How To Determine Spell Save DC: Tips For Avid Gamers

How To Determine Spell Save DC: Tips For Avid Gamers

DC is a common term in role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. It is short for difficulty challenge, which refers to how difficult a task or action will be. It’s useful for checks or saves.

The spell save DC is the number a target must achieve on their saving throw to prevent or mitigate the effect of a spell thrown against him.

When a spell has a saving throw, the DC appears. As your spell save DC increases, your targets will find it harder to resist your spells. So, how do you determine spell save DC?

How To Determine Spell Save DC

The DC appears only when a spell has a saving throw. A spell cast can demand any saving throw, and if the target cannot meet the spell save DC number, it fails.

To know your spell save DC number, you will need to calculate it. You can determine spell save DC using the expression: Spell Save DC = 8 + Proficiency Bonus + Spellcasting Ability Modifier.

You may ask, why the number 8? Well, eight is just a base number every spell caster begins with, but it can increase. 

Your character’s level determines your Proficiency bonus. Therefore, your Proficiency level will increase as your character’s level increases.

For example, from levels 1 to 4, your Proficiency bonus is +2. From 5 to 8, it increases to +3, and so on. It then translates to 10 + modifier at first level, 11 + modifier at fifth level, 12 + modifier at ninth level, etc. 

Your spellcasting ability modifier refers to that unique modifier that your character uses in attack rolls, defence, skills check, etc. There are various kinds of modifiers based on your class. 

Therefore your spellcasting ability modifier is not definite as it depends on your character’s class. For example, Warlocks have Charisma as their spellcasting ability modifier, while Wizards have Intelligence as theirs.

Example On Calculating Spell Save DC:

Suppose you have a Proficiency bonus of 5 and an ability modifier of 7. Then, calculate your spell save DC.


Spell save DC = 8 + Proficiency bonus + ability modifier = 8 + 5 + 7 = 20. Therefore, your spell save DC is 20.

What does this imply? Read on to learn more about Difficulty Challenge or Class (DC).

More On Difficulty Class (DC)

Difficulty Class is the measure of how difficult it will be for a target to resist, succumb, or avoid the effects of a spell cast on it.

When a spell cast at a target calls for a saving throw of a Reflex Saves in Half, it means the target must be able to meet the DC of the spell in order to avoid receiving the full effect of the spell, but he will get half of it.

If the spell calls for a Forte Negate, the target must get a Fortitude to negate the spell’s effects.

A fireball thrown at a bandit requires a Dexterity saving throw from any player within a 20-foot radius of the spell’s location. In this case, a goblin with 14 (+2) will need to throw 11 or above to get half the effect of that spell (assuming the DC is 13).

When And How To Use A Spell Save DC

When a player casts a spell at a target, they must make a saving attempt. Next, the target must consult the Spell’s Description to calculate the necessary saving attempt to mitigate the spell’s effect.

The target must roll a d20 and include his saving throw bonus to the outcome using the spell save DC as a comparison. It succeeds if the target reaches or exceeds the desired point. It fails if it falls below it.

Let’s say your spell save DC is 13. You then cast a Charm Person spell on a target, requiring the subject to make a Wisdom saving throw to evade your spell.

The target must equal or exceed your DC to resist your spell. Therefore, the target must roll a 13 or higher to withstand your spell. This rule applies to all spells that have a DC. You can see what happens to a target that fails or succeeds in the spell’s description.

As we advance, is it possible to increase your spell save DC? Definitely! Continue reading to learn how.

How to Increase Spell Save DC

You can boost your spell save DC using the suggestions below.

  • Increase your Proficiency. When you increase levels, this will also increase.
  • Boost up your spellcasting score.
  • Your DM can decide to permit some opportunities that could help, such as divine gifts, wishes from genies, infernal pacts, or whatever they conjure.
  • Get magic items such as Tome of Leadership and Influence and Robe of Archmagi. These items come with bonuses to your Spell Save DC.

So, speaking of magical items, how do they work? 

On DC Boosting Magical Items

The Tome of Leadership and Influence is the hardest to get among the magical items you need to obtain. However, acquiring them can increase your Charisma and Charisma Max by +2. Therefore, you’ll only need these items if the ability modifier is Charisma.

On the other hand, the Robe of Archmagi is Legendary and will only be profitable to sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards. It increases the spell save DC by 2.15. 

You also need to acquire items that can provide a static increase on your ability scores, proficiency bonus, and spell saves. These items include the Tome of Clear Thought, the loun Stone of Mastery or the Arcane Grimoire.

What Is Spellcasting Ability?

Spellcasting ability indicates how well your character can cast a spell. The spellcasting ability of your character depends on the ability base used to cast spells. 

Various classes have their spellcasting abilities. For instance, the spellcasting power of a Bard is Charisma. Therefore, the spellcasting ability of a Bard is Charisma.

Different Classes and Their Spellcasting Ability

  • The classes Artificers, Bard, Paladin, Sorcerer and Warlock, have Charisma their spellcasting ability;
  • The classes Fighter, Rogue and Wizard, have Intelligence as their spellcasting ability.
  • The classes Cleric and Ranger have Wisdom as their spellcasting ability. 

What Is Spellcasting Ability Modifier?

The spellcasting ability modifier of a character refers to the number on the ability used to power the spell. So, the spellcasting ability modifier of a character is the same as its ability modifier.

For example, if the base Intelligence score for an Artificer is 12. 12 has +1 as its modifier. Therefore, the modifier of the Artificers Intelligence will be +1. Thus, +1 becomes your spellcasting ability modifier.

What Is Spell Attack?

Spell attack refers to the number of saving throws a target receives to meet the caster’s spell save DC. The number a target receives determines whether he can or cannot withstand the caster’s spell.

There is no base for attacking, so you calculate your spell attack thus: Spell attack = spellcasting modifier + Proficiency bonus.

To decide whether you succeeded or failed, add your answer to whatever you rolled on your d20. Then, check to see if it fulfils the caster’s spell save DC requirement or lower. 

How To Use Spellcasting Ability Modifier In 5E

Ability modifier works with two other calculations: Attack Bonus and Save DC. The spell’s description states the one to use at a given time.

Spell Attack Bonus: This kind of spell mainly suggests that a player makes a ranged attack. 

Calculations for your spell attack bonus is thus: Your spell attack bonus = your Spellcasting Ability Modifier + your Proficiency bonus. 

Spell Save DC: The target has a chance to resist or diminish its effect. The target’s roll must reach or exceed the caster’s DC to succeed.

Base Scores and their Modifiers 

Base ability scores have different modifier numbers. Through this, you’ll know what number is attached to your modifier, based on the base score.

Score Modifier

1 -5

2-3 -4

4-5 -3

6-7 -2

8-9 -1

10-11 +0

12-13 +1

14-15 +2

16-17 +3

18-19 +4

20-21 +5

22-23 +6

24-25 +7

26-27 +8

28-29 +9

30 +10

About Character Skills

A character’s or monster’s skill refers to how they employ an ability. A monster has both starting and acquired proficiency skills. At the point of a character’s creation, you’ll know its starting proficiency skills. But a Monster’s acquired Proficiency skills will display on the monster’s stats.

We discuss some skills below:

Strength: This skill measures body power, athletic training, physical ability. Athletics is a subskill under Strength. 

Dexterity: It measures agility, reflexes and balance. It includes subskills like Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth.

Intelligence: This skill measures reasoning and memory. It includes subskills like Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, and Religion.

Wisdom: Wisdom measures perception and insight. Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Perception, and Survival.

Charisma: This skill measures force and personality. Deception, Intimidation, Persuasion, and Performance.


The spell save DC of a target’s saving throw determines whether or not he can avoid or lessen the effects of a spell cast against him. The target must have a DC equal to or greater than your spell to resist it.

DC is a term used frequently in role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. It’s an abbreviation for “difficulty challenge,” which refers to the difficulty of a task or action. It comes in handy for checks and saves.

You can increase your spell save DC by increasing your proficiency levels and boosting your spellcasting score.

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