5E The Case for Inspiration

77IM

Explorer!!!
I have a heavily modified system that I use all the time and works very well for me. Here goes:

1. I ignore traits/bonds/ideals/flaws because as others have mentioned it's too much to keep track of, and even if it weren't, I prefer to reward good role-playing even when it doesn't match what you wrote on your character sheet beforehand. So anytime anyone does anything cool, creative, entertaining, or awesome, I toss out inspiration.

2. When something unlucky or awful happens to a person I give them an inspiration as a consolation prize. This also functions as a negative feedback loop so that if the party is suffering a lot of setbacks they increase their future odds of success.

3. Inspiration stacks, you can have more than 1. Most players wind up earning 2-3 per session. I've seen players stockpile up to 8-9 points at a time.

4. You can use it to re-roll a d20, or can give it to an ally to allow them to re-roll a d20. It's like advantage after-the-fact.


This results in a LOT more inspiration use at my table. Players tend to hoard it and then use it in crucial situations, like against really bad saves or when making a really powerful attack. This, in turn, encourages risky behavior which speeds up the game and is also more interesting. When a player is sitting on a big pile of inspiration they feel very confident and will engage in encounters more readily and do things like leap over chasms wide enough to require a check. Conversely, I feel better about throwing unforgiving enemies and situations at the PCs, because if the players are managing their inspiration properly then when I accidentally hit them with an overpowered encounter they can re-roll their way to victory. And when they are low on inspiration a sort of desperate tension takes hold, it's great.

In short, when I hand out inspiration like candy it generally produces better game sessions.
 
I use inspiration similar to how the FATE system uses fate points. In fact, I'm convinced 5e borrowed the concept from that system but integrated it very poorly.

Here's how it works:

1. In FATE, you have Aspects which are similar to your personality/bond/flaws. You can pay a Fate point to 'invoke an aspect' to give yourself a bonus to a roll. What that means is, if your character has a 'hot head' personality trait, you can pay a Fate Point to get a bonus in a situation where being a Hot Head would give a bonus (like combat, or intimidating someone).

In this way, Inspiration is just like Fate points...EXCEPT, in FATE, the GM can COMPEL the character. Are you in the middle of a diplomatic talks? "I'll offer you a Fate Point if you insult their lead diplomat - you are a 'hot head' after all."

This way, the dm can reward the player to complicate the situation. The player can always turn it down but you'd be surprised how much players love this kind of reward to rp.

Players can 'compel' other players by giving them their inspiration too.

2. Use inspiration to declare something.

Hey GM, i'm new in town. Can I use an inspiration to declare that I have a contact here in town? I have the Personality Trait, 'friend to the masses'.

You get some cool stuff happening where the players now add to the story. Instead of them asking, 'is there a torch somewhere?' and the dm rolling % or having to decide, the player just spends his inspiration. (DM decides what is acceptable)
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Here's the solution I posted in the other thread.
Angry GM did a thorough analysis of everywhere WotC's implementation went wrong. From that I refined a replacement set of rules. Explaining and justifying them are - I feel - out of scope for this thread. Either ask me or hunt down the original threads here at ENWorld :)

Inspiration
You either have or do not have Inspiration (feel free to use a marker as a reminder). You start every play session with Inspiration. When you have used your Inspiration, you may decide to regain Inspiration. If you don't, you will still regain it at the start of the next play session.


Using Inspiration
When you have Inspiration, you may use it on your turn. When you do, you get a +5 bonus on any single die roll, and you may additionally move up to 20 feet. You must decide before you roll. The movement is extra and does not trigger attacks of opportunity.

To use Inspiration, motivate and describe your action using one of your Traits, Bonds, Ideals or Flaws.


Regaining Inspiration
You regain Inspiration by giving in to your Flaws. You can do this in one of two ways:
• You allow your Flaw to distract you when taking an important action by taking Disadvantage on a significant d20 roll that would otherwise not have it.
• You allow your Flaw to control you by taking an impulsive and dangerous action you would otherwise not have taken.

Motivate and describe your action using one of your Flaws.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
Damn, I had intended to use your system for Inspiration in my new campaign but I completely forgot about it again! It's weird how that mechanic just drops off the radar so easily. But I will try again this week to remember and bring it up to the players.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Damn, I had intended to use your system for Inspiration in my new campaign but I completely forgot about it again! It's weird how that mechanic just drops off the radar so easily. But I will try again this week to remember and bring it up to the players.
Cool, let us know how it goes! This has been adopted in every group I'm in to great success. People love busting out their characters' traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws at just the right moment to claim Inspiration. Having Inspiration in the holster for when you need to make that pivotal attack, desperate save, or ability check without a skill proficiency is often a godsend.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I use a slight variation on this concept. Instead of players claiming Inspiration up to once per session for each background trait, I rule that players can claim Inspiration any time they suffer a setback as a result of their Flaw. When they have Inspiration, they can spend it to gain advantage on a roll if one of the following things is true:
• The action was motivated by their Bond
• Their goal was aligned with their Ideal
• Their approach was influenced by one of their Personality Traits
As always, it is up to the player to decide what qualifies.

I’ve found that this approach leads to more use of Inspiration than Iserith’s method does when I have used it. My players tended to hoard Inspiration when I used Iserith’s method, saving it for a hypothetical more important check that would never come. By restricting when Inspiration can be spent, I encourage my players to look for opportunities to spend it, rather than holding onto it for a hypothetical perfect moment.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I use a slight variation on this concept. Instead of players claiming Inspiration up to once per session for each background trait, I rule that players can claim Inspiration any time they suffer a setback as a result of their Flaw. When they have Inspiration, they can spend it to gain advantage on a roll if one of the following things is true:
• The action was motivated by their Bond
• Their goal was aligned with their Ideal
• Their approach was influenced by one of their Personality Traits
As always, it is up to the player to decide what qualifies.

I’ve found that this approach leads to more use of Inspiration than Iserith’s method does when I have used it. My players tended to hoard Inspiration when I used Iserith’s method, saving it for a hypothetical more important check that would never come. By restricting when Inspiration can be spent, I encourage my players to look for opportunities to spend it, rather than holding onto it for a hypothetical perfect moment.
When you say "hoard" do you mean the players can have more than 1 Inspiration at a time?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
When you say "hoard" do you mean the players can have more than 1 Inspiration at a time?
No, it’s a binary thing. You have Inspiration or you don’t, you can’t accumulate multiple “Inspirations.” I just meant that my players have a tendency to get Inspiration and then hold onto it for several sessions, waiting for the perfect roll to spend it on (missing several opportunities to claim Inspiration due to already having it). Or, they have when I’ve used this method. I haven’t noticed the same behavior with my method.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
No, it’s a binary thing. You have Inspiration or you don’t, you can’t accumulate multiple “Inspirations.” I just meant that my players have a tendency to get Inspiration and then hold onto it for several sessions, waiting for the perfect roll to spend it on (missing several opportunities to claim Inspiration due to already having it). Or, they have when I’ve used this method. I haven’t noticed the same behavior with my method.
In my game it's use it or lose it as it doesn't transfer between sessions. What we see is everyone claims and spends all their Inspiration every session almost without fail. I'm not sure that's the reason though.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I have seen it used well it was with a bunch of newbies... worked nicely kept things sparking. And it was used pretty much as described. The DM was from a local gaming shop showing D&D off.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
In my game it's use it or lose it as it doesn't transfer between sessions. What we see is everyone claims and spends all their Inspiration every session almost without fail. I'm not sure that's the reason though.
That does seem like it would make a difference. That said, I like my method quite a lot, so I will probably stick with it.
 

lichhouse

Dreamer
I have enough to keep track of as referee. I put inspiration tokens out on the table and let players award inspiration to each other during the game session - cracking a good joke, coming up with a good plan, inspired role playing, whatever the other players do to add to the game. We're all there for group entertainment and social gaming - this approach works well for me and keeps the players engaged with each other and paying attention.
 
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