Today I'm putting the backgrounds work on hold for just a bit longer, because I want to talk about something else. As you may have guessed from the title, I'm talking about Inspiration points. Inspiration is a mechanic in D&D 5e that rewards players for doing what they're supposed to be doing. A player who plays their character in a spectacular manner my receive inspiration at a vital moment. Depending on how the DM decides to run the game, the DM may be the one awarding the inspiration, or it might be the other players at the table.
But let's talk about how to make inspiration work for you. Inspiration confers advantage on pretty much any roll. Because inspiration is burned after use, it's best to save them for critical moments where failure would be really awful. Examples of this include stabilizing a dying character or succeeding on that skill check to avoid falling into the bottomless chasm below. Failing either of these would mean serious repercussions, so spending inspiration to pass them is probably a good idea. On the other hand, inspiration doesn't accumulate. You either have it or you don't, there is no accruing of multiple instances of inspiration. So use it frequently at critical junctures. Simply put, use it, but not frivolously.
Also, award it often. If your GM is using the variant where players award inspiration, use it as praise for others when they do things you enjoy or otherwise contribute to the game. This incentivizes the player to continue doing those awesome things you like, and it aids in the success of the player and the group as a whole. Don't be stingy with it.
Most importantly, try to earn it. Even if it is being given freely, you should be playing your character faithfully so as to position yourself for these moments. Don't hog the spotlight, but make sure your character is getting the time and attention they need to shine through and be recognized for their successes.
As always, I focus my advice on D&D because it's the most common tabletop roleplaying game out there, but this also applies to other games. For example, the Warhammer 40K RPG line has a built in fate mechanic that allows for re-rolls or bonuses, which functions similar to the inspiration mechanics present in D&D. The tips above apply to these as well. And if your DM isn't using inspiration or something similar, talk to them about it. As a DM, I myself was skeptical at first, but looking at it now, I don't really see why I was so hesitant.
I hope you enjoyed this and the rest of the content by Digital & Dice. If you would like to read further on this topic, consider checking out my post "Inspiration, Fate, and Meta-Currency" over on my personal blog. Until next time…Game on Internets!
- Draconick, Digital and Dice Contributor
I, Nick “Draconick” Johnson, am a writer and roleplaying enthusiast with over ten years of experience in various tabletop roleplaying games both as a player and as a GM. I am also somewhat involved in other forms of tabletop gaming such as wargaming, board games, and card games. It is my hope that by creating and maintaining this website that I can share my unique take on all things within our hobby and to foster a community of like-minded individuals.