5E The Case for Inspiration

Yaarel

Adventurer
Maybe, a particular action that strongly expresses a personality bond grants an extra action.

Maybe, a particular action that strongly expresses a flaw is at disadvantage, but if it fails your character immersion gets rewarded with a free action token that can be used at any time before the next rest.
 

kelvan1138

Visitor
Hey buddy. I convinced the DM who's going to be running ToA to do this. Thank Tiamat he agreed. This is the best way to run it and I always enjoyed it in your games. Funny I find it's not the default and everyone dislike's Inspiration later.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Our group doesn't like or use it. The consensus is, it trivializes the mini-game that is "maximizing advantage".

Why spend time creating a character able to achieve advantage? Why hone combos that enable advantage?

When inspiration simply allows you to have it whenever you feel like it?
I guess if the DM is very generous in how often inspiration is rewarded. You can only have one inspiration point at a time. If it is only used once per session, does it have that much of an impact that it makes character features meaningless?

Also, since it is part of the core RAW game, isn't it an ASPECT of the "mini-game that is 'maximizing advantage'"?

In additional to sub-class, proficiency, and feat selection, you would also want to make sure you select a background and traits, bonds, flaws that you are comfortable role-playing to increase your chance of inspiration.

My problem is that as written, it gives all the power to the GM. I can carefully craft my background and play it to the hilt, but if the DM doesn't notice or doesn't care, then I don't get that advantage. I find that in games run using inspiration RAW, either the players have to exaggerate how they player their characters--especially their flaws--or the DM doesn't notice. Either that, the DM will out of fairness just try to find an excuse to give out inspiration as early in the game as he can, to get it out of the way.

This is why I like the Angry DM's method. It keeps the background and personality choices meaningful while putting more control in the player's hands.
 
I used to be a big fan of inspiration, but if the DM regularly forgets to hand it out it becomes problematic. Always seeing the carrot just out of reach and trying to get it eventually results in apathy for carrots.

Personally I have given up trying to get inspiration. I figure if I want power or a higher chance of success there are plenty of ways to achieve that where I do not have to rely on the DM to realize I should have it.

My personal opinion is that the DM should take a hard look at what they want to keep track of vs what they actually can keep track of. Chop the stuff off that they cannot keep track of, because half-a***** it will eventually reduce somebodies enjoyment just from the eventual realization that it was forgotten and improperly managed. Consistency is key in games.
 
I imagine in lower-stakes games or games in which there is often little consequence for failure on a roll, there's less impetus for wanting to have insurance against botched rolls.
Sure, or the table has ever played Call of Cthulhu for any length of time. Then its not matter of 'if' bad schnizzle is going to happen, but when. And how horrible. And everyone is dead. But that's technically a win. For now. Oh god..
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I've tried and in my first campaign, it basically went unused for many of the reasons other have posted. It just wasn't very inspiring or fun, it felt like I was put into a position to have to reward players for playing their characters how I thought they should play them, and--mostly--I just never remembered to give it.

In my current Curse of Strahd game, I use a version of inspiration inspired by the Angry GM.

INSPIRATION = INSPIRED ACTION(inspired by the Angry GM)

Each session, each player will start with one inspiration token.

The token can be 'spent' to take an "inspired action."

When you take an Inspired Action, you can either gain advantage on an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw OR you can give advantage to someone else’s ability check, attack roll, or saving throw provided you are in a position to assist them directly in some way OR impose disadvantage on someone else’s ability check, attack roll, or saving throw provided you are in a position to hinder their action directly in some way. Whatever it is, the Inspired Action MUST somehow connect to one of your Personal Characteristics (traits, ideal, bond, or flaw).

After spending your inspiration token, you can get it back in the same session by Claiming a Setback. To Claim a Setback you must either impose disadvantage on one of your own ability checks, saving throws, or attack rolls based on one of your Personal Characteristics OR make a decision that creates a significant story setback, obstacle, or hindrance.
I've read and tried his house rule for Inspiration before and I find it a little hard for players to understand and implement. Certainly harder than the Players Claim Inspiration method I propose above which I prefer. I suppose it makes the players work a bit harder for Inspiration, but that's not really my goal. They work "hard enough" in my opinion with the Players Claim Inspiration method, and the hard limit of 4 per PC per session seems to work well. It doesn't seem to decrease the desire for players to make builds and take spells that also grant advantage in my experience as some seem to suggest.
 

kelvan1138

Visitor
I guess if the DM is very generous in how often inspiration is rewarded. You can only have one inspiration point at a time. If it is only used once per session, does it have that much of an impact that it makes character features meaningless?

Also, since it is part of the core RAW game, isn't it an ASPECT of the "mini-game that is 'maximizing advantage'"?

In additional to sub-class, proficiency, and feat selection, you would also want to make sure you select a background and traits, bonds, flaws that you are comfortable role-playing to increase your chance of inspiration.

My problem is that as written, it gives all the power to the GM. I can carefully craft my background and play it to the hilt, but if the DM doesn't notice or doesn't care, then I don't get that advantage. I find that in games run using inspiration RAW, either the players have to exaggerate how they player their characters--especially their flaws--or the DM doesn't notice. Either that, the DM will out of fairness just try to find an excuse to give out inspiration as early in the game as he can, to get it out of the way.

This is why I like the Angry DM's method. It keeps the background and personality choices meaningful while putting more control in the player's hands.
That's the whole point of the alternate version of letting the player control it. They know their bonds, personality, alignment, flaws... Let them say when they've triggered inspiration. The GM just needs to give the ok, if they're the controlling type. Saves the GM head space for other GMing activities and lets the player have a little control.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I've read and tried his house rule for Inspiration before and I find it a little hard for players to understand and implement. Certainly harder than the Players Claim Inspiration method I propose above which I prefer. I suppose it makes the players work a bit harder for Inspiration, but that's not really my goal. They work "hard enough" in my opinion with the Players Claim Inspiration method, and the hard limit of 4 per PC per session seems to work well. It doesn't seem to decrease the desire for players to make builds and take spells that also grant advantage in my experience as some seem to suggest.
I'll bring it up in my next game and see what my players think.

Your method would make my job even easier, so I don't have an issue with it.

The only change, I would make, I think, is limiting to once or twice per session. My sessions are 8 hours long with a solid 6, maybe 7, hours of actual gameplay. So a chance to claim inspiration once for every 3-4 hours of game time.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'll bring it up in my next game and see what my players think.

Your method would make my job even easier, so I don't have an issue with it.

The only change, I would make, I think, is limiting to once or twice per session. My sessions are 8 hours long with a solid 6, maybe 7, hours of actual gameplay. So a chance to claim inspiration once for every 3-4 hours of game time.
For reference, my games (and my ToA DM @Valmarius' games) are 4 hours long and we both use this method. I find that I can reasonably claim Inspiration about twice on average, but that's largely because a couple of my character's personal characteristics are a little difficult to work into many scenes. Last session, I managed to hit them all, largely due to running into an NPC who was also an archaeologist, so I was able to touch on a couple of those hard-to-get characteristics during play. Other characters have characteristics that are easier to claim.

My favorite one is my flaw: "When I have a choice to go left or right, I always choose left." It comes up a lot in adventure locations, plus I use my bonus action Disengage or Dash (rogue) to position myself between two enemies in combat, then attack the one on the left after making a hilarious preamble about being forced to make a hard choice while everyone groans about what BS I'm spewing!
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Whatever the benefits of playing out bonds and flaws, there must be player agency. Only the players remember what their bonds and flaws are, and only players know when their own character would do something. It has to be the player that mentions the intention to implement their bond or flaw.
 

Geeknamese

Explorer
I've tried and in my first campaign, it basically went unused for many of the reasons other have posted. It just wasn't very inspiring or fun, it felt like I was put into a position to have to reward players for playing their characters how I thought they should play them, and--mostly--I just never remembered to give it.

In my current Curse of Strahd game, I use a version of inspiration inspired by the Angry GM.

INSPIRATION = INSPIRED ACTION(inspired by the Angry GM)

Each session, each player will start with one inspiration token.

The token can be 'spent' to take an "inspired action."

When you take an Inspired Action, you can either gain advantage on an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw OR you can give advantage to someone else’s ability check, attack roll, or saving throw provided you are in a position to assist them directly in some way OR impose disadvantage on someone else’s ability check, attack roll, or saving throw provided you are in a position to hinder their action directly in some way. Whatever it is, the Inspired Action MUST somehow connect to one of your Personal Characteristics (traits, ideal, bond, or flaw).

After spending your inspiration token, you can get it back in the same session by Claiming a Setback. To Claim a Setback you must either impose disadvantage on one of your own ability checks, saving throws, or attack rolls based on one of your Personal Characteristics OR make a decision that creates a significant story setback, obstacle, or hindrance.
This is really similar to the way FFG’s Star Wars handles “hero/plot” points but it’s a resource trader between players and the DM so it’s less driven by personality traits and more by need. There is a double sided token on the table. In those times that the players really badly need something to happen or succeed, they can use that destiny token to gain a benefit. When they use it, the token is flipped and then becomes a resource that the DM can use when he needs it. Could be real nice when you have those encounters where, as a DM, you really wish the BBEG recurring NPC made its save to escape to fight another day but he failed the check horribly or something similar.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
I want to see bonds and flaws handled similar to an ability.

Maybe give the bond an ability score that can improve like the other ability scores.

Maybe to implement the bond, one can declare the intention in a d20 roll. Roll normally using whatever ability bonus is appropriate. If successful, then roll again using the bond bonus. This second success grants a free action.

Maybe to implement a flaw (maximum score of 8, but can reduce). Roll normally. Roll again using the flaw penalty. If either fails, the action fails. But if both fail, then the player gets a free action card that can be used at any time during a later turn.
 

mrpopstar

Explorer
How do you use Inspiration in your games? Do you use a method similar to mine? What do your players have to do to earn it? What's the coolest example of what a player did to earn it in your game? If you don't use Inspiration, why don't you?
We use Inspiration to acknowledge contributions that energize the table. Our method is similar in that the players are involved in the awarding process, but different in that it's more of a consensus-driven decision that speaks to the shared experience of exuberance, interest, and involvement that follows an inspiring contribution. Ultimately, players have to inspire the table by some act of reinforcing the narrative that elicits a universally resounding response. There are many cool examples, but the common theme is an immersive demonstration of investment that advances the narrative when stakes are high. (When emotion starts flowing, Inspiration starts flying.)

:)

EDIT: Did somebody say Irish whiskey?
 

mAcular

Visitor
I burned through multiple different attempts to get a workable Inspiration system and in the end I just kind of gave up and let people use it as a free re-roll after the fact. They got one at the start of each session, and could only have one at a time. They could gain it back by doing some sort of setback.

But now I'm thinking I might make it so it can only be declared before a roll, and for something related to their character.

The thing that made me abandon this before was that I didn't like how it slowed the game down every time someone wanted to use Inspiration. First, the player had to remember they had it. Then they had to claim it, and wait for me to approve. But this always led to back and forths about whether or not X attempt to use it fit with the trait they had and where you drew the line for what would work with the trait, etc. It just ended up being a distraction.

Maybe just completely putting it in the players' hands would work better... but then I feel like people would start stretching the boundaries of what it applies to.
 

Saeviomagy

Adventurer
There's one little fact that players really, really need to know.

Having inspiration as much as possible is better than basically any aspect of the skill system. If you spend time deciding what skills you want to be using, matching up stats to them and picking out the highest number when you want to attempt something... you'd be better off picking out personality traits that you can play up to get more inspiration, and reminding the DM to reward you when you do.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
There's one little fact that players really, really need to know.

Having inspiration as much as possible is better than basically any aspect of the skill system. If you spend time deciding what skills you want to be using, matching up stats to them and picking out the highest number when you want to attempt something... you'd be better off picking out personality traits that you can play up to get more inspiration, and reminding the DM to reward you when you do.
Plus, it's super fun!
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
I was initially fine with the concept, but it was way too much information to remember. This coming from the DM who knows most PCs stats better than their players know them, keeps track of multiple NPCs in a battle, and has a role-playing (acting) focused group. So when I say, "It's hard to remember all of those personality traits," that's saying something.

Eventually, we switched over to the "Players Award All Inspiration" variant from the DMG. Each player can give out one point of Inspiration per session. It's working well for us. Sometimes players will remember during a session, but more often it pops up as something we do after a session. As the DM, I occasionally award some Inspiration too. In general, players get less that 1 point of Inspiration per session, but they don't need the power boost so it's fine for us.

However I've changed two things. The first is that Inspiration always provides a benefit if you spend it. I might declare a failure by 1-2 points with Inspiration to become a success. A bigger failure might provide a minor benefit (opponent drops weapon, someone gets advantage or disadvantage on something related). Or a success that would have worked without Inspiration has some minor benefit. People still don't remember to actually use it very often, so I added another feature.

I've added an element I call Impact, which is what you get when you already have Inspiration and get another Inspiration award (rather than the default reward formally known as Diddly Squat). Impact can be stored up indefinitely. I have a few different thing you can buy with different Impact costs. Since we treat inspiration as a way of buying spotlight, Impact works the same way, but in a more story-oriented focus. Right now, options include buying a brief vignette for your character to shine (outside of combat), a campaign development, such as having an NPC friend or foe from your past show up soon in the campaign, or an entire adventure custom designed around your character's backstory. So far, my players almost never spend Impact (even less than Inspiration!) but they seem quite excited to get it. I think they're all saving up for their personalized adventures...
 
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DeanP

Explorer
I give out inspiration when the players stay in character, add flourish in theatric description with their actions, contribute to the narrative, give a bit of life to the scene whether through interacting with NPCs or the setting in some manner. The PC who describes how he shakes off the snow from his cloak, sniffles a bit as he makes his way to the hearthfire, and orders a mulled wine, with a flourish of his character's voice, can easily earn a point of inspiration from me. If the session is going well, everybody should have a point at some point in the evening, maybe even more than once in the evening. But, if people are digressing, meta-gaming or otherwise flat, the Inspiration doesn't flow either.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Yeah, yet the rulebook just kind of chucks it out there as a bunch of random rolls with flavour text, while suggesting that the skill system actually matters.
Proficiencies do matter. Inspiration gives you advantage on an ability check, not an auto-success.

As for the Inspiration rules themselves, the only failing I see is in expecting the DM to keep track of so many traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws, which is why (on top of other reasons) I advocate for the approach I mention in my original post.
 

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