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5E Does your group use inspiration? If not, why not?

Fauchard1520

Explorer
Just to clarify, I'm talking about Inspiration rather than Bardic Inspiration:
Typically, DMs award [inspiration] when you play out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your character in a compelling way.
I come from Exalted and Savage Worlds, where meta currencies like "stunt dice" and "bennies" are handed out like candy, allowing players to gain mechanical benefits for doing cool stuff. However, I tend to see a lot of resistance to the concept in 5e. These mechanics always struck me as a good way to encourage creativity and RP, which seems like a positive thing. Hence today's question: If you tend to ignore Inspiration in your games, why?

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Absolutely. It's a great mechanic for encouraging players to play to established characteristics. It's a bit cumbersome for the DM as written, so I have a way of dealing with it which is fair and offers no overhead to the DM. See The Case for Inspiration. This is very commonly lifted from my games and ported to other games once people see it in action.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
I very rarely use it, but that's because I've had bad experiences with games that use "bennies." Specifically, Tenra Bansho Zero, in which the currency you have to use to power all your actions comes from other players. I was in a group with two other players who made wacky, over-the-top characters, while I made a character who sounded fun to me but ended up being the "straight man" of the group. The other two spent the whole session trying to top each other's hijinks and giving each other resources every time they laughed. Meanwhile, I was unable to generate enough resources to do anything, apart from the occasional "pity bennie" from one of the other two. It was one of the worst gaming experiences I've ever had, and it has made me allergic to any mechanic that decrees, "Dance for me and I shall give you food ... IF your dance is up to my standards."

On the rare occasions that I do use inspiration, I use it more as a bribe, like compelling an aspect in FATE: "I'll give you inspiration if your dislike of authority figures leads you to make trouble in this scene."
 
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ART!

Adventurer
Sort of? Sometimes?

Basically, when we remember to: if the DM thinks of it, and then if the player remembers they have it.

When my group goes back to face-to-face gaming, I want to represent Inspiration with a physical token of some kind (I lean toward a special, larger-than-average d20 that the DM hands to the player). Maybe that will help? We'll see.

I kind of like the idea of the player who uses their Inspiration die then hands it to the player who they think did something cool very recently, and so on.
 
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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Nope. Traits, ideals, et al., are tools for the player. The addition to those of Inspiration is weak-sauce Fate-lite, and Fate was almost enough to ruin TRPGs for me (it's not about Fate being good or bad, just about Fate being bad for me). Haven't needed it, don't miss it.
 

ZeshinX

Explorer
As a regular thing? No. For moments of sheer and complete joyful surprise when everyone at the table had their jaw hit the floor from the actions of one or several of the PCs? Sure, though not with any specific bonus as defined in the PHB. It'll be some boon appropriate to the thing that caused the joyful surprise, in whatever fashion feels fitting and usually something that benefits all in the party.

It's exceedingly rare, but has happened a handful of times in the 30 years I've been playing.

We've also houseruled various other boons across the editions (minus 4e, we skipped it as it wasn't our cup of tea). One that stands out was saving throws...if a player rolled a natural 20 on their save, we had them roll again and if they rolled another natural 20 they would become immune/unaffected by the specific trigger that called for the saving throw for the rest of that character's "life" (wildly unbalanced, but fun, since it only ever happened once in those 30 years).
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
I give one out at the beginning of each session. I use them similar to FATE points in that they can spend them for advantage where their character traits might apply. I also don't award them for 'cool' factor or rp. I award them when their traits make the story more interesting and/or complicate their goals. Players can reward inspiration to other players for any reason they like. I'm also ok with them having more than 1.

That said, they don't get used often and the players often forget they have them. Which is weird because, when I play, I always use it when I need it.
 

tommybahama

Adventurer
Yes, we use it but our DM often forgets about giving it out. Some YouTuber (maybe Zipperon Disney or Professor DM?) had a video saying they have a system where players reward the inspiration which I liked. I also think it should be used as a chance to re-roll a die roll since 90% of the time people ask to use it after the first roll fails and the DM always says, "Yes, but next time you have to declare it before the roll..." for the umteenth time.
 

All the time. My goal is to have everyone have inspiration because the players are all continually doing stuff that is just plain cool, entertaining the table, or role-playing their characters very well.

When we could game in person, I would always use physical inspiration tokens. One of the few difficult things for me in the switch to gaming online has been not having that physical reminder to hand it out and for the player to remember they have it.
 

Minigiant

Legend
I do but I'm stingy with it. You have to draw the plot or arc in a different direction based on your personality, flaws, or bonds to get it. A new decision or complication has to be added or removed completely to get inspiration.

We do let you stockpile inspiration though. We got a dude with 3 cursed items and 3 inspiration.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
Never. I'm not going to reward players for doing what players should be doing anyway.
Pretty much this. Players do things & the story that results is the reward.

Additionally, being a longtime vet player/DM who made it all these years not using this mechanic, I honestly rarely even remember it.
And in the 5 or 6 years I've been running 5e? I've never had a player bring Inspiration up. I suspect that this is because the other veteran/old players in my games are like me. They're long used to simply doing things "in-character". They don't do this expecting a +, or a re-roll, etc. They do it because they know this is what forms the story. Just because that's what their character would do.... And our new/younger players see that this works, that this is how the games played & simply follow suite.
 

FXR

Explorer
I often forgot to give Inspiration to my players, so, at one point, I said "You guys are mature enough to know when your character should get inspiration. So give your character inspiration when you feel it is deserved".

Of course, they too keep forgetting about Inspiration , so their character rarely have it.

I'm toying with the idea of ditching Inspiration and replacing it with actions points or something similar. At least, these would be used.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It doesn't get used much in either of the games I'm playing in. In one of them, the GM is pretty liberal with how often he grants advantage on checks, so we don't miss it too much.

There's an unfortunate negative feedback loop with inspiration. You only get one point, so you rarely spend it. So the GM forgets that it is there, and never hands it out, so you never spend it. Everyone just forgets the mechanic's existence.

All in all, I think the idea is fine. It needs a couple uses other than "get advantage", and you need to be able to have more than one point at a time, making it a resource you can think more about managing.

I have often wondered if using Inspiration for... an extra spell slot, an extra action, or a couple of other things, and allowing a player to have, say, 3 points max at a time, might make it more attractive and less forgotten, but not game-breaking.
 
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Zsig

Explorer
I try to remember it whenever I can, I even use some coins as tokens for my players to remember to use it...

Even then, we forget about it most of the times.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Nope. My own experience with it as a Gm and player is much as @Umbran says. IMO, Inspiration sits in an uncanny valley for those who like Fate like meta mechanics and those who hate them.
 

tommybahama

Adventurer
And in the 5 or 6 years I've been running 5e? I've never had a player bring Inspiration up. I suspect that this is because the other veteran/old players in my games are like me. They're long used to simply doing things "in-character". They don't do this expecting a +, or a re-roll, etc. They do it because they know this is what forms the story. Just because that's what their character would do..
I've been asked to make skill checks for the dumbest things. Wasting inspiration on it to do the cool thing I want to do keeps me from getting salty. If you don't require dumb skill checks then I'm fine without inspiration. But from home campaigns to Adventurers League, dumb skill checks seem to be a thing with DMs these days. I'm talking about things like requiring the 4th level Battle Master with 18 Strength and proficiency in Athletics to do a skill check in order to jump on a table in combat. Or a 4th level thief with 18 Dex to roll acrobatics to climb some crates as a short cut onto a second story floor.
 

jgsugden

Legend
For most games, it seems to be an ignored mechanic. Some people love it.

I reward good role playing with immersive additions to the game. The more you invoke your background, flaws, traits, bonds, etc..., the more I build off of them. The more you take interest in an element of the campaign, the more focus it, and your PC, will get.

I hand out inspiration dice rarely, and when I do, it Is often for something that was cool and memorable, whether it was a product of wild luck, a well designed plan, or a great role playing moment. Generally speaking, if I'll remember it clearly 5 years from now, and tell stories about it, you get a die.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
I've been asked to make skill checks for the dumbest things. Wasting inspiration on it to do the cool thing I want to do keeps me from getting salty. If you don't require dumb skill checks then I'm fine without inspiration. But from home campaigns to Adventurers League, dumb skill checks seem to be a thing with DMs these days. I'm talking about things like requiring the 4th level Battle Master with 18 Strength and proficiency in Athletics to do a skill check in order to jump on a table in combat. Or a 4th level thief with 18 Dex to roll acrobatics to climb some crates as a short cut onto a second story floor.
(shrugs) There's probably some dumb checks in my games.
  • I've got one player who likes to roll checks for stuff. So they get to make checks.... (for most of these the DCs "Don't roll a 1, but I don't share the DCs I set). They get to roll, they get to add up their modifiers, they succeed 95% of the time & they're happy. Sometimes a complication happens.
  • Sometimes I ask for checks on a whim. As I don't tell you the DC it'd be up to you wether to spend resources to re-roll if you thought your roll/total wasn't high enough.
 

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