Dungeons & Dragons: Inspiration, Spellcasting, and Movement

Part III of my voyage into 5E has arrived! And as promised this time we will look at spell casting, inspiration, and movement.


Inspiration is a new mechanic to Dungeons and Dragons that I am a huge fan of thus far. To illustrate inspiration I must first explain how advantage and disadvantage work in 5E. When a player makes a d20 roll they will roll a second d20; if they have either of these conditions. If they have advantage they use the higher roll of the two d20s while if they have disadvantage they take the lower of the two rolls. Inspiration is designed to encourage and reward role playing, which is partially why I as a DM love it!

As players act in a manner that reflects their character’s personality traits, flaws, ideals, bonds, and back story the DM can award them with inspiration. If a player has inspiration they they can use it to give advantage or disadvantage to a roll; be it theirs, another player’s, or NPC’s. I love this as it not only encourages characters to play their role but it also ads another level of theme and complexity. In play I encourage explanation in regards to how the character has advantage as I find it aids in player immersion as well as story telling. EXAMPLE: in one of my party’s adventures the Drow Warlock cast Firebolt at a goblin perched in a tree shooting at the adventurers. The Firebolt missed its mark but started a fire in the trees. Among the party was a ranger who ‘values nature over human life’. the ranger thus held the warlock at bow point until the warlock used what magic it had to put out the fire to the best of her abilities (after combat) yet the ranger still seems to hold some anger towards the wizard for this action; for this I gave the ranger inspiration. In a later combat our monk was attacking a bugbear and the ranger used his inspiration to give the monk advantage; his explanation was that he hurled insults and threats at the bugbear so as to draw the beast’s attention off of the monk and onto himself thus giving the monk a higher chance of hitting the foul creature.

    Spell casting

Spell casting as a mechanic acts much like it did in previous editions but the big change, I love, is in what characters can cast. Often in the past, and in many other role playing games, spell casters choose which spells they have ready then sleep and gain the ability to cast said spells. As they cast a spell that spell is uncastable until their next long rest. 5E reverts to a more believable spell system. In the above system I always wondered how I ‘forgot’ the words/actions to the spell I just cast. Now the spell caster chooses their spells for the following day and then rests (just as in previous editions) but as they cast spells they don’t lose the ability to cast a that spell… immediately… Let me explain.

Before sleeping a spell caster chooses Chromatic Orb and Magic Missile as her 1st level spells and has 2 first level spell slots. While in a combat encounter the spell caster casts Magic Missile; in many systems the spell caster would now only be able to cast Chromatic Orb, not any longer. The spell caster uses one of her spell slots to cast Magic Missile but as she still has a first level spell slot she can still use that slot to cast Magic Missile or Chromatic Orb. As casters level up they can also expend higher level spell slots to cast lower leveled spells. A wizard could thus cast a Magic Missile with a fourth level spell slot gaining a bonus; in this case an additional dart for each spell level above the first; in this case an extra 3 darts.

As a DM I much prefer this system as players don’t complain about the oddity of losing the ability to cast spells they had previously memorized; it now seems more a limitation of energy/focus than memory. This not only aids in player immersion but it gives spell casters much more freedom in spell preparation; it is not as detrimental to select non-combat spells if you know you are getting ready for combat as those spells may come in handy but you don’t have to use them; rather you could spend all your spell slots on whatever combat spells you have at the ready.


Movement is a huge element in role playing games; it aids in positioning during combat, it is how players get from point a to point b, and it can enable players to find creative ways to maneuver. In 5E movement returns to feet as opposed to squares; granted many playmat grids, adventure maps, and whatnot are squares and the players then need to convert squares to feet. 5E however, as mentioned before, is focused on ‘theater of the mind’ which is gridless… thus feet makes since. I also have had experience with maps that have square blocks of 10×10 feet per square and others with hexes; the feet system is far easier to adapt for these instances than the standard grid system.

I could spend hours going into the minute details of inspiration, spell casting, and movement but that shall be another blog if desired. Up next, however, I will take a look at some peripherals for your adventure from Gale Force 9.

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