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Teen’s TTRPG review: Inspirisles

Inspirisles is a beautifully illustrated game that utilizes sign language as one of the spell casting components!  Since I saw it, I knew I wanted to try it out with my son, and I was very excited to see him pick Inspirisles up right away (he even asks for it as the sign magic game now).  This game was amazing, and I hope you give it a try!

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Age target: teen

Instead of “age range”, I put “age target” because this game is very much targeted towards teens (based on both the age of the characters and development discussions that I’ve had with Rich, creator of Inspirisles).  The lore and themes are geared towards older kids as well, having kind of a coming of age vibe to them.

However, the mechanics were intuitive enough that I could run Inspirisles with my 3yo.  I used encounters that I thought would be appropriate for his age, and it ran very smoothly once he understood the basics.  I also kept all the lore and stories (and read them to him in pieces like they were a storybook) with only minor modifications so he could understand it a little better or in a way that was appropriate to him (like with the Clumsy Giant story). 

My point here is that the game is geared at teens, but I was easily able to play it with my 3yo with little to no modification.

Setting:

hedge portal

Inspirisles is set in a fae world that is mirrored from the British Isles and steeped in a wealth of fantastic lore.  There are fae friends who populate this world (my son particularly loves Piskie and Bucca), wyrms with a storied past who teach magic, and powerful elemental beings with temperaments to match.  All of this is centralized around a dying World Tree that your characters, selected due to their ties to the Pendragon family, must help heal.

As I said before, I read parts of the lore to my son as if they were adventure stories before I started actually playing the game with him, and it was a FUN read that we both enjoyed even without the game introduced at the point.  The world is very complete and colorful and epic and fun – and your characters have a very significant impact on it right from the start.  

Your character:  

Your character is a descendant from the Pendragons (so, King Arthur and Queen Geuenviere from the legends of old).  Due to a deal made with the fae realm, once your characters reach teen-hood, they must travel to this realm, learn to harness the elements, and heal the World Tree.  Your characters are important and have agency, which, in a game for teens, is VERY important.  

Creating characters was a lot of fun and also fairly quick.  You choose elements that build your character’s background and personality rather than their stats – they are based more on WHO they are as people and not WHAT they are as instruments for a game.  The character sheet was also very simple (excuse my son’s artistic scribbles), which is critical for getting players to focus on the game and any other elements you introduce (like sign language) instead of trying to find things on their sheets.  It also really helped me to track both my son’s and my sheet at the same time since it was easy to understand.

Inspirisles character sheet

Mechanics:

Dice pool + teamwork: 

To roll for actions (this includes shaping both in or out of combat), you elect a leader in your party to roll a dice pool, and they add bonuses to their roll if others in the group are helping them or there are item bonuses.

As your party levels, you also have opportunities to reroll some of your dice to change the outcome (either by rerolling yours or your opponents depending on if you are using offensive or defensive elements).

This mechanic is pretty easy to grasp but still offers a level of strategy with your rerolling.  It also significantly promotes teamwork so you can get bonuses added to your leader’s roll for the group by working together.  You make actions as a team and can be A LOT stronger for it.

Shaping: 

shaping hands

Shaping is where the sign language elements come into the game.  When you use elemental magic, you sign the word for it in order to use it.  So, at early levels, you can spell out A-I-R when using air magic.  

As your party levels up, you also level up your signing by adding body language or full sentences, which, in game, translates to better bonuses to your magic.

With my 3yo, who cannot spell on his own yet, we are practicing sounding out words and matching to fingerspelling – and he’s picking it up!  It’s slow, but that’s totally OK because the whole purpose is to learn and practice with the game.  The signing elements start out gradual, and the game gives a fun way to keep learning plus incentives players to practice outside of the game (if you are doing this as part of a school program).

Belief and disbelief: 

Instead of gaining experience in Inspirisles, you earn belief or disbelief based on how you complete challenges throughout the game.  

If you roll high enough or do well during events, you can improve the positive conditions throughout Inspirisles and gain belief that you can offer to the World Tree to increase your abilities or gain boons.  However, if you are not working together or allow negativity to reign, you gain disbelief… which can trigger calamities in the world or troubles for your group.

I really liked the idea of collecting belief to grow your skills since it rewards helpful behavior.  It also promotes teamwork as your group decides how they want to spend the belief you’ve earned together and strategize about how best to distribute skills. 

What did my kid think?

My kid has been asking to play “the sign magic game” since we’ve started and is really enjoying both getting to roll lots of dice and practicing signing (even if we’re just doing simple words or the first letter of the word so far).

He also really loves all the friends – every time I introduce a new friend, he gets super into it!  The first time we found a Capra (goat-folk), I showed him the picture, and my son immediately had a ton of questions and wanted to have a chat about why he was sad.  It’s been like that with every new friend – he really gets absorbed in the colorful world building associated with them and makes up stories (he likes to tell himself stories while he’s playing) for hours sometimes after the game.  It is definitely having a very positive creative impact on him.

capra

He also has really liked using the elements together instead of everyone using their abilities separately.  The first time we combined fire and water to make steam, he got SO EXCITED and after that, he started coming up with ideas on his own or asking along the lines of “what if we do earth and fire together?” … which led to some cool discussions on lava.  It’s been a fun activity in creative thinking with him, and he really likes being able to try out weird combos.

Overall:

I love pretty much everything about Inspirisles – it’s beautiful, fun, and full of amazing lore… and it is helping my son and me practice a new skill (sign language) that we get to learn together.  There’s simplicity in the mechanics, and the complexity comes with how creative you want to get with your abilities or how fast you want to advance, so it scales naturally.  I would highly recommend Inspirisles for teens and for testing out with younger kids!

Where to find a copy:

The Inspirisles website can be found here.

A copy of Inspirisles can be found on on itch.io and DriveThru!

Also, check out my interview with Rich, creator of Inspirirsles here.

And keep an eye out for Overisles, which is the next installment to the Inspirisles game but aimed at all ages (versus aimed at teens).

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions, tried the game because of this post, or have played this game before!

3 thoughts on “Teen’s TTRPG review: Inspirisles

  1. I was interested in their latest Kickstarter and noticed the base game was put out earlier so I landed here to see a review. Your review was very helpful! Thank you!

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