How Does Inspiration Work in D&D 5e

Our Obsession With Inspiration

I’ll be the first to admit that I visit those business sections in book stores. I love reading memoirs about people who have done great things — the opportunity to learn from leaders like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates is always treasured. The same can be said for companies like 37 Signals with Rework and Facebook with The Facebook Effect.

But when I see that people like Maria Bartiromo, a financial news anchor at CNBC, with a head shot and a title called The 10 Laws of Enduring Success, I can’t help but be brought back to reality; all these people want is to make a profit from selling you inspiration. (I’m still waiting for Charlie Sheen’s book.)

The Internet is not so different. There are websites dedicated to doing nothing more than providing people with inspiration. This is exemplary in the creative industry, where entire blogs are dedicated to little more than this task alone. But they are some of the most popular blogs within the industry.

You’ll find that people are enamored with posts like “10 Ways To Be More Productive” or “100 Ways To Become Inspired.” It is this content that immediately gets the creative juices flowing. It provides a shot of adrenaline, one which many people seek to take advantage of.

The content itself isn’t bad, but the way people utilize it is.

On a Psychological Level

In terms of psychology, two particular factors play a big role in what happens when we become inspired: values and self-worth.

  Values Matter

When we discover our muse and dignify it with constant action, we start living according to our values.

Our personal values are very important as they influence the way we show ourselves to the world. They truly matter to us. Dr. John DeMartini asserted that: “when we are living out of alignment with our values, we are more likely to manifest addictive behavior, self-sabotage, and procrastination in our lives. When we are living within our values, we experience better memory retention, focus, and productivity” (4).

This leads us to the conclusion that our brain is constantly filtering information according to our value system. The more we recognize and live according to what we believe is truly important in life, the better chance we have to take inspired action.

  Self-worth Supports

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-brake on.” – Maxwell Maltz

Inspiration lifts that handbrake and brings more sense of freedom into our life. With freedom comes your sense of authenticity. Willingness to learn, grow and pursue your passion result as well. It isn’t easy to believe in yourself if there is very little inspiration in your life. Think about that the next time you have the urge to ignore your inner impulses.

When we stop disowning what matters to us, we have more energy and vitality to achieve the life we desire.


Inspiration is contagious

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best. — Epictetus

An inspirational person spreads inspiration everywhere. When you have inspirational people in your organization it affects other employees in a positive way. They’ll feel motivated and try to give their best. It’ll also encourage healthy competition at work.

Eliminating Distractions

We have problems with working hard. We want to maximize profits with the least potential amount of work. This is why books like 4-Hour Workweek exist and are best sellers. But even though it is possible to maximize return on the least amount of effort, it rarely results in the type of work that would be classified as quality or worthwhile. Timothy Ferris is happy to tell you that you can make a living from four hours of work, but he didn’t tell you that his book probably required hundreds (if not thousands) of hours to write. Think about it.

Working hard is difficult when you consider all of the distractions — Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. — that prevent us from achieving great results. It is difficult to remain focused at the tasks at hand when you have chirps and dings making you aware that there is a world of information and inspiration awaiting you on the Internet.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I was addicted to Facebook and Twitter. At one point I even counted using these services as work. But to justify my Tweeting and Facebooking as work was silly. If we worked hard to produce something amazing in the first place, those connections would probably come as a result. (Of course, networking should be a part of everyone’s business, but if you don’t put in the hours to create an amazing product, no amount of followers will do you much good.)

Infographic by . | CC

So I make it a habit of mine to turn off access to the Internet when I go to work. I only turn it on when absolutely necessary and I only open tabs to websites that I need to do research. Everything else is eliminated from view.

Once I have eliminated distractions and start working, things seemingly go on autopilot and I start to produce results. I’m sure this is true for many others who are in the creative industry. To allow someone or something to distract you at this point of focus is, for a lack of a better word, crazy.

What is inspiration? Part 5: Creating your inspiration strategy

It starts by deliberately monitoring the things that inspire you the most. Write them down. Then, incorporate them into your work flow, so that you can get into an inspired state when you need to, rather than just when it randomly occurs.

What works for me?

I incorporated a walk into my work flow when I discovered that it was how most of my best ideas came to me. I also learned that if I read my email first thing in the morning, it took my focus away from creating. So, my workday starts with a walk, followed by the commitment to write 500 words or solve a problem, before I start on my email.

Just as Peter De Vries made sure to be inspired at 9am each workday, we too need to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and proactively seek inspiration – doing what works for us.

Build a recipe that works for you, then use it every time you need to do some creative work or find a creative answer. Don’t wait for inspiration. Deliberately encourage it.

How I Run Inspiration in My Campaigns – 5 Homebrew Rules

As I mentioned earlier, I run Inspiration slightly different in my games.

Inspiration is still awarded by the Dungeon Master for roleplaying that adds to the story. Similarly, it’s awarded when that roleplaying reinforces the character or develops them in some way.

It still grants advantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.

But that’s where I prefer to change things up.

Joab’s Inspiration Homebrew 1

I also like to allow Inspiration to be used to give another creature disadvantage on a roll.

This is particularly useful in those moments where you really want them to fail their saving throw.

It’s also useful if you have just found out that the enemy hits like a truck and you, as a squishy wizard, are dangerously close to them.

Joab’s Inspiration Homebrew 2

You can use your Inspiration for someone else.

Let’s say that your Fighter just found themselves making eye contact with a Medusa. They don’t have Inspiration and unsurprisingly don’t want to be turned to stone.

You hand the DM your Inspiration token to give the Fighter advantage on their saving throw to resist the Medusa’s gaze.

While this is somewhat similar to the written rules, I feel that it’s more “in the moment.” Rather than giving up your Inspiration for the other player to use at their discretion, you are able to determine what it’s used for.

Joab’s Inspiration Homebrew 3

Inspiration can be used on death saving throws.

I wouldn’t see why not. There are few situations in which you need Inspiration more than when you’re literally trying to cling onto life.

If you have Inspiration, use it.

Joab’s Inspiration Homebrew 4

Players can call for Inspiration.

Now, this is not meant to be exploited and Inspiration is still at the DMs discretion.

However, I find that it greatly helps the players feel like they’re on the same team when they can suggest that another player get Inspiration for something they’ve done.

Let’s face it, compliments just feel good. If you’ve done something awesome and the table starts cheering, you’re going to feel really good about yourself. It’s those moments where your fellow players can call for the DM to give you Inspiration.

In my experience on either side of the DM screen, the DM will typically give Inspiration by popular demand.

Plus (and I know that this is a hot take) no Dungeon Master is perfect. We forget about Inspiration… a lot… and this helps remind us that “oh yeah, that’s a thing!”

Joab’s Inspiration Homebrew 5

I’ve had good results with one of my groups when using Inspiration at the start of the game.

Before we get going, I like to do a quick recap of what happened in the previous game. The goal is to get the players’ minds focused on the story and to talk about their character’s interpretation of whatever happened.

This quickly gets them to the table, into their characters’ mindsets, and ready to progress the story.

If someone is missing from the table once we’re done with the recap, they don’t start the session with Inspiration. Of course, they can still get it while playing, but nobody wants to miss the free Inspiration.

Does breathing involve inspiration and expiration?

The greater the volume of the lungs, the lower the air pressure within the lungs. Pulmonary ventilation consists of the process of inspiration (or inhalation), where air enters the lungs, and expiration (or exhalation), where air leaves the lungs.

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Chase smaller goals

You’ll not find a task boring or difficult if you divide it in smaller parts. Make these smaller parts your daily goals. And, start working to complete them one by one. This way you’ll be able to achieve big targets with complete ease.

Inspiration is not the same as positive affect

Compared to the normal experiences of everyday life, inspiration involves elevated levels of positive affect and task involvement, and lower levels of negative affect. Inspiration is not the same state as positive affect, however. Compared to being in an enthusiastic and excited state, people who enter an inspired state (by thinking of a prior moment they were inspired) reported greater levels of spirituality and meaning, and lower levels of volitional control, controllability, and self-responsibility for their inspiration. Whereas positive affect is activated when someone is making progress toward their immediate, conscious goals, inspiration is more related to an awakening to something new, better, or more important: transcendence of one’s previous concerns.

Inspiration facilitates progress toward goals

In a recent study conducted by Marina Milyavskaya and her colleagues, college students were asked to report three goals they intended to accomplish throughout the course of the semester. They then reported on their progress three times a month. Those who scored higher on the Inspiration Scale displayed increased goal progress, and their progress was a result of setting more inspired goals. Therefore, people who were generally more inspired in their daily lives also tended to set inspired goals, which were then more likely to be successfully attained. Importantly, the relationship between inspiration and goal progress was reciprocal: goal progress also predicted future goal inspiration. As the researchers note, “this suggests that goal progress and goal inspiration build on each other to form a cycle of greater goal inspiration and greater goal pursuit.” Finally, inspired individuals reported experiencing more purpose in life and more gratitude.


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