Today I decided to that I would like to share with you a favorite Homebrew Rule of mine for 5E D&D. This is a Homebrew rule that I developed because you see I love the Inspiration mechanic. Inspiration is simple and elegant in its both its intent and its use in the game. I have found that one constant with all players is that they love to roll dice. What is better than rolling one dice, rolling two! Inspiration is a wonderful carrot to encourage your players to roleplay and act on many or all of their background aspects.
As much as I love Inspiration, from the moment I read it I felt many GMs would miss the opportunity to not do more with this wonderful game enhancement. From the start, I feared that they would be treated more like Hero Points of old. Only to be used as a last ditch effort to pull one good roll and save a characters life. Sadly from what I have seen across many game tables. That is exactly how they are widely used by both players and GM’s alike.
Inspiration is a wonderful carrot to encourage your players to roleplay. Rewarding them for acting on many or all of their background aspects good or bad. In my opinion, inspiration was intended to be given fast and free to promote and reward roleplay. Hence why it is limited to only one point. When I look at how inspiration is written I think I see what the issue here might be. If you only focus on the first portion of the rule it sounds as if inspiration is given to you by the GM when you do something compelling or roleplay to one of your traits. Yet it goes on to say that the GM will tell you how you can earn Inspiration in the game. This is a key thing that I think may GM’s overlook.
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. You either have inspiration or you don’t – you can’t stockpile multiple “inspirations” for later use.
The FATE system uses something very similar mechanic. Called Invoke and Compel. When a player wishes to gain the benefit of one aspect of their character they can invoke that characters Aspect. Much like inspiration they then gain a bonus to their next action. FATE then goes on to describe that the GM can also compel a player. If the FATE GM compels a player and they accept the compel they are given another FATE point (Inspiration) if they chose to accept on the compel. A player may choose not to act on a compel and play as they wish, but they will not get the FATE point.
If you’re in a situation where having or being around a certain aspect means your character’s life is more dramatic or complicated, anyone can compel the aspect. You can even compel it on yourself—that’s called a self-compel. Compels are the most common way for players to earn more fate points.
So my homebrew rewrite of Inspiration is not really needed but helps to make clear how Inspiration works in my game. Reads as follows.
Inspiration & Compelling.
The 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.
If you’re in a situation where any of your traits make your character’s life more dramatic or complicated, anyone can compel the you. You can even compel it on yourself. Compels are the most common way for players to earn more insperation. You may refuse any Compel but you are not awarded inspiration if you do so.
You either have inspiration or you don’t – you can’t stockpile multiple “inspirations” for later use.
Even my rule say that you can not Stockpile inspiration. I still wanted to encourage my players to use their Inspiration often. It is often hard to pry that D20 out of their hands unless it is a clutch roll. That and I often find that I have given out inspiration for good roleplay and my players just can’t burn it fast enough. Enter the GM inspiration Die
GM Inspiration Dice
If my players do something creative or commit an act of good RP. I award them an Inspiration point. The trouble I had was that Often my players had Inspiration and I still want to give them something. After some thinking, I decided to do the following. This is also a nice little alternative for some of the GM’s out there that prefer using inspiration as a “Hero Point” The benefit is smaller but players seem more willing to burn it over Inspiration often.
- If the player has no Inspiration. I reward them with an Inspiration point.
- If the player has a point of Inspiration I award them a “GM Inspiration”.
- “GM” inspiration dice is not a D20 with advantage. It is treated like a Bardic Inspiration dice. It can be used at any time to add to a D20 roll.
- The GM Inspiration Die is a D6.
- Players can be awarded more than one, but only one dice may be spent at a time.
- Once used it is gone it’s only useable for one roll.
Lastly, GM inspiration dice go away at the end of a session. USE EM OR LOSE EM!