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Proficiency Bonus (PB) 5e DnD: How to Calculate

Today, we’ll talk about your character’s Proficiency Bonus: what it is, how you calculate it, and what it applies to. Let’s dive right in!

What Is Proficiency Bonus (PB)?

In technical terms, the equation for your Proficiency Bonus is 2+( (Character Level -1) /4 ) Rounded Down. At level 1, that would be 2+0, which equals +2. As you might notice, the answer continues to be +2 until you hit level 5, when it changes to +3, and so on.

It’s important to remember that your PB is based on your total character level, not the level you have in any particular class. For many people, that rule will never come into play, but anyone with multi-classed characters will need to calculate their PB by looking at their overall level.

That’s all fine, but what does Proficiency Bonus actually mean? In narrative terms, your PB represents the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put into learning how to do something. Whenever your PB is added to a roll (often), it means that, as an adventurer, you’ve spent time and effort learning to do things like casting spells, attacking opponents, and plying your skills.

Proficiency Bonus By The Levels

Proficiency Bonus starts at +2 and increases at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17 until you reach the final +6. The following table shows your PB based on your character level.

Character LevelProficiency Bonus
Level 1+2
Level 2+2
Level 3+2
Level 4+2
Level 5+3
Level 6+3
Level 7+3
Level 8+3
Level 9+4
Level 10+4
Level 11+4
Level 12+4
Level 13+5
Level 14+5
Level 15+5
Level 16+5
Level 17+6
Level 18+6
Level 19+6
Level 20+6

Where Does Proficiency Bonus (PB) Apply?

Take a deep breath, folks, because your Proficiency Bonus is more applicable than anything else in the mechanics of DnD. The short answer is: nearly everywhere. But we’re going to break down some of the primary places you’ll see your PB come into play.

Skill Checks

During your character creation, you’ll likely have the opportunity to select two or more skills from your class and one or two skills from your background that your character is proficient in. Those skills will combine the relevant Ability Score modifier and your PB. As we explained above, that means you have honed your abilities to reliably use that skill, even under pressure.

For example, suppose your level 6 Sorcerer has a Charisma score of 19 and is proficient in Charisma (Persuasion). In that case, it means your Persuasion modifier is your Charisma modifier (+4) + your PB (+3) for a total of +7.

Saving Throws

Every class has two saving throws that your character is deemed proficient in. Whenever you make a saving throw for one of those two Ability Scores, you add your Ability Score modifier and your PB to the roll.

Attack Rolls

Your attack roll is calculated by rolling a d20 and adding the corresponding Ability Score Modifier (typically Strength or Dexterity). If you’re using a weapon that you’re proficient with, you can also add your Proficiency Bonus to the roll, indicating that you have trained extensively with the weapon and understand how to wield it to the best of your ability.

Spell Attack / Save DC

Similar to attack rolls, your spell attack rolls utilize your PB. The idea behind spells is that you can only cast ones you’re proficient in. You don’t become proficient in certain spells; any spell that you’re capable of casting is one that you have proficiency in.

Your spell save DC is calculated as 8 + Ability Score modifier + Proficiency Bonus. The Ability Score depends on your class since each class uses a specific Ability Score to cast spells. Using our level 6 Sorcerer as an example again, her spell DC would be 8+4+3 or 15 total.


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