Dungeons & Dragons 5e Inspiration Mechanic

Last week I wrote a piece about the Dungeons & Dragons 5e advantage and disadvantage mechanic. This week, I’d like to follow that up with another look at a mechanic that I think makes the Dungeons & Dragons 5e core rules set fantastic (especially for new players and DM’s). The Dungeons & Dragons 5e inspiration mechanic (Pg. 125, PHB), which allows the DM (at their discretion) to grant a PC advantage on an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check.

The Dungeons & Dragons 5e inspiration mechanic
The D&D 5e inspiration mechanic can help to overcome new player misgivings towards roleplay.

“Inspiration is a rule the Dungeon 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.” (Pg. 125, PHB)

Essentially, DM’s can use inspiration to encourage good roleplaying. This is a fantastic way to get new players immersed in the game! In my experience, roleplaying is one of the harder things to get new players to embrace. They are unsure of themselves, they’ve never done it before, they are afraid that they are going to look like a fool. The Dungeons & Dragons 5e inspiration mechanic can help to overcome new player misgivings towards roleplay by giving a tangible, and useful reward.

“Typically DM’s 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.” (Pg. 125, PHB)

This grants a great deal of leeway and interpretation on the part of the DM to reward players with inspiration for good roleplaying. Especially the last sentence… “otherwise portray your character in a compelling way.” What does that look like? How is that played out? Who decides what is compelling character portrayal? The DM decides, and if you use the mechanic well, you can encourage your PC’s to roleplay more often, and in creative ways that support the story, you are building together.

Try using tokens to represent inspiration, making it easier to track and to make it more tangible for your players. Personally, I use the tokens (pictured above) included with the Dungeons & Dragons: Attack Wing Miniature booster packs (mostly because minis, and I think they look cool.) But anything will work (checkers, poker chips, coins etc.) When my PC’s engage in a bit of exceptionally good roleplay I toss them a token. They love it, and it’s easier for me to track who has inspiration because they have to turn the token back in when using their advantage.

How about you? What do you think of the Dungeons & Dragons 5e inspiration mechanic? How do you use it in your game? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. Don’t forget to follow  on Twitter in July to be entered to win a new copy of “Elminster’s Forgotten Realms” Details here –> Time for a Roll Stats Giveaway!

8 thoughts on “Dungeons & Dragons 5e Inspiration Mechanic

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  1. I like the idea of the i iration mechanic, but I thought it was.a bit half-finished. I had considered tweaking it to be more like the traditional Fate/plot/hero point mechanic in other games, but never got around to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it does feel a bit shallow, but I actually don’t mind that it is half-finished. It’s the concept that is great, and since it is not granularly defined it makes it easier to apply to other parts of your game. It doesn’t have to apply only PC’s playing their character in a way that’s true to his or her personality traits, ideal, bond, and flaw.It could be applied in many creative ways to encourage behavior you like to see in your players. For me, it’s the introduction of dangling a carrot that is kind of cool.


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