Fixing Inspiration in D&D 5E

Inspiration in Dungeons & Dragons 5E is a great concept that was poorly implemented. Dungeon Masters rarely remember to award Inspiration and players hoard the resource to use it at the right moment (which rarely comes). After level 5, player characters have so many varied means to gain Advantage they rarely need to use Inspiration. I’ve lost count of how many times my players, and fellow players in other campaigns, sat on Inspiration for weeks and months without using it.

So how do we fix such a poorly implemented but brilliant idea? Easy, you get rid of it. Just joking! Well, not really. Keep reading!

Inspiration is too tightly coupled with Advantage and Disadvantage in D&D 5E. The first thing we need to do is break up that relationship and help the mechanic find a less toxic one where it isn’t ignored so often. Instead of using Inspiration to affect Advantage and Disadvantage, like a thousand other mechanics and/or systems in D&D 5E, we change it to provide the player the ability to reroll a d20. Heck, I’m feeling generous. Let’s let the players reroll their damage too if they really want to. But they have to use the second result, no matter what. Generosity only takes one so far, gotta have some limits! See, that wasn’t so hard.

  • Reroll a d20. Any time a d20 is rolled, you can reroll the d20 check and use whichever result is better.
  • Reroll damage. You can reroll damage from a single attack, spell, or effect. You must use the second result, even if it’s worse.

There, I think that solves half of the problems but the problems with the distribution of Inspiration and encouraging players to use it still remain. Well, I have some fixes for those problems too.

Before I dive into those solutions though, I think a name change is in order. First, I lift the restriction of only having Inspiration once. Then again, saying I have 2, 3, or more Inspirations sounds a little silly. So I am going to change Inspiration to Hero Points. There is no cap to the number of Hero Points a player has, but Hero Points are not carried over to the next game session. Use em, or lose em!

The Dungeon Master should still be handing out Hero Points as they see fit but that should not be its only source. In fact, I think Hero Points should be awarded for a number of good reasons. And the player should be allowed to have more than one Hero Point at a time. The best way to encourage players to use their Hero Points is to give them out early and often. Like when each game session starts, after important moments in the game, when things go really bad, and heck, let the players give out Hero Points as well. Let’s codify that idea.

  • Players begin every session with 2 Hero Points.
  • At the Whims of the Dungeon Master. The DM should award Hero Points for cool moments, great roleplaying, meaningful sacrifice, or any other reason the DM sees fit to award it.
  • After a Long Rest. Each player gains 1 Hero Point after their character completes a Long Rest.
  • Rolling a Natural 1. After rolling a Natural 1, the player gains a Hero Point.
  • At an Encounter’s End. After completing a consequential exploration, social, or combat encounter, the Dungeon Master gives 1 Hero Point to a deserving player. In addition, the players should also choose one player to receive 1 Hero Point as they see fit. These Hero Points should be given to two different players.

These are the changes I have made at my table and it has worked out quite nicely. If you’re not happy with Inspiration in D&D 5E, give my Hero Points system a try to see if you like it better. And let me know in the comments below if Hero Points work for your game.

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Michael is a writer, gamer and life long fan of all things science fiction and horror.

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