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Spell Attack Bonus 5e

Spell Attack Bonus 5e

Harness the power of your spell attack bonus.

No matter how I parried, I couldn’t ward off the Wizard’s spells…for every hit of mine she had three…soon my armor was scorched and my soul drenched in shame…was it luck, skill, or a pact with the gods that guided her hand so truly…?

What is a spell attack bonus in DnD 5e?

A spell attack bonus is a modifier added to rolls determining whether a spell attack hits or misses. When doing a spell attack, you roll a d20 (your spell attack) and add your spellcasting ability modifier + proficiency bonus (your spell attack bonus) to the result. If the total is equal or greater than your opponent’s AC (Armor Class), you hit.

Your spell attack bonus is a bonus on the spell’s roll to hit, not a bonus on your spell attack damage. If you succeed on a roll to hit, you roll your damage dice as you normally would, depending on the spell.

How do spell attacks work in DnD 5e?

Spell attacks work the same as weapon attacks, except instead of adding a Strength or Dexterity modifier to your d20 roll, you add your Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom modifier. Bards are full of charm and so draw from Charisma, while Druids draw from Wisdom due to their connection with nature, etc. 

Your spellcasting ability modifier is either Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom, depending on your class:

Here’s an HTML table with the information you provided:
Ability Score Classes
Charisma Bard, Paladin, Sorcerer, Warlock
Intelligence Arcane Trickster Rogue, Artificer, Eldritch Knight Fighter, Wizard
Wisdom Cleric, Druid, Ranger, Way of the Four Elements Monk

How do you calculate spell attack bonus 5e?

Roll a d20. Add your spellcasting ability modifier (based on ability score for Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom) to the result. Then, add your proficiency bonus (+2 for levels 1-4, +3 for levels 5-8, +4 for levels 9-12, +5 for levels 13-16, +6 for levels 17-20). Your D20 roll + your spellcasting ability modifier + your proficiency bonus = Your total spell attack roll.

The amount of your spellcasting ability modifier depends on how high your base ability score is for that ability:

Base Ability Score Spellcasting Ability Modifier
1 -5
2-3 -4
4-5 -3
6-7 -2
8-9 -1
10-11 0
12-13 +1
14-15 +2
16-17 +3
18-19 +4
20 +5

Your proficiency bonus is either +2, +3, +4, +5, or +6, depending on what level you are:

Level Proficiency Bonus
1-4 +2
5-8 +3
9-12 +4
13-16 +5
17-20 +6

The numbers on the right side of the charts above are what you add to your d20 spell attack roll.

Add this spell attack bonus to your d20 roll every time you cast a spell that is an “attack” (as stated in its description). If you go up a level, or your ability score increases (or decreases), check if you have changed tiers in the above charts, and modify your spell attack bonus accordingly.

Spell Attack Bonus 5e Calculation

Here’s how to calculate your spell attack bonus for each DnD 5e class:

Class Spell Attack Bonus Spellcasting Ability Modifier
Artificer = INT modifier + proficiency bonus
Arcane Trickster Rogue INT modifier + proficiency bonus
Bard = CHA modifier + proficiency bonus
Cleric = WIS modifier + proficiency bonus
Druid = WIS modifier + proficiency bonus
Eldritch Knight Fighter = INT modifier + proficiency bonus
Paladin = CHA modifier + proficiency bonus
Ranger = WIS modifier + proficiency bonus
Sorcerer = CHA modifier + proficiency bonus
Way of the Four Elements Monk = WIS modifier + proficiency bonus
Warlock = CHA modifier + proficiency bonus
Wizard = INT modifier + proficiency bonus

Spell attacks vs Saving throws

The difference between spell attacks (which use a d20 + spell attack bonus) and spell saving throws (which use Spell Save DC) confuses some DnD 5e players.

Some DnD 5e spells are mechanically categorized under “spell attacks.”  These spells require the caster to roll a d20 for the initial spell attack, then add their spell attack bonus. The spell attack + spell attack bonus must be equal to or higher than the target’s AC (Armor Class) to succeed. If the spell attack succeeds, damage is then rolled separately. 

Some DnD 5e spells are mechanically categorized under “saving throws” and thus are not “spell attacks.” These spells require the defender to roll to “save” themselves. If the defender gets equal or higher on their saving throw than your Spell Save DC (Difficulty Class), they resist the spell. 

A spell will clarify whether it needs an attack roll on your part (+ spell attack bonus) or a saving throw on the defender’s part in its description.

Which spells are considered spell attacks?

A DnD 5e spell will always have the term “spell attack” in the description if it is considered a spell attack. The language will usually be “you make a (ranged or melee) spell attack” or something similar. 

An “attack” is a specific mechanical term in DnD 5e that means the player makes a d20 roll to see if they hit. If your spell doesn’t have this language, it isn’t an “attack,” mechanically speaking.

Melee Spell Attacks vs. Ranged Spell Attacks

Some spell attacks in DnD 5e also have the Melee property. These spell attacks are sometimes referred to as “melee spell attacks,” which can lead to some confusion. The other spell attacks are “ranged spell attacks.” 

Here are the 14 Melee spell attacks in DnD 5e:

Melee spell attacks and Ranged spell attacks are essentially the same, except a ranged spell attack 5 or fewer feet from an opponent that can see you and isn’t incapacitated gives you disadvantage. You need room to let yourself work your magic!

Some melee spell attacks like Thorn Whip let you “melee” from 30 ft. away! 

Can familiars give advantage on spell attacks?

Yes, a familiar can give you advantage on spell attacks the same way it can with weapon attack!  This means a familiar can give you advantage with the Help action, or if you are using the optional flanking rules, by flanking an opponent with you. Let’s get familiar.

Flanking with a familiar for advantage on spell attacks

Flanking is an optional rule from page 251 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Since it’s based on physical space, Flanking requires a battle grid of either squares or hexes, and miniatures representing the combatants. Many games don’t involve Flanking for this reason, but also because it’s so simple that it can become overused.

The DnD 5e optional Flanking rules state:

“When a creature and at least one of its allies are adjacent to an enemy and on opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space, they flank that enemy, and each of them has advantage on melee attack rolls against that enemy.”

A familiar counts as an ally, so if they’re flanking an opponent with you, you get advantage on spell attacks. Familiars have low HP and can be taken out easily, so make sure your spell attack counts!

Helping with a familiar for advantage on spell attacks

The Help section of the DnD 5e’s Basic Rules  states:

“Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 5 feet of you. You feint, distract the target, or in some other way team up to make your ally’s attack more effective. If your ally attacks the target before your next turn, the first attack roll is made with advantage.”

The Help action is a big sacrifice for a party member since it uses up a main action, and it puts them in harm’s way. But what else is a familiar for, if not selfless companionship? 

Your opponent will probably get an opportunity attack and swipe at your familiar after it helps you. If you have a pseudodragon familiar or other flying friend, they can distract from above, but the target will probably still get an opportunity attack either way. Pick your moment wisely!

GameCows Tip: An owl familiar has the Flyby trait, which lets it ignore opportunity attacks! Swoop in for some help without giving a hoot about what happens.

How else do I get advantage on spell attack rolls?

You can get advantage on spell attacks in these basic ways: 

  • Target is blinded, paralyzed, petrified, restrained, stunned, or unconscious
  • Target is prone and you are within 5 feet
  • You are not visible to the target, but can see the target (you are hidden with Minor Illusion, using darkvision, etc.)

You can also get advantage on spell attack rolls in DnD 5e with some feats and class & race traits:


Grappler featGrapple an opponent to grant advantage (Prerequisite: Strength 13 or higher).

Mounted Combatant feat – You are mounted on a creature larger than the target, target is unmounted. [See also: Mounted Combat]

Class Traits

Cleric: Trickery Domain, Channel Divinity – Gain advantage if both you and your illusion are within 5ft of the target. [Cleric Domains]

Druid: Circle of the Shepherd, Hawk Spirit Totem – Use your hawk’s reaction to gain advantage. [Druid Circles]

Sorcerer: Wild Magic, Tides of Chaos – Grant yourself advantage on 1 spell attack roll. [Sorcerer Origins]

Warlock: Entropic Ward, Great Old One – Impose disadvantage; if attack misses, get advantage on next spell attack roll. [Warlock Patrons]

Race Traits

Elf or Half Elf trait: Elven accuracy – Re-roll one advantage die (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)

Kobold trait: Pack tactics – Advantage on attacks if an ally is within 5ft of the target (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

Kobold trait: Grovel, cower, and beg – If an ally is a Kobold, this trait can distract opponent and give you advantage (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)


Here are some spells that can give you advantage on spell attacks in DnD too:

  • Cantrips

Shocking Grasp – Electrocute metal-armored opponents to gain advantage.

True Strike – Gain insight to get advantage on the next attack.

  • First level

Guiding bolt – Mystical light makes your opponent glitter, and gives advantage to the next attack roll.

Faerie fire –  Outlines target(s) in fire, advantage against all targets in a cube that fail their saving throw.

Grease – Target(s) slip and fall prone if they fail a saving throw.

Entangle – Target(s) become restrained by massive plants if they fail a saving throw.

Tasha’s hideous laughter – Target falls down laughing prone if they fail a saving throw.

  • Second level

Shadow Blade – Advantage to hit with the blade if the target is in dim light or darkness.

Hold person – Paralyze humanoids.

Web – Target(s) become trapped and restrained if they fail a saving throw.

  • Third level

Blinding smite – Blinds enemy on a failed saving throw.

Tidal wave – Target(s) get washed away and fall prone if they fail a saving throw.

Here are all the ways to increase your spell attack bonus in DnD 5e:

Any Spellcaster Class


  • All-Purpose Tool +1 to +3
  • Experimental Elixir (Boldness), Alchemist Class Feature 1d4



  • Amulet of the Devout  +1 to +3
  • Bless Spell 1d4
  • Emboldening Bond, Peace Domain Class Feature 1d4
  • Guided Strike +10
  • Talisman of Pure Good (Good Cleric) +2
  • Talisman of Ultimate Evil (Evil Cleric) +2
  • War God’s Blessing +10


  • Cosmic Omen (Weal), Circle of the Stars Class Feature 1d6
  • Moon Sickle +1 to +3
  • Staff of the Woodlands +2


  • Amulet of the Devout +1 to +3
  • Guided Strike, Conquest Paladin Class Feature +10
  • Talisman of Pure Good (Evil Paladin) +2
  • Talisman of Ultimate Evil (Evil Paladin) +2 


  • Bend Luck, Wild Magic Class Feature +1d4
  • Bloodwell Vial +1 to +3
  • Favored by the Gods, Divine Soul Class Feature 2d4
  • Robe of the Archmagi +2
  • Staff of Power +2 
  • Staff of the Magi +2 


  • Robe of the Archmagi +2
  • Rod of the Pact Keeper +1 to +3
  • Staff of Power + 2 
  • Staff of the Magi +2 


  • Arcane Grimoire  +1 to +3 
  • Astromancy Archive + 1d4
  • Blackstaff  +2
  • Robe of the Archmagi +2
  • Staff of Power+ 2 
  • Staff of the Magi +2 

Of course, you can increase your spell attack bonus the old-fashioned way by leveling up too! 

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06/05/2023 08:30 pm GMT

Spell Attack Bonus 5e FAQs

Can spell attack rolls crit?

Jeremy Crawford tweeted on February 8, 2018 that “Spell attacks and weapon attacks both have a chance of scoring a critical hit.”

Do spell attacks get advantage from flanking?

Only “melee spell attacks” get advantage from the (optional) flanking rule from Dungeon Master’s Guide. The wording states that when a creature and at least one of its allies are on adjacent and opposite sides or corners of an enemy’s space, “each of them has advantage on melee attacks against that enemy.” So, only melee spell attacks count.

Does Magic Missile count as a spell attack?

Magic Missile doesn’t require an attack roll, so mechanically speaking it is not a “spell attack” in DnD 5e. Spell attacks require rolls. DnD rules designer Jeremy Crawford tweeted on December 8th, 2016 that “Magic missile isn’t an attack.” He further clarifies “By rule, magic missile doesn’t involve an attack, but as DM, you’re empowered to ignore/change rules.”

What is a spell attack modifier in D&D 5e?

Spell attack modifier is simply a synonym for spell attack bonus, and the terms are used interchangeably. A spell attack modifier is your spellcasting ability modifier (based on your charisma, intelligence, or wisdom score) + your proficiency bonus (based on your level).

Level up your casting some more with Holy Weapon 5e Spell, Necromancer 5e, and Dissonant Whispers 5e Spell.

Kendra Struthers

Saturday 6th of May 2023

FYI - the Spell Attack Bonus 5e Calculation section, there’s an error - it says Warlock use INT when it should say CHA.

Kendra Bruning

Sunday 7th of May 2023

Good catch, Kendra! Yes, that was a misprint. All fixed :)