One of the common rulings my DM allows at my table is the usage of any source of music or wordplay to grant Bardic Inspiration, if you have that class feature. For example, I commonly use Minor Illusion to keep my hands free as a bard, seeing as it allows you to create music or discrete sounds over the course of its duration. Technically speaking, this appears to fit into the wording of the feature as I understand it.

The rules for base Bardic Inspiration state:

You can inspire others through stirring words or music. To do so, you use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can hear you. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d6...

Minor Illusion states:

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 30 feet

Components: S, M (a bit of fleece)

Duration: 1 minute

You create a sound or an image of an object within range that lasts for the duration. The illusion also ends if you dismiss it as an action or cast this spell again.

If you create a sound, its volume can range from a whisper to a scream. It can be your voice, someone else’s voice, a lion’s roar, a beating of drums, or any other sound you choose. The sound continues unabated throughout the duration, or you can make discrete sounds at different times before the spell ends.

For fun flavor, I typically use this to give characters an individual theme song that swells with their particular instrument when it's their attack, they're doing something impressive, etc. Costs me an action each minute, but it also saves me needing to use two hands to play a flute or lyre, and lets me technically make the sound of a song that might include multiple instruments, rather than the single one I can play at a time!


Variety is the spice of life and not every DM will rule as generously as my current one. Next week I have a different DM, and I expect I'll need to get quite creative to avoid using an instrument. My question is essentially thus:

Are there other features, spells, or inherent abilities that offer similar ability to inspire without an instrument?

  • Verbal or somatic components to such an ability are perfectly fine.
  • I do already know (and use) that I could feasibly say anything on my turn, like a witty line, poem, joke, or encouraging few words to inspire, so such an answer (while true) would not be particularly helpful.
  • Since Bardic Inspiration requires a Bonus Action to be granted, whatever ability or feature producing music would need to leave one's Bonus Action unused
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's very fair... I figured it would have defined RAW interpretations that would fit as alternatives, like other spells or features that specify they make music as part of their rules and flavor, but perhaps this is a question better suited for Reddit \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ "are there any methods of making sound that don't use an action of any kind?" is that the premise of this question? Because that would be less idea generation although personally I think this is answerable as is. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ The intent of the question myself was to have alternative options in the case where my new DM next week does not rule as favorably upon Minor Illusion's flexibility (which is his right). I'm not necessarily as concerned about action economy and am more concerned with the equipment--not using an instrument to produce music, by things such as features, spells, special racials, etc. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ So if something uses an action to make a noise that could be inspirational you are ok using an action and a bonus action each turn to deliver it? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 16:10
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think we need to close this question. The answer gives OP an answer to their problem and we aren't delving into opinion-based idea generaiton. But yes, we do need to watch for opinion-based answers and remove them if possible. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


Your bard's voice is sufficient instrument. All you need is a bonus action, and for your target to be able to hear you. You can "skin" the cause however you like, whether that's words of encouragement, singing or playing your instrument, or something else. You certainly don't need to cast other spells to be able to use your basic class feature.

You certainly could for Role-Playing purposes if your DM allows it, but if your DM is requiring you to use an instrument you might want to reread the first sentence of the Bardic Inspiration class feature. And maybe also remind the DM that as a class feature it probably shouldn't be nerfed.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You know, I honestly had never considered that I could just have him sing. This is a really good suggestion. That said, I promise my DMs are very reasonable people and don't intend to nerf basic class features; they're mostly concerned with the scope of what they can do with the written rules, but don't rule in ways that make features useless. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 16:24
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @MiloKurain That may not have been their intent, but that was the result :( And that's okay - DM's can make mistakes! This answer is spot-on, and I'll bounty it when I can, but you should talk with your DM(s) about how this works. And then have fun with the flavor of your inspiration :) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 16:42
  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ And it doesn't have to be sing! It could a gentle "You can do it bud" or it could even be friendly ribbing "Haha, there's no way you can hit a goblin in the face at 20 paces" \$\endgroup\$
    – aslum
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 16:42
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @aslum Absolutely! "Stirring words" don't have to be music--hence the or. I've DM'd for everything from a "traditional" Bard strumming a lute in the middle of a battle, to a (Norse-inspired) bard that had war chants going while fighting on the front lines, to someone who actually did the Dad Bard: "You can do it, Champ, I believe in you!" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 18:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ As another example, I had a bard who recited poetry. I wrote a short poem for every spell she knew and bardic inspiration was something off the cuff for each situation. Always nice to think outside the bard = musician box. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 14:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .