Awarding inspiration is an effective way to encourage roleplaying and risk-taking. As explained in the Player’s Handbook, having inspiration gives a character an obvious benefit: being able to gain advantage on one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw. Remember that a character can have no more than one inspiration at a time.

Think of inspiration as a spice that you can use to enhance your campaign. Some DMs forgo using inspiration, while others embrace it as a key part of the game. If you take away anything from this section, remember this golden rule: inspiration should make the game more enjoyable for everyone. Award inspiration when players take actions that make the game more exciting, amusing, or memorable. As a rule of thumb, aim to award inspiration to each character about once per session of play. Over time, you might want to award inspiration more or less often, at a rate that works best for your table.

Offering inspiration as a reward encourages certain types of behavior in your players. Think of your style as a DM and your group’s preferences. What helps make the game more fun for your group? What type of action fit in with your campaign’s style or genre? Your answer to those questions help determine when you award inspiration.

Using inspiration to reward roleplaying is a good place to start for most groups. Reward a player with inspiration when that player causes his or her character to do something that is consistent with the character’s personality trait, flaw, or bond. The character’s action should be notable in some way. It might drive the story forward, push the adventurers into danger, or make everyone at the table laugh. In essence. you reward the player for roleplaying in a way that makes the game more enjoyable for everyone else. Take into account each player’s roleplaying style, and try not to favor one style over another. For example, Allison might be comfortable speaking in an accent and adopting her character’s mannerisms, but Paul feels self-conscious when trying to act and prefers to describe his characters attitude and actions. Neither style is better than the other. Inspiration encourages players to take part and make a good effort, and awarding it fairly makes the game better for everyone.

You can use inspiration to encourage player characters to take risks. A fighter might not normally hurl himself over a balcony to land in the mid of a pack of hungry ghouls, but you can reward the character’s daring maneuver with inspiration. Such a reward tells the players that you want them to embrace swashbuckling action.

A Reward for Victory.
Gaining inspiration as a reward when the characters achieve an important goal or victory, representing a surge of confidence and energy. Under this model, give everyone in the party inspiration if the characters manage to defeat a powerful foe, execute a cunning plan to achieve a goal, or otherwise overcome a daunting obstacle in the campaign.

Genre Emulation.
Inspiration is a handy tool for reinforcing the conventions of a particular genre. Under this approach, think of the motifs of a genre as personality traits, flaws, and bonds that can apply to any of the adventurers. For example, in a campaign inspired by film noir, characters could have an additional flaw: “I can’t resist helping a person I find alluring despite warnings that he or she is nothing but trouble.” If the characters agree to help a suspicious but seductive noble and thereby become entangled in a web of intrigue and betrayal, reward them with inspiration. Similarly, characters in a horror story typically can’t help but spend a night in a haunted house to learn its secrets. They probably also go off alone when they shouldn’t. If the party splits up, consider giving each character inspiration. A sensible person would avoid the noble’s intrigues and the haunted house, but in film noir or horror, we’re not dealing with sensible people; we’re dealing with protagonists in a particular type of story. For this approach to work, create a list of your genre’s main conventions and share it with your players. Before the campaign begins, talk about the list to make sure your group is on board for embracing those conventions.

Players and Inspiration.
Remember that a player with inspiration can award it to another player. Some groups even like to treat inspiration as a group resource, deciding collectively when to spend it on a roll. It’s best to let players award their inspiration as they see fit, but feel free to talk to them about following certain guidelines, particularly if you’re trying to reinforce conventions of a certain genre.

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