Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the Bardic Inspiration die, but must decide before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once the Bardic Inspiration die is rolled, it is lost. A creature can have only one Bardic Inspiration die at a time.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once). You regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.
Your Bardic Inspiration die changes when you reach certain levels in this class. The die becomes a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at 15th level.
Player’s Handbook, pg. 53-4
Bardic Inspiration 5e
Bardic Inspiration is the staple Bard ability that solidifies the class’s role as party support. Additionally, each Bard subclass gets a secondary Bardic Inspiration use, much like Clerics and their Channel Divinity feature.
This article will cover how Bardic Inspiration works in the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as cover each Bard sublasses’ unique Bardic Inspiration. It’ll also go over a few common rules questions and the best ways to use the feature for maximum results.
What Does Bardic Inspiration Do in 5e?
Bardic Inspiration grants an ally a Bardic Inspiration die*, which they can add to any d20 Test (ability check, attack roll, or saving throw) they make. They can do so before or after seeing the result of the roll, but before the DM tells them whether it succeeded. After using the Bardic Inspiration die, it is lost.
Bardic Inspiration can only be used on a creature within 60 feet who can hear you. A creature can only have one Bardic Inspiration die at a time.
You can use Bardic Inspiration as many times as your Charisma modifier, and you regain expended uses when you finish a long rest (and when you finish a short rest after becoming a 5th-level Bard). At 20th level, you regain one use of Bardic Inspiration if you have no uses left when you roll initiative.
Bardic Inspiration Die by Bard Level
|Bardic Inspiration Die
|1 to 4
|5 to 9
|10 to 14
|15 to 20
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced the optional 2nd-level Bard feature, Magical Inspiration (TCoE 27). With this feature, a Bardic Inspiration die can also be used to increase the hit points restored or damage dealt of a spell.
Bardic Inspiration Rules in 5e
Here are answers to some of the most common rules questions that come up around Bardic Inspiration:
A creature cannot have two Bardic Inspiration die at a time, even from two different Bards. Because “the effects of the same spell cast multiple times don’t combine…instead, the most potent effect…applies while their durations overlap” (PHB 205). This was confirmed to be true for all game features in this Sage Advice thread.
Bardic Inspiration can be used for Initiative. Because it can be used for any ability check, and initiative is just a special kind of Dexterity ability check.
Bardic Inspiration can be used for Dispel Magic and Counterspell attempts. Again, because they involve ability checks, and “Bardic Inspiration is intentionally generous about being able to benefit ability checks of any sort” (Sage Advice).
You cannot grant Bardic Inspiration to an unconscious creature. Because an unconscious creature is “unaware of its surroundings” and therefore cannot hear the Bard, which is a stipulation for Bardic Inspiration to work (PHB 292).
You can add Bardic Inspiration to death saving throws. However, if you have Bardic Inspiration before you become unconscious, you still get to keep it. And you can use it on death saving throws because they’re just another type of saving throw, which Bardic Inspiration can be used for.
You cannot add Bardic Inspiration to weapon damage, only spell damage and healing — unless you’re a Valor or Swords Bard.
Bardic Inspiration is not magical. While there is a sonic “component” to Bardic Inspiration, it is not itself a magical ability; it is a class feature. Sage Advice confirmation.
How to Use Bardic Inspiration in 5e
Here are a few ways to make the most out of Bardic Inspiration in DnD 5e:
Use it when failure is not an option but your roll isn’t great. The fact that you get to wait until you see the result of your d20 roll before deciding whether to use your Bardic Inspiration die is important.
Notice that my tip is to use it when your roll “isn’t great” — not when your roll is bad. For example, if you roll a 2 on an attack roll and know that the target’s AC is 18+, it’s not worth even trying to use your Bardic Inspiration die.
On the other hand, if your attack roll results in a 14, and you’ve seen that miss earlier in the fight, it’s a great time to use your Bardic Inspiration die.
The same principle applies to saving throws and ability checks — when you’ve got a hunch that the result of your roll is close, but not quite good enough, use that Bardic Inspiration die you’ve got.
Respect important saving throws. Generally speaking, succeeding on a saving throw from an enemy spell or ability is the most important thing to do in a 5e fight. Saving throw-based abilities like Dragon’s Breath can be absolutely devastating if they deal full damage, and a spell like Hold Person can neutralize you for multiple rounds.
While it’s not always possible to know when such an ability is imminent, sometimes it is. When experience teaches you that your foes have such abilities, be extra discerning about when you actually use your Bardic Inspiration die, or you may be wishing you could get it back for the big moment.
Don’t (typically) use it for damage. Magical Inspiration from Tasha’s lets you use Bardic Inspiration to add damage to a spell. This is bad, and usually a waste of your Bardic Inspiration die — landing an attack or succeeding on a saving throw is almost always more impactful than a marginal damage increase.
There are two exceptions to this: area of effect spells, like Fireball, multiply the value of using Bardic Inspiration this way. For example, if you roll a 6 on a Bardic Inspiration die for a Fireball that hits 6 enemies, you’ve actually increased the damage by 36 — that could definitely be worth it, depending on the circumstances.
The other exception is when the DM describes a creature as very close to death — if getting the extra damage from Bardic Inspiration saves your ally an action on their turn, it’s worth using.
Don’t (typically) use it for healing. Magical Inspiration also works for healing spells, but this too is an inferior use of Bardic Inspiration. Again, the exception is multi-target heals like Mass Healing Word or Prayer of Healing.
Consider your timing. It’s usually best to give your party members Bardic Inspiration before they need it, rather than during the encounter. That way, you have your bonus action available for things like Healing Word if you need it.
Be less discerning after 5th level. Once you get the Font of Inspiration feature, you get your expended uses of Bardic Inspiration back whenever you finish a short rest. And with a Charisma modifier of +4 or +5 by this level, you’ve basically got 8 to 15 Bardic Inspiration die to give out every day — don’t be shy about it!
Jazz it up. Instead of just saying, “I give [Player] Bardic Inspiration,” try to mix things up sometimes. Something like “tales will be told of your deeds” or “may this song give you heart” can really help lean into your Bardic role and the role of this class feature.
Remember, you’re supposed to be inspiring your allies to ever-greater successes, not just giving them a boring mechanical, numerical bonus…although you’re also doing that.
Remind everyone to use it. This is every Bard’s biggest pet peeve, from what I’ve seen — allies not remembering to use Bardic Inspiration. If you’re playing in person, I recommend giving the player an actual Bardic Inspiration die that’s separate from their normal die, or using a token — any physical reminder that they’ve got the bonus available.
If you’re playing virtually, you (or your DM) can mark players who are inspired with a pre-set color or design to give them that constant visual reminder. Of course, don’t go too far and tell your friends how to play; a friendly reminder is all I’m advocating for, especially in key moments when they forget they have it.
Get the Rhythm-Maker’s Drum (TCoE 134). This magic item from Tasha’s lets you regain a Bardic Inspiration use once a day, as well as buffing your Bard spell attack and saving throw DC. Quite the treat for a mid- to high-level Bard, if your DM is so inclined.
Unique Bardic Inspirations by Bard Subclass in 5e
Bardic Inspiration die can be used with the standard Bard class feature, or be used on subclass-specific uses of Bardic Inspiration die. Those uses are discussed below:
College of Lore
Cutting Words: Uses a reaction to lower the d20 roll of an enemy within 60 feet by the result of the Bardic Inspiration die. This is very valuable, as it gives you another lever to ensure that important moments turn out favorably for your party.
Avoiding an attack or causing an enemy to fail on a saving throw can absolutely swing the momentum of a fight.
Peerless Skill: 14th-level feature that allows you to use Bardic Inspiration die for your own ability checks. This is bad, and a waste of your Bardic Inspiration die, unless you’re making a very important Charisma check.
College of Valor
Combat Inspiration: Allows the target to use their Bardic Inspiration die for attack damage or for their AC (as a reaction to being attacked). The damage bit is usually bad, and a waste of your Bardic Inspiration die, but the ability to boost your AC is quite good (see the Shield spell for proof).
College of Glamour (XGtE)
Mantle of Inspiration: A totally different way to use Bardic Inspiration die on an ability. You grant a number of allies up to your Charisma modifier temporary hit points (that scale with Bard level) and the ability to instantly use their reactions to move without provoking opportunity attacks.
This is incredibly powerful and one of the best uses of Bardic Inspiration, especially for melee-heavy groups. Being able to re-position everyone in a fight without suffering opportunity attacks is a massive boon in battle.
College of Swords (XGtE)
Blade Flourish: Another special ability use of Bardic Inspiration, Blade Flourish allows the Bard to use one of three abilities:
1) A defensive flourish that deals extra damage and boosts the Bard’s AC by the roll result.
2) A slashing flourish that deals extra damage to all enemies within 5 feet of the Bard.
3) A mobile flourish that deals extra damage and allows you to move the target up to 5 + [roll result] feet away. The Bard can then use their reaction to move within 5 feet of the target.
At level 14, Swords Bards can use Blade Flourish without using a Bardic Inspiration die, but the die is capped at a d6.
College of Whispers (XGtE)
Psychic Blades: Deal psychic damage (scales with level) to the target for the cost of a Bardic Inspiration die. This is a pretty bad use, as bonus damage is weaker than buffing allies’ attack rolls and saving throws.
College of Creation (TCoE)
Mote of Potential: Bardic Inspiration targets get a secondary effect, depending on how they use the Bardic Inspiration die:
1) Ability check: Roll two die and select the higher one.
2) Attack roll: The target of the attack and creatures of your choice within 5 feet take damage equal to the Bardic Inspiration roll if they fail a Constitution saving throw.
3) Saving throw: Get temporary hit points equal to Bardic Inspiration die roll + Bard’s Charisma modifier.
These are nice bonuses that just make regular Bardic Inspiration even better — nothing wrong with that.
College of Eloquence (TCoE)
Unsettling Words: Use a bonus action to reduce the target’s next saving throw by the result of your Bardic Inspiration die roll. Only active until the start of your next turn, so it needs to be used quickly.
This is really, really good, since you can help yourself ensure that an important saving-throw-based ability lands.
Unfailing Inspiration (6th-level): If someone uses a Bardic Inspiration die and still fails on a d20 test, they get to keep the Bardic Inspiration die rather than expending it. A really good feature that ensures your Bardic Inspiration always makes a difference…eventually.
Infectious Inspiration (14th-level): If someone uses a Bardic Inspiration die and succeeds on a d20 test, you can instantly grant another ally within 60 feet another Bardic Inspiration die without expending any uses. This can be used equal to the Bard’s Charisma modifier per day.
Again, this is a really good feature that keeps Bardic Inspiration rolling through your party.
In my opinion, Eloquence Bards have the best Bardic Inspiration uses overall.
College of Spirit (VRGtR)
Tales From Beyond: The Bard tells 1 of 12 stories (randomly selected) and holds it in mind. Each story has a different effect when told, which requires an action. The Bard gets more control over the stories they tell at 14th level.
Bardic Inspiration Changes in One DnD
In the One DnD playtest material, Expert Classes, the game’s developers introduced significant changes to how Bardic Inspiration works. Here are the big changes:
It uses a reaction instead of bonus action. And it’s a reaction you take to a creature failing a d20 Test (ability check, attack roll, saving throw).
It can only be used an amount equal to your proficiency bonus, not your Charisma modifier, per long rest. This hurts low-level Bards, who were used to having 3-4 uses of Bardic Inspiration each day, and now will have to settle for 2-3.
At the high end (17th-level+), though, Bards now cap out at 6 Bardic Inspiration uses per rest rather than 5 (the max Charisma modifier in general).
It can be used to heal a creature. Immediately after a creature the Bard sees or hears takes damage, the Bard can use a Bardic Inspiration die to immediately heal them.
Font of Inspiration is a 7th-level class feature instead of 5th-level. Another big hit for low-level Bards, who will have to wait an extra two levels to start giving away Bardic Inspiration like it’s candy.
As a reminder, these changes are not final. More UA playtest materials for One DnD will continue to come out, possibly changing this information, and the final version of One DnD is certain to modify elements of playtest materials.
DnD 5e Bardic Inspiration FAQ
Bardic Inspiration DnD 5e FAQ:
How many bardic inspiration uses does a bard get in 5e? A bard gets a number of bardic inspiration uses equal to their Charisma modifier. These uses are regained at the end of a long rest, and at the end of a short rest as well, once a bard reaches 5th level and gains the font of inspiration feature. A bardic inspiration die starts as a d6, becoming a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at 15th level.
Can a bard use bardic inspiration on themselves in 5e? No, a bard cannot use bardic inspiration on themselves in DnD 5e. The bardic inspiration feature specifically states that the bard must choose “one creature other than yourself within 60 feet who can hear you.” Note that some bard subclasses, like the college of swords, can expend a bardic inspiration die to power their features, but it’s not the same as using the specific bardic inspiration feature on themselves.
How loud is bardic inspiration in 5e? The loudness of bardic inspiration in 5e is not explicitly defined in the rules. It is generally understood to be a verbal or musical expression of encouragement or inspiration. The actual volume or intensity would depend on the bard’s roleplaying and the interpretation of the Dungeon Master. It certainly shouldn’t interfere with your attempts to make stealth checks, at least not any more than any other spell with a verbal component.
Does bardic inspiration stack in 5e? No, bardic inspiration does not stack in DnD 5e. The bardic inspiration feature specifies that “a creature can have only one bardic inspiration die at a time,” regardless of the source (Player’s Handbook, pg. 54).
Do you need an instrument for bardic inspiration in 5e? No, you do not need to use bardic inspiration. The feature description states that the bard “can inspire others through stirring words or music (Player’s Handbook, pg. 53). In other words, a bard can sing or simply speak to provide bardic inspiration. While an instrument can certainly be used as a flavor or roleplaying element, it is not a requirement to grant bardic inspiration.