D&D General what is the worst homebrew you have seen?

When I see something patentably absurd and broken in D&D Beyond's homebrew section, I frequently try to think about what I would've added to it, had it been around when I was younger. I remember my first attempt at creating an artifact, the Dragonsword. I'd love to find that writeup again.

Oh so this right here ^!

I see out of balance, poorly thought out and offensive stuff all the time when I dredge through D&DBeyond Homebrew or other free resources to see if someone already built something I want to add to my setting (or to give me a starting point on updating something I had years ago in a prior edition). In the end, the worst of those are the ones that are almost good because I spend more effort to determine whether to use them or not - and get no benefit from it. But still - just a few moments of my time are lost.

On the other hand, there are decisions I made when I was very young that highly influenced my campaign world in ways that would persist for DECADES and brought nothing but frustration, and sometimes well deserved mockery. Some of them were whimsical attempts at humor. Some of them were my implementation of things that looked cool on film. Some of them were me thinking I was sooooooo clever - but wasn't. Some of it was a real balance issue. It wasn't all bad - but DANG IT some of it was icky. And, because I built it, implemented it and worked it into my campaign in a meaningful way, I was stuck with it and had to live with it because I've always considered it unfair to pull the rug out on players - once I add it, it stays unless the story takes it out.

There is no pain like self inflicted pain.

XP to Level 3 always makes me laugh:



Nah.

Exhibit 1:

I just remembered the worst homebrew I made in recent years. It was as simple +1 shortbow, with one added property: you could attack recklessly with it. Very soon in play I realized the big balance issue that should've been obvious from the get-go. The wielder, provided no enemies had ranged attacks or had enough movement to close, could essentially avoid the main drawback of reckless attack. I nerfed that a few months after I introduced it into the campaign.
 

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cbwjm

Legend
The first four letters are the key: "home." This is a rule that was written for someone's home game...it was created by a particular person, to be used by a specific group of players, for a specific reason. Saying "this stuff is the worst LOL" without knowing anything else about it (especially who it was written for and why) is kind of rude. I'm not gonna crap all over someone else's table.

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox. In the spirit of the thread:

The worst "homebrew" rule I've ever seen was last year, in our Eberron game. We were on a mission in the Demon Wastes, and our Dungeon Master was getting frustrated with the cleric, the paladin, and my wizard all using Banishment on his demons. So in the middle of combat, when the cleric cast that spell and one of his demons failed the save throw, the DM blew a fuse and declared that the Banishment spell no longer exists in the world. "It's gone okay? New rule, no more Banishment! You have to prepare a different spell for once and I swear if you start spamming it in every battle, I'll ban it also!"

We thought he was kidding, but nope. He was serious. I had to replace Banishment with Polymorph before the game could continue. (sad trombone)
Wow, that sucks. Banishment can be a game changer but still, to banish the spell itself is a bit low.
 


Oofta

Legend
Homebrew that I've actually seen in a game I played? A DM had a 6 sided die that had body parts on it. If a monster critted a PC, he'd roll the body part die to see what was "critically hit". Roll "left arm"? Your arm was disabled at best, chopped off if he felt like it. Roll the "head"? Decapitated. Every monster from a lowly kobold to the toughest demon was suddenly granted a vorpal weapon.

Part of it too was that he'd always make it sound dramatic and go "ooh that's bad" ... but every option was pretty much as bad as all the others. In addition if a PC critted a monster the die was nowhere to be found.

I think he was just tired of DMing and messing with us to see how long we'd put up with it until we quit. It didn't take long.
 

Worst thing I've personally experienced was back in 2E. Visiting player wanted to use his character from another campaign, and the DM was cool with it because he'd only be there for 1 session. The character was an energy space vampire; I'm not kidding. It was based on some anime, but I have no idea which one (this was pre-internet telling us everything). I really don't remember much about it, except that he could teleport at will, taking along unwilling targets. He got me and my character's cousin killed by teleporting us into solid rock, but as an energy creature, he automatically survived with 1 HP by moving to the nearest unoccupied space. The session ended with another player using a charge from his Ring of Multiple Wishes so "we never met that @#^@#%&," effectively negating the entire session. It cost us a use of our most powerful magic item, but we taught the DM to actually read a character sheet before agreeing to something...
 

Yeah, back in the day "can I use my existing character?" was rarely the precursor to anything good. I've had people show up with characters with an 18 in everything, and wrecking balls so bad that I've had to say "okay, that adventure never happened" when it was over.

Even with Adventurers League rules today, I've found that some people don't have the firmest grasp on what counts as Adventurers League-legal.

Worst thing I've personally experienced was back in 2E. Visiting player wanted to use his character from another campaign, and the DM was cool with it because he'd only be there for 1 session. The character was an energy space vampire; I'm not kidding. It was based on some anime, but I have no idea which one (this was pre-internet telling us everything). I really don't remember much about it, except that he could teleport at will, taking along unwilling targets. He got me and my character's cousin killed by teleporting us into solid rock, but as an energy creature, he automatically survived with 1 HP by moving to the nearest unoccupied space. The session ended with another player using a charge from his Ring of Multiple Wishes so "we never met that @#^@#%&," effectively negating the entire session. It cost us a use of our most powerful magic item, but we taught the DM to actually read a character sheet before agreeing to something...
 

DarkCrisis

Legend
Cant speak for the game world but one of the players ( a teenage boy) told me how his D&D 5E character was an 8 year old girl who was the spawn of the Devil. Not "A" devil but "The" Devil.

My response was "Neat."
 

The worst homebrew I ever heard about was a DM who rewrote all of 4e's healing and resting mechanics. He thought healing surges were stupid, so he just eliminated them--any healing that used surges could be used as much as you like. And he thought the AEDU mechanic was stupid, so "encounter" powers could be used repeatedly if you prepared them more than once or something like that.

When the resulting game proceeded to be absolute hot garbage where the player characters couldn't die and were dishing out ludicrous amounts of damage and conditions, the DM threw in the towel and declared that 4e was a horrible, unplayable game where the characters couldn't die and would curbstomp everything they went up against.

That vignette simply reinforced my already-existing beliefs regarding the overwhelming hyperexcessive emphasis on the DM as designer auteur.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I don't know if it's possible to find "the worst", but I'll share something I came across for 5e that I felt was astonishingly bad. My roommate is friends with a guy who publishes 3rd party content on Patreon. He was talking with him about his new class. Roomie mentions I'm kind of a "rules guy", and so I get handed the pdf and told to look at it.

Wyrd.jpg

You can look it up if you're interested. I don't know if my comments were ever passed along, but for posterity, I'll put them here.

the whole idea of the class is to gain superpowers and temp hit points by using your phenomenal transformation, but according to the pdf, that ability isn't acquired until you gain "sew chaos" (I think he meant "sow chaos") at level 3. Meaning you have to survive 2 levels of a class with a d4 hit die.

ok so at 2nd level you increase your passive perception by your proficiency bonus. now any bonus to your perception increases your passive- the Beast Within quirk grants the ability to add double your proficiency bonus to Perception checks using smell or hearing, which is interesting since the class doesn't give you proficiency with Perception in the first place.

so here's what this looks like as a level 1 Beast. x2 (+4 bonus) to scent/smell Perception checks without proficiency. If I gain proficiency do I get another +2? And then at level 3, does the +2 to passive stack with this further, potentially increasing a passive scent/smell check to 18+Wis bonus?

and when your proficiency bonus gets to +5 at tier 4, lol, your passive would be 30 + Wis at this point, and the highest DC the game allows is 30, so you smell and hear all the things!

as an aside, you know players will constantly be asking "is this a hearing or scent based check" whenever Perception comes up lol

while not busted, here's a funny thing you get at level 14: "
Your strength is near limitless. While transformed,
your attacks deal double damage to objects and
structures, and you can make an attack as a bonus
action."

you could be using Dex for damage with your unarmed strike or a rapier. in fact, there's no good reason to be Strength based, since you are only proficient with light armor and when you transform, your AC becomes Dex + proficiency bonus

crappy hit dice until higher levels, no armor class, you have to spend your hit dice to use your cool power (which means you can't use them to heal), you only have one way to get more, you get an unarmed strike that starts off doing a d4. Then at level 5 you get a second attack!

"As an action, you can conjure a mote and
blast either a 5-foot wide, 15-foot long straight
line or a 10-foot cone of fire from your position.
Any creature caught in your blast must make a
Dexterity saving throw or take 1d6 fire damage."

sounds great, but it never gets better!
 

The worst I’ve ever seen, with hindsight, is probably stuff I wrote for a mercifully-unpublished product in the early-00s d20 glut.

Nothing teaches you humility quite like time and a good memory.
 


billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
One fecund source of bad home-brew is a little too much specific knowledge unleavened by game play considerations. I'm sure we've all encountered it - the player at the table who has some more advanced or in-depth knowledge of a topic that will bristle at the abstraction approach a game makes. They have trouble letting the minutiae they know go in order to make the game playable.

Example 1: Back in the 2e era, some people compiled a Netbook of Proficiencies. It was a mix of convenient reference for non-weapon proficiencies that appeared in a variety of sources as well as home-brewed examples. Someone, undoubtedly full of their hard-won, amateur knowledge of heraldry (I'm betting a membership in the Society for Creative Anachronism was involved), broke specific aspects of heraldry out into separate proficiencies of Blazoning, Differencing, and Draftsmanship to bloat the Heraldry proficiency from 1 slot to 4 slots and making it a burden nobody would want to play (with the possible exception of the person who designed those who, no doubt, felt their effort validated by needing FOUR slots to master).

Example 2: This is from personal experience. A friend of mine home-brews up variations on character classes for his personal setting. Most are OK, if a bit over powered. But that's a calibration for everything so it, more or less, works out. The specific problem in this case was with some bardic music options and his background as a musician (he has published CDs and taught music, so it's a significant expertise). His knowledge of performance had him pretty much requiring concentration on every form of bardic music, meaning a bard who wanted to inspire courage had to keep using his standard action to do so, even just to give his companions a +1 morale bonus for more than one round. It really hampered the action economy for the bard and party in general. This is a player who normally understands the action economy and working it from the player's perspective, but here, his expertise in musical performance overrode how cumbersome it had become to play that bard.
 
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Mad_Jack

Hero
When I was about twelve or so, I used my vast knowledge of D&D to kludge together a Transformers RPG... :rolleyes:
Although I must have written about 200 pages of it, it was apparently so bad that I've repressed all memory of it aside from one or two of the basic ideas, lol.
Decades later, I'd look at various elements of games like CAR WARS and RIFTS and go, "Y'know, I should have done that."
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
Even with Adventurers League rules today, I've found that some people don't have the firmest grasp on what counts as Adventurers League-legal.
I still remember one time I ran a Living Greyhawk session at GenCon. I had a couple of foreign dudes there early. They were pretty cool. Since we were waiting for more people to show up, I asked to look at their characters, and the one guy had things I'd never seen in the campaign before. I asked about it, and his buddy said, enviously, "Yeah, he got a new book." And they showed me a third party supplement with some truly broken classes and items in it. It turns out they were under the impression you could use any book that you owned to make your character. I informed them about the rules of the campaign, and the guy quickly rewrote his guy while the other players were showing up. We ended up having a great time, but whenever anybody says they think having that many rules is unnecessary for an Organized Play campaign, I remember those guys and think about the absolute chaos that would result from an OP campaign with no limitations...
 

Heh, the explosion of third-party products in 3e could've created such a mess without organized play rules.

I can remember rolling up to a convention in the early 90s and just using whatever high-level AD&D character I had at the time, as did everyone else. It wasn't complete chaos, but it wasn't far from it.

I still remember one time I ran a Living Greyhawk session at GenCon. I had a couple of foreign dudes there early. They were pretty cool. Since we were waiting for more people to show up, I asked to look at their characters, and the one guy had things I'd never seen in the campaign before. I asked about it, and his buddy said, enviously, "Yeah, he got a new book." And they showed me a third party supplement with some truly broken classes and items in it. It turns out they were under the impression you could use any book that you owned to make your character. I informed them about the rules of the campaign, and the guy quickly rewrote his guy while the other players were showing up. We ended up having a great time, but whenever anybody says they think having that many rules is unnecessary for an Organized Play campaign, I remember those guys and think about the absolute chaos that would result from an OP campaign with no limitations...
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Heh, the explosion of third-party products in 3e could've created such a mess without organized play rules.

I can remember rolling up to a convention in the early 90s and just using whatever high-level AD&D character I had at the time, as did everyone else. It wasn't complete chaos, but it wasn't far from it.
I tried to run a large game back in the 2e era, Dragon Mountain. I had about 20 people playing, it was total chaos. And the characters they showed up with! Like the guy with a Mul Gladiator with a page and a half of psionic wild talents that his buddy claimed he saw him roll up.

Of course then, in actual play, he proceeded to do silly nonsense like use Detonate on an orc's boot, and ask why the orc didn't take the d10 damage from having his boot explode. :rolleyes:
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Homebrew that I've actually seen in a game I played? A DM had a 6 sided die that had body parts on it. If a monster critted a PC, he'd roll the body part die to see what was "critically hit". Roll "left arm"? Your arm was disabled at best, chopped off if he felt like it. Roll the "head"? Decapitated. Every monster from a lowly kobold to the toughest demon was suddenly granted a vorpal weapon.

Part of it too was that he'd always make it sound dramatic and go "ooh that's bad" ... but every option was pretty much as bad as all the others. In addition if a PC critted a monster the die was nowhere to be found.

I think he was just tired of DMing and messing with us to see how long we'd put up with it until we quit. It didn't take long.
I used to have that die, but I never actually used it for crits.
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
Homebrew that I've actually seen in a game I played? A DM had a 6 sided die that had body parts on it. If a monster critted a PC, he'd roll the body part die to see what was "critically hit". Roll "left arm"? Your arm was disabled at best, chopped off if he felt like it. Roll the "head"? Decapitated. Every monster from a lowly kobold to the toughest demon was suddenly granted a vorpal weapon.

Part of it too was that he'd always make it sound dramatic and go "ooh that's bad" ... but every option was pretty much as bad as all the others. In addition if a PC critted a monster the die was nowhere to be found.

I think he was just tired of DMing and messing with us to see how long we'd put up with it until we quit. It didn't take long.
I used to have that die, but I used it for every attack. We used charts from Dragon magazine, other 'zines, or homebrew charts we made for differing types of attacks, and also for critical hits. Arms Law (from RoleMaster -- but originally a product for AD&D 1E!) which codified all of that stuff was an instant hit with our table.
 

I think I need Ibuprofen just thinking abut trying to run that game!

I tried to run a large game back in the 2e era, Dragon Mountain. I had about 20 people playing, it was total chaos. And the characters they showed up with! Like the guy with a Mul Gladiator with a page and a half of psionic wild talents that his buddy claimed he saw him roll up.

Ah yes, the boot, one of the deadliest weapons in the 2e PHB.
Of course then, in actual play, he proceeded to do silly nonsense like use Detonate on an orc's boot, and ask why the orc didn't take the d10 damage from having his boot explode. :rolleyes:
 

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