Inspirisles - a tabletop RPG for teaching sign language to teens

Review of Inspirisles, a uniquely beautiful sign language tabletop RPG for teens!

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

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Recommended age and skill range for Ispirisles: teens (and younger)

Inspirisles is a tabletop RPG that is made specifically for teens, but I was also easily able to play this game and story with my 3yo.

Inspirisles 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 game’s lore and themes are also geared towards older kids, having kind of a coming of age kind of vibe.

However, Inspirisles‘ mechanics are also intuitive enough that I could run this tabletop RPG with my 3yo.  I used encounters that I thought would be appropriate for my kid’s age, and it ran very smoothly once he understood the basics.  I also kept all the lore and stories as part of the game, reading them to my child 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). 

Inspirisles is a tabletop RPG that is made specifically for teens, but I was also easily able to play this game and story with my 3yo.

Inspirisles‘ beautiful Celtic setting:

Inspirisles - a tabletop RPG for teaching sign language to teens - hedge portal

Inspirisles is a tabletop RPG 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 wonderful world (my kid 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 game’s lore to my kid 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 being introduced at the point.  The world of Inspirisles is complete and colorful and epic and fun – and your characters have a very significant impact on the world right from the start.  

Your lore-tied Inspirisles character:  

Inspirisles' easy to use character sheet

Your character in Inspirisles is a descendant from the Pendragons (so, King Arthur and Queen Geuenviere from the legends of old).  Due to an ancient family 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 as soon as the adventure kicks off, which, in a tabletop RPG for teens, is VERY important.  

Creating characters in Inspirisles 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 kid’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 spending all your time finding things on the character sheet.  It also really helped me to track both my kid’s and my sheet at the same time.

Inspirisles‘ lite, accessible, and story-focused mechanics:

Combining a dice pool and 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 while playing Inspirisles, 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 game mechanic is pretty easy to grasp but still offers a level of strategy with your rerolling.  It also significantly promotes teamwork, focusing players on the RP part of tabletop RPGs, 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.

Inspirisles‘ sign language mechanic, shaping: 

Inspirisles - a tabletop RPG for teaching sign language to teens - shaping hands

Shaping is where the sign language elements come into Inspirisles.  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. Sign language is fully integrated into this tabletop RPG in an intuitive and narrative-focused manner.

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 of playing Inspirisles is to learn and practice with the game.  The signing elements start out gradual, and the game gives a fun way to keep learning and growing. It’s also a great incentive to practice outside of the game to prep for your next session, especially if you are playing Inspirisles as part of a school program.

Belief and disbelief in Inspirisles

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

Instead of gaining experience in Inspirisles, you earn belief or disbelief for your team 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 the Inspirisles world 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 your group allows negativity to reign, you gain disbelief… which can trigger calamities in the world and mean trouble for your group.

I love the idea of collecting belief to grow your in-game skills since it rewards helpful and positive behavior.  It also promotes teamwork as your group decides how they want to spend the belief you’ve earned together (since it is earned as a team) and strategize about how best to distribute skills.

What did my kid think of Inspirisles?

Inspirisles has been a big hit – 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).

Inspirisles - a tabletop RPG for teaching sign language to teens - capra (goat-folk)

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 my kid the picture, and he immediately had a ton of questions and wanted to have a chat about why the character was sad.  It’s been like that with every new friend – he 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.  Inspirisels is definitely having a very positive creative impact on my kid.

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 fun discussions about lava.  It’s been a fun activity in creative thinking with him, and he really likes being able to try out weird combos throughout the game.

Overall impression of Inspirisles:

I love everything about Inspirisles – it’s beautiful, fun, and full of amazing lore… and it is helping my kid and me practice a new skill (sign language) that we get to learn and experience 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! This is a great tabletop RPG for players new to role-playing games or for seasoned players looking for a new world and to try out some new skills.

Where to find a copy of Inspirisles:

The Inspirisles website can be found here, and a copy of Inspirisles can be found on on DriveThru and itch.io! 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 (plus I’m a guest writer)!

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

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Inspirisles - a tabletop RPG for teaching sign language to teens - signing thank you!

5 thoughts on “Review of Inspirisles, a uniquely beautiful sign language tabletop RPG for teens!

  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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