I’ve kludged together a lot of thoughts about inspiration in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition in this post. I’m almost certain I’ve mentioned some of these in various places around the internet, so forgive me if a few of them are familiar. Hopefully, some of the new ideas are worth it if you’ve seen them before.
In addition to making the rules around inspiration a little more robust, I also wanted to rope in a few optional rules from the Dungeon Master’s Guide that I liked, but never seemed popular on their own. Most of these rules are just using optional DMG rules only when a player spends inspiration to make the optional rule “active.”
If you use this system for spending inspiration to power access to these optional rules, you may wish to limit the times when you award Inspiration to the triggers provided in the article, so spending Inspiration in this way is a meaningful choice, and to limit the amount of time player spend trying to gain Inspiration.
Inside My Head: Part of the idea of using the "missing by 1-2" range to trigger the awarding or use of Inspiration is to have an excuse to give context to the player character's actions, and to make them feel more competent while adding in their traits. For example, a character that fails by two, but explains how their flaw made them overconfident, for example, makes that die roll feel less random and more like the players's choices about their characters matter more.
Additionally, some players do not want to include random elements that might have negative effects towards their characters, but if you give them the option to include those elements at various points in the game, they may be more likely to enjoy those options in context. Awarding Inspiration for introducing these elements into the narrative is an attempt to bridge the gap between more randomness and a more controlled environment in the game.
Living Dangerously: Mixing Potions
If a character does not currently have Inspiration, if they drink a second potion while under the effects of a previous potion, and they accept a roll on the Potion Miscibility table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, they may gain a point of Inspiration.
Living Dangerously: Scroll Mishaps
If a character does not currently have inspiration, and they fail to cast a spell successfully from a scroll, they may accept a roll on the Scroll Mishap table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide to gain Inspiration.
Some of these rules are predicated on a margin of failure triggering an option. In this case, we are looking at rolls that fail by 1 or 2. Failing by 1-2 allows the following rules to trigger:
- Explain your failure
- Reverse your failure
If the character does have inspiration, they may spend Inspiration to succeed on the roll instead of failing, if they can explain why one of their traits would drive them towards success, and the explanation is acceptable to everyone.
If a character is incapacitated, paralyzed, or stunned, and that character can make a save on their turn, if they fail that save, and they have Inspiration, they may spend Inspiration to end the condition. This means that when rolling saves against these effects, it's more effective to spend Inspiration after the failed save than to spend it when rolling the saving throw.
In addition, when rolling a death save, a character may spend Inspiration after a failed save to automatically succeed instead.
If a character has five uninterrupted minutes and inspiration, they may spend their inspiration to take a short rest in that time.
Once per short or long rest, a character may spend their inspiration as an action on their turn to spend up to half of their hit dice to heal themselves. They may do this during a normal combat round.
Under certain circumstances, characters may choose to roll on the Lingering Injuries table to receive inspiration. The circumstances under which they may choose to receive a lingering injury is as follows:
- When taking a critical hit
- Dropping to 0 hit points without dying outright
- When failing a death save
This puts the risk versus reward decision in the hands of the player. In some instances, having Inspiration available (such as for a final death save) will be worth the trade off for the potential severity of the injury.
Whenever a character does 50% of a creature’s hit points with a single attack, from a single source (not just aggregate on their turn), the character may spend Inspiration to cause the creature to make a System Shock constitution save, as noted in the DMG. If the creature fails the save, they roll on the system shock table to see what happens.