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D&D 5E Let's Talk About Inspiration

In my time playing 5e I have only been awarded Inspiration 2 or 3 times and awarded it myself as a DM much less than I probably should be doing. Inspiration is supposed to be a nice perk to get people to role play their characters, come up with cool ideas or otherwise do impressive things in play other than swing a sword or cast a fireball.

To change that up I've made a new ruling for Inspiration at my table, inspired by the DMG, of having players award it to each other. The method is that any player can nominate another for Inspiration and if it is 'seconded' by another player (not the one being nominated) then I will award it. I provide the caveat that I can override this if I feel it's being abused, but so far that hasn't happened. And of course I still award Inspiration when I feel it's warranted ... and I remember to do so!

Even this change hasn't generated much additional Inspiration, no more than 2 or 3 times per session and below that on average. I should be clear that I'm mainly running AL games and that the time factor often emphasizes action over exposition, but there it is.

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Next up is what I call the "Um, I have Inspiration!" reaction to a bad die roll, which is far and away the most common attempted use of Inspiration in my games. This is where a player, seeing a bad result on a roll they really wanted to succeed, asks to use Inspiration to get a reroll, in the guise of rolling a second die (but after seeing the result of the first). Well, Inspiration doesn't give you a reroll, it gives you Advantage, which means they should of declared using Inspiration before the roll is made.

Because this is far and away the most popular use of Inspiration I feel there should be a mechanism to allow it somehow. The idea I've been toying with is that a player can use Inspiration in 1 of 2 ways...
  1. Standard method (gain Advantage on a roll)
  2. Spend Inspiration to gain an Inspiration Die, equivalent to the dice-type that would be gained from Bardic Inspiration for a bard of the PC's level, that must be used immediately for a skill/attack/save check. Inspiration Die do not stack with each other on a single test (to reduce spamming). I am also contemplating not having them stack with Bardic Inspiration dice either (for the same reason).

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So how's Inspiration working out in your game? Is it encouraging role play? Is it being handed out often and equitably? How is it being used?
 

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Fralex

Explorer
I always forget to give it out, but the DM in an AL game I played for a while was pretty good about it, especially considering the character roster changed every session. And even though yeah, you're technically supposed to declare inspiration BEFORE a roll, we always just did it after the roll. We didn't want to use inspiration to get advantage on a roll we might pass anyway.
 

Fralex

Explorer
The DMG idea of giving Inspiration to players that take risks is something I want to try, because I like encouraging players to buckle their swashes. Has anyone else tried this rule? Was it fun?
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
We started out being stingy with inspiration. After watching it in action, I've been handing it out one per level up. I hand it out for good role-playing. I tend to hand it out liberally because you only receive one at a time. It is sometimes useful for an extra roll in a key situation. It's nowhere near as powerful as hero points. I don't feel the need to be stingy with inspiration. It doesn't prevent death. It is only marginally useful during gameplay. It's saved us some headaches a few times, but hasn't really been the difference between life and death the way hero points were. I don't mind the players have an extra roll now and again to give them a shot to convert a key failure into success.
 

In my time playing 5e I have only been awarded Inspiration 2 or 3 times and awarded it myself as a DM much less than I probably should be doing.
There is no expectation about how often you should be awarding Inspiration. If you give it out once per three sessions, then that's still fine.

Personally, I award Inspiration whenever someone does something that's both in-character and also a bad idea, and the Inspiration is only in effect for tasks directly related to that. The last time I handed it out was when a character tried to negotiate with a bear, and the bear killed him. I gave Inspiration on the death saving throws.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
Personally, I award Inspiration whenever someone does something that's both in-character and also a bad idea, and the Inspiration is only in effect for tasks directly related to that. The last time I handed it out was when a character tried to negotiate with a bear, and the bear killed him. I gave Inspiration on the death saving throws.
I like this.

I think it should be given out in situations like these, or when you act out your character's flaw in game despite it being a "bad idea" at the time.
 

Staffan

Adventurer
When I give Inspiration, I give it in the form of a pair of poker chips. One is for the player to keep, and one is for them to give to something else for something cool that I didn't quite catch.
 

famousringo

First Post
If not a lot of Inspiration is being handed out, I don't see why it couldn't be used like the Lucky feat: To add an extra die roll, after the fact, and even in cases of advantage. If Lucky characters can do that three times a day, and even apply it to enemy rolls, I don't think it's game breaking to let other characters do it once per level or so with Inspiration.
 

Blackwarder

Adventurer
I'm pretty free with inspiration, my main method is giving one when its related to the character background, not only the flaw but the ideal, bond and personality trait. I also been known to give one to players who remembered the previous sessions and took the time to "study" a bit before the game, cause it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Warder
 

So far I haven't been inspired (pi) to use inspiration much. I'm not crazy about attempts to encourage RP that use the DM's judgement to decide whether it's 'good' enough. I wasn't pleased with the few players who actively bucked for it, pointing out what they just did, how it related to a flaw, &c. I feel like it detracts, somehow, like RP should just be the point, not a way to get advantage once in a while. Then there are the majority of players who don't point out when they might deserve inspiration - I can't always remember exactly what their ideals/bonds/flaws are, it would be just another thing for me to ride herd on, and DMs have enough to do riding herd over the game, itself, so it wouldn't be fair to them.

I've actually given out inspiration once, when another player pointed out, 'hey, you could give him inspiration for that,' after I mentioned how well someone was handling a pre-gen's personality. Prettymuch a fluke. Most of the time, can't be bothered.

It's not a bad mechanic or anything, just one I don't find convenient to use in the context I've been running 5e - which is low-level, casual games, and new-player introductions. In a campaign, I'm sure, it'd be more valuable - I'd get to know the characters, and find appropriate times to hand it out.
 
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Fildrigar

Explorer
I've been handing out between 1-3 inspiration per session. ( Total, not per character. ) But, my players keep forgetting to use it. ( And the have a big, shiny, glimmering GO chip in front of them. It should be hard to forget to use it. ) I'm running them through PotA right now, and each character had a dream about it between the last session of LMoP and the first of PotA. I used the Adventure Hooks as the basis for each character's dream, and will be handing out inspiration based on the locations or NPCs they saw in dream.
 

There is no expectation about how often you should be awarding Inspiration.

Actually there is:

"As a rule of thumb, aim to award inspiration to each character about once per session of play." - DMG p. 240

I have to admit that I have a hard time remembering to do it. If I use the default consideration and base it mostly on bonds and flaws, that requires me to remember everyone's bonds and flaws, and be constantly processing whether or not their actions are related. With some characters it was easier than others, depending on the nature of their personality traits.
 

Fildrigar

Explorer
Actually there is:

"As a rule of thumb, aim to award inspiration to each character about once per session of play." - DMG p. 240

I have to admit that I have a hard time remembering to do it. If I use the default consideration and base it mostly on bonds and flaws, that requires me to remember everyone's bonds and flaws, and be constantly processing whether or not their actions are related. With some characters it was easier than others, depending on the nature of their personality traits.

I will admit that I have a cheat sheet with everyone's bonds, flaws, and ideals written down. I also occasionally goad one of the characters.
 

I will admit that I have a cheat sheet with everyone's bonds, flaws, and ideals written down. I also occasionally goad one of the characters.

That's probably what I should do. My cheat sheet has pretty much everything I need to roll behind the scenes without asking (skills, proficiencies, AC, saving throws, etc), I just need to find a shorthand way of recording personality traits.
 


Denys

Explorer
I give Inspiration out as much as I can because people seem to like using it.

I tried to institute the DMG suggestion to have players award inspiration to each other (and the DM could thus accrue Inspiration points which I thought was nifty keen) but no one awarded each other anything. And these were story-gamer types -- they should be used to having some degree of GM authority as players. It was very weird that they didn't give each other any points... so we just went back to the old way.
 

ehren37

Explorer
When I give Inspiration, I give it in the form of a pair of poker chips. One is for the player to keep, and one is for them to give to something else for something cool that I didn't quite catch.

I really like that idea. I'm often caught up in the moment and forget to give it as often as I'd like.
 

I'm okay with people deciding to use Inspiration after seeing the bad roll. It's fairly rare, as folks have noted, so it seems to me that it would really suck for a player to use it and not need it. I'd rather see the player using it when they feel a tinge of desperation.
 

If not a lot of Inspiration is being handed out, I don't see why it couldn't be used like the Lucky feat: To add an extra die roll, after the fact, and even in cases of advantage. If Lucky characters can do that three times a day, and even apply it to enemy rolls, I don't think it's game breaking to let other characters do it once per level or so with Inspiration.

Many of my players have used inspiration once or twice a session. And earning it back.
 

phantomK9

Explorer
Our group has come from playing Fate and Fate Core games almost exclusively prior to starting a 5e game. So we are treating the Bonds, Ideals, Flaws, almost like aspects and Inspiration much like Fate points. Currently Inspiration is earned for keeping to your character traits especially if you use them to do something that may not be a the best idea. The DM hands out poker chips and we can have more than one at a time. We can spend them before or after the roll (basically a re-roll).

I will be running a 5e game in the near future and I'm toying with several ideas. Mostly I'm thinking that if you spend Inspiration for a re-roll (which I will allow) then if you roll below 11, add 10 to the number on the die. This is basically Hero Points for those familiar.

I'm also toying with saying that if you want to spend Inspiration, then you have to do it before you roll, and then roll both dice. If you roll doubles, then special things happen (whether or not you succeed).

Our group has found that Inspiration is a great idea but it needs just a little more to make it really work for the players....
 

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