Iíve been thinking of a houserule combining inspiration and action points for a while, but I never put it down in words. Note that this replaces the inspiration rules presented in the PHB and the Action Point variant proposed in the DMG. Note also that this houserule was designed to go along the Gritty Realism variant. Without further ado; presenting the Fellowship Pool houserule and its companion Bardic Inspiration variant.

FELLOWSHIP POOL

The Fellowship Pool is a common resource among player-characters representing the thrust and camaraderie that binds the members of an adventuring group. The Fellowship Pool is represented by a number of d6 (called fellowship dice) that characters can claim at any moment, at not action cost on their part. You can use a fellowship die to do one of the following:

  • Gain advantage on one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw. Roll the fellowship die and add the result to that of the d20.
  • Roll the fellowship die and add the result to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw. You can roll the fellowship die after the result of the d20 is known, but before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fail.
  • Gain an extra use of a short or long rest ability.
  • Refresh a spell slot up to 5th level of a level you can cast.


The number of dice in a fellowship pool is equal to the number of player-characters forming the group. Allies, followers, hirelings, and other NPCs do not contribute to the fellowship pool.
When a character dies, the morale of the group takes a serious blow and one die is immediately removed from the Fellowship Pool. Similarly, a character that betrays its group or that is otherwise expulsed from the fellowship can no longer use fellowship dice and ceases to contribute to the Fellowship Pool immediately.
Once a fellowship die is used, it is removed from the Fellowship Pool and can no longer be used. The Fellowship Pool is replenished after the group takes a long rest, at which point any new companion that joined the group can now contribute to the poolís total.

BARDIC INSPIRATION VARIANT
Your songs and music around the campfire lightens the toil of adventuring and inspires your companions to greatness. When you join a group, you contribute one fellowship die or a number of fellowship dice to the Fellowship Pool equal to your Charisma modifier, whichever is greater.
In addition, you can use a bonus action on your turn to take a fellowship die from the pool and inspire a creature within 60 feet of you who can hear you. That creature gains one fellowship die, even if it is not a member of the adventuring group. Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can use the fellowship die as if it were part of your fellowship.

As you skills progress, all dice in the Fellowship Pool become d8 when you reach 5th level, d10 at 10th level, and d12 at 15th level.

FONT OF INSPIRATION VARIANT
Beginning when you reach 5th level, you can add one fellowship die to the Fellowship Pool when you finish a short rest, up to the poolís maximum.

CUTTING WORDS VARIANT
Also at 3rd level, you learn how to use you wit to distract, confuse, and otherwise sap the confidence and competence of others. When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, you can use your reaction and expand one fellowship die, rolling the fellowship die, and subtracting the result from the creatureís roll. You can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the DM determines whether the attack roll or ability check succeeds or fails, or before the creature deals its damage. The creature is immune if it canít hear you or if itís immune to being charmed.

COMBAT INSPIRATION VARIANT
Also at 3rd level, you learn to inspire others in battle. Members of your fellowship can henceforth use a fellowship die to do one of the following:

  • Roll the fellowship die and add the result to your damage roll.
  • As a reaction, roll the fellowship die and add the result to your AC against one attack roll made against you .You can roll the fellowship die after seeing the roll but before knowing whether it hits or misses.



Design notes

Hum, where exactly are you going with this?
I like common resource pool mechanics in RPGs, and I suck at granting inspiration. Also, it always bothered me to have a bard sing, play lute or recite poetry in the middle of a battle or similar tense moment. Yes I know its magic, and in all fairness it is a very minor quibble, but there; I said it. This appeared like a good way to combine all three elements in one relatively simple houserule.

Huh, whatís wrong with the inspiration rule, or the Bardic Inspiration for that matter?
Nothingís wrong, I just like that houserule better. I like the inspiration as a concept, but as a DM, I always have a hard time implementing it. Typically I just forget to grant it, or always grant it to the same people who are a bit more extroverted in their RP. Players awarding inspiration never provided better results in my experience. I like the suggestion of people claiming inspiration for their own RP, but Iím lucky enough to be in a group where RP is a reward in its own and I donít need a carrot to make my players RP their characters. So might as well just give it to everyone like Action Points are given.

As for Bardic Inspiration, I just think it would go together well. Playtest will tell if I was right.

Whoa, that makes the bard a must-have in every party!
It does emphasize the role of the bard, especially at level 1-4. Thatís why Font of Inspiration is toned down compared to RAW, but thatís ok with me if the bard shines there.

Ok, advantage or a d6 I get, but an extra Action Surge or 5th level spell slot? Really?
Yes. Thatís my way of somewhat softening gritty realism. Normally, the fighter would be able to action surge multiple times per day (with short rests), and the caster would regain its entire allotment of spell slot overnight anyway. This allows them a bit of leeway without the ďfast paceĒ of RAW rest.

WARLOCKS WILL BE BROKEN!!!
Perhaps. Warlocks are usually advantaged in gritty realism games. The potential extra slot makes them even stronger, but so will everyone else.

Dude, why would my fighter spend a fellowship die to add a d6 to a failed attack roll when I can Action Surge another time!?!
Well go ahead and Action Surge already! You'll be glad to use your d6 when you fail your Wisdom saveÖ

Hey, have you heard of Adventure of Middle Earth? It may have a style that suits your interest.
Yes, I know of AiME. Iím actually a big fan of its parent game The One Ring. I like AiME, but its plays too far from D&Dís paradigm for my taste. Iíd rather play TOR then. Iím aiming for something halfway between AiME and vanilla D&D style of play.