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Difficulty Class 5e

Difficulty Class 5e

Just glancing at your character sheet, you’ve probably seen the word DC written there. If your character is a spellcaster, you can find it next to your spells with an explanation of how to determine your spell’s DC. It isn’t limited to spellcasters, though. DC, or Difficulty Class, can apply to saving throws, spells, magical effects, and ability checks.

What is Difficulty Class (DC) in DnD?

When the Dungeon Master decides to challenge their players in some way, they mentally set a Difficulty Class, or DC, for the challenge. The challenge can range from dodging a sudden rockslide to convincing an enemy to stand down from an impending fight.

For example, let’s say that a player wants their character to run up a wall and do a backflip to impress an NPC. The DM might decide this calls for a Charisma (Performance) check. They will then secretly decide on the DC, based on specific role-playing and mechanical factors. If the character is a Monk with a high Dexterity score, the DC would likely be lower than a Warlock who hates exercising.

Meets It, Beats It

The DC is the lowest possible number you can get that still allows your character to succeed. Using the example above, if the DC is 15 and your Charisma (Performance) modifier is +6, you will need to roll at least a 9 on the d20 to succeed. The more complex the challenge, the higher the DC. 

GameCows Tip: Rolling a natural 20 is exciting, but it doesn’t guarantee success. Some challenges are simply too hard for your character, and there is no way for you to succeed.

 While the DC dictates the minimum number you must achieve to accomplish your goal; the results can still be on a sliding scale. Remember the backflip? If you far exceed the DC, your DM might add extra details to the scene and reward you for performing even better than expected.

Similarly, if you miss the DC by 1 or 2, you might still do the backflip without sticking the landing, whereas rolling a natural 1 might leave you facedown in the dirt with a sprained wrist.