Dungeons & Dragons: Spell Save DCs Explained

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  • What Is A Spell Save DC?
  • How Do You Calculate A Spell Save DC?
  • What's Your Character's Spellcasting Ability Modifier?

Dungeons & Dragons provides players a wide range of options when creating characters, from a player's choices of class, subclass, and races. Depending on the choices they make in character creation, there's a chance that a character will be able to wield magic and cast spells. Spells come in a wide variety of forms, providing services such as healing, dealing damage to one's foes, or providing out-of-combat utility.

When choosing a character's spells, there's a strong chance that a spell may require one or more creatures to make a saving throw, in turn requiring the spell's caster to have a Spell Save DC. In order to help newcomers to spellcasting in Dungeons & Dragons, we're going to explain everything you need to know about Spell Save DCs in the fifth edition of D&D.

What Is A Spell Save DC?

Short for Spell Save Difficulty Class, a Spell Save DC is the total number that a creature must roll in order to mitigate the effects of a given spell. For example, if a Wizard has a Spell Save DC of 14, and they cast Fireball, each creature within the range of that spell must make a Dexterity Saving Throw with a total result greater than or equal to 14 in order to not suffer the full brunt of the spell.

While different types of spells require different types of saving throws to be made, a caster uses the same Spell Save DC for each of their spells. So whether that Wizard was casting Fireball, Charm Person, or Thunderwave, the DC would still be 14, despite each of these spells requiring different types of saving throws to be made.

How Do You Calculate A Spell Save DC?

Calculating a character's Spell Save DC is quite a straightforward process, and it allows for a character's Spell Save DC to increase over the course of a campaign as they accumulate levels. In order to calculate your character's one, simply use the following formula:

  • 8 + Your character's Proficiency Bonus + Your character's Spellcasting Ability Modifier.

As a character's Proficiency Bonus naturally increases over the course of a campaign and characters can increase their various ability scores as part of specified level-ups, it will become increasingly difficult for others to succeed against a caster's DC as they grow in power.

What's Your Character's Spellcasting Ability Modifier?

The various types of spellcasters in Dungeons & Dragons use varying Ability Modifiers to cast their spells based on the methods a character of a given class may use to wield magic. Bellow, you can see the corresponding Spellcasting Ability Modifiers for each class as well as each subclass that allows a character of a martial class to cast spells.

  • Artificer: Intelligence.
  • Bard: Charisma.
  • Cleric: Wisdom.
  • Druid: Wisdom.
  • Fighter (Eldritch Knight): Intelligence.
  • Monk (Four Elements, Shadow, and Sun Soul): Wisdom.
  • Paladin: Charisma.
  • Ranger: Wisdom.
  • Rogue (Arcane Trickster): Intelligence.
  • Sorcerer: Charisma.
  • Warlock: Charisma.
  • Wizard: Intelligence.

While some races such as Tieflings are capable of casting certain spells regardless of their class, spells that are cast via a racial trait in this manner have a specified Spellcasting Ability Modifier based on a given race.

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