run-out as an NPC native to that place)

Major mechanical changes are something I try to avoid mid-campaign as I'm a strong believer in precedent within a campaign - if something worked in x-manner back when the campaign was young it's only fair it should work the same way now. That said, I do tweak some DM-side things now and then, mostly to either add granularity, or to smooth progressions, or to fix glitches.
 

TheSword

Legend
Mechanics are always the way they are, they just appear different on the surface... unreliable narrators and all that. If a character already used something that was revised to be worse then I may allow them to keep that for the duration of that campaign only. If better (or broken) then we may start straight away.

Other than that I allow any official 5e stuff and most Unearthed Arcana unless it’s superseded by a later revision (e.g ranger).

My preference is to manager by exception. Assume everything is good and deal with problem as they arise. Life is too short to review every item and apply the ban hammer en mass.
 
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Well, when Tasha's came out I read it and then told my players they could use anything in the book they desired. So that's how I introduce new content.
 

After review by the DM (as everything is optional), I state what is permitted and allow current characters to modify to the new things (swap feats, class abilities, etc.). Race, Class, and Background cannot be modified, but subclass might be changed upon request.
 

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