I’m surprised that a lot of Dungeon Masters simply do not use Inspiration Points in Dungeons and Dragons. Perhaps it’s because they either A) Don’t know Inspiration Points or B) Don’t understand Inspiration Points.
Now that the System Resources Document (SRD) 5.1 is a part of the Creative Commons, I’m looking deeper into what exactly it can provide. Much of the information found in it is actually spread across the Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, as well as in the Monster Manual. Today, however, I want to look deeper at Inspiration in Dungeons and Dragons and what the SRD 5.1 says about it.
On page 59, it reads:
“Inspiration is a rule the game master can use to reward you for playing your character in a way that’s true to his or her personality traits, ideal, bond, and flaw. By using inspiration, you can draw on your personality trait of compassion for the downtrodden to give you an edge in negotiating with the Beggar Prince. Or inspiration can let you call on your bond to the defense of your home village to push past the effect of a spell that has been laid on you.”
And while that really only gives us a vague idea of what it is, we can read a little further to get the bigger picture. The next section explains how you, as a player would GAIN Inspiration:
“Your GM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety of reasons. Typically, GMs award it when you play out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your character in a compelling way. Your GM will tell you how you can earn inspiration in the game.”
And that last line is super important;
“You either have inspiration or you don’t—you can’t stockpile multiple “inspirations” for later use.”
What this tells us is that Inspiration Points in Dungeons and Dragons are awarded to the player by actually role playing, by using their character’s characteristics. Things like their Personality Trait, what makes the character TICK For example, I may see omens in every event and action, the gods do speak to us, we just have to know how to listen, and if I play my character that way, then I may see a large limb floating down a swiftly moving run of water; I would interpret that as the gods telling me we need to build a raft to cross this water; THAT could award me an Inspiration point from the game master.
Likewise, my character also has Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws, the Ideal being.. perhaps.. my character has Faith and… trusts that his god will guide his actions.. that if my character works hard, things will go well, so I would play up to that Ideal by constantly pushing my abilities to above 100%; if someone goes out to gather wood for a fire, I’d need to do the same only I’d need to bring back more firewood. Likewise, my Bond is… what drives me. For example, if I am dedicated to my friends, I would sacrifice anything that I have to protect them, but even more important would be my character’s Flaw; I might be very suspicious of strangers and expect the worst in them; so we may be bellied up to a bar and I’m facing down a bartender that we’ve never met, he gave the rogue in the party a real stink-eye, and because I don’t trust strangers and my Bond is to protect my friends, that barkeep’s stink-eye is going to ultimately land me into some hot water. It may turn out that it was a harmless wink.. but if I play to my character’s “characteristics” and role play them well, that’s all the more reason for a game master to award an Inspiration Point…. This is just scratching the surface of Inspiration in Dungeons and Dragons..
Okay, so now you have an Inspiration Point.. how do you use it?
“you can use it when you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. Spending your inspiration gives you advantage on that roll. Additionally, if you have inspiration, you can reward another player for good roleplaying, clever thinking, or simply doing something exciting in the game. When another player character does something that really contributes to the story in a fun and interesting way, you can give up your inspiration to give that character inspiration.”
This references a few things, Attack Roll, this is when you roll a D20 to attack something, Saving Throw, you’ll roll a D20 in an attempt to resist a harmful spell or perhaps avoid a trap; You generally don’t get to make the decision on making a saving throw, you will be asked to make a saving throw by your game master if your character is facing possible harm.
It also references an Ability Check, and that is simply your character’s innate talent and training in an attempt to overcome a challenge, for example, if you want to… climb a rope, that would be a dexterity check.
It also states that you can spend your Inspiration Point to give yourself advantage on one of those rolls. Advantage allows you to roll a SECOND D20, you then can use the higher of the two rolls.
We ALL know that a botched roll can result in something…. not….. good happening to our character, so being able to spend an inspiration point to gain Advantage, eh, a 2nd roll is always going to be helpful, and because all you have to do is role play your character to GET an Inspiration point, this is kindav a no-brainer.
Inspiration points in Dungeons and Dragons don’t expire, but you can’t have more than one. You can give it to another player, but again, THEY can’t have more than one. I can’t help but feel that Inspiration points are an underused mechanic, I give them out but my players rarely remember that they even have them and there have certainly been plenty of times where an extra roll of a D20 could have saved the day.
Speaking of rolling an extra D20, sometimes rolling a 1 is inevitable and you may not have an inspiration point to spend. This is when a critical roll or fumble or fail chart would come into play and if you’d like to see a cool chart created up by some awesome 3rd party creators, check out THIS video:
Inspiration points are a fun way to reward players and they can be awarded for other things other than what was pointed out in this video, it’s all up to the game master. Do you use Inspiration Points at your table? Let me know down in the comments and until next our paths cross, may you.. gain some Inspiration Points in Dungeons and Dragons and….. not get the stink-eye from your barkeep!
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