Last Updated: September 15, 2021
In this episode of the RPGBOT.podcast, we discuss metacurrencies in tabletop RPGs, including things like DnD 5e’s Inspiration, Pathfinder 2e’s Hero Points, Savage World’s Bennies, and Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG’s Destiny Points. We discuss how they work and how to use them as a tool to assist storytelling in your game, as well as some possible variant rules to make DnD 5e’s Inspiration both more interesting and more impactful.
Materials Referenced in this Episode
- DnD 3.5’s Action Points, which are detailed in the 3rd edition source book Unearthed Arcana (affiliate link), available as a PDF on DMsGuild.com and available for free on d20srd.org
- DnD 5e’s Inspiration rules, which are available in the Basic Rules for free both as a PDF and on DnDbeyond.com
- DnD 5e’s Dungeon Masters Guide (affiliate link), which expands upon the core Inspiration rules on pages 240-241
- Pathfinder 2e’s Core Rulebook (affiliate link), which details Hero Points on pages 29, 467, and 507. The same rules are available for free on the Archives of Nethys.
- Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG’s Destiny Points, which is detailed in all three of core rulebooks, including pages 23 and 315 of Edge of the Empire (affiliate link).
- Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (affiliate link), also available as a PDF via DriveThruRPG (affiliate link)
Hey, this is Colby from the Critical Fails podcast. The humorous talk show where an actor, a teacher, and a writer discuss all the glorious ways we’ve failed game mastering, D&D, and other tabletop RPGs. We’re available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, or wherever you download your favorite podcasts from. I’ll be here on the RPG.podcast next week with Tyler, Random and Randall. Enjoy the show.
Welcome to the RPG bot dot podcast. This is Episode Three, our fourth episode. I’m Randall James, your peaceful protagonist and with me is Tyler Kamstra.
Awesome. And Random Powell.
Random Powell 01:01
Awesome, awesome. Tyler, what are we doing today?
We’re going to talk about metacurrencies in tabletop RPGs.
Tyler, what is a metacurrency?
So metacurrency is kind of an a mechanic which exists kind of above your game. So it’s a currency that you spend as a game mechanic rather than something that your character could carry around.
So so like that probably the most commonly known example is D&D 5e’s inspiration. So it’s, it’s something that you’re- that you as a player as a character have, but your character doesn’t know anything about it. But you as the player can choose to spend it to get something.
Okay, gotcha. And other I mean, other tabletop games have… I don’t want to say equivalent to that. But there are other metacurrency who are talking about,
Oh, yeah, tons. The idea of metacurrency is goes back and actually a really long time. One of the oldest examples I know of is from a generic RPG called savage worlds. They’re called Bennies. Basically you start every session with three of them. You get one for doing something cool and you spend a penny to do a couple of things. The most common one is just to reroll dice. You can also spend it to like not die and a couple of other important things. There’s a lot of like very recent examples Pathfinder second edition has a system called hero points, which are somewhere between bennies and inspiration, you can spend a hero point to reroll something. And you can also just dump all of your hero points to just stabilize while you’re dying. So you don’t die in the middle of a fight, which is really nice. Let’s see. So metacurrencies have existed in dungeons and dragons, at least back to third edition. The unearthed Arcana book published a system called action points, which they’re kind of similar to inspiration like you could spend one to reroll something. But you could also spend the points to do some cool stuff like use daily class features more often or apply a metamagic Feat to spells, things like that. And then that system got reprinted. I want to say three or four months later in the original, the very first original setting book forever on so a lot of people mistakenly think that action points was originally from Eberron. But Unearthed Arcana beat it to print by four months. Let’s see, probably my favorite metacurrency is Fantasy Flight. Star Wars has a system called destiny points, where instead of players accumulating the metacurrency, the metacurrency is a shared resource between both the players and the DM, the players spend it and essentially flip the metacurrency to the DM, who then has to spend it before they get it back. And the the initial state of that pool of metacurrency is rolled at the beginning of every session. So like, you might start a session where the DM has all of the metacurrency and you have none or the other way around. And that initial roll can do crazy stuff.
When your game master has to spend the metacurrency. are they spending the metacurrency against you?
Random Powell 04:18
I have been in a game of a Fantasy Flight Star Wars that Tyler ran. And these destiny points could let you do some real crazy stuff. I mean, pull off things that were impossible with straight dice rolls, and there’s a lot of leeway. Seeing how the GM chooses to spend them back, you know, this is one place that has a lot of leeway where the GM can say, “Alright, I want this person you’re fighting to do something which is really cool and defensive for them” so that we make the fight a more dynamic, more interesting story than just “Great, you kill them in three rounds.” Looking at your fifth edition. Or if your players are really strong, if this is the game you’re looking for, you can just say, “Yeah, he shoots you, it hurts a lot.” Right? And that’s, you know, while on the one hand, that’s not very fun as a story concept, it is a great way to balance if players have just built very strong optimized characters. And if that’s the game you’re going for, that’s a great way to do it.
Okay, so I’m going to get hung up on this, because that’s actually fascinating to me. So maybe two questions strategically, did you ever find player characters or the players themselves basically saying nobody spend the metacurrency? Because we’ve got a monopoly on it right now. And I don’t want to give it back to the game master.
Yeah. The the core rule books for Fantasy Flight Star Wars actually call that out as a problem with the system. Like they specifically say, “Hey, your players might just sit on the metacurrency. So that you can’t use that against them? And if they want to do that, that’s technically fine. You should tell them not to do that. But technically, they’re allowed to do it.”
Yeah, I mean, it makes sense. And right, it would be up to the scenario. And if I would say that if they’re that afraid to give it back to the game master, maybe the game master needs to reconsider what they’re doing with that metacurrency.
So it’s kind of a tactical decision. Sometimes, like, say, you’re a bunch of characters, like you’re a bunch of plucky Han Solo type characters out in space, and you know, this session, you’re going to meet Darth Vader, or some nonsense, you’re like, “Okay, everything’s on the line, we’re probably going to die. Let’s hang on to all of the metacurrency that we can get, because we’re going to need to spend it down all at once to just barely survive.” But yes, the the fact that you call that out so quickly, well done. Because usually it takes people a session or two to figure that out, just by playing the game. So for all you listening at home, if you figured that out on your own, just as quickly as Randall did.Good for you.
Nice. Nice. And then one more question. Does the does the available pool scale up?
Yes and no. So it’s, it’s a dice roll, and everyone at the table, including the GM rolls, so each, each person on the table rolls a force die, and it’s got pips on it. And that’s just how many points you get. So bigger pool for a larger Party, which just means there’s more for everybody.
I gotcha. So it scales with the number of player characters, but not with like the level of the characters within the game.
That makes sense? I do. As a quick aside, I have seen the dice. I think Random showed me the dice for fantasy flight’s [games]. And I’m just impressed that you could start a session by interpreting that and then actually be able to move on.
So yeah, boy, if you’re ever going to play Fantasy Flight Star Wars (and I think their Genesis system uses the same dice… I haven’t… I haven’t gotten to read it yet, so I’m not 100% sure) but the best thing you can do, just get the official dice roller app, it’s so much easier, because it’ll organize all your things. It’ll negate all the stuff, it’ll read the chicken entrails to you. It’s so much easier, like rolling the physical dice is very satisfying, but very confusing.
Random Powell 08:13
I will say just to tack on to that, though, that when those dice, I, when I did finally get to experience those dice, I almost wanted to drag them into every other role playing system that I’d used, because the room that it gives, for improvisation and interpretation is so fun. So once you do get used to those dice, actually using them to build a story: Amazing.
We should do an episode on that, because I’ve seen a lot of people suggest that for a lot of things, and yeah, we could talk about that for a while.
Yeah, I mean, that seems that seems real. I feel like it took Random about 25 minutes to explain to me how those dice work. So yeah, that’s probably an episode.
Yeah. Okay, so so let’s circle back to metacurrency. So, so inspiration, like I said, is probably the most prominent example but a lot of metacurrencies that I’ve seen work pretty similarly where the GM or DM is responsible for awarding those metacurrencies for doing something. In 5e it’s kind of vague but it’s basically you do something cool here’s inspiration as a basically a high five. Savage Worlds it’s pretty much the same thing like you do something cool and heroic? Cool, here’s a Bennie. Pathfinder second edition hero points. Same thing you do something smart, you do something heroic, you do something exciting, here’s a point. But the the problem that I have seen consistently from Dungeon Master’s like regardless of experience level (I’m sure there are better DMs out in the world than me. I’m 100% convinced of it) but it’s really hard to… to know when to give them and how frequently.
No, but before we hop into that, I guess one distinction. So, with the Savage World bennies, and with Pathfinder two, you also start each session with a bank of them, right?
And so maybe that’s one key differences with versus with inspiration and 5e. If you had it last session, you never used it, you should be able to carry it over. But… but you aren’t guaranteed to get one every time and if in fact, if you’re playing a long session, and as you said, if you’re if your Dungeon Master isn’t being conscious of that, you might actually go a whole session without ever getting the benefit.
Yeah, Savage World’s bennies are like a really central mechanic of the system. The dice mechanics are very swingy in Savage World. So the ability to reroll is really important for like, “Oh, my character’s, the world’s greatest hacker, I rolled a one to hack this guy’s Palm Pilot. I’m going to spend a bennie and you know, do the thing my character was built for.” So… so you need that pool of bennies at the beginning of the session for Savage Worlds to make the game work as intended. Pathfinder second edition, you get one hero point guaranteed at the beginning of every session. The GM is expected to hand out one hero point roughly every hour of gameplay. So like the hero points are supposed to come consistently so you always have them available to use them when you need them. And pretty, pretty reliably, you will have one hero points sitting around that you can spend to not die.
Yeah, I mean, so we should talk about like dungeon masters not being good at giving out inspiration in 5e. The other half is I know, like I have a problem as a player character where, you know, I treat it like an elixir in Final Fantasy. So “Ooh better save this and never use it because surely the next time will be the urgent time when I actually need to have it” right.
Random Powell 11:49
And one interesting thing about fifth edition in particular is that, and I know that we’ll touch on this more in a moment. But while there’s definitely I understand the feeling of “I have this nice thing, I don’t want to use it,” all it does is great you advantage. And there’s a lot of other ways to earn advantage on a lot of things. Sure, you know, maybe you want to really hang on to it for that death saving throw, or you want to really hang on to it for that save against the powerful boss spell. But just advantage doesn’t feel great when there’s a lot of other ways of going about it. And one other thing that I wanted to touch on about the, you know where you were talking about game masters having a hard time giving this out, I you from both sides, as a player as a GM, it is hard. And one of the reasons- so going back to what Tyler was talking about with this rule of cool: humans will enjoy novelty. If you describe a very cool way that your character does a thing, it’s really easy to say “that was neat have advantage.” And then it feels weird to reward that same thing with inspiration again. And that’s just a problem with trying to use the rule of cool to award this stuff. One of the things that I’ve most enjoyed, I was a player in a game where the DM gave each player one inspiration token that they could give during the session as a way to take some of the burden off of the DM who is you know, running everything behind the screen. That time pun actually intended. But you know, they have a lot of stuff going on. They’re not gonna think necessarily about inspiration. But the players, they’re mostly just there to enjoy the story. Right? You know, while they may be thinking about it, they’re gonna have a much easier time thinking “that was really neat. That was a great bit of roleplay that was really in character,” and being able to award something like that.
Yeah, I really liked the idea of that. Like I think- I- right, certain live play podcasts you listen to or even like in your own games. I feel like it’s pretty common. If you have the right players that they’ll call out like, “that was awesome. That was stupid. That was painful. But that was awesome.” And I think you should reward that with inspiration. So like, as a DM, like encouraging. Like, “yeah, tell me when you think something’s awesome. And if I think you’re full of it, then I’ll let you know.”
Yeah, rewarding stuff like that is probably the best way you can award metacurrencies The fifth edition Dungeon Master’s Guide actually does a pretty good job explaining how to handle this. So if you if you’re playing D&D, go read that. One of the best pieces of advice that they give is to use advantage to… encourage basically behavior that fits the genre of the game that you’re playing. They- as an example, they specifically call out if you’re playing a horror game. If the party splits up, give them advantage because like that is kind of a classic horror trope where the party separates like Velma, Scooby, and Shaggy go off one direction and Freddie and Daphne go off the other. So yeah, advantage; go be spooked.
Yeah, that one. Thank you.
Which, but I mean, very towards towards Random’s point earlier, what is it ultimately winds up being is Pay-It-Forward advantage?
Hey, you’re gonna need this later.
Especially if you’re splitting the party in a horror game.
No, but I took you off your train. So you were saying “yeah, like, if you’re in a horror game, and the party splits up,” you give that to them. You know, if you’re, you know, intriguing politics and somebody really engages you know, the the bard gets up and gives a great performance to distract while somebody goes and does something like that was a great plan. Great execution. Inspiration.
Yeah, those are all great examples. Yeah, just your your general like horror fantasy, your party does something heroic? Inspiration. If you want to play a bunch of murder hobos, and somebody you know, sells their house and murders somebody in space of five minutes? They’re now murder hobo; give them inspiration.
It’s like “I was a homeowner briefly briefly.” You’ve seen the town I give you a house does not fit what we do here. Nice. So is, I guess I want to I want to go the 5g inspiration. As you get advantage, like, Is that enough? Is that right? can we do better?
A lot of people are going to say yeah, my probably myself included. Inspiration feels really good to receive, it doesn’t feel great to spend, because like advantage on one role, usually isn’t going to make or break you. And the expectation that again, fifth edition Dungeon Master’s guide explains this a bit but the expectation is you’re going to- each player will get inspiration once per session, which effectively means if you’re playing a session of like a typical four to six hour session, you’re going to get inspiration once in that entire session, and you’re going to get to use that for advantage once in that entire session. If you can remember that you have it.
Wait- and tell me if I’m wrong: technically, the rule is, before you roll, you have to declare that you’re going to use your inspiration and roll with advantage; you can’t fail and then say I want to try one more time.
And even that is just… like I believe in my luck, except for if I’m rolling in Roll20 you know more than I believe that I really have to succeed here.
And and even then there’s a certain percentage of time like this is it’s maddening. Right, like, okay, I’ve avoided, I’ve avoided, I’ve avoided. I think I’m finally going to drink my elixir. I roll a 20 on the first roll.
Feels wasted. Yeah. 100%. So like, super easy thing you could change there: you could just make inspiration allow you to reroll something. So you’re you’re dying. You’re at two failures on your death saves and two successes and it’s down to the last roll. You roll a failure, spend your- spend your inspiration, reroll that. Of course, I mean, at that point, you’d spend our inspiration anyway to get the advantage on the roll. But you take my meaning.
No, but I mean, exactly towards that point. Like I- you would rather be able to do the reroll and so that if you succeed in the first one you take it you succeed on the second when you take it you fail on the third you think you know what, let’s go and shoot for it.
Yeah, yeah, totally.
I yeah, even just the ability to reroll like, I feel like as a house rule that has a lot of power. Another thing, right to bring up the idea of Bardic inspiration, it’s sitting right there, right. Like that would be, I think, a more interesting mechanic. And let me add that dice roll to any roll.
Random Powell 19:13
And in fact, one of the 3.x mechanics did function that way. There was a metacurrency that you got one per level up in one of the optional systems that you can spend to add d6s to any d20 roll that you made. Now, this was far less impactful in 3.x where the numbers scaled preposterously and the bonuses were often notably larger than the range possible in the d20. Which is crazy to think about. But that sort of thing can be really good. Although it does take away from one of the most flavorfully thematic things about bards. Bardic inspiration is an incredibly thematic, very unique thing that the bards get. Having that turned into just a standard game mechanic is really sometimes a net loss for bards. One other thing that I’ve seen inspiration used for, and while it’s still just sort of advantage, it is a way to make it feel a bit more interesting for a lot of spellcasters, you can, as an optional rule, spend inspiration to force disadvantage on a role that an enemy makes. For instance, you know, if like, “alright, I’m going to spend my finger of death,” right? I absolutely want my- this enemy to really suck on the Con save, roll with disadvantage, right? And that helps spellcasters a lot, because at higher levels, there aren’t many attack roll spells that you can use. And so that’s- that’s one way to keep it relevant. Even that is still just essentially advantage. But that’s at least one way to keep it balanced as is.
I like that. I guess in that situation. If it was an area effect, would you let them enforce disadvantage on everything within the area of effect? Would you make them pick one enemy?
Random Powell 21:17
That’s a tough call.
Depends on the DC if it’s a 13. Yeah.
Random Powell 21:21
I might want to impose some additional cost. If it was for a sorcerer, let’s say all right, if you want to apply this let’s spend two sorcerer points for it as well. Or, you know, some kind of similar maybe, maybe that’s your channel for a cleric. Because that by itself is notably more powerful than what it is already, and should come with some cost.
No, but that makes sense to me.
At that point- so the the heightened spell metamagic in 5e does something pretty similar. You pick one target of the spell, and they suffer disadvantage on their their save against the spell. So allowing you to spend inspiration to get that same effect makes a lot of sense. And yeah, maybe even if you don’t have heightened spell, you just say yeah, okay, spend inspiration and two sorcery points. Go for it.
Yeah, that feels that feels like a good house rule. I want to go back, I want to heckle on the Bard thing a little bit. I want to I want to push back against Random the argument that you were making. So one thing right, the Bardic inspiration does scale. And I assume with this, we would have probably limited it’s always just the plus d6, right. And so there’s a little bit of something special even for the Bard there. But the other thing is like, I’m gonna flip it on its head, I’m gonna spin it the other way. Bards are so cool. They get to give inspiration on their own, without the blessing of the DM. That’s pretty exciting, right?
Sure is. Yeah, Bardic inspiration is arguably one of the best support features in the game. So they start at a d6 for the Bardic inspiration dice, which is an average of three and a half; advantage on average is a little bit more than plus three. So right off the bat, mathematically, Bardic inspiration is already better than advantage. And it scales up to d12. So it nearly doubles in effectiveness. Nice. And also with Bardic inspiration, you don’t have to add it to a d20. Right? Can you add it to an attack roll as well? Not by default. The- I believe College of valor lets you add it to… Oh, sorry. You said attack roll. College of valor lets you add it to damage rolls, but you can add it to attack roles, skill checks and saving throws.
And what I meant was the damage role. Yeah, but yeah, you knew. You interpreted what I was trying to say properly.
Yeah, I knew what you meant.
So I want to go back to Random’s suggestion earlier of players awarding inspiration. So I don’t know if other RPGs have that mechanic. The fifth edition Dungeon Master’s Guide does actually suggest that as a variant rule, and honestly, I think it’s a really, really good idea. Having extra people at the tables deciding what is cool, what is exciting. Yeah, exactly to Random’s points. The DM is pretty distracted. They’re doing a lot of stuff. You have to be the world. Do you also have to be the judge of what is cool?And I think- Random I think you mentioned using a physical token as well that you passed around.
Random Powell 24:30
This is a Christmas present I got for my DM who was having trouble with giving inspiration and who actively said that he knew that he was having trouble giving inspiration. On Etsy I got like eight, nice little laser cut and woodburned discs and having something physical is both a great way to make the act of getting it more impactful but also, almost more important, is that remembering to use it like you talked about earlier. Just- on the D&D beyond character sheet, there’s a little square that you can check to say that you have inspiration, which is lovely, I think the paper character, sheet might have it too. But even so, you’re not generally looking at your character sheet. Once you’ve spent half a dozen sessions as this character, you mostly know how it works. And really, you’re only going to go to the sheet if you’re thinking about something weird. In particular, if you’re focused on the story, which is really what a lot of role playing games are meant to be about (they are cooperative storytelling), if you’re focused on the story, you’re not looking at that little box on your sheet. So having the physical reminder to say, “Ah yes, I have this thing that I can spend” turned out to be really helpful for us.
Okay, it’s cool to hear that that worked out.
Yeah, I think I think for in-person games like that would be an awesome thing to have. Where… part of- I think what’s powerful, there is the idea that, like, if you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it. Like you have the opportunity per session, so take advantage of it. And it doesn’t cost you anything to give it away, because you’re gonna give it to, you know, Player A or Player B, but no matter what you’re gonna give it away. So I really like the idea. I’m, I’m actually imagining a way too complicated system of doing something like this in a Roll20, where like, if within like 30 seconds, if multiple people hit a- hit a hidden box, to say like, I think Character A deserves inspiration right now. Then they get it.
That would be cool. Now, we could program that we can make that work.
Yeah, VB super easy. Totally work. I’m going to write a strongly worded written letter will link to the podcast, they’ll understand.
So so another problem that I have with inspiration is actually remembering to use it once you get it. The game I’m in currently, I have inspiration from I think session one, session two, and I think we’re on like, nine or 10. DM hasn’t given out inspiration a whole lot. But boy, I 100% forgot I had it. What do you think I could do to remember to actually use my inspiration?
I think even just talking about it at the table. Alright, I feel like that’s maybe… if everybody talked about it, and everybody brought up when they thought that somebody should get it. And like if it just became a common thing that was part of the game, I think the DM is going to do a better job of rewarding it. And I think you’re going to do a better job of consuming it.
Random Powell 27:30
Now it really is. I mean, part of it is just practice, particularly for people coming from previous editions where technically speaking yes 3.5 did have metacurrencies, but not really because the the action points were such a bizarre mechanic, and they were largely ignored.
It was an optional rule in Unearthed Arcana. So.
Random Powell 27:52
So coming to fifth edition, if you don’t have that practice, then it can absolutely be and you know, like any other discipline, just getting more used to it. If you are in person and can have something nice, like a physical reminder, that’s great. If you’re not in person, then thinking about how am I going to remind myself, you know, if this is- given that there is meant to be something like once per session the DM gives it, if you just set yourself an hourly reminder, you know, an hour timer saying, “think about inspiration.” And if you just do that for your first 5-10 sessions of a campaign, that’s going to get people thinking about it. And that’s going to get people in the practice of “Okay, how should I be thinking about this? How should I be thinking about how to get it and spend it?” And as a corollary to that, if you are thinking about how to get it, you’re going to end up with more of those cool moments that are the highlights of storytelling.
I like that idea. And now one thing that a lot of people forget with fifth edition’s inspiration mechanic is it’s a Boolean, you have it or you don’t, there’s no like I have inspiration twice. I have it three times. So if you forget to use it, you could very much find yourself in a situation where like, Oh, yes, I already have inspiration from way back when and I just got it again. Feels like I wasted it.
You did, actually, waste it.
Yeah, yeah. So do you guys think it would be okay to instead of have it just be like you have or you don’t, It’s a pool like it isn’t a lot of other RPGs?
I mean it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I can imagine setting a cap of two. I’ll give you one Mulligan, but probably oughta burn this.
Random Powell 29:36
Especially as written, if you just use it as written where it just grants advantage, there’s no reason not to have as many as you feel like because just advantage already mechanically you can’t stack that for a single roll. So you can’t say I want to spend three inspiration and roll this four times. That’s already impossible. So if you’re not doing any other optional rules, there’s kind of no reason not to let it stack and the worst… from a DM perspective, all you’re gonna have is if somebody stockpiles it for a year, maybe they just have one session where they just go off. Just advantage every single roll. And it’s great. And interestingly, that actually also mirrors real world stories. If you go and look at one of the literal oldest stories of humans, the Odyssey, if you go actual, or like read the actual original text of it, sorry, not the Odyssey I meant the Iliad, there are sections where this is just the the section where Ajax went off. And this is the section where Ajax fans get to really enjoy him, cleaving through the battlefield, doing crazy stuff. And that’s a good story. Clearly, it’s survived for millennia.
Just a few.
Random Powell 30:54
Right? There’s no reason not to have that as long as it’s just advantage. And even if you allow for some of the other stuff as well- I would probably be pretty hesitant myself of combining that with the reroll because you don’t want things to be ro- rerolled eternally. Now, if you say any single die can be rerolled no more than once, absolutely. Because then it’s basically just advantage but a little bit stronger. Right?
Yeah, that’s the fix 100% definitely. I- and I guess maybe a slightly different question. Right. What are- let’s say we allow the reroll, what are you allowing… as a player character what are you rerolling? Because I feel like the only time this really matters 100% matters is combat. So my experience with my DMs is is typically, if it’s like “I want you to do a perception or maybe an investigation roll,” I don’t know, if you’re doing one of these things. It’s a everybody’s gonna roll, somebody’s gonna succeed. I’m not gonna waste my inspiration to reroll a shitty perception or “Oh, I’m just gonna have them tell me that I found the potato.” But vice versa, like combat, obviously, that’s a place where like, okay, you know, “I’m a sorcerer, I just used one of my level two spells, and I missed. I’m gonna reroll that,” or if you allow the disadvantage, or “I’m gonna impose the disadvantage roll ahead of time because I want to make sure that this level two hits.”
Rerolls are always going to use- or rerolls are always going to be used when the stakes are high. Combat is usually when the stakes are high because the consequence of failure in combat is frequently death. If you’re looking for a potato in a box, if you don’t find the potato, you just don’t have a potato. If you’re trying to kill someone before he kills you, and you fail, then you’re dead. Now there are non-combat situations where the stakes are really high like disarming traps, social situations… like “ah yes, the conquering hero has returned from their mighty quest to slay the dragon and has come back to pour out his feelings to The Princess” and you roll a persuasion check in front of the whole court and get a natural one and you’re laughed out of town and your personal legend is ruined. At that point it’s “I’m going to spend inspiration I’m going to reroll that to not to not make an ass of myself.”
But I guess maybe this is me picking on on on my collective DMs or maybe even myself as a DM right. In that situation, that exact situation, so we just spent an entire arc trying to get me in front of the princess holding a dragon head wearing a moose head as a belt buckle. And I I pour out my heart except for a roll of one and so me pouring out my heart sounds really stupid. My DM is gonna bail me out of that right? Do I really need to? Do I need to use my inspiration to roll it? Honestly, my DM might bail me out…
by reminding me “you have inspiration.”
That would be a great time for your DM to remind you ahead of time to use your inspiration on the high stakes roll. I agree with you.
But you were saying that actually my DM is gonna let me fall on my face and let- break the arc.
Oh as the DM 100% What…
Random Powell 34:08
Yes, one day we’ll do that episode on failure. And we’ll talk about how interesting interesting and exciting failure can be. But boy, what a conclusion to a story to come back and walk away with nothing.
Yeah, you- you tried to bow. You poked her in the face with a moose antler.
Well, you were trying to wear a moose as a as a belt buckle. What did you expect?
Yeah, the so the DM can’t necessarily be responsible for holding your hand reminding you that you have the mechanics. Sometimes you’ve got to let players fail. Sometimes you’ve got to just let people forget stuff and that’s okay. That’s part of the game too.
You know, and I guess maybe that that’s maybe this is a whole nother session. Right But the idea if you know you’re on the railroad then these little things maybe aren’t as important but yeah That’s probably another session. All right, yeah, definitely another session. All right, well, thanks everybody for joining us. I am Randall James you can find email@example.com or at JackAmateur on Twitter and Instagram.
I’m Tyler Kamstra You can find me online at RPGBOT.net you can find me on Facebook and Twitter at RPGBOT d o t Ne t because RPGBOT was already taken.
Random Powell 35:27
I’m Random Powell you won’t generally find me on social media. But if you investigate places where people play games, you will likely find me as Harlequin or Harlequint. But in general, you’re mostly gonna find me contributing here to RPGBOT both in articles and here on the podcast.
Awesome. So you can find us anywhere we’re fine podcasts are sold. Also, please visit us at RPGBOT.net where you can find both the show notes for this podcast as well as the greater website which is RPGBOT.net. Right thanks.
Hi, I’m Kau, and thanks for the podcast, it’s an amazing podcast, I’m super excited for the “failures” one, because my DMs are so punitive with critical error, taking one on the dice is already frustrating even more if you’re super punished for it.
(Btw, I’m from Brazil, English is not my mother language and I’m learning with the podcast transcript, it’s really cool, it helps me a lot, please continue)
Hi Kay. Thanks for listening! I’m thrilled to hear that your enjoying the podcast transcripts, too.
We’re really excited about the Failure episode and I think you’re going to find it very helpful. If you’re having trouble with your DM, you might ask them to listen, too.
It may have taken me a while to get around to listening but now that I’ve started, I’m clipping through episodes fairly quickly considering I only in the car and my commute is 7 minutes. All that to say, well done on another amazing episode!
I play D&D 5e and haven’t really ventured into other TTRPGs yet so my perspective on meta-currencies is limited but I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with DM inspiration. On the one hand, who doesn’t want advantage or even, as you mentioned and as we typically play, a single d20 re-roll. On another hand, I hoard it once I get it because I fall into the mindset you mentioned of, “What If I use it then don’t have it when I actually need it!” Also, as a player who leans towards support builds with spells that require saving throws, I often find myself making far fewer d20 rolls.
In a recent campaign (I tweeted about the peace cleric with winged boots and saddle of the cavalier serving as mount to the party’s paladin), I went a whole session without making a single d20 roll. The session was heavier on RP but it was still a bit of an eye opener. Even in combat, I often found support and saving throw spells were a better option at the time. Add on the fact that by level 15, the character had a constitution score of 16, proficiency in con saves from the resilient feat, was almost always in the paladin’s aura, and already had advantage on Constitution saves to maintain concentration on spells, DM inspiration sat on my character sheet for over a full year unused. We played almost every week. If I’d been able to use that inspiration to impose disadvantage or work it in with Emboldening Bond to give another creature within 30 feet in the bond advantage at the cost of my reaction, I would have used it in a heartbeat!
I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying the podcast! I think the three of us have all had similar experiences with Inspiration, so we totally understand. Hopefully we gave you and your group some ideas to make Inspiration more fun.
Regarding ruining the story arc, you should seriously read some Victor Hugo, especially Toilers of the Sea. 🙂