The quiet of a Faerun night was suddenly destroyed by the sounds of battle. Horns were sounded, drums were beaten, and cries filled the moonlit sky.
When the orcs saw their foes, however, they laughed.
Kobolds dare to attack orcs in their own lair? How foolish! Any orc is as good as three kobolds!
The orcs did not laugh for long.
The orcs fired their arrows and stabbed with their spears, and yet, the unthinkable happened. The kobolds kept coming! Even worse, it appeared that many kobolds that were hit with orc arrows and spears should have died, but simply didn’t.
What dark magic is this? They don’t look like zombie kobolds.
Inspiring Leader 5e Guide: Bottomline
Depending on how your DM interprets the feat’s description, Inspiring Leader allows you to grant temporary hit points to a party or even a small army.
Who Can Use Inspiring Leader?
Any character of any D&D class can buy the Inspiring Leader feat provided that the character is 4th level or higher and has 13 Charisma or higher.
How Does Inspiring Leader Work?
The effectiveness of this feat depends on how its description is interpreted. Therefore, I’m not going to paraphrase the description. Rather, I’ll it quote verbatim as it appears in the PHB (Player’s Handbook) on p. 167.
- Inspiring Leader
- Prerequisite: Charisma 13 or higher
You can spend 10 minutes inspiring your companions, shoring up their resolve to fight. When you do so, choose up to six friendly creatures (which can include yourself) within 30 feet of you who can see or hear you and who can understand you.
Each creature can gain temporary hit points equal to your level + your Charisma modifier. A creature can’t gain temporary hit points from this feat again until it has finished a short or long rest.
Temporary Hit Points Table: Inspiring Leader
In order to save you and your friends a lot of needless Inspiring Leader Math, I’ve created this temporary hit point table. The X-axis represents the character’s level. The Y-axis represents the character’s Charisma modifier.
In parenthesis are the actual Charisma scores that would have that modifier. The numbers in the cells represent the number of temporary hit points granted to beneficiaries of the character’s Inspiring Leader speech.
|Level (rows) + CHA Modifier (column)||+1 CHA (13)||+2 CHA
Example: Wan Tei the yuan-ti pureblood sorceress is a 4th-level character with a 16 Charisma (+3 modifier). At 4th level, she gets an ASI (ability score increase) and will do so again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level. She has a choice.
Normally, I would have her boost her Charisma and not buy any feats until her Charisma is maxed out at 20. For demonstration purposes, however, let’s say she leaves her Charisma at 16 so she can buy the Inspiring Leader feat at 4th level.
The table shows how many temporary hit points she can bestow upon any beneficiaries of her Inspiring Leader speech:
Level = 4 points. Charisma modifier (16 Charisma) = 3 points. Total = 7 temporary hit points
Later when Wan Tei reaches 8th level, she would get another ASI. This time, since she now already has the Inspiring Leader feat, she could put her ASI into Charisma and have 12 hit points as seen on the table above:
Level 8 = 8 points. Charisma modifier (18 Charisma) = 4 points. Total = 12 temporary hit points
Eventually, Wan Tei would be able to take Inspiring Leader to its maximum potential of 25 temporary hit points.
Level 20 = 20 points. Charisma modifier 5 (20 Charisma) = 5 points. Total = 25 temporary hit points
Is Inspiring Leader Good?
Whether or not Inspiring Leader is a good feat and worth the cost of an ASI greatly depends on how your DM interprets the description above cited in PHB on p. 167.
On the surface, a feat that gives you 5-25 temporary hit points for up to 6 friendly creatures per short or long rest doesn’t seem worth the cost of an ASI when there are many spells that can do the same thing.
If your DM sees the surface features described above as the limitations of this feat, I would say that it’s not a good feat and you shouldn’t pick it.
As a DM, however, I interpret the limitations of the description quite literally:
- Time: 10 minutes minimum to inspire and bestow temporary hit points
- Creatures: 6/inspiration
- Range: 30 feet maximum
- Comprehension: the ability to understand plus the ability to see and/or hear the leader
- Temporary hit points: 5-25 as seen in the table above
- Renewable for beneficiaries: 1/short or long rest
- Duration: standard for temporary hit points (see below)
- Number of inspirations/day: No limit. (No limit except those which fall within the bounds of exhaustion and scheduling. See below.)
Duration of Temporary Hit Points
In PHB, p. 198, there is a section dedicated to temporary hit points. It states.
“Unless a feature that grants you temporary hit points has a duration, they last until they’re depleted or you finish a long rest.”
Since there is no duration mentioned in the Inspiring Leader description, all beneficiaries lose their temporary hit points after a long rest, even if undamaged.
In the PHB description, it says, “A creature can’t gain temporary hit points from this feat until it has finished a long rest.” It does NOT say anything about how many times a leader can use this feat per day.
In theory, a character with the Inspiring Leader feat can use this feat for a full adventuring day if he or she has nothing better to do. Example:
Wan Tei is a 20th-level Wild Magic sorcerer and has a 20 Charisma and the Inspiring Leader feat. Therefore, she can bestow 25 hit points per inspiration. In her case, that’s a speech. She wants to buff out an army of kobolds.
At the stroke of noon, 6 kobolds with 5 hit points each show up for her speech. An ally casts comprehend languages and Wan Tei delivers her speech in Yipyak, the kobold language. Wan Tei takes 10 minutes to deliver her speech and the 6 kobolds each walk out with 30 hit points, a 6x from their original resiliency.
As the 6 kobolds walk out, another 6 kobolds walk in, each with 5 hit points, and the same speech is delivered all over again for another 10 minutes. These 6 kobolds also walk out with 30 hit points each.
The process is repeated for 2 hours straight before Wan Tei takes a 30-minute break for rest, water, snacks, toilet trips, etc. At the end of her break, the time (in-game) is 2:30 pm.
2 hours = 120 minutes = 12 inspirational speeches = 72 kobolds inspired = 1800 temporary hit points
Don’t worry. Wan Tei’s just getting warmed up!
Wan Tei is going to repeat the cycle for an 8-hour work day with 2 hours of 30-minute breaks and end her speaking engagement at 10 pm. By 10 pm, the Inspiring Leader Math will look like this:
8 hours = 480 minutes = 48 inspirational speeches = 288 kobolds inspired = 7200 temporary hit points
If Wan Tei wants to participate in the battle herself, either as a caster or as a military leader, I, as a DM, would require her to take a 1-hour short rest from her 8-hour speaking engagement. (Skipping this short rest would incur some penalties, as would skipping the 30-minute breaks described above.)
She could lead them into battle at 11 pm and her troops would have about 7 hours to commit their mayhem before dawn at approximately 6:00 am. (Kobolds would suffer penalties if fighting in daylight due to Sunlight Sensitivity.)
If it takes time for the kobolds to get into position, Wan Tei can rest while the kobolds march and then teleport in when the battle starts. If 7 hours of darkness isn’t enough time for her, she can start her speeches in the morning before noon. If this is a planned battle, the kobolds can adjust their sleep patterns in advance.
Having a force of 288 kobolds, each with 30 hit points total, can be a real game changer. Their enemies would be caught off guard, expecting the kobolds to be relatively easy to kill rather than 6x less “killable”.
If during this 7-hour battle, any kobolds lose their temporary hit points, some of them can be recharged provided that Wan Tei can give them 10 minutes of her time in groups of 6 and that the combatants are allowed to take a 1-hour break from the battle (short rest) in addition to the 10 minutes for the speech.
If this Kobold Elite Battalion were to decimate some opposing force, word would travel quickly and Wan Tei’s career as a motivational speaker would be well on its way.
As a DM, this would be my interpretation of the limits of Inspiring Leader. Based on my interpretation, I would call this a good feat to have in the right circumstances.
Jeremy Crawford on Inspiring Leader and Temporary Hit Points
Jeremy Crawford is the lead rules designer of Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast (creator of 5e) and the Player’s Handbook Lead for the 5e Player’s Handbook.
While Crawford to my knowledge hasn’t commented on my interpretation of the Inspiring Leader feat, he has commented on the Inspiring Leader feat in other ways:
This was a response to a Twitter question asking whether or not Inspiring Leader could be used on skeletons. Crawford has also verified that Inspiring Leader can be used on oneself, which had already been stated in the PHB description.
Some people may want to stack temporary hit points with Inspiring Leader. Here is what Crawford has to say on the subject:
My final thoughts on the validity of my interpretation would be other feats like Polearm Master feat and Spell Sniper feat. When you use such feats, there is no 1x/long rest limit. They are used throughout combat, regardless of how long the combat is or how many combat encounters the player has during an adventuring day.
Why Inspiring Leader Isn’t Overpowered
My belief is that even if Inspiring Leader allows you to grant temporary hit points to hundreds of combatants within a single say, it is still not an overpowered feat.
To answer that question, let’s break things down.
Why do DMs complain about class features being overpowered?
They fear a loss of game balance. They think that if the characters become too powerful, the game will get too easy.
When Matt Mercer, probably the most famous DM of our current era, was asked about this issue, his response was that he simply makes the monsters more powerful.
Is that the answer?
If the problem is simply one of the balance of power between the player characters and the challenges they face, I would say Mercer is correct.
If you’re a DM and you think Inspiring Leader is overpowered, create a kobold NPC with the Inspiring Leader feat and make the party members fight 30-hit-point kobolds all the time.
Tiers of Play
In PHB, p. 15, there’s a section dedicated to Tiers of Play. If you’re capable of granting 25 hit temporary hit points with the Inspiring Leader feat, you’re a 4th-tier character. How important are you? As per PHB,
“The fate of the world or even the fundamental order of the multiverse might hang in the balance during their adventures.”
Therefore, if Wan Tei, a 20th-level, 4th-tier character, wants to devote a whole day to buffing out 288 kobolds for the purpose of a single battle, the DM should be ok with that. Such characters will usually have better things to do with their time than to tour around as motivational speakers and most players would get tired of their speaking tour rather quickly.
Inspiring Leader and Role-Play
As I stated earlier, if Inspiring Leader were to be nerfed into 1 inspiration/long rest it wouldn’t be worth choosing. What makes it worth keeping in the game un-nerfed is the role-play potential.
Imagine if Wan Tei were to give an inspiring speech to kobolds in Yipyak. What exactly would she say to them?
If I’m the DM, Wan Tei’s player has to give me and the other players at the table an actual speech. That’s role play!
Question: If the Recipients of Inspiring Leader are Undamaged, can they not Hold onto their Temporary Hit Points for Weeks, Months, and even Years?
Answer: In my opinion, no. Even though this is not addressed in the Inspiring Leader feat description, it is certainly addressed in the temporary hit points section of the PHB.
Question: Can the Temporary Hit Points of Inspiring Leader be Stacked with other Temporary Hit Point Boosters?
Answer: Normally, no. Inspiring Leader temporary hit points don’t stack with other temporary hit points from other class features. However, if there is a temporary hit points feature that is specifically stated as being stackable, it would then stack with Inspiring Leader.
Question: Does the Inspiring Leader User Need to Actually Participate in the Upcoming Battle?
Answer: As a DM, I would say no because the RAW (rules as written) don’t say otherwise. Wan Tei could simply sell the kobolds on the fact that the upcoming battle is in their interests and that they are certain to win because of their own superiority over the enemy (numbers, merits, commanders, equipment, strategy, magic, etc.)
Question: Is it Possible for an Inspiring Leader to Inspire more than 300 Combatants?
Answer: I believe that if you plan your Inspiring Leader Math well, great things are possible. Wan Tei can choose to not participate in the battle and put in a 16-hour day with little to no breaks.
Her kobolds could have light duties and postpone long rests in favor of several short rests, allowing Wan Tei to conduct her speaking engagement for a couple of days. That’s metagaming, but metagaming is definitely part of 5e.
Inspiring Leader is a feat that lets you bestow temporary hit points on 6 recipients at a time. The number of temporary hit points varies depending on your level and Charisma.
The recipients cannot renew their temporary hit points until they have completed a short rest or a long rest. The recipients must be able to understand you and 10 minutes are required to perform the feat. You can be one of the recipients if you chose.
RAW, you can perform the feat on rotating groups of 6, an unlimited number of times, but you might want to verify that with your DM before choosing this feat. Out-of-Game conversations, in my opinion as a DM, are essential for avoiding misunderstandings.
Imagine the frustration of a player who chooses a feat, sacrificing an ASI, only to find out that the feat isn’t what he or she thought it was. Even worse, imagine if the DM makes you keep the feat instead of allowing you to choose another feat or take an ASI.
Just because the monsters and magic are make-believe, doesn’t mean the people at the table are. The beauty of this game is that you can play a cold-blooded, human-sacrificing, chaotic evil yuan-ti Wild Magic sorcerer without ever disrespecting any of the people at the table in real life.