…should take a long walk along a short pier.
In my last post, I made some small use of all those ‘how to write and format a professional screenplay’ books I bought with stars in my eyes, and punched out a scene straight from the future of my D&D table in courier font. The point behind it is fairly obvious: to illustrate how irritating players being able to frequently re-roll their d20 ‘tests’ might get – especially used in conjunction with abilities to modify these ‘test’ results.
A little Twitter trade-off with a re-roll advocate if anything made me more convinced about my position. The d20 is Dungeons & Dragons’ chief tool for resolving outcomes. If you don’t trust it to do so, why roll it in the first place?
Making re-rolls a more common part of the game, as (the currently proposed) Heroic Inspiration will do, just serves to weaken the authority of the dice. The drama of making an important roll in front of the whole table is going to evaporate. At least in any situation where a player still has their Heroic Inspiration, which looks like it will be virtually all the time as you pick it back up whenever you roll a 1 on any test, in or out of combat (see Tweet below). Variant humans might also get it automatically after a long rest, while the Lucky feat will likely continue to exist in One D&D too, adding to the numerous occasions when the dice will be picked back up from the table and set to work again.
#onednd observation. Mid to high level games will be drowning in heroic inspiration if awarded on a Nat 1 (or Nat 20). 5 players making 2 attack rolls a round results in heroic inspiration being awarded every other round!
— Thomas Christy (@d20play) October 12, 2022
This reshaping of dice-established destiny just feels very “anti-D&D” to me. You’ve already rolled the die to determine what happens. Why stop the game and roll it again? If you’re not prepared to accept bad luck and failure in crucial junctures of the story, I’d question whether you should you be playing D&D when perhaps a collaborative storytelling game would suit your table better.
Or, if you want to play D&D, but on easy mode, why not lower DCs, and save the effort of doing something twice; or lower the CR of the monsters, so you don’t have to rely on this bulky, time-consuming mechanic (I can already envision players not really being able to keep track of when they have Heroic Inspiration and when they don’t, esp. when they start using it for trivial things, which they will start to do, because they will likely get it often enough to be worth using on minor rolls too).
Is Inspiration a Problem in 5e?
Despite my misgivings about frequent rerolls, I’m not totally against players being able to mould the narrative on occasion, and that’s why I actually like the existing 5e Inspiration rules. See Tweet below.
Personally, and I do genuinely believe in different game styles, but number 2 is perfect for me. A little heroic luck at just the right moment. Not a continuous slew of rerolls when something doesn't got the party's way…
— Duncan Rhodes (D&D Blogger & Designer) 🇺🇦 (@HipstersDragons) October 12, 2022
If players forget to use it, that’s fine by me. When I’m DMing I will remind them if it’s a key juncture and a little dramatic justice is desirable. And if DMs are forgetting to hand it out, also fine by me (it is, after all, a completely superfluous mechanic).
But, if you really consider that D&D suffers from a lack of a working Inspiration system, then I think a much better solution would be if players gain it at the start of a quest (one of my DMs uses this system and it works well), or else perhaps get it when they level up.
A Question for One D&D Designers
While I see some ‘pros’ in Inspiration, and its One D&D variant, Heroic Inspiration, overall do they override the cons of re-rolls that I set out in the comments’ section of my last post, and which I expand upon here?
Cons of Re-rolls
1. Interrupt / slow down the game
2. Revise the reality already established by a die roll the table witnesses
3. Undermine the authority of the dice to determine outcomes
4. Create a cheat mode for players (that monsters don’t have)
5. Create potential pain points in gameplay (How long before you can call it? “Immediately after the roll” is easier to say than enforce. Will players be able to track it effectively?).
I will leave you with the bemusement of DM David, whose Tweet sums up my thoughts here
I don’t understand the design goal behind awarding more inspiration. More candy I guess.
— DM David Hartlage (@dmdavidblog) October 12, 2022