Don't Be Afraid of Breaking D&D

Dungeons and Dragons is a malleable game. There is a broad set of rules, yes, but they can be shaped by the people who use them. A lot of the time, changing the rules will break the game in many ways. Some folks might be against this completely, preferring to play the game “the way it was meant to be played.” Others deeply enjoy twisting and tearing apart the fabric of D&D, leading some people to say “why are you playing D&D?” Most people, though, try to expand D&D or change it in small ways and make their D&D games better. It’s still D&D in their eyes but better. Sometimes, they share their experience with others and are shouted at: “You are breaking D&D! You should play like this…” The people who are supposedly breaking D&D need only ask themselves and their players one question: “Is everyone having fun?” If the answer to that question is yes, keep on going.

D&D was made to be tooled with, especially fifth edition. There are so many elements in the system itself that are variant and optional, from the rules on flanking in the Dungeon Master’s Guide to inspiration in the Player’s Handbook.

There are mountains of information across the D&D community, ideas both amazing and horrendous. However, if they sound fun, try them out! Break D&D.

Dungeon Masters and players themselves are filled with incredible ideas. Let them bubble to the top. Release them. Break D&D.

In my newest campaign, Caught in Galen, this is my philosophy. We held our session zero last night and went over all the variant rules we will be using in the campaign at its start. It’s possible one or more of them will break the game. If that happens, we’ll ask ourselves if we’re having fun, despite the game being broke. If the answer is yes, we will continue to break the game, no matter what other people say. If the answer is no, we’ll remove the mechanic and try a different one.

Our D&D games are what we make them. We control almost every aspect of them, from the world to the mechanics we choose to play with. It doesn’t matter if we break D&D when we are playing it, as long as we can still recognize it for the game it is.

Are we rolling lots of d20’s? It’s D&D.

Are we fighting monsters? It’s D&D.

Are we wielding powerful magic and artifacts? It’s D&D.

Are we interacting with flamboyant folk from fantastic locales? It’s D&D.

Don’t be afraid to add variant mechanics, Unearthed Arcana, or homebrew rules and other things to your D&D game. As long as everyone continues to have fun, you can break D&D all you want. The worst that can happen is removing the obviously unfun mechanic or nerfing an insanely powerful magic item, and even then the removal and nerf can be justified in the game world.

Don’t be afraid. Just break it.

Trust me, playing outside the bounds of the rules opens up so many possibilities.

Want to throw your party against a fungal hydra but there’s none in the game? Homebrew it!

Want to give your party a divine artifact that’s only been wielded twice in the history of the multiverse? Do it!

Want to try out a homebrew class one of your players is super excited about playing? Build it!

Breaking D&D is fun. I’m going to be doing it a lot in Caught in Galen. I’ve been doing it for years. My players love my games, and I am sure it will stay that way.

Try breaking D&D. You won’t regret it.

Until next time, stay creative!

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