Content of the article: "Inspiration: a powerful teaching tool"
Before starting, this is based only on my personal experience. It may not apply to your player group specifically.
As a player, I always thought the inspiration system was kinda stupid. Most DM's don't use it, and the ones who do most likely only give inspiration to jokes or if they really want you to pass that ability check and reveal the great plotpoint that wouldn't otherwise be accessible.
I DM'd sometimes in the past, but never bothered trying to use Inspiration because of those reasons. But november last year, I decided to start a homebrew campaign with newbie players. And OH BOY, WAS I WRONG ABOUT IT.
Inspiration is by far one of the best teaching tools avaliable in the DMG, as long as you use it correctly. Most of my players are newbies, as I said previously. And in the first session (as expected) they weren't very comfortable with roleplaying. For the duration of the session, I took notes as best as I could of little things they did while roleplaying that I enjoyed. Then, after the session I told them privately that they recieved Inspiration and listed the reasons why. Doing it at the end of the session is the way i prefer to do, since it doesn't feel like a competition to see who is "the best roleplayer". They enjoyed it a lot, and in the second session roleplayed a lot better because of it (and of course because of the experience of roleplaying for the first time).
Last friday, in Session 5, my Monk player openly discussed part of his backstory in a very cool moment that allowed me to make advancements in the Sorcerer player relevance. They discussed the visions they had, while sharing the magical items they had previously raided from a tomb. They talked for almost 30 minutes with the tavernkeeper to learn new information, all in character, which gave me insight about some of their personality traits and how they perceive their own character. The Bard player even improv'd a new fact about her background, which I (as an experienced player) still can't do it as effectively. Why?
I'm not giving them Inspiration because I want them to roll something with advantage. Nor I care about they rolling without it. The mechanical benefit is not that important, but it feels like it is. Yes, they can use Inspiration to make their badass characters look even more badass by getting the final blow, or to ensure their character pass that Fireball dex save. But most importantly: They feel rewarded.
They're able to understand that I apreciate when they roleplay with passion, and they enjoy being told they're doing the right thing. Then, they'll try to roleplay more, and as a consequence they acquire more experience. And I of course will reward them with Inspiration at the end of the session if they've done a good job (And when you're dealing with a non-disruptive player, the answer is likely yes). And even in the case that most of your players don't enjoy roleplaying as much and prefer to kill stuff, they will try to roleplay more if you reward them with Inspiration for it (It's more effective).
Rewarding Inspiration is wonderful, specially to new players.
TL;DR: Don't feel afraid to reward Inspiration. The mechanical benefit is very small but it's enough to reinforce your player's good behaviors (I personally prefer to give inspiration after the session, in private). Having them being constantly reminded that good roleplay and caring for the group can be fun and give them small, but cool, mechanical benefits is a powerful way to teach new players.
- How to use inspiration in groups that already roleplay a lot?
- Why I Don’t Use Inspiration
- How to get your Players to develop their characters thoughts while also showering them with Inspiration
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