Laidback DM: New Approaches to Inspiration Rewards

Laidback DM - stevestillstanding

D&D fifth edition (or 5e) has this lovely little bonus for players called ‘inspiration’. It’s an extra d20 that is awarded to the player for doing something cool, great role playing, etc. They can use it to re-roll a d20 roll they’ve failed. It’s a groovy concept, but it is a bit limiting (they can only have one at a time), and I’m one of those DMs who often forgets to give it out. Doh!

Laidback DM -
I was ‘inspired’ to take this photo. Yeah, I know. Sorry.

This is complicated by the fact that some players are more extraverted or better role players than others, which can make it a bit harder for others to shine. As DM, it’s our job to ensure everyone gets their time in the sun, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier to award inspiration!

If you’re like me, maybe you need a new approach to inspiration awards. Here’s a few ways you can up the ante with inspiration:

1.Inspiration Pool – each time the party does something great as a team—like working together to cross a tricky ravine or solving a puzzle collectively—award the party an inspiration d20, added to a pool in the centre. This can be drawn on by anyone in the party (as agreed by the team). The pool can be carried over from game to game and has no limit.

2.Multiple Player Inspiration Awards – each player starts the game with an inspiration d20. During the game they can award their inspiration die to any other player, but not themselves. A player can be awarded multiple d20s.

3.End of Adventure Inspiration Awards – everyone receives a d20 inspiration at the end of each game session—the contribution and inclusion award. It has to be used before the end of the next session (yes, this is a lazy way of doing it, but it does make your job easier).

4.Fate Points – the Fate Core game has ‘Fate points’, allowing players to invoke or compel aspects during the game. The DMG includes a system called ‘hero points’. Fate Points in D&D would not be limited by the hero point rules. Each player would have 5 Fate Points per game to spend on d20 re-rolls, no matter what type of d20 roll it is—including an NPC’s roll. This gives players a LOT of heroic leeway, but is fun nonetheless (especially when multiple rolls fail, lol).

5.Inspiration Fails – the player is awarded an inspiration die when they fail a skill roll. Sort of a reward for screwing up—“better luck next time”. The normal inspiration rules apply i.e. one die per player until used, but means they should get more inspiration dice on average per game.

I hope you were inspired by these ideas, if not the bad pun.

Keep on gaming!


Steve 🙂

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Published by Laidback DM

I’m a writer who loves tabletop role playing games, poetry and (you guessed it) writing.

7 thoughts on “Laidback DM: New Approaches to Inspiration Rewards

  1. I award an inspiration die when a player(s) do something cool, or probably more precise when they totally surprise me in an inventive way.
    I highly encourage the party to give their inspiration dice to a player in need, and this creates a cool sense of the party working together (in and outside the game).

    We also tend to forget about the inspiration dice, but it’s a fun thing, so don’t want to remove them. Been experimenting with different things representing the reward, and the best so far are big flashy gold coins 😀

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Cool! My parties write it on their sheets, but I like the idea of tokens. The only issue is all my players take their sheets home so writing it means they won’t forget if they don’t use it that session. I handout special cards for conditions, critical fumbles and initiative—I love physical elements in games. That’s the board gamer in me lol 🙂


  2. At the table I play at, the DMs rarely remember to hand out inspiration. We are somewhat limited in implementation because we are an Adventure League table, but I think I’m going to bring up some of these options. As bad as we’ve been rolling, we could use all the help we can get.

    Liked by 2 people

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