Last Updated on January 22, 2023
So many great deeds, acts of heroism, and valor have been inspired by a great speech.
From King Theoden’s speech at the Battle of Minas Tirith (or Aragorn’s at the Black Gate) to Idris Elba before the final assault on the portal in Pacific Rim – my personal favorite – a few inspirational words before the fighting begins can make the difference between victory and defeat.
The Inspiring Leader Feat in Dungeons & Dragons 5e lets you do just that.
The Inspiring Leader Feat is perfect for players who strive to inspire their allies, bolster their resolve, and keep them fighting harder for longer in the battle to come. It’s also a helpful thing to have in your back pocket if your party is light on healing.
What Does the Inspiring Leader Feat Do?
The Inspiring Leader Feat allows you to give a rousing speech, or otherwise take time to comfort and encourage your allies, which bolsters their resolve in the form of temporary hit points.
Your presence and reassurance is enough to fill them with the courage to stay conscious and fight for longer – maybe for just a round or two, but maybe that’s enough.
When things get tough and the difference between taking down the enemy and a total party wipe rests on the single swing of a sword, this Feat can make the difference.
When you take this Feat, you gain the following benefits:
Your words and deeds inspire others, strengthening your companions’ resolve. If you spend ten minutes encouraging your companions with a rousing speech, you grant up to six creatures that can hear and understand you (including yourself) temporary hit points equal to your Charisma Modifier + Your Character Level. Creatures affected by this Feat cannot benefit from its effects until they have taken a short rest.
Why the Inspiring Leader Feat Is So Good
Ok, let’s do some rough calculations because I want to demonstrate that, under the right circumstances, this Feat is insanely powerful. Like, “powerful enough to compensate for a party with no healer” powerful.
Let’s assume that you pick this Feat up at 4th level (typically the first opportunity to get a Feat) on a character with a score of 16 in Charisma (the highest you can get your primary attribute at 4th level using the Standard Array or Point Buy generation methods if you’re also grabbing a feat, which we are.
That means that each time your party takes a short rest, you can use ten minutes to give each member of your party, including yourself, a boost of 7 temporary hit points.
Let’s assume the maximum party size and say there are six of you. You’re effectively creating a 42-hit-point buffer between you and your allies every short rest.
Assuming you get the chance to take a short rest between most of your encounters, you’re probably taking two short rests per day, which means you can benefit from this Feat three times: once when you wake up, and then again after each short rest.
That’s an extra 126 points of damage that your ability is going to soak up over the course of the day. That’s almost the hit point total of a Young White Dragon.
Yeah, the Inspiring Leader Feat lets you give your party a hit point buffer equivalent to the life force of a Wooly Mammoth, Giant Shark, or Earth Elemental every single day.
That actually puts you close to actual healers in terms of how much of an effect you can have on your allies’ survivability.
For a quick contrast, let’s look at the Life Domain Cleric, also at 4th level, also with a 16 in their primary modifier (Wisdom). At 4th level, the Life Domain Cleric has access to three spells of 2nd level and four spells of 1st level.
Let’s assume the Cleric player is a dedicated and selfless healbot and uses all their spell slots for healing. Per long rest they can cast Cure Wounds (1d8 + 3) four times and Prayer of Healing (2d8 + 3 to up to six creatures) twice.
Assuming the average result across all rolls, and that the Cleric manages to hit all six party members with both uses of Prayer of Healing, the average hit points they heal over the course of the day would be… 90 hit points. And the Life Domain Cleric is unarguably the best healer in the game.
That’s, frankly. a bonkers amount of enemy damage soaked over the course of a day. Now, just imagine if you threw this Feat on a Life Domain Cleric.
Before we move on to who can make the best use of this Feat, however, a word of warning: temporary hit points are not hit points.
Drawbacks of the Inspiring Leader Feat
Temporary hit points are fickle and transitory and don’t play well with one another. Yes, you can soak up a massive amount of damage with the Inspiring Leader Feat every day, but the efficiency of this Feat can all fall apart very quickly.
No time to take a short rest? Bummer dude, no temporary hit points.
Still have hit points left over from the last time you used or benefited from this ability? Those hit points are gone now, which sucks.
Ally just went unconscious in the middle of a battle? Ooh, that’s rough, buddy – maybe you should have been a healer after all.
While the Inspiring Leader Feat is a great way to bolster your party’s survivability and take some stress off the Cleric – maybe letting your friend Steve play something other than a dedicated healer for once – the fact that temporary hit points act more like a shield or buffer than true hit points means that you’ll struggle to shoulder the duties of a healer using this Feat alone.
The other drawback I have to mention is time. If your long rest ends with a random encounter, or someone attacking you right out of the gate, you’re not going to have a full ten minutes to spare sitting around giving your allies a reason to approach the day with a can-do attitude.
Ten minutes is an eternity in terms of D&D combat time (a hundred rounds, to be exact) so this ability is expressly for downtime – or maybe during travel if your DM is ok with it.
Also, I’ve worked for bosses before who clearly thought they had this Feat, and if any of them had spent ten minutes trying to inspire me with words of heroism an average of three times a day, I’d be in prison now for doing highly illegal, but totally justifiable, violence with a stapler, a rubber band ball, a folding chair, and the office water cooler.
I’d personally download a couple of inspirational speeches from the internet, not to mention find other ways to lift people’s spirits.
Remember Aragorn’s conversation with the Haleth Son of Hama before the Battle of Helms Deep is also a great example of how you can use this Feat a bit more subtly – for all the good it did little Haleth.
When To Pick the Inspiring Leader Feat
This is the perfect Feat for a non-healer to be able to buff up their allies before battle.
Alternately, it’s a great way for dedicated or half-healers to create a buffer that allows them to use their healing abilities less, focusing more on damage and utility, or just saving those big heals for when it really counts.
Because your Charisma modifier provides a constant addition to the number of temporary hit points you deal out (the level addition is a nice way of making the Feat scale) you’re going to want at least a +3 Charisma modifier to get the most out of this Feat.
Classes that play well with this Feat include the Paladin (probably the best for this, narratively and mechanically), Sorcerer, Warlock, and Bard (the other obvious choice).
While this Feat does remain useful at pretty much any level, it’s most impactful at earlier levels, when hit points are scarcer, healers have fewer spell slots, and the party will be more inclined to take short rests often.
While the Custom Lineages from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and the Variant Human from the Basic Rules both let you grab a Feat from 1st level, I would recommend waiting until 4th to pick this Feat, as you’ll take it right around the sweet spot when the number of temporary hit points granted by the Feat really start to feel impactful.
Commonly Asked Questions
Is Inspiring Leader an action?
Not in the sense that it’s something you can do in combat. Inspiring Leader is a Feat that requires 10 minutes to use, so you’d need 100+ rounds of combat for it to take effect.
Can you stack Inspiring Leader?
No. Because any new temporary hit points replace any that your character currently has, multiple instances of Inspiring Leader (whether from the same person or multiple people) do not stack.
How long do temporary hit points last?
Temporary hit points last until you take a long rest, or until you gain more temporary hit points from another source, which replace the temporary hit points you have currently.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.