- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: Touch
- Duration: 1 hour (concentration)
- School: Transmutation
- Class: Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Ranger, Sorcerer, Wizard
- Level: 2nd level
- Damage/Effect: Buff
- Attack/Save: –
- Components: V, S, M (fur or a feather from a beast)
You touch a creature and bestow upon it a magical enhancement. Choose one of the following effects; the target gains the effect until the spell ends.
- Bear’s Endurance. The target has advantage on Constitution checks. It also gains 2d6 temporary hit points, which are lost when the spell ends.
- Bull’s Strength. The target has advantage on Strength checks, and their carrying capacity doubles.
- Cat’s Grace. The target has advantage on Dexterity checks. It also doesn’t take damage from falling 20 feet or less if it isn’t incapacitated.
- Eagle’s Splendor. The target has advantage on Charisma checks.
- Fox’s Cunning. The target has advantage on Intelligence checks.
- Owl’s Wisdom. The target has advantage on Wisdom checks.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 2nd.
What Is the Enhance Ability Spell in 5e?
Enhance ability is a 2nd-level buff spell that gives a target creature advantage on checks for one of the six ability scores. This spell is mostly useful outside of combat since it affects ability checks rather than attack rolls and saving throws, but it can realistically have a great impact in any type of 5e play.
This spell is a bit interesting because it allows you to choose from a wide variety of options. Rather than just giving a creature advantage on ability checks, it specifies it down to checks for a single ability score.
If you choose one of the physical abilities (Str, Con, or Dex), you get an additional bonus as well. Choosing strength doubles the target’s carrying capacity, choosing constitution gives them temporary hit points, and choosing dexterity protects them from a small range of falling damage.
These bonuses are all nice, but the only one worth regularly burning a spell slot for would be temporary hit points.
The question is, what makes this spell useful? We already have access to the help action, which can give an ally advantage for a single instance, so why bother burning a spell slot for the same bonus?
Well, some plans require us to be making more than one check. A stealth mission might require someone to make consistent dexterity checks for each round of time that passes or for every time they pass near a different guard. An infiltration mission might require someone to make consistent charisma checks as they convince people that they’re in the right place.
These kinds of scenarios can come up more often than we might think. Fortunately, they’re the kinds of things that we as players get to orchestrate. When you make a plan, it should be relatively easy to think of what sort of ability checks will be helpful. I’ve listed common times that you might need to cast this spell, based on the abilities it can buff.
- Constitution – These checks aren’t made often, especially since there are no skills attached to this. Survival situations (breathing underwater, fasting, going without sleep) might call for a con check, but it could just as likely result in a saving throw.
Instead, use the con buff when you’re looking for temporary hit points.
- Strength – Athletics is the only real strength skill, but this can also be used to boost grapple checks. This can be impactful if you need to carry great weights or if your brawler plans on climbing or messing someone up.
- Dexterity – You’ll probably use this most often for stealth missions, whether it’s benefiting actual stealth, sleight of hand, or even acrobatics.
- Intelligence – If you’re trying to garner knowledge, advantage on int checks might be useful. Perhaps a mission into an old dungeon with a lot of history might be the best time to use this.
- Wisdom – Perception is the biggest wisdom skill that comes to mind. Obviously, you can use this to benefit consistent insight, survival, or medicine checks, but more than likely, you’ll use this when you want to boost your perception.
Remember, advantage on active perception checks translates to a +5 boost to passive perception, which is an incredible bonus if you’re suspecting an ambush.
All of these bonuses can be incredibly useful but only if you plan on them. The other thing is that you don’t necessarily get to decide when you make a check. You can decide your actions, but your DM will determine when and how you roll for them.
Who Should Take Enhance Ability?
This spell is available to most casters in the game. It’s only kept from warlocks and paladins, and that kind of gives us a basis for who shouldn’t be casting it. Since this is a mildly useful concentration utility spell, it should only be used by characters with spell slots to spare.
Artificers and rangers do benefit from concentration spells — don’t get me wrong. Focusing on a concentration spell for an hour is much better than casting several spells over the course of the hour. The thing is that both of these classes often have more things to use their concentration on.
With a limited amount of prepared spells, a ranger probably won’t want to hold onto more than one or two concentration spells. Considering that Hunter’s Mark is an almost guaranteed priority, we can’t imagine a spell like Enhance Ability making the cut.
Artificers are a bit different though, and an argument could definitely be made for the importance of Enhance Ability. After all, this is a class focused on using their tools. Enhance Ability could be incredibly useful if the artificer expects to be making several tool checks.
Still, the more prominent users of this spell will be characters with a wealth of spell slots. On a half-caster, this might be the only concentration spell cast in a single day. With a full caster though, it makes a lot more sense to have different concentration options for inside and outside of combat.
Clerics and bards, with their natural tendency towards support rolls, are the first characters who really come to mind. Each of these classes have other abilities and spells that complement enhance ability, making it a perfect fit.
As for our sorcerers, wizards, and druids, it all depends on what kind of a build we’re going for. These classes tend to be much broader in their applications of spells, so not every character will have a use for this utility spell.
A conjurer, for example, who is constantly focusing their concentration into conjured beasts and elementals, won’t want to add another concentration spell into the mix and stray from their goal.
Most builds have a sort of tagline, a single purpose that carries through in their character choices. A lot of taglines for caster builds tend to include which sort of concentration spells they’ll be focusing on. This makes it easy to exclude enhance ability without a lot of thought.
Essentially, this is a good spell for support casters with spell slots to spare, although it might be useful in more specific niche builds.
Spells Similar to Enhance Ability
Enhance ability isn’t the only buffing spell out there. Here are a few other spells that can improve a creature’s ability checks.
This 1-minute concentration cantrip can allow a creature to add a d4 to an ability check of their choice. This is a much smaller bonus, but it doesn’t require us to burn a spell slot or to commit to a full hour of holding concentration.
Find Familiar, 1st Level (Ritual)
While this isn’t directly a buff spell, it does create a creature that can use the Help action on you or your allies. Cast as a ritual, this familiar can stick around until it dies or until you get rid of it. That means no spell slots for a virtually unlimited amount of Help or advantage on ability checks.
Pass Without Trace, 2nd Level
This concentration spell lasts for the same time, but it only impacts dexterity. Specifically, it provides a group of creatures a +10 bonus to Stealth checks along with a few other magical stealth bonuses. We trade the broad application of Enhance Ability for a hyper-focused, powerful spell that will see a whole lot of use.
This is a useful spell, but it isn’t quite as evergreen as other buff spells that provide AC bonuses or damage resistances. Instead, this is a spell for players who find themselves orchestrating complex plans that will require more than a few skill checks to be successful.
I hope this guide has helped you decide whether or not this spell will be useful to you. As always, happy adventuring.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.