I’m preparing to run some 5E again, and I don’t want to run inspiration RAW; as Adam has hacked it for CoS, I thought this was reasonably relevant here, but feel free to punt it to General if you prefer (maybe we could add a simple “D&D” tag?)
RAW inspiration feels problematic on both the earning and spending sides. I think the earning side is inherently looser and is best tailored to the campaign; I appreciate how Adam has connected it to his setting via the cards and am curious to see the players further engage with that. Steven’s flashback system in West Marches also worked well especially given its rotating format. I think I’ll just focus on having the PCs choose/design solid ideals and bonds that translate into concrete decisions and actions, which should be sufficiently “significant” to merit an inspiration award, but that’s unavoidably arbitrary … in my group it has tended to distill down to obvious cool or funny moments that enrich the table, regardless of whether it was hard roleplay. Be that as it may, I’m more concerned with inspiration spending than earning.
I don’t think inspiration functions well as a binary charge that only grants advantage. In my experience, players that have the charge hesitate to use it (and new players often forget it), especially if the GM follows the written guideline of awarding it once per player per session (I don’t). And often when the player does wish to use their inspiration to improve their chances on a critical role, they are unable to because they already have advantage on the role for whatever reason (I certainly encourage players to argue for situational advantage based on fictional positioning). Furthermore, the binary charge means that the GM cannot further reward the player if they already have it. I want inspiration to feel more fluid and enable the PCs to potentially achieve epic feats in the moments that matter most to them.
What I’m considering: Rather than a binary charge, let players store multiple charges of inspiration. Not an unlimited pool, but one that scales with the proficiency bonus, so that a new PC can store 2 inspiration charges, increasing to 3 charges at 5th level, and so on. This means more powerful characters will be able to use their inspiration more powerfully, because once they have advantage on a roll, they will have the option to expend additional inspiration charges to add +5 to the same roll for each charge spent. Thus a fully-inspired 5th level PC could spend all three of their charges to gain advantage and +10 to a roll, or +15 if they already have advantage by other means. This is obviously powerful and lets PCs almost certainly succeed on mid-range difficulties, and even try for the impossible – but they’re supposed to be heroic/exceptional folks, so I think it fits (I’d probably want them to connect the use of inspiration back to their ideal/bond, within reason). Mostly I’m drawn to letting PCs use inspiration as a more flexible resource to better transcend the chaos plateau in those critical moments. Maybe +3 per charge is more reasonable … or maybe the roll bonus should also link with proficiency, hmm.
Anyway, playtesting definitely needed, but I wondered if anyone might have feedback or similar ideas that have (or haven’t) worked. Cheers!