[D&D 5e] In favor of Inspiration

Catching up on YouTube stuff from my hiatus from gaming, I was watching this roundtable where three DMs were talking about why they hated the Inspiration rule in 5e and Mearls agreeing with them that it was made in such a way that it could easily be removed, that no other rule lean on it. (Other rules lean on having advantage, and inspiration gives advantage, which I think is elegant – it is integrated while not being strictly necessary.)

The case against inspiration were all centered around giving it out.

  1. You don’t need it because players RP anyway
  2. It’s hard because you want to hand it out everytime any player opens their mouth
  3. But some players don’t RP and they become resentful that they don’t get insp because it’s unfair

My case in favor of inspiration is centered on using it.

The rule is that you spend your inspiration before you make the roll – unlike Fate, where you can spend fate points retroactively after you made the roll.

I prefer the 5e way (as I argued here, writing " I think the rolls get devalued and the tension deflated if you can just change it after the fact“), it makes you have to be mindful of how much you care about a roll before you make it. It’s you having to be mindful of the bets you are placing. Generally I am in favor of placing the random elements at the end of resolving actions, situations, questions and conflicts rather than in the middle (which was the style for a while).

Listening to gaming tables you often hear “Oh, great roll! Good job!” but the truth is that dice are random. You don’t have power over them. Using insp is a way to get some of that power.

So to anyone thinking of ripping inspiration out of your game, that’s why I want you to reconsider.

Now, you can do what a friend of mine did, he gave every player inspiration at the start of every session just for showing up, and never any more, because of all of that. He was hip to all of the reasons Adam and the Matts had for removing insp, and all my reasons why I like using insp. It’s a good compromise.

But I’m also going to make a case, albeit weaker, in favor of handing it out during the session, to explain why I still do it.

I know I’ve said that I generally go to great lengths to deemphasize story. Story beats, story moods, the general Hamlet’s hit points thing. Focusing on the situation and the game world is what I’m here for. My role is only to set the stage. But: getting insp for when your character take emotional or social concessions and then translating that insp into successful action does tend to create interesting narrative. Quoting Fiasco, p50:

Is it weird that you can wallow in failure the entire game, collect a ton of black dice from all those bad scenes, and then have a happy ending? I’d point to the source material – in the films Fiasco references, true sad sacks often come out smelling like a rose.

You take your beatings in the beginning and then the gods of luck smiles for you in the end. When I first read Hamlet’s Hit Points, I was like “this sucks, no way am I gonna go back to trying to curate scenes to that degree now that I’ve belatedly learned about player agency”. And then when I read Hillfolk I was like “Ooooooh! So that was the point of Hamlet’s Hit Points, now I get it.” You don’t curate scenes but having a token econ to affect how scenes are resolved automatically create a curve of downbeats followed by upbeats. (And, it’s only advantage, it’s not automatic success. You can still die in the end so the tension of D&D is still there.) [That said, as I argued here: “The economy was fragile. I sometimes would ponder solutions to this problem but nothing struck me as good.” the economy in Fate and Diaspora would often grind to a halt. The way 5e works solves a lot of that, by:

  1. making inspiration that doesn’t stack, meaning there’s no nova and no glut
  2. making many actions that in Fate costs points free, including fictional positioning. In Fate you spend fate points to invoke scene aspects, in 5e you get advantage for free for doing so. We want fictional positioning so it makes no sense in attaching a cost to it, it should be all reward.
  3. Also refusing compels cost points in Fate, and is free in 5e. Also makes sense. The carrot is enough, no need for a stick.

Anyway much love. Thanks for reading.

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Comments

  • Very clear. Except for the 1st point I believe many games followed the clue from Hamlet HP.
  • Are you looking for specific advice, such as for altering the way Inspiration is given out while keeping it in the game?
  • I do not award Inspiration in my games that often. I do award Advantage all the time, when characters help each other and when someone does something super cool or clever.

    I award "Heroic Inspiration" to every player who posts a write-up of the last game. It lasts for one game session (the next one they play in). It works like bardic inspiration (a d6 they can add to a d20 roll, after the d20 hits the table but before final resolution is determined).
  • My only problem with inspiration is that it's so loosely coupled to the game that we utterly forget about it.

    Well, that and "Good luck trying to remember everyone's background/flaw/etc, Mr. GM."
  • I like Inspiration in principle, but it's awkwardly cobbled onto D&D's chassis, and not very effective, in my experience. I've now played in three different D&D5 games, and I've only seen a group remember to use Inspiration once (and it wasn't in the way it's described in the book). Two of the groups very explicitly liked the rules and wanted to use them (they told me so); they just couldn't manage to, in practice. That's not a good sign.

    I agree with your notes about the mechanical implications of the rule, however - it's non-stackability and application is nice.
  • I wouldn't say it's "awkwardly cobbled onto D&D's chassis." I'd say it's loosely coupled to D&D's chassis with great care and by design, so that it can be left off by people who don't like it. As a result, it's also not well integrated with (tightly coupled to) D&D's other systems.
  • edited April 2018
    Ha! That's somewhat fair. :)

    Maybe, anyway. Its relationship to a lot of important elements of the game, like XP, is so unclear that using it seems to be pretty difficult for people.
  • It has no relationship to XP at all, right? Is there something unclear about that in the rules?
  • Probably not (I'm not sure if the DMG recommends for GMs to occasionally award Inspiration, XP, or both for "good roleplaying" and "clever ideas", or not - so that may or may not be an issue).

    The lack of clarity lies more at a structural level. What kinds of Character Traits are good for my campaign, and which will be irrelevant? Should I be pursuing opportunities to follow them, or just let it happen occasionally? Should the GM take Character Traits into account when prepping adventures? Does Inspiration represent anything in the fiction? Does awarding Inspiration for "good roleplaying" work against the purpose of the Traits? Etc. The purpose of the rules here is unclear to me.

    My limited experience with other groups playing D&D5 is that it wasn't clear to them, either. (For instance, the first group I joined raved about how much they loved the Inspiration rules when they invited me to join, but after four sessions I noticed that they never used them in play. In fact, after a year and a half of the campaign running, it turned out that I was the only player who had even written a Personality Trait, Bond, Flaw, etc, on my character sheet!)

    It may be that it's all clearly explained in the DMG (which I haven't read), however. I'm just reporting on what I've seen "out in the wild" so far. :)
  • edited April 2018
    Yeah, the character traits part of the game, with the 1d6 tables to roll on (or choose, if you want) are terrible. Players ignore them most of the time. The Inspiration mechanic has neither legs nor teeth.

    They'd have been better off with a rule that says, "Whenever you make a tough (and correct) decision regarding your Alignment, gain Inspiration."

    (And I'd add, "And if a character takes an action that violates their Alignment, the DM can remove their Inspiration, if they have it.")
  • I like that first part! (I'd have to spend some time thinking about the second; it's sort of like a Fate Compel, right, in application?)
  • If Sandra hadn't started this thread, I would have. I'm a huge fan of Inspiration, and it absolutely sings at my tables—including one I'm a player in, because I got the rest of the group bought into it. (It sings slightly less well there, but still 1,000% better than your median 5E game.)

    But I also admit I houserule 5E rather heavily in my own games. My XP system is derived from Dungeon World, and you get XP every time you *spend* Inspiration. I also don't really worry about keeping track of who should get it when; I've handed the whole thing off to the players, and simply relied on them to have a sense of sportsmanship. If they didn't, I couldn't play with them anyway. Oh, but if someone does something Insp-worthy and already has it, the token "bounces off" of that person and they hand it to someone not currently Inspired. This takes of the less-confident-player problem. (This is only slightly off from RAW, which says that if you are Inspired, you can give it to another player.)

    Still, even in my much less-houseruled Wednesday game of Tomb of Annihilation, in which I am a player, Insp works well. Because it turns out, the main hurdles to using it well are tactile.

    -Everyone writes their BIFTs on a big index card / table tent thing, so everyone can see everyone else's BIFTs at all times.

    -We have physical tokens for BIFTs. That part is ABSOLUTELY NOT OPTIONAL, and is *the* reason most groups fail at using Insp properly. It cannot simply be written down on the sheet; it has to be represented by physical tokens of some kind. In my Wednesday group, one player actually made hexagonal pieces of paper that say "Inspired" on one side, and, in a different color, "Not Inspired" on the other. It's a great design, because it's a subtle clue to pay more attention to the RP of whomever's not currently Inspired.

    Now, in my own games—but not in the Wednesday game—we also do all the usual Story Games things of writing our BIFTs together at the beginning, so they're more relevant. Also, you get an XP for resolving and changing a BIFT, so that keeps things more dynamic over time.

    Interestingly, the group I play in has always been fine with letting people spend Insp after rolls. While I used to be strict about requiring it beforehand, I've come to realize from that experience that was probably me being too much of a hardass for once, so I've changed that, and it hasn't really hurt things.

    All that said, I will admit that "T" is definitely the red-headed stepchild of the BIFTs. You could probably ditch it for an additional B, I, or F and not hurt the game at all, and maybe improve it!
  • Rafu said:

    Are you looking for specific advice

    This is me giving advice. This is me making a case to readers of S-G and to the participants in that roundtable that hey, inspiration can be an amazing mechanic that can pull a lot of weight.
    Adam_Dray said:

    I do award Advantage all the time, when characters help each other and when someone does something super cool or clever.

    I wouldn't really use the word "award" there, they position themselves to have advantage so they have advantage.

    Again, in my view of 5e as "improved Fate":
    in Fate you can spend FP to use the environment to your advantage,
    and you can get advantages (via FP) from concessions/compels you've accepted earlier, including calling on your own traits (I'm "The Fastest Gun in the West", or w/e).

    In 5e the econ is refactored and simplified. Interacting w/ the environment is free, but there is still a way to turn your prior concessions/compels into advantage now. Insp is that way. And that is amazing.

    As someone who have run Fate games where people forgot to use Fate Points all the time, the fact that 5e can sing even when someone forgets to use the most awesome mechanic of all time (inspiration) is a good thing. Advantage/disadvantage is used all the time (one of the best ways is via the wonderful "condition" system, i.e. aspects-with-codified-adjudication) even when Insp isn't.
    Adam_Dray said:

    And I'd add, "And if a character takes an action that violates their Alignment, the DM can remove their Inspiration, if they have it."

    Again, I'm happy that they removed the stick. D&D can put characters in challenging situations and I love that it rewards flashlight-dropping without punishing you for refraining from it. In the Fate thread I linked to we went on a long tangent on how I've had some players who bought off every compel. And the FP econ ground to a halt.
    Adam_Dray said:

    It has no relationship to XP at all, right?

    Before Deliverator's (awesome) post my thinking had actually been that XP is sort of opposite to inspiration. XP = wordly power, Insp = emotional power. And when you take a loss, or give in to something, you gain Insp to compensate.

    Matt:

    NGL, I kinda still haven't gotten used to the word BIFTs. (I call them "traits" and I use the word TIBF to remember the order they're supposed to go on the sheet).

    And tokens yes! Super necessary. And what I do is that I hand out physical tokens every time someone gets insp. If they have multiple physical tokens they lose them all when they invoke their insp, so it becomes ludologically isomorphic to binary "have it or not have it" RAW. (I have some other house rule where you want to spend one, two or three tokens but for the purposes of giving advantage/disadvantage, you lose 'em all.)

    The reason I do the multiple tokens is that this would happen: if I don't give out insp to someone because they're already inspired, they lose the habit of playing to their traits or/and I lose the habit of giving out insp for them doing so. Having multiple tokens keeps the flow constant.
  • edited April 2018
    Matt (Deliverator),

    That sounds fabulous! I like how you've fixed most of the issues with Inspiration, made its use super clear, and drawn the whole thing together. Now it's clearly at the "heart" of the game's engine, and everyone is focused on it. Like Sandra's modifications, your little touches (like giving "excess" Inspiration to other players, which means it's still worth earning) build something really solid on top of the basic rule.
    Adam_Dray said:

    Yeah, the character traits part of the game, with the 1d6 tables to roll on (or choose, if you want) are terrible. Players ignore them most of the time.


    All that said, I will admit that "T" is definitely the red-headed stepchild of the BIFTs. You could probably ditch it for an additional B, I, or F and not hurt the game at all, and maybe improve it!

    This is a large part of the problem, in my opinion. Putting the Personality Traits first and foremost (you start by choosing them, you choose TWO, and they're at the top of the sheet) really sends the wrong message.

    Worse yet, every Background comes with tables of these to roll on or choose from. A few are quite nice, but many/most are absolutely terrible - not just the Personality Traits, but the others, too, like the Flaws and Bonds. I'll admit that I haven't gone through the book and read every single one, but when I made a character, I found most of the ones available to my Background entirely unapplicable to the way Inspiration works. If I was learning the game from the book, I would have come away with entirely the wrong idea for how to leverage the thing (and, quite justifiably, ignore the rules at the table - who wants to get a Bennie every time they describe their character twirling their moustache?).

    On the other hand, if we pick our BIFTs carefully, openly, and/or author our own, there's a really good idea in there. For it to work, however, they have to be foremost in the DM's mind - if you prep material in accordance to the BIFTs, you can get some really juicy play out of them, I'm sure. I've yet to see someone do that (I think, because it's not part of the wider concept of "how to play D&D" - for example, as far as I know, published adventures don't ever instruct the DM running them to adjust the content according to the PCs' BIFTs - and so overshadowed by other aspects of the rules and system, which take up all our time, attention, and focus), but I think it could work amazingly well as the springboard to a more story- and character-oriented D&D campaign.
  • edited April 2018
    ...
  • I've always assumed that D&D's BIFTs were an imitation of the mechanics in games like The Shadow of Yesterday, Lady Blackbird, Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard, and so forth (a very large field). I don't know that for sure, however.
  • We are one or two sessions into a D&D 5e game that works somewhat along the lines that Adam suggests, although alignment is connected to experience rather than inspiration. I notice that inspiration tends to get overlooked, although I like it as a mechanic. I'm thinking about connecting it to alignment, or letting players give it to each other like PTA fan mail.
  • I think it would honestly help Inspiration as a thing a lot if it was given out playerside instead of being given out GMside, like if one of your fellow players could say "Hey, that was cool! Have inspiration for that!" which removes a lot of the concern of it turning into players playing specifically to please the GM, and turns it into generally just the players playing to entertain the whole group, which is imo generally a goal of roleplay anyways.
    Something like an Inspiration handout basically gives you a way to get excited about something you watched someone else do, and then make that excitement of yours actually matter instead of just being a vague and nebulous thing.
  • Right, like Fan Mail in Primetime Adventures. All these variations sound far more functional to me than the rules for Inspiration as written.
  • edited April 2018
    These mechanisms are a lot like "nudge", that is, clever player manipulation.
    But. Isn't there a chance that a mechanical reward like Insp will "train the players to get the tokens" rather than "help them find cool ideas".
    Moral principles aside, I suppose there are some known limits like : the tokens not giving groundbreaking advantages. I would like to learn about these.
  • edited April 2018

    I think it would honestly help Inspiration as a thing a lot if it was given out playerside instead of being given out GMside, like if one of your fellow players could say "Hey, that was cool! Have inspiration for that!" which removes a lot of the concern of it turning into players playing specifically to please the GM, and turns it into generally just the players playing to entertain the whole group, which is imo generally a goal of roleplay anyways.

    Which is why I do it that way. I will occasionally give it to a player if I notice something no one else does, but I no longer feel any pressure related to awarding Inspiration.

    Regarding the terribleness of the listed examples, well... I agree. On the other hand:
    5E PHB said:

    Four categories of characteristics are presented here: personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws. Beyond those categories, think about your character’s favorite words or phrases, tics and habitual gestures, vices and pet peeves, and whatever else you can imagine.

    Each background presented later in this chapter includes suggested characteristics that you can use to spark your imagination. You’re not bound to those options, but they’re a good starting point.

    So it's 100% RAW that the lists presented with the Backgrounds are just suggestions. Obviously, it'd be much better if 5E had explicit instructions to the group to write all the BIFTs together and such.

    I have decided, after this thread and some conversations with friends, that next time I run 5E I'm going to tell everyone to choose only one Trait, and choose a second example of one of the other three, more dramatically motivating, characteristics.
  • Just to reiterate I am a big fan of the RAW T T I B F.
    And picking up more bonds and flaws in play, or replacing some bonds and flaws.

    In BW terms, the trait is similar to the instinct and the ideal is similar to the belief.

    Again, I think there are just soo many analogies to Fate rather than any other game. And in Fate I like having some chill aspects that don't have to pull as much weight as the others. That also helps me as DM. I can think "OK I really want to be aware of Flaws this session" or "I want to involve Ashgar's Bond more". I can sort away the more harmless traits. And as we at the table, including me as DM, get more used to specific characters I can know when they are getting into trouble in a way that the character would but that they might not want to do otherwise (i.e. they are compelled).

    My best tip for those who want to get the best out of 5e's adv/disadv system, both when using fictional positioning w/o insp and when using insp, is to read the multitude of Fate Core advice that has been written over the years. Read examples of Fate fights and think how would that translate into 5e.
    Considering our warehouse again, Amanda thinks about what might make good situation aspects.

    She decides that there are enough crates in here to make free movement a potential problem, so she picks Heavy Crates and Cramped as aspects. The loading door is open, which means that there’s a large dock with water in it, so she also picks Open to the Water as a situation aspect, figuring that someone might try to knock someone in.
    That is also awesome advice for 5e. Now, behind the screen, those aspects can be written up "As Aspects" with the camel case and the italics. That can really help you adjudicate and describe a scene w/o boxed text. (Unlike Fate, don't describe the scene in terms of aspects, instead, keep the aspect-ness of the aspects on your side of the screen or in your own mind.)


    The Cramped and the Heavy Crates? That's something to keep in mind that both sides can use to impose disadvantage or get the advantage.
    On Lenny’s turn, he has Landon create an advantage by placing an aspect on Og called Hemmed In, hoping to corner him between some crates. That’s his action for the exchange.
    In 5e, a lot of these aspects would be Conditions, i.e. Langdon would make Og restrained rather than Hemmed In.

    And read examples of Fate compels. I sometimes use insp in a way very similar to compels, i.e. hold it up to tempt a player to do something that would be true to my interpretation of their traits, ideals, bonds or flaws. And if they choose not to -- that's awesome too. I am so happy that they, unlike Fate, then don't have to pay for that.
    Landon has I Owe Old Finn Everything and is returning to his home village after hearing it was sacked by barbarians, so it makes sense that, unfortunately, Old Finn was captured and taken far into the mountains with their war party. Damn his luck.
    "I owe Old Finn everything" would be an awesome bond.

    The fact that this system has been decoupled in 5e is a good thing. Similar to how you would want a software architecture to not be too tightly coupled or tangled. In 5e they various parts go well together, lean on each other, build on each other but can also be replaced and removed. It's a very houserulable, hackable system.

    The character traits can inform you when you want to give advantage in a scene, they can help you when you prep and introduce NPCs, they can help you see when to hand out insp.

    Insp can be a source of advantage, of sneak attack bonus dice, making a death save easier, or that desperate exhaustion roll in the deep desert.

    Fictional positioning can be adjudicated as advantage, disadvantage, players can use it to their own detriment in order to fish for Insp tokens, and they can impose conditions.

    Most of the conditions involve advantage or disadvantage or both.

    But remove any of them (which I def wouldn't do) the system as a whole still stands. I think that's beautiful. Advantage/disadvantage is the glue that makes it all tick.

    Also I love that advantage/disadvantage is pre-roll rather than post-roll. Really not into the elipsis trick:
    Lily says, “Okay, so I raise my sword up and...” (rolls dice, hates the result) “...and it looks like I’m going to miss at first, but it turns out to be a quick feint-and-slash, a classic move from the Infamous Girl with Sword” (spends the fate point).
    I get that it makes sense for super pulpy narration but to me it's a very stop-and-go, jerky, disruptive way of viewing the dice/cloud translation layer.
  • edited April 2018
    I'm not sure I agree with everything you said, but I really like that thorough overview of how and why it works for you, Sandra. Nicely put together! The examples from Fate are great (although I'm not at all sure what they have to do with Inspiration - wouldn't you do exactly the same thing in a game which didn't use the Inspiration rules?).

    Two questions for you:
    2097 said:


    The character traits can inform you when you want to give advantage in a scene [...]

    Fictional positioning [...] players can use it to their own detriment in order to fish for Insp tokens

    These two things are things I'm not sure how to do.

    Can you give an example of how a Character Trait might inform you when to give a character Advantage?

    I've never seen someone do this in a game of D&D. Is it, like, "Hey, you have a Bond with Alfalfa, so I'm going to give you Advantage to try to rescue him?"

    And how can a player use fictional positioning to fish for Insp tokens? Or are you talking in a broader sense, here - where the player is aware that making a suboptimal decision (e.g. flashlight dropping) will reward them with Insp?
  • Reading this thread, I think it's safe to conclude that the only people who have made inspiration actually work at the table are people who have modified it heavily in terms of how you get it and/or how it is tracked.

    This is in line with my experience. It is also in line with my opinion that Inspiration, as written, is garbage, because no one manages to get it working that way.
  • This forum, this hobby breaks my heart

    this thread was started after seeing a video of four people wanting to completely remove insp and mearls not protesting

    i outlined both what makes it an awesome mechanic and how a different way of tracking it helped unlock its potential

    for the record i came up with that way like this:

    insp worked fine in our home game but i ran a game at a con where it absolutely sang.

    i thought about what could be the reason and decided that the con players were spending insp so fast and then they had room to fish for more

    whereas in the home game i would see that they already were inspired and thus stop giving then insp. the new way of tracking encouraged me to keep on giving insp

    so it already worked fine raw at home and even better raw at the con. which gave me the idea of tracking it differently




    it is not garbage
    i feel ground to dust
  • I may be garbage but this part of 5e is genius
    i wish i could better describe why it is so good
    i don't want it to be destroyed
    rather i was destroyed
    it's my fault if i can't save it
    i am bad for the game
    since i am bad at arguing sufficiently well for the best parts
    if people believe it's garbage
    i can't
  • @2097 Have you found inspiration to shift the focus of the game, or to have a significant impact on what happens fictionally, or has it been more peripheral? That is, in your experience, has access to inspiration had an impact on the way players decide what to do or how to approach what they're doing?
  • taking a step back: do people need an affordance mechanic / carrot to flashlight drop and to stolen car their chars? no. does the game need an econ to induce a rhythm of emotional ups and downs? no. do dice rolls need an element of choice, agency and push your luck? no. d&d was a good game before any of these things.

    is it awesome that one mechanic address all of these well, in a simple, unobtrusive way? yes. super awesome.

    ps i might love 5e
  • a new way to track isn't a heavy modification
    i track monster hp with soroban does that mean that hp is garbage? no it is good
  • edited April 2018
    I'm sorry my opinion is so upsetting; It's just the vibe I got from this thread. Most of the people who have said "I love inspiration!" have followed up with "Here's how we made it work" and it contained a list house rules.

    My personal experience with inspiration is we never remembered it or managed to get it to work until we implemented a bunch of house rules - much like the ones mentioned here, they were variants on the "use physical objects" and "Let players give out inspiration" mechanics.

    This leads me to the conclusion that Inspiration AS REPRESENTED IN THE BOOK ("as written") is not very good, because everyone changes it. A good mechanic doesn't require a bunch of people to tamper with it.

    I'm not saying the CONCEPT of inspiration is bad, nor even every aspect of its implementation as written (non-stackability is pretty smart in context) nor am I trying to cast aspersions on anyone who likes it, but it's clear to me that lots of people struggle with it, and many of those who don't have diverged pretty far from 'rules as written'.

    Compare "HP" where the vast majority of people clearly have no problems using it as written. Sure, you get some folks who make a physical tracker, or whatever, but it's obviously not the majority. Inspiration seems to need this kind of physical help as a reminder. Referencing your own thread on house rules, you've changed a good bit more than just "physical objects" vs "no physical objects". And your list of rules isn't even comprehensive, since you also discard the standard/often suggested process of handing out inspiration for playing with BIFTs or whatever you want to call them. Which only exists because the "rules" for giving out inspiration basically say "The GM can give out inspiration" and leave it at that. So it's not really as simple as "You use physical objects". You have a system, and it's not part of the rules as written.

    I am not attacking you. I am not attacking your game. I am not attacking the way you use inspiration. I am not attacking liking inspiration. I am pointing out that inspiration, as written, has issues that prevent a lot of people from using it effectively. Why is that not okay say that without you feeling "destroyed"?
  • Stepping aside from the question of whether inspiration is well-implemented or poorly implemented as-written, which seems like a debate that could go in circles for days, I'm curious about what practical impact inspiration actually has. I'm curious about this because I don't have a very deep understanding of 5e, and I'd like to understand what I'm using inspiration to do before I start thinking about how I'm going to do it.

    I apologize if I'm derailing by asking such a basic question, but at that zoomed-out conceptual level: what is inspiration for? That is, what is the inclusion of inspiration, as a mechanic, supposed to do to the game?
  • 2097 said:

    Rafu said:

    Are you looking for specific advice

    This is me giving advice. This is me making a case to readers of S-G and to the participants in that roundtable that hey, inspiration can be an amazing mechanic that can pull a lot of weight.
    Yeah, sorry - that soon became apparent, especially as I was reading a few threads in parallel.
    I'm loving these discussions about inspiration in 5E, especially all the cool ideas for tracking it physically at the table. Even as someone who has no plans of playing any edition of D&D in the foreseeable future, I feel like I'm getting some mileage out of it.
    Plus - while the only forms of D&D I'm ever remotely likely to gravitate toward again might be either some low-level B/X or BECMI based dungeon-crawling or heavily house-ruled 4E (perhaps made GM-less) - your various threads and comments have taught me how advantage & disadvantage work in 5E, and made me appreciate it as a mighty fine subsystem which I'm totally going to appropriate for my own house rules or even new designs. Thx!
  • My impression and experience, so far, has been that D&D players either ignore Inspiration for the most part (in three games I played, it only ever came up once, and in a way that's not how it works in the text - as a substitute for XP after an encounter), or give it some serious thought, modify it extensively, and make into a more important part of the game (like Deliverator and 2097 seems to have done).

    That said, this thread has really Inspired me (gah!) to consider it a little more seriously. I think they've really achieved their goals of making a mechanic which can inspire (gah, again - but it's really the right word!) people to focus their play in a more story-oriented direction, without the game hurting at all if the rules are ignored. A lot of D&D5's design is like this: a bunch of tools loosely bound together, so you can (somewhat) choose which ones to use and which ones to ignore. I think that has contributed a lot to the game's popularity.

    I've really enjoyed this discussion - there's been a lot of interesting food for thought!

    Sandra, for me, at least, you've painted a much more flattering picture of Inspiration than I had before, and I'll be thinking about it for a while! I'd say that, if your goal was to make a strong case for Inspiration, then you've succeeded!
  • I was away and posting from a super primitive GSM connection (also had problems making uppercase letters) and I missed one of your posts in between mine, manixur:

    manixur said:

    @2097 Have you found inspiration to shift the focus of the game, or to have a significant impact on what happens fictionally, or has it been more peripheral? That is, in your experience, has access to inspiration had an impact on the way players decide what to do or how to approach what they’re doing?

    Yes, that has been my experience in my own games but I am aware and respect that that hasn’t happened in many of the online recorded games I’ve watched. (I, er, watch a lot of D&D.)

    manixur said:


    I apologize if I’m derailing by asking such a basic question, but at that zoomed-out conceptual level: what is inspiration for? That is, what is the inclusion of inspiration, as a mechanic, supposed to do to the game?

    That’s a good question. I tried to answer it in my first point but maybe it got drowned out by all of my emotional ranting. Here’s what I wrote: “…it makes you have to be mindful of how much you care about a roll before you make it” That’s something I love about inspiration.

    It’s also good at being an affordance mechanism that signal that following your traits/ideals/bonds/flaws is not only rewarded, but allowed. I know many roleplayers don’t need carrots. I know I, when I meet up with my old B/X group for a one-shot now and then, go just as wild and stolen-car-ish with my PCs that I do in games where I would get insp. But it’s not just a carrot. It’s a big sign that says that “this is OK to do, it’s allowed, you won’t get punished for doing it or for not doing it”. I love that. It is a chill and laidback mechanic (unlike me, I’m a nervous wreck as a human being♥).

    It isn’t great at doing the HHP ups&down thing. Because advantage is just one extra d20 so the reward of inspiration is actually a pretty puny compensation for putting your character into serious trouble. You might lose out on 200 xp for a meager insp. And that’s interesting to me, that’s an appealing tension to me. Like there are two separate, often conflicting scoreboards in the game: how often can you get insp vs how much xp can you get.

    Paul_T said:


    The examples from Fate are great (although I’m not at all sure what they have to do with Inspiration - wouldn’t you do exactly the same thing in a game which didn’t use the Inspiration rules?).

    The first two examples (with the crates and with the restrained condition) was meant to contrast the third (the “I owe Old Finn everything” one), which was a clear use of insp. It was how various, decoupled aspects of 5e’s adv/disadv related mechanic mapped to mechanics in Fate.

    Paul_T said:


    Can you give an example of how a Character Trait might inform you when to give a character Advantage?

    I admit that doesn’t really happen very often.

    Paul_T said:


    I’ve never seen someone do this in a game of D&D. Is it, like, “Hey, you have a Bond with Alfalfa, so I’m going to give you Advantage to try to rescue him?”

    That sort of thing was exactly what I had in mind. But, that hasn’t happened yet. It was just the sort of thing I was thinking could happen, and why I want to keep insp in the game. It’s a tool with many uses.

    Paul_T said:


    And how can a player use fictional positioning to fish for Insp tokens? Or are you talking in a broader sense, here - where the player is aware that making a suboptimal decision (e.g. flashlight dropping) will reward them with Insp?

    That’s exactly what I meant, yes. Hence the example with “I owe Old Finn everything” from Fate.

  • Airk said:


    Why is that not okay say that without you feeling “destroyed”?

    If you say that something that I love, something that I feared was going to be removed, something I advocated for, is garbage, using the word “garbage”, I am going to feel destroyed. That’s just how I am.

    But to ease your mind a bit Airk I was already feeling super bad that night about things going on here. I wanted to go to S-G to read&write about games and feel better and instead it made me feel worse.

    You also wrote
    Airk said:


    the only people who have made inspiration actually work at the table are people who have modified it heavily

    and I don’t think I have modified it heavily. But it would’ve been ok to discuss our views on what’s heavy modification, what I’ve modified the most of insp, HP, initiative and AC (imo: in that order. Insp: just started tracking with tokens. HP: have a bunch of sorobans. initiative: using an option from the DMG and sometimes very intricate and usually not very good house rules. AC: using an option from UA i.e. I’ve removed AC from player characters, that doesn’t mean that I don’t love AC as a mechanic, I do!)

    I would’ve gone on to try to refute points like

    Airk said:


    Compare “HP” where the vast majority of people clearly have no problems using it as written. Sure, you get some folks who make a physical tracker, or whatever, but it’s obviously not the majority. Inspiration seems to need this kind of physical help as a reminder.

    Like. People write down HP or use dice or trackers or tokens or w/e. People write down insp or use tokens or dice or trackers or cards that they flip over or w/e.

    My idea that you can have/recieve multiple tokens (and then spend them all at once to maintain the non-stackability) was an innovation that made inspiration better. But I liked it before I did that improvement. I had this one game with a different group when we were using insp as per RAW and it was flowing like crazy. I thought about the difference between that group and my home group, where it was still working, but at a more normal pace. And I came up with this idea.

    and
    Airk said:


    they were variants on the “use physical objects” and “Let players give out inspiration” mechanics.

    Not really house rules, both are listed as options in the DMG (p 241).

    But since I feel so destroyed my heart’s not really into it T_T #emo2097

    Adam_Dray said:


    The Inspiration mechanic has neither legs nor teeth.

    As I wrote in The teeth, such as they are, of D&D 5e’s IIEE

    In 5e, you need to know exactly how they’re doing something (or exactly what they’re saying when they’re talking to an NPC) because you have to know in order to even decide which rule to use.

    5e has attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, encounter checks / time records, insp/traits, “just talk it out”, and spells. These are all competing in the same space.

    To even find out which of these it’s time to use, you need to know more about the situation and the context and the time-scale you are in and things like that. Not so much about intent but a lot about execution and about the surrounding context.

    The existance of the insp mechanic is part of what gives 5e resolution as a whole its teeth in the first place. It’s an affordance that it’s allowed to just fail. It’s OK to just take a loss. To drop that flashlight even w/o the DM calling for a Fear Check. It’s a didactic mechanic in that regard. It shows you that your interface to the shared imagined space isn’t just a series of ability checks, that you as a player is also free to decide things. I am protective of didactic mechanics like this because I struggled learning to understand what roleplaying games even where for a couple of years because me and my sister didn’t know any gamers, we had just bought a boxed runequest-derived RPG on a trip to the city and was like “wait what. how do you actually do things?”

  • edited April 2018
    Good answers, Sandra!

    Although I'm lost when you say the following:
    2097 said:

    In 5e, you need to know exactly how they’re doing something (or exactly what they’re saying when they’re talking to an NPC) because you have to know in order to even decide which rule to use.

    To even find out which of these it’s time to use, you need to know more about the situation and the context and the time-scale you are in and things like that. Not so much about intent but a lot about execution and about the surrounding context.

    The existance of the insp mechanic is part of what gives 5e resolution as a whole its teeth in the first place.

    Can you give an example of how the Inspiration mechanic might influence our choice of which rule to use? (And isn't Inspiration usually all about "intent" as opposed to execution?)

    You've shown one strong example:

    * When a player decides to willingly lose, quit, surrender, or flee and it can be tracked to a TIFB on their sheet, they know they stand to gain Inspiration from their decision.

    That's a very important point! I can't really think of any other examples, though (and that one has nothing to do with the resolution mechanics of D&D, as far as I can tell).

    It also - it seems to me, please feel free to correct me on any of these points, if my guesses are wrong :) - really depends on writing particular kinds of Traits. Most Personality Traits, Ideals, and Bonds won't often be applicable to "flashlight dropping", at least not the examples in the book.

    ...

    Incidentally, most of my issues with Inspiration come down to one very simple problem:

    They do not, as written (and in common practice, too) interface in any way with the GM's prep.

    This means that writing them up is often meaningless, or a waste of time. It also means they rarely come up in play meaningfully. (In the last 7 sessions of D&D5 I've played, across three different gaming groups, Inspiration did not come up even once. In the episodes of Critical Role I've watched - granted, only a handful - Inspiration has not come up once.)

    I think that if the players are instructed to write BIFTs (or TIFBs!) in reaction to stuff the GM has prepped, they'll have a lot more "teeth". Similarly, if the GM preps material which builds on the BIFTs, they'll have teeth and come into play in interesting ways.

    Neither of those happened at all in the D&D games I've played of observed.

    That's really the key here, in my opinion.

  • 2097 said:

    The existance of the insp mechanic is part of what gives 5e resolution as a whole its teeth in the first place. It’s an affordance that it’s allowed to just fail. It’s OK to just take a loss. To drop that flashlight even w/o the DM calling for a Fear Check. It’s a didactic mechanic in that regard. It shows you that your interface to the shared imagined space isn’t just a series of ability checks, that you as a player is also free to decide things. I am protective of didactic mechanics like this because I struggled learning to understand what roleplaying games even where for a couple of years because me and my sister didn’t know any gamers, we had just bought a boxed runequest-derived RPG on a trip to the city and was like “wait what. how do you actually do things?”

    Huh, that's really interesting. This also explains why I haven't run into it much, I think - it makes a subtle but significant change to a specific kind of play that I haven't been doing much of lately. Thanks for explaining!

    Regarding the "no other rules lean on it" thing - do BIFTs lean on it? From this conversation, it sounds as if inspiration is the mechanical bridge between BIFTs and the advantage/disadvantage thing central to 5e.

    (Also, can someone clarify exactly what BIFT stands for? Trait, bond...?)
  • trait bond ideal flaw
  • manixur said:


    Regarding the “no other rules lean on it” thing - do BIFTs lean on it?

    It’s the converse: Insp leans on them.

    Paul_T said:


    Good answers, Sandra!

    Thank you♥

    Paul_T said:


    Although I’m lost when you say the following: […] Can you give an example of how the Inspiration mechanic might influence our choice of which rule to use?

    All of that was discussed in more detail in the older thread I quoted that from but to clarify:

    the Inspiration mechanic is one of the choices, not a meta-choice-governing-rule.

    Paul_T said:

    You’ve shown one strong example:

    • When a player decides to willingly lose, quit, surrender, or flee and it can be tracked to a TIFB on their sheet, they know they stand to gain Inspiration from their decision.
    That’s a very important point! I can’t really think of any other examples, though (and that one has nothing to do with the resolution mechanics of D&D, as far as I can tell).

    Zoom out a bit in your definition of resolution mechanics. Not just ability check but “how do we handle things that come up? How do we answer questions like ‘does my character give in to their fear and drop the flashlight, or do they stand their ground?’”

    How do we resolve situations, not just the subset of situations that fall under “willfully attempted actions with an intended goal of success”.

    Paul_T said:


    It also - it seems to me, please feel free to correct me on any of these points, if my guesses are wrong :) - really depends on writing particular kinds of Traits. Most Personality Traits, Ideals, and Bonds won’t often be applicable to “flashlight dropping”, at least not the examples in the book.

    As I mentioned earlier, I’m a big fan of some chill aspects that don’t have to pull much weight. They’re just there for color. Small ones like “I tend to use short words” can be mixed in with the big ones like “OMG I killed my aunt and now her ghost is out for ever-lovin’ REVENGE!”. And when those short ones occasionally do end up salient, all the more awesome.

    Paul_T said:

    Incidentally, most of my issues with Inspiration come down to one very simple problem:

    They do not, as written (and in common practice, too) interface in any way with the GM’s prep.

    If I have prepped a dark tunnel full of shoggoths and you drop your flashlight in there, that is interfacing as far as I’m concerned.

    Paul_T said:

    This means that writing them up is often meaningless, or a waste of time. It also means they rarely come up in play meaningfully. (In the last 7 sessions of D&D5 I’ve played, across three different gaming groups, Inspiration did not come up even once. In the episodes of Critical Role I’ve watched - granted, only a handful - Inspiration has not come up once.)

    I think that if the players are instructed to write BIFTs (or TIFBs!) in reaction to stuff the GM has prepped, they’ll have a lot more “teeth”. Similarly, if the GM preps material which builds on the BIFTs, they’ll have teeth and come into play in interesting ways.

    Mercer and Koebel seem to always involving NPCs from the player-created character backstories. (SWN doesn’t have “bonds” so in Koebel’s case during Swan Song he was doing it more informally, and I’m not familiar enough with Mercer’s methods – my point isn’t that they are looking at bonds to find these NPCs, but that lurkers of this thread can do that.)

    Whoops I guess the word “teeth” is becoming polysemic in this thread.

  • Paul_T said:

    That said, this thread has really Inspired me (gah!) to consider it a little more seriously.

    Roll with advantage to design a solution.
  • edited April 2018
    Sandra,

    "Involving NPCs from the player-created character backstories" is great, but isn't "in the book" (it's a technique borrowed from other games or simple expertise, a good idea), and has nothing to do with the BIFTs.

    “I tend to use short words” doesn't come into it, in other words (again, in common practice).

    For the rest, that makes sense to me. I think saying the way you're phrasing things is overly strong (I would never say that including a mechanic which might communicate to a player that it could be OK to "drop the flashlight" sometimes "is part of what gives 5e resolution as a whole its teeth in the first place"), but I understand much better where you're coming from now, thank you!

    Adam,

    Oh, I'm pretty sure I would know what to do. I'd do all my GM prep in reaction to the BIFTs, use a better formulation like below, and have players award to each other.
    Adam_Dray said:


    They'd have been better off with a rule that says, "Whenever you make a tough (and correct) decision regarding your Alignment, gain Inspiration."

    It would also be nice if it didn't conflict with other rules and mechanics*, of course, but now we're just better off choosing a different game.


    *: For instance, you're afraid of Shoggoths (your Flaw), and there's an encounter up ahead with Shoggoths. Being true to your character means you should run, but the XP system says "you don't advance as a character unless you fight these" (would you rather have Advantage on a single roll, or advance to level 2? ... the choice is obvious), and the encounter design rules say, "if you leave the others to fight on their own, you're letting down your team".

    This works well if we're intended to ignore BIFTs in favour of, you know, playing the adventure (arguably the point of D&D, so that's good), but is a terrible idea if you're interested in something more character-driven. Matt does a good job, above, of reworking the XP system so it's in line with BIFTs, above, as an example of how you might do that.
  • Paul_T said:

    “Involving NPCs from the player-created character backstories” is great, but isn’t “in the book” (it’s a technique borrowed from other games or simple expertise, a good idea),

    It’s in the modules.

    Like, when I think of good traits (especially the most relevant one to this, bonds) I think of the pregens from LMoP. They’re meant to be didactic for future characters.

    And the hardcover modules have things like “replace this with NPCs from your PC:s backstories” all the time.

    Paul_T said:

    and has nothing to do with the BIFTs.

    “I tend to use short words” doesn’t come into it, in other words (again, in common practice).

    “I tend to use short words” was meant as an example of a color-only, chill, laidback trait whereas the VENGEFUL GHOST AUNT was an example of a bond that you can build some awesome prep upon. (Or just stick her on the encounter table and call it a day.)

    Paul_T said:

    For the rest, that makes sense to me. I think saying the way you’re phrasing things is overly strong (I would never say that including a mechanic which might communicate to a player that it could be OK to “drop the flashlight” sometimes “is part of what gives 5e resolution as a whole its teeth in the first place”), but I understand much better where you’re coming from now, thank you!

    Sure. BTW that was also discussed further in that old thread which is where I made the case for it. No point in re-advocating for it here, those on the fence can go read that thread.

  • Wow, that's great news about newer modules! I wish more people would take that as "common practice", then (I haven't seen any good examples of that in recent games, like I've mentioned).

    So, aside from giving permission to flashlight drop (although that seems *heavily* dependent on specific BIFTs and situations to me), how does Inspiration interface with D&D's resolution/IIEE? I'm having trouble thinking of any other examples.
  • Paul_T said:

    Wow, that’s great news about newer modules! I wish more people would take that as “common practice”, then (I haven’t seen any good examples of that in recent games, like I’ve mentioned).

    Also Xanathar’s has roll tables for where you can roll up these bonded NPCs.

    Paul_T said:

    So, aside from giving permission to flashlight drop (although that seems heavily dependent on specific BIFTs and situations to me), how does Inspiration interface with D&D’s resolution/IIEE? I’m having trouble thinking of any other examples.

    But that belongs in that thread doesn’t it? I’ve tried to steer you to it a couple of times. And you’ve already written plenty of good posts in that thread. So it’s nothing new.

    But my OP in that thread has concrete examples of what I mean here.

    It feels like I’m both derailing this thread and diluting that thread if I’m to quote long passages. I’ll do it, and with new emphasis just so you can see what I mean:

    5e has attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, encounter checks / time records, insp/traits, “just talk it out”, and spells. These are all competing in the same space.

    In the tree climbing example:Sometimes you just want to go “OK, I can’t see how that could fail in any interesting way, let’s just say it takes 10 minutes to climb up there and get those , and we do checks to see if monsters come every 30 minutes so this 10 minutes count toward that”.Sometimes you want to go “Oh, wow, that looks dangerous, we have to make an ability check”.Sometimes you have to go “Oh, you really stepped in trouble now, make a saving throw!”Sometimes you go “Wait, you said character is a town merchant, uncomfortable with nature. If you want to voluntarily fail on the tree, I’ll give you insp.”Sometimes you want to skip over the whole thing “OK, you go out in the woods and gather up some various types of fruits and berries, we can hand wave the whole thing let’s say the trip took two hours. That’s four monster checks, OK with you guys?”To even find out which of these it’s time to use, you need to know more about the situation and the context and the time-scale you are in and things like that. Not so much about intent but a lot about execution and about the surrounding context.

    IOW, that’s why having insp as one of several, often better options is something that leads you away from just unthinkingly rolling d20 checks all the time and back into actually thinking about, and doing things with and in, the shared imagined space. It helps you engage “cloud” and not just “dice”.

    God, Vincent is probably rolling his eyes in his grave reading my super cargo culty re-appropriation of his terminology rn but it’s the fastest way to make the point.

    Paul, if you want to talk more about the IIEE stuff please go to that thread instead.

  • I can only conclude that the games you run are wildly different from any 5e D&D game I've ever encountered; I've played in several, with multiple different GMs, and none of them have ever managed to make inspiration work. The GM just has too much to do to track all the stuff that's supposed to be involved in it and there's nothing to tie it to to remind us it exists, so everyone at the table ends up forgetting about it.

    I don't think it stands particularly well as a teaching mechanic, unless the GM is really focusing on it. Similarly, "The existance of the insp mechanic is part of what gives 5e resolution as a whole its teeth in the first place. It’s an affordance that it’s allowed to just fail. It’s OK to just take a loss. " seems like two completely separate ideas to me - the resolution mechanic does not need an "its okay to take a loss" mechanic to have "teeth" unless you are using that term in a way I am not familiar with - I am accustomed to it in the sense of "Has power" and considering that the resolution system already has the power to kill your character, I don't know that it needs any more teeth. I in fact feel that the point of Inspiration is to take some of the teeth OUT of the resolution system, so it is at best confusing to me for you to assert that the whole system doesn't work without it, because that's contrary to every experience I've had.
  • The whole system certainly doesn't work *for me* without at least some focus on Inspiration, but I agree, and Sandra seems to as well, that 5E does *function* without it.

    Come to think of it, I'd say the way that *I've* given 5E's resolution mechanics teeth is by giving XP on a failure. Because that XP is a strong reminder to the GM to make failed rolls matter.
  • Sandra,

    I looked over that thread and I missed the one quote which was relevant. You posted it here, so thank you! It's this, but it got lost in a much longer paragraph I only skimmed over:
    2097 said:

    Sometimes you go “Wait, you said character is a town merchant, uncomfortable with nature. If you want to voluntarily fail on the tree, I’ll give you insp.”

    That makes sense as a technique.

    I must say that, as Airk outlines above (I agree with his post, broadly speaking), that's not a thing I've ever considered doing in D&D or seen a D&D GM do. I suppose it's fairly logical, especially to someone coming from a background of Fate compels, but, in practice, the GM never remembers all the PCs' Traits well enough to use it as resolution technique. I can see someone coming up with that idea, but I've never heard it articulated or used like this before - I don't think it's suggested by the rules text at all.

    (It would also need to be player-initiated, I think, to be practical - e.g. four PCs times five Traits is 20 Insp triggers for one DM to keep track of... tough.)

    Still, it sounds like a good tool! I'll keep it in my back pocket if I ever play 5e again. (Although the only game I can imagine wanting to rejoin doesn't really use Inspiration much at all, in my experience!)
  • Airk, thanks for being chill and not escalating, much appreciated♥

    By 'teeth', as discussed in that thread, I mean things that help you know when to do things in in terms of numbers/stats/dice vs when to do things by make-believing in the shared imagined space. Again, 'teeth' seems to have become polysemic in this thread.

    Let me try to make this point in another way:

    Compels in Fate teach people that it's OK to just fail without rolling. If you want to and if it makes sense for your character. To me that's interesting and valuable and it's been hard for some people I play with to grasp until we got 5e. In 'dice&cloud'-terms, it helps us spend much more of our time in the 'cloud'. It's part of what makes us always have 'what does this situation mean for me?' in mind.
    That's the power.

    In general, capable characters limited by voluntary subtractive mechanics is a big, powerful shift from low-capable characters using low-numbered ostensibly 'additive' mechanics as their interface with the world.

    The additive model: My character's Persuasion score is how I interface with the world. It's the 'button' I want to push in order to get NPCs to do what I want. (Called additive b/c a high score could 'add', augment your character's abilities above your own. Obv a low score could be lower than your own abilities. If you're playing WFRP that's probably the case. Whiff-factor roleplaying.)

    The subtractive model: To say it, say it. But if I deliberately give in or take a loss, in accordance with my character, I'll be rewarded.

    I've found that engaging via the subtractive model has many benefits but most of them center around the dice/cloud relationship, making it more 'cloud'. And, what's awesome is that you have the choice to not give in.

    Like, last session the only dice we rolled were for random encounters & the rumor table. Social situations were handled by participants giving in voluntarily. Exploration situations were handled finchian style. And the one fight was avoided by use of a spell (a cantrip no less). This lack of rolling isn't necessarily awesome. The awesome part is that we don't automatically and mindlessly reach for the dice. We do that when an outcome is truly in doubt. And since the mechanics have given us a culture of voluntary giving in, we less often have to actually go to Fortune to resolve. The "OK let's say I do fall down that tree" school of play. That's a pretty powerful mechanic.

    Everway ahilh was a great predecessor in being a game that very early was explicit in giving guidelines for when to resolve randomly and when to use circumstances of situation combined with either the character's capabilities (Karma) or destiny (Drama). But it can sometimes chafe, 5e is better at putting more of that choice in the hands of the players, which I prefer. Karma = Finchian finding, Drama = Lawsian token shenanigans, Fortune = ability checks.

    A lot of my thinking about this does come from that I ran Fate before running 5e. 5e has worked better for us. But every GMs/DMs journey is different.
  • The 'keep track of 20 traits' thing: just learn to recognize 'giving in'. Learn to recognize flashlight dropping in its many forms. Over time get to know your characters and once you do, you can try suggesting compels.
    If you're weaving it into the traits into your prep, putting ghost aunts onto your roll tables etc, well, then you can make a note there about who to compel when auntie agatha comes a-knockin'.
  • edited April 2018
    No worries; I apologize for my earlier choice of words - it's just that I've seen this mechanic fail at the table so many times that it's easy to be harsh with it.

    I find your additive/subtractive model pretty apt, but I can't help but feel like the only reason the "subtractive" parts function here is because people want the bonus for their additive later because SO MUCH of D&D is hardwired around the additive model still.

    To put it another way: I feel like inspiration works for you not because you have house ruled inspiration, per se, but because you have houseruled a large part of the rest of the game. I don't think the mechanics of D&D 5E have given you a "culture of giving in". I think you have developed that on your own. Inspiration is like a magic feather here.

    Also, I find it very interesting that your view of inspiration seems almost entirely focused on voluntary failure -- I agree with Paul that this is something that is not even suggested by the rules, and something I've never even really seen anyone else discussing Inspiration consider as a way to use it.

    I think the disconnect here is that if I watched you play your game, I probably wouldn't even recognize it at as D&D 5e. This is not a bad thing -- I don't particularly LIKE D&D 5e, and it seems like you've made a heapton of improvements, but I feel like representing the way things work in your game as the way things work in D&D5e as written and as played by most people is not necessarily accurate.
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