The Help Action in 5e DnD is often forgotten, but it is one of the most versatile actions in the DnD arsenal. It can change the tide of a battle or advance the plot and create amazing roleplaying opportunities.
The Help Action is strategically useful. Even though it is not the sexiest use of a turn, when used to its full potential, this action can boost any DnD 5e campaign. Dive into this guide to understand the Help Action in 5e DnD better.
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What Is The Help Action 5e?
There are a few different types of Actions in 5e DnD. The most common are Move Actions, Bonus Actions, and Standard Actions. Help is a Standard action. This means you can use Help instead of attacking or casting a spell.
The Help action allows a creature to aid another creature. Players choose one creature they would like to help. That creature then gets an advantage on the action they are trying to perform. The Help Action has two main functions: helping a player with an Ability Check or distracting an enemy so an ally can make an attack.
In many situations, creatures use their actions, such as Attack, Disengage, or Cast Spell. However, there are times in each campaign when a player is unsure what to do or how to contribute.
In these situations, players should consider the Help Action. It might not be the most exciting action, but its utility is undeniable. Players are at the mercy of the dice, Help is a way for players to ensure a more positive outcome of a skill check or attack roll.
When To Use The Help Action in 5e
Players can use their Help Action whenever they have an available standard action. If they do not want to attack or make a skill check, they can consider using the Help Action to aid another player. If a Bard needs to negotiate with a guard, the Fighter can Help by standing close by and staring down the target.
In RAW 5e, a player does not need to be proficient in a given action to help another player. For example, the Barbarian doesn’t need to be proficient in Arcana to help the Wizard understand a magical inscription. Check with your DM if there are any limitations for one player helping another with a skill check or an attack.
Using The Help Action in Combat
Instead of wasting or belaying a turn in an encounter, a player can use the Help Action to increase the success of an ally. Players can take the Help Action to help another party member within five feet attack an enemy. If the Players can fake and attack, scream, or otherwise distract the target however they see fit.
Once the target is distracted, the attacking player rolls with advantage on their attack. The Helped player only gains an advantage on their first attack. Additionally, a player can only use Help once per turn and only on one creature.
The Help Action is incredible for strategically maximizing resources, particularly in intense combat. If a character runs low on spell slots, they can use their turn to ensure the martial classes deal damage. Using the Help Action can help players better economize encounters.
Help is useful in battle, but knowing and deciding when to use it can be difficult. Players must carefully choose which player they want to help. In the chaos of battle, this might be easier said than done. Make sure to pick a player that really needs the Help.
Help must be used as a standard action within five feet of the target, but the helper does not have to stay within five feet after the action is completed. Players can run around helping other players if they have enough movement.
Using the Help Action for Ability Checks
The most common use of the Help Action is to aid another creature in an Ability Check. There is less pressure to save Actions outside of combat. Just like in battle, Help gives the target advantage on their rolls.
When players want to use Help for an Ability Check, they announce who they want to Help. The Helper also describes how they will Help. For example, the Barbarian wants to help the Artificer create a new weapon. The Barbarian could stand around making bad suggestions until the Artificer is inspired by how bad the Barbarian’s ideas are.
The Help Action in 5e opens up a lot of role-play options. The Artificers and Barbarians could strengthen their relationship through a mutual Help exchange. The Barbarian helps by giving the Artificer a chance to talk things out, and the Artificer could help the Barbarian with an attack role in later combat.
Using Help for skill checks always gives all players to an opportunity to contribute in most situations. Remember, players might not be able to use Help in every situation. For example, one creature probably can’t Help another to pick a lock.
If there is no real pressure, the lockpicker can just try again if they fail, or another player can roll another check like STG to open the lock. Always check with your DM as to which situations work with the Help Action and which to do not.
Using the Help Action with Familars
Wizards and other magic users can cast Find Familiar and summon a celestial being to aid in their adventures. These familiars cannot make attacks but can assist others by investigating, sending messages, or using Help.
Familiars act independently from their conjuror. That means the Wizard will have their full round of actions available while the familiar Helps those on the front lines. For example, a Wizard could have a raven familiar that flies in within five feet of the attacker, using the Help Action, and flies out as soon as the attack is made.
Sending a familiar up to fight might make them a target for an enemy. However, it costs only 10 gp of charcoal, incense, and herbs to conjure a new familiar. The benefits outweigh the costs in most situations. Since familiars roll their own initiative, they can move and Help around the battlefield until they are dismissed, or their HP drops below zero.
The Help Action as a DM
The Help Action is versatile, especially in out-of-combat situations. Though it can allow for smooth movement through a given plot line, it might also lead to an overpowered party.
Players could use the Help Action out of combat to give each other infinite advantage. This may upset the balance of the game. In that case, the DM may limit the number of times each player can help each other. One option would be only to allow players to help a certain number of times per short or long rest.
Alternatively, the DM could limit players’ ability to use Help. DMs could rule that players can only Help with tasks and attacks with which they are proficient. However, I wouldn’t recommend changing the RAW on the Help Action unless it becomes a serious problem. Seeing the Wizard help the Barbarian with a strength check could be fun.
Mastermind Rogue & the Help Action as a Bonus Action
The Mastermind Rogue has the ability to use Help as a Bonus Action. At level three, these special Rogues gain the Master of Tactics feature. This feature allows the Mastermind Rouge to use Help as a Bonus Action.
Mastermind Rouges can give advantage to an ally during every round of combat. This is great for Ranged-based Rouges because they won’t need to use Cunning Action as often as melee Rogues. The Mastermind Rouge is a great build for maximizing the usefulness of the Help Action.
Is The Help Action Good?
The Help Action in 5e DnD is a great tool. With the Help Action, characters can aid their friends and enrich the gameplay. Players can use this action when they are unsure what to do in a situation. It can improve role-play by including characters in situations where they would normally be idle.
However, the Help Action has only limited use in combat. Most of the time, players will use their action to cast spells or make attacks. Unless a character has a familiar that can Help players in battle, the action has limited situational use.
That said, it is an action all players should keep in reserve. DMs should ensure their players know how and when it is appropriate to use the Help Action. Overall, the Help Action is ok and occasionally great in 5e DnD.
Help Action 5e DnD FAQ
Can I Use The Help Action As A Bonus Action?
Help cannot be used as a Bonus Action unless the character is a Mastermind Rogue.
Can You Use The Help Action On Yourself?
You can not use the Help Action 5e on yourself. You must help another creature.
Can You Ready A Help Action?
You can ready a Help Action, but make sure to assess the situation so you don’t waste a prepared action.
Can You Use The Help Action On Saving Throws?
You cannot use the Help Action on saving throws in 5e DnD. The Help Action only works on ability checks and attack rolls.
Jillian started learning Dungeons & Dragons in 2014. After being encouraged by a friend to make a character, she became fully involved in character creation and later became an awesome Dungeon Master. Jillian strives to use her creativity to spread her knowledge of DnD and interpret the ruleset.