D&D 5E Inspiration - Stealing from other games

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
I like the idea of Inspiration points, but it's sufficiently loose that it makes my power-gamer side twitchy. As if there are "better" and "worse" role-playing traits to take, that are more or less likely to come up or earn points.

I know that other game systems have worked with a story-driven mechanic like this - I'd like to see afficianados give tips (for players and DMs) on how to best balance such a system to maximum effect.
 

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Annandul

First Post
I've ran a bit of Paranoia XP, which features Perversity Points, which are points that can modify rolls. Paranoia encourages GMs to give these out to reward players for doing things the GMs like, in manner compared to Pavlov's dog training experiment. Personally, I found that being generous with them helps, and I found that what I considered worthy of points varied from player to player. Ma-R-KER-5's player might be very social, but John-R-KAH-3's player might be quiet and reclusive. Ma-R-KER giving a short speech on why so-and-so should be terminated might be par-for-the-course, and I might reward a couple points. But if Jon-R-KAH were to give the same speech, I'd be far more generous.

Does this help in any way?
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
The fact that you get them for playing flaws is key -- they should appear when you do something in-character that the power-gamer in you would balk at. "It's more advantageous to have the bump in accuracy provided by an extra attack here, but I'm playing a reckless character, who is going to go all out!"

In general, this takes care of the min/max potential inside itself. A narrow flaw that almost never applies just doesn't generate much Inspiration, because you don't actually play to it very often. A broad flaw that constantly applies might generate more Inspiration -- but you're going to need it because of the extra challenge you take on by willingly doing stuff that's more risky.

Because of that dynamic, Inspiration points reward folks who do dumb stuff that's in-character. They're likely to be used (and needed) more often by more outgoing players. But those players will get into some more noise.

To reel in some of the less enthusiastic role-players, you might consider being DM-proactive. Presumably you know of their bonds, ideals, flaws, etc. Make an adventure or a villain or an encounter that specifically targets that. Even someone who half-heartedly roleplays should manage to stumble into a point or two of Inspiration when the adventure revolves around them.

But it's also unnecessary. The players who don't want to RP their flaws won't get Inspiration and also won't need it as much, so it's fine to not give it out to 'em.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
Can't XP [MENTION=2067]Kamikaze Midget[/MENTION], but he's exactly right. I'd go a little further and suggest that the best ones would have both advantages and disadvantages. And that the GM should try to keep in mind/have a list of what each character has and offer Inspiration points to the player pro-actvely - don't wait for them to suggest it - when one of their Traits would suggest a chance to do something disadvantageous. The key is to make it an offer, not to enforce IC behaviour when the player doesn't want it. If Inspiration Points are useful enough, the temptation to use them will get some people acting that way. And also, allow people to change them when the current ones don't seem to be working as well as they'd hoped. It can be hard to judge what will be a good trait and what won't.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I like the idea behind Inspiration, but as a DM I think I'm going to use it only for rewarding a player for making a story/RP-driven suboptimal choice, i.e. when the player purposefully does something wrong or worse in order to stay in-character.

I don't think I'm going to grant it when the player does something right, because it feels like a double reward. It's probably ok, but really the first way of using it is more interesting and innovative IMO.
 

1of3

Explorer
As a GM I usually have enough to do already. And there is no reason why the GM would be especially qualified to judge "good role-playing". So...

Let the players do it.

Put a few tokens on the table. Whenever anyone deems a contribution worthy, they can hand over a token. Add a few tokens to the stock after each encounter.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Having a group nomination works pretty well, but it tends to reward bigger, showier displays, and emphasizes funny over interesting. Not necessarily a problem, just a fallout effect -- folks whose style is quiet and conservative won't be getting much from that pile.

Bluenose said:
the GM should try to keep in mind/have a list of what each character has and offer Inspiration points to the player pro-actvely

One thing FATE sometimes does with its similar mechanic is to offer it to the player as a choice:

"If you do X, you'll get into some trouble, bu you can get a point of Inspiration. If you do Y, you won't get into trouble, but you won't get Inspiration."

You could weave this into adventure design and have your players make explicit metagame decisions about it. "If you go down this side passage that doesn't seem relevant to your main quest, you'll get Inspiration."
 

edhel

Explorer
One thing FATE sometimes does with its similar mechanic is to offer it to the player as a choice:

"If you do X, you'll get into some trouble, bu you can get a point of Inspiration. If you do Y, you won't get into trouble, but you won't get Inspiration."

You could weave this into adventure design and have your players make explicit metagame decisions about it. "If you go down this side passage that doesn't seem relevant to your main quest, you'll get Inspiration."

You could do the FATE style fully so that the players start with a bunch of inspiration every session, and the GM may say "You'll get into some trouble due to your flaw/traits/background and get an inspiration point, or you can pay an inspiration point to not get in trouble."
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
One thing FATE sometimes does with its similar mechanic is to offer it to the player as a choice:

"If you do X, you'll get into some trouble, bu you can get a point of Inspiration. If you do Y, you won't get into trouble, but you won't get Inspiration."

Yes, that's important. Don't tell the player what they should do, tell them that if they act according their aspect they'll get something for it even if the action has "interesting" (Chinese sense) consequences.

You could weave this into adventure design and have your players make explicit metagame decisions about it. "If you go down this side passage that doesn't seem relevant to your main quest, you'll get Inspiration."

Fate does something like this by giving Aspects to terrain features - Zones in the terminology of the game. A warehouse with Rickety Ladders just begs for people to use/gain Inspiration points to use/by using them in imaginative ways.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
You could do the FATE style fully so that the players start with a bunch of inspiration every session, and the GM may say "You'll get into some trouble due to your flaw/traits/background and get an inspiration point, or you can pay an inspiration point to not get in trouble."

I'm fond of this because it makes trouble the default: "Trouble's coming. What can you do to stop it?"

Bluenose said:
Yes, that's important. Don't tell the player what they should do, tell them that if they act according their aspect they'll get something for it even if the action has "interesting" (Chinese sense) consequences.

Yep. I think the default mode of Inspiration is a little more reactive than proactive (ie, you give it out after you see something cool rather than goading people to do cool things in order to get it), and ther'es benefits in switching that up a bit.
 


Li Shenron

Legend
Having a group nomination works pretty well, but it tends to reward bigger, showier displays, and emphasizes funny over interesting. Not necessarily a problem, just a fallout effect -- folks whose style is quiet and conservative won't be getting much from that pile.

Which is why I hate those type of rewards.

I agree, it sounds like a nightmare. Not to mention the problem with players who put up bad showy displays because they don't realize how bad they are at that. Should the DM rather reward the result or the effort?

I think the best way to go, is really restrict inspiration to those occasions when the player makes the character act accordingly to his/her narrative (e.g. flaws, bonds etc.) and that results in a significant suboptimal choice or negative consequence.

This is completely unrelated to players being "shy" or "funny". It is related to essentially a playstyle i.e. what the player values most between playing in-character vs playing "efficiently"

When the player figures out that if her PC acts strongly in-character there'll be a negative consequence, but decides to accept that, inspiration works as a compensation. But another player can opt for making the most "efficient" choice, which is already its own reward.

Essentially this allows the system to avoid encouraging one playstyle over the other, so it's a win-win situation IMHO.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
I do like that the basic rules only allow 1 inspiration point at a time. I think this may keep players more engaged on the roleplay side. They gain a point and then spend a point. Wash, rinse, repeat.
 

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