© Wizards of the Coast by Clint Cearley

Guidance in DnD 5e: A Very Helpful Cantrip For Checks

Guidance is a quintessential support spell for supportive casters. The spell gives an extra 1d4 to an ability check made before the spell ends.

It’s a power cantrip that vastly improves you and your allies’ chances of making it through many meaningful roleplay and exploration scenarios.

Guidance works only on ability checks, meaning no saving throws or attack rolls as they are not considered ability checks. Ability Checks are an essential third pillar of combat and roleplay in D&D 5e.

They represent rolls that show training and skill with a specific ability score outside of simply hitting people or withstanding attacks.

Skill throws (Acrobatics, Sleight Of Hand, etc.) are ability checks as ability checks are defined as “any rolls using your ability scores that are neither attack rolls nor saving throws. Guidance is a critical spell for supportive casters as they will need low-cost methods to aid their party members. 

Saving spell slots for things like Bless, Bane, and healing spells will better suit the whole party. Thus, Guidance comes into play for something like Acrobatics checks to get over difficult terrain or climb up a hill.

Guidance allows the caster to support exploration explicitly and even combat movement without expending valuable spell slots. 

The Guidance cantrip has synergy with every single party and every single ability because it’s just an extra modifier to add to an ability check. There’s basically never a time where Guidance will do you wrong; it will be used in virtually every campaign at some point.

Who Can Cast Guidance?

Clerics, Druids, Artificers, and Divine Soul Sorcerers can cast Guidance from the 1st-level. Bards can take the spell from the Cleric spell list using their Magical Secrets feature, starting at the 6th level for Lore Bards and the 10th level for all bards.

Guidance is very much a Cleric spell in flavor. There’s nothing more “cleric-y” than providing divine aid to an ally by touching them. It’s very much within the taste of Clerics and Divine Soul Sorcerers. The spell is very reminiscent of a priest touching a lost lamb and granting them greater wisdom.

Druids and Artificers are missing a bit of flavor but still make good use of the Guidance cantrip because everyone can use the Guidance cantrip. Heck, even taking the spell at the 6th or 10th level as a BARD could be helpful if your party doesn’t already have a Guidance user!

When and Why Should I Take Guidance?

If you can take Guidance and you don’t need the slot for a damaging spell — or you have all of your possible damaging spells — Guidance is a great pick up! As previously mentioned, there’s basically no lousy time to have Guidance on your spell list; it will come in handy in a wide array of situations. 

The Guidance spell really has no downsides whatsoever aside from the lack of immediate uses in combat. It won’t ever serve you poorly to have on your spell list.

Where Should I Cast Guidance?

You can cast Guidance any time you or an ally wants to use an ability check! Guidance’s flavor seems to imply that the spell’s components are as simple as clapping the character on the shoulder and saying, “You’ve got this! Go get ‘em!”

There are a wide array of ability checks that an adventurer may encounter when it comes to exploration. Climbing a tower of trash, getting through a field of loose stones, or even just jumping over a table could be a time when you’ll see ability checks cropping up. You could empower your bard to give an enthralling performance to nobles.

If you happen to see that your next foe is a caster, dropping Guidance on your Counterspell user could save your party from being blasted with an empowered fireball.

Guidance For Using Guidance

Players will want to use Guidance basically any time that they aren’t currently concentrating on another spell and when a player is about to make some kind of ability check.

There’s really not a wrong time to cast Guidance since it doesn’t cost anything besides a quick clap on the shoulder, so there’s no downside to casting it.

One of the best times to cast Guidance is when you think that you or your ally might have to make a Counterspell check. Counterspell’s check is an Ability Check with a DC of up to 19.

As an ability check, it can be used with Guidance which will grant the user an additional 1d4 to their Counterspell check if they need to Counter a higher-leveled spell.

For Dungeon Masters, you’ll want to incorporate many ability checks if a player has the Guidance spell on their spell list. Whether you include traps that they can search for or an obstacle course for them to make their way through, DMs must learn and take time to account for the spells that their party has.

Good ways to incorporate Guidance in combat include opportunities to boost Counterspell and opportunities to facilitate movement.

Giving players a combat scenario with a powerful wizard where a boosted Counterspell wins the fight can be an incredibly satisfying use with Guidance.

Alternatives to Guidance

Bless

Bless is basically just a more robust Guidance. Bless and Guidance do almost the same things but Bless affects more creatures and affects attack rolls and saving throws rather than ability checks. They are both Concentration spells, so you can’t use them both at once.

Frequently Asked Questions About Guidance

Is Guidance a Concentration Spell?

Yes! Unless the Guidance bonus is used immediately, the caster will need to maintain concentration for 1 minute or until the bonus is used.

Does Guidance work on attacks?

No! Guidance only works on ability checks, not attacks or saving throws.

Does Guidance work on Initiative rolls?

Yes! Guidance works on Initiative rolls as they are a subset of ability checks.

Can you cast Guidance on yourself?

Yes! So long as you can touch physically touch yourself, you can cast Guidance on yourself! You could even do so while blinded so long as you can feel the target!