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Get creative with D&D 5e's Inspiration

Inspiration is a mechanic introduced in the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons (#dnd). The gist of Inspiration can be found in the Basic Rules here. The Dungeon Master's Guide (amazon product link) provides further information on how to award and use Inspiration. The short version is that Inspiration can be given by the Dungeon Master (#DM) to individual players for whatever reason the DM feels fitting. Inspiration can then be used by the players to gain advantage on an attack, skill check, or saving throw.

Not every table implements Inspiration and not everyone at the table remembers to use Inspiration when they have it. Advantage is quite the boon in the D&D, yet players oft hold back on using their Inspiration to wait for the "right" moment. It's kind of like consumables in most video games. Consumables tend to get hoarded instead of used. When the credits roll we have 100+ unused potions and buffs. Whoops.

I like to think of Inspiration as a currency for bartering with the DM. While gaining advantage is already a fantastic choice, there are more ways Inspiration can be spent without breaking the game. So let's get creative with how to use Inspiration! Dungeon Masters can offer these ideas to their players, and players can suggest these options to their DM. Just remember to respect the ruling of the DM, as these ideas won't fly at every table.

Spend Inspiration to buyback a consumed resource.

It's been a long adventuring day. The bard's spell slots are empty, the barbarian is all out of rage, and the fighter is pining for a third wind. There's no time to rest before facing the next conflict and no one is sure what they'll be up against. Now is the time to exchange Inspiration to restore one Rage, a spell slot or two, or gain another Second Wind. Players may give their own Inspiration to another in need, and this can be used to shore up a character that is lacking resources. Which resources can be restored and how many should be determined by the DM.

Retry a failed save at the start of the turn.

Most negative effects can be avoided by succeeding on a relevant save. However, if the character fails the save the negative effect may persist until the end of their next turn or they may be allowed to make another save at the end of their next turn. Either way, this means the character is afflicted by the negative effect for the entirety of their turn. This may severely hinder the character's ability to act and take action. Therefore, a player may want to exchange their Inspiration to reroll the save at the beginning of their turn instead of at the end.

An apt example would be the Hold Person spell. It inflicts the paralyzed condition, which is nothing to sneeze at. The spell lasts for one minute (ten rounds of combat!) or until the character succeeds their save, which is rolled at the end of their turn.

Choose a humanoid that you can see within range. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be paralyzed for the duration. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make another Wisdom saving throw. On a success, the spell ends on the target.

Impose disadvantage on an enemy's attack, check, or save.

Instead of gaining advantage on an attack, it can be advantageous (hah) to force disadvantage on the enemy's attack, ability check, or save in a pivotal moment. Perhaps the foe is about to strike a killing blow to a fallen ally. Now is the time to spend that Inspiration and call upon divine intervention!

These are just a few ways to mechanically improve the use of Inspiration. There's loads of flexibility in how to approach Inspiration as a system and it's quite subjective. Get even more creative by using it as a narrative tool or incorporating it as an in-universe phenomenon. The Angry GM wrote multiple articles tackling the Inspiration system in an attempt to add substance and impact. If we're just wanting to spruce up the existing system, these three optional uses will do the trick.

Share your ideas for Inspiration in the comments or via Twitter @CritCatastrophe.


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