How Would You Make Inspiration More Used?

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
One of the things they seem to be gunning for in the playtest is adding more ways to gain Inspiration. According to the interview on YouTube, they are looking for "a way to feed people inspiration through the system itself" and generally encourage gaining it and using it. Rolling 20's and being Human are ways to get it in the playtest.

I'm interested in getting some ideas on how to deliver and encourage the use of Inspiration. How would you like to see Inspiration given, and how would you think of encouraging people to use it? What's your take on how the playtest is doing it so far?

For me, I'm OK with a nat 20 giving you Inspiration. The Human racial trait is a little wonkier. One of the things I like about Inspiration is that it is not something you can build for, it is something you have to play for, and I would prefer that to be the case going forward, too.

Some ideas that have worked pretty well in my games:

Inspiration Gained from your Conflicts.
I've had games set up giving every character one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and whenever you succumbed to your Sin, you got Inspiration. I had a Planescape game where Inspiration was awarded by doing things in line with your philosophy that you otherwise wouldn't do (when an Athar member refused healing from a cleric of a god, for instance). I've had games inspired by screenwriting that separate a character's Wants from Needs, and those characters got Inspiration when they gave into their Wants. In another game, each PC was linked to an enemy group (ie, this wizard is set against the barbarians that hated magic), and they got inspiration by mentioning something that they did that would attract that enemy group (ie, the wizard crafted a magic item).

In all of these situations, Inspiration was something the players controlled their own access to, by making specific decisions to pursue it that had to do with the kind of challenges they faced. I think one of the most useful ways was using it as an incentive to make "bad" character choices that would still drive the action forward. It was a nice way to incentivize playing a little sub-optimally at the game to enhance the story.

What if we make that more explicitly part of the bargain? Something as simple as a list of flaws and associated actions: if you have this flaw and do this action, you get Inspiration. Like:
  • Arrogant: You gain Inspiration when you refuse to listen to the rest of the party.
  • Greedy: You gain Inspiration when you increase the number of gold pieces you have.
  • Unlucky: You gain Inspiration when you roll a 1.
  • Vow of Silence: You gain Inspiration whenever 24 hours pass without you speaking.
Inspiration Gained from your Party's Bonds
I had a game where we played characters who knew each other growing up. The DM gave us inspiration for various acts of friendship and camaraderie. Like:
  • When you roll a crit, you can give the bonus damage to an ally you consider your Friend. If you do so, get Inspiration.
  • When an ally you consider your Rival drops to 0 hit points, you can use your reaction to tell them to keep standing. If you do so, they get Inspiration.
  • When you spend at least 1 day of downtime with an ally you consider your Love Interest, you each get Inspiration.
Spend Inspiration on Cool Stuff
Advantage is nice, but it's not really distinct - there's a lot of things that give it. But I've been part of some games that have some special ways to spend Inspiration rather than advantage. That Planescape game had you spend Inspiration to power faction abilities. The game with the Seven Deadly Sins also had Seven Heavenly Virtues that were associated with effects you could gain by spending Inspiration. And in kind of an inversion of the human in the playtest, I've seen Inspiration used with extra race abilities, magic items, spells, or feats. Some ideas here that were fun include:
  • Inspiration as an optional spell component: Spend inspiration when you cast a spell and someone automatically fails their save.
  • Spend Inspiration to Twist Fate: Rather than advantage, you just tell the DM to twist fate to your advantage. Maybe the guard you're sneaking past needs to take a bathroom break right then, or maybe the sun gets in the eyes of an attacker (giving them disadvantage).
  • Spend Inspiration to Deny an Opportunity Attack: I can run away and you can stop me. POCKET SAND i mean INSPIRATION.
What are your best Inspiration ideas? I'd like to be...Inspired. :)
 

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D1Tremere

Adventurer
I've been considering dropping the inspiration mechanic for the story point mechanic used in the Essence 20 system (GI Joe/Transformers/Power Rangers).
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Two simple changes and the inspiration would flow like water. Remove the cap on inspiration (currently a binary, yes/no) and let players spend inspiration after a d20 roll (currently have to declare an inspiration spend before rolling).

That's it.

Generate inspiration however you want. Spend it to do whatever other things. Use it to fuel creative spellcasting. Bring in gaining inspiration after rolling a nat 20. Let players shuffle inspiration around. That's all fine. But if you want players to spend it rather than hoard it, it needs to be something they can stockpile and it needs to be something that gives them a tangible benefit.

Inspiration sucks when you roll two successes, it feels like you wasted it. Likewise with two failures. But spending it after the roll...makes players feel like they have a literal second chance, which they do. Sure, it's neat to roll two dice at once, but if players can only have one inspiration at a time and they feel like it's wasted inspiration, players are going to hoard it.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Sure, it's neat to roll two dice at once, but if players can only have one inspiration at a time and they feel like it's wasted inspiration, players are going to hoard it.
The idea to spend after a roll is a pretty good one. I definitely prefer the "only one at a time" mechanic, since hoarding and purging are really swingy.
 


W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
Two simple changes and the inspiration would flow like water. Remove the cap on inspiration (currently a binary, yes/no) and let players spend inspiration after a d20 roll (currently have to declare an inspiration spend before rolling).

That's it.

Generate inspiration however you want. Spend it to do whatever other things. Use it to fuel creative spellcasting. Bring in gaining inspiration after rolling a nat 20. Let players shuffle inspiration around. That's all fine. But if you want players to spend it rather than hoard it, it needs to be something they can stockpile and it needs to be something that gives them a tangible benefit.

Inspiration sucks when you roll two successes, it feels like you wasted it. Likewise with two failures. But spending it after the roll...makes players feel like they have a literal second chance, which they do. Sure, it's neat to roll two dice at once, but if players can only have one inspiration at a time and they feel like it's wasted inspiration, players are going to hoard it.
...brother?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again. Making inspiration more common and not reliant on the DM to remember your traits and judge your roleplaying of them is a worthwhile goal. Making the main way of gaining inspiration random is not a good way to try and achieve it. Inspiration should be tied to something you choose to do, rather than just random chance. So, humans gaining Inspiration after a long rest? Great. Musicians being able to give their allies Inspiration by playing music? Great. Gaining Inspiration on a nat20? Not so great, in my opinion.

Personally, I would like to see Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws continue to be a thing. But make it so the player can claim Inspiration once per trait per session instead of having to wait for the DM to give it to them.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
I rather like the notion of making inspiration derived from both random and non-random sources.

Giving BIFTs a mechanical purpose by having players claim a point is a great idea, imo, and encourages players to really pay attention to those character qualities. At the same time, I also like the idea to tie it to Nat 20, or Nat 1 as a "consolation prize." (Or even stranger: just choose a number at character creation and that's your "Lucky Number", so PC gets Inspiration for rolling a "Nat 7" or whatever?) And there's certainly a place for the original Inspiration-as-award, of course.

So why not all of them? Some random, some earned, some awarded? Cap Inspiration at, say 3 points in-hand at any one time (or whatever), and cap earning to one point from each source per long rest (or whatever). That sets a baseline number that all PCs can access everyday, while there's also a little day-to-day random variation as some PCs get a lucky extra one every now and then. The exact number in-hand and nature and number of sources could be tuned to the style of each table.

edit: Oh, and make using more interesting. Tweaking dice rolls isn't terribly inspirational.
 
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payn

Legend
  • Arrogant: You gain Inspiration when you refuse to listen to the rest of the party.
  • Greedy: You gain Inspiration when you increase the number of gold pieces you have.
  • Unlucky: You gain Inspiration when you roll a 1.
  • Vow of Silence: You gain Inspiration whenever 24 hours pass without you speaking.
I like where you are going with this. However, arrogant sounds very problematic to the party dynamic. Some groups deal with the conflict well, and others just descend on each other.
Inspiration Gained from your Party's Bonds
I had a game where we played characters who knew each other growing up. The DM gave us inspiration for various acts of friendship and camaraderie. Like:
  • When you roll a crit, you can give the bonus damage to an ally you consider your Friend. If you do so, get Inspiration.
  • When an ally you consider your Rival drops to 0 hit points, you can use your reaction to tell them to keep standing. If you do so, they get Inspiration.
  • When you spend at least 1 day of downtime with an ally you consider your Love Interest, you each get Inspiration.
I like the social piece way more than the combat stuff. I think inspiration mechanics could have a lot of design room in the other pillars of the game!
Spend Inspiration on Cool Stuff
  • Inspiration as an optional spell component: Spend inspiration when you cast a spell and someone automatically fails their save.
  • Spend Inspiration to Twist Fate: Rather than advantage, you just tell the DM to twist fate to your advantage. Maybe the guard you're sneaking past needs to take a bathroom break right then, or maybe the sun gets in the eyes of an attacker (giving them disadvantage).
  • Spend Inspiration to Deny an Opportunity Attack: I can run away and you can stop me. POCKET SAND i mean INSPIRATION.
I think you might find some push back on auto succeed stuff. I do like engaging the players, and asking them to assist in the narrative, but I also like the game boundaries to be defined.

My ideas?
I could see something like spending inspiration for advice or clues on how to solve puzzles/riddles, get through a maze, find water or shelter in harsh environments etc..

Spend inspiration find a guild, church, order contact to assist in social situations.

I am sure I can think of more but I need to stew on it. I like where you are going though.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I like where you are going with this. However, arrogant sounds very problematic to the party dynamic. Some groups deal with the conflict well, and others just descend on each other.

I like the social piece way more than the combat stuff. I think inspiration mechanics could have a lot of design room in the other pillars of the game!

I think you might find some push back on auto succeed stuff. I do like engaging the players, and asking them to assist in the narrative, but I also like the game boundaries to be defined.

My ideas?
I could see something like spending inspiration for advice or clues on how to solve puzzles/riddles, get through a maze, find water or shelter in harsh environments etc..

Spend inspiration find a guild, church, order contact to assist in social situations.

I am sure I can think of more but I need to stew on it. I like where you are going though.
The more they make inspiration like Fate points the better.
 


the Jester

Legend
I guess I'm in the vast minority in that all the 5e games I have run or played in see inspiration used a lot. I think typically we see it happen multiple times per session. Probably like six.

Anyway, I like the idea of promoting more use of inspiration. I don't like the playtest's "roll a 20, gain inspiration" AT ALL. That's.... no. If anything, I'd grant inspiration on a natural 1.

So here's what I would do to get more inspiration flowing in groups that don't tend to use it. First, I'd have more explicit guidelines on awarding it. For example, I might say that you should grant a player inspiration:
  • When the player roleplays their character in a way that is true to the character's established personality, but contrary to their interests (for example, an honest character who admits the party is trying to infiltrate a castle to the guards).
  • When the character completes a quest, accomplishes a goal, or fulfills a personal mission that doesn't involve danger and thus isn't worth xp.
  • When the player "lubricates the game" (i.e. makes it run smoother- perhaps by bringing snacks, giving another player a ride, taking notes, being the party treasurer, mapping, etc).
  • When the player makes a piece of art, an in character document such as a journal entry or poem, etc.

The other thing I'd do (and I do do, in my own games) is have more stuff that ties in to inspiration: spells and magic items that let you use it in different ways, subclasses that modify how it works for you, feats that interact with it, etc.

The combination of explicit guidance and multiple in game prods that modify it would probably push a lot more groups into remembering about it.
 

MarkB

Legend
I'm hoping, and expecting, to see more ways to both gain and spend inspiration integrated into the classes. A few possibilities:
  • Switch out Bardic Inspiration in favour of just granting regular Inspiration.
  • Double down on this with Bards, give them extra ways of gaining, spending and passing on Inspiration - like, their Inspiration Range is doubled to 19-20, or they can spend their Inspiration as a reaction to let an ally re-roll a failed test.
  • Barbarians gain Inspiration when they rage if they don't have it, and can spend it to maintain their rage if they would otherwise have to drop it. Killing a foe grants them Inspiration.
  • Spending Inspiration can be substituted for a Ki point, sorcery point or superiority die if the character has expended all of theirs.
  • Spellcasters gain Inspiration if an opponent rolls a natural 1 on a saving throw they impose.
  • Fighters gain Inspiration if an attacker rolls a natural 1 on an attack against them.
I'm trying to think of a good option for rogues, but in most circumstances their best use of Inspiration is to gain advantage or negate disadvantage in order to sneak attack, and anything else feels like it would take away from that.
 

payn

Legend
I guess I'm in the vast minority in that all the 5e games I have run or played in see inspiration used a lot. I think typically we see it happen multiple times per session. Probably like six.

Anyway, I like the idea of promoting more use of inspiration. I don't like the playtest's "roll a 20, gain inspiration" AT ALL. That's.... no. If anything, I'd grant inspiration on a natural 1.

So here's what I would do to get more inspiration flowing in groups that don't tend to use it. First, I'd have more explicit guidelines on awarding it. For example, I might say that you should grant a player inspiration:
  • When the player roleplays their character in a way that is true to the character's established personality, but contrary to their interests (for example, an honest character who admits the party is trying to infiltrate a castle to the guards).
  • When the character completes a quest, accomplishes a goal, or fulfills a personal mission that doesn't involve danger and thus isn't worth xp.
  • When the player "lubricates the game" (i.e. makes it run smoother- perhaps by bringing snacks, giving another player a ride, taking notes, being the party treasurer, mapping, etc).
  • When the player makes a piece of art, an in character document such as a journal entry or poem, etc.

The other thing I'd do (and I do do, in my own games) is have more stuff that ties in to inspiration: spells and magic items that let you use it in different ways, subclasses that modify how it works for you, feats that interact with it, etc.

The combination of explicit guidance and multiple in game prods that modify it would probably push a lot more groups into remembering about it.
I think that is the rub, some groups do this naturally, and others need system assistance. The vague triggers can be arbitrary and seen as "mother may I" type play. I like the inspiration on 20 roll because its a rare, but tangible trigger. I also like getting inspiration on a 1 roll too.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
One thing I like about the direction 1D&D is going in is that it is putting it more in the hands of the player, rather than relying on the DM to award. I don't like making it part of your "build," (no race/class/feats should inherently grant it, I think) but I love the idea of having a player say "I do this to get Inspiration."

It is so easy to forget this on the DMs side. I like it when the player provokes it.

That's part of why playing to flaws and sins and beliefs works so well. The player basically is like "I am doing this thing to get Inspiration. Gimmie." YES! Give them a button they can press to get it.

"I am a human" or "I have this feat" or "I have this class feature" or "I rolled a 20" aren't super engaging or active buttons.

"I had a moment of weakness and gave into my RAGE" is a much juicier button.

I also like how the idea of "Inspiration on a nat 1" mirrors the "Inspiration for flaws" idea in that it's something you get for not being optimal. For putting character or chance ahead of success. For doing something that makes the game better but makes you "weak." That's a nice vibe.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think that is the rub, some groups do this naturally, and others need system assistance. The vague triggers can be arbitrary and seen as "mother may I" type play. I like the inspiration on 20 roll because its a rare, but tangible trigger. I also like getting inspiration on a 1 roll too.
To be fair, a lot of players seem to think that anything more involved than shouting a skill and throwing a die and just winning is labeled "mother may I" style play. They're clearly wrong so it's not an "argument" that's worth taking seriously.
 

payn

Legend
To be fair, a lot of players seem to think that anything more involved than shouting a skill and throwing a die and just winning is labeled "mother may I" style play. They're clearly wrong so it's not an "argument" that's worth taking seriously.
Thats not fair at all, then again, you don't really care obviously with this posting. That is fine, but designers don't have the luxury of telling folks to go screw themselves because they don't like their playstyle.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Thats not fair at all, then again, you don't really care obviously with this posting. That is fine, but designers don't have the luxury of telling folks to go screw themselves because they don't like their playstyle.
Sigh. Okay. How do you define mother may I style play? Because near as I can tell, with almost 40 years playing RPGs, the referee's main job is to act as interface to the world for the players...which regularly includes telling the players what their characters can and cannot do. It's only an incredibly negative and adversarial reading of this interaction that can possibly result in calling it "mother may I," i.e. a player who cannot stand being told no actually being told no.
 

Sir Brennen

Legend
It sounds like people are talking about making Inspiration similar to Bennies in Savage Worlds. In that system, you have Hindrances (Honest, Blood-thirsty, One Eye, etc.). Taking them gives you initially more points to build your initial character. Then having them come up in play earns you Bennies. I rule they actually have to cause you an issue in game for it to be worth a reward, though. If you're Gluttonous, just saying "I scarf down a whole roasted chicken" isn't Benny worthy if it's at the camp site with your PC friends who are used to your habits. But if you do it at a fancy dinner in front of the count you just met and are going to negotiating a favor with, well that's a different story.

I think some consideration should be given to how much of a boost it would be to give Inspiration to players more frequently and allow them to accumulate more than one (equal to proficiency bonus maybe?) Savage Worlds, the odds are often against the PCs when they're trying to make a roll, but Bennies help off-set that. Chances of success in 5E are generally more in the player's favor, so what would frequent Inspiration do to the game balance in that case?

As far as getting players to use Inspiration, we pretty much play it as it allows a re-roll. Because people usually forget to declare they want Advantage beforehand, being conditioned to just grab the dice and roll when they hear "Give me a Saving Throw" or "Make your Attack Roll". However, it is only a re-roll, not Advantage, so it's a little bit of a nerf.

If one were allowed to have more than one Inspiration at a time, perhaps some uses of it might cost more? 1 point allows a re-roll. 2 points allow a re-roll with Advantage. Damage could be re-rolled at a cost equal to 1/2 the dice being re-rolled (round up).
 

edosan

Explorer
I love the thought behind inspiration, stealing from Fate or Savage Worlds the idea that you can gain a future mechanical advantage by role playing to your weaknesses but in practice it’s just another thing I have to keep track of (assuming the players bothered to make up interesting bonds or traits). Also since you only get one precious inspiration point, my players tend to hoard then forget them. I think if we could make inspiration more player-driven it might solve those problems.

For me, the first easy fix is to do what most tables do as a house rule anyway - let inspiration be a re-roll instead of rolling with advantage. It’s always a letdown when you spend your one inspiration point to roll a seventeen and a sixteen.

The YouTuber DM Scotty had a thing called “luck dice” - a pool of D6s that he would give out as a variety of things, from role playing to failing a skill check and some other stuff I can’t remember right now - and I’m thinking about using that next time instead of inspiration because that seems like it wouldn’t be prone to hoarding like one point of inspiration tends to be, plus it feels more fun to give out a lot of little rewards as opposed to the occasional big one.
 
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