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Replacing 5e's Inspiration with Luck

by Mike on 22 January 2024

In the Tales of the Valiant 5e RPG and their Project Black Flag system reference document, Kobold Press introduces us to the Luck mechanic – a direct replacement for the standard 5e "Inspiration" mechanic. Here's how it works.

The Luck System

GMs can award luck points for good roleplaying, brave behavior, and other times we might award inspiration but players will primarily gain luck with missed attacks and saving throws (not ability checks.)

I've used this luck mechanic in my 5e games for a while now and I love it. It takes the burden off of the GM to award inspiration, something I often forget. For players, it takes the edge off of the disappointment of rolling a missed attack or saving throw. It's an entire system managed primarily by players and yet we GMs can still offer luck points to incentivize heroic deeds. We can also use luck points as bargaining chips with players when they want to do something risky but are worried about consequences of failure.

Introducing Luck

If we do decide to bring in luck, or any other new mechanics into our game, it behooves us to have a conversation with our players about it. Ask them if it's something they're interested in. Maybe give it a trial run and see if people like it before using it regularly.

Expanding 5e's Mechanics

Luck is one of the many new mechanics we're seeing designers bring into the larger 5e space. Because it's encapsulated, we can remove inspiration and replace it with luck and nothing else needs to change.

I think we're going to see a lot of cool ideas like this one come out over 2024 and I'm excited to see them. Not every variant needs to work for all groups – you may not like the luck mechanic, and that's fine. But you might like some other mechanic like Level Up Advanced 5e's "Strife" condition or its use of "Supply" for exploration and resting. You might like the way exhaustion worked in the early 2024 D&D playtest where each level of exhaustion was -1 to D20 checks.

With all of these variants and sub-systems coming out, we can build the version of 5e we want for our own table. None of them need be the same. If it works for you and your group – it works.

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