What Is Spell DC DnD?

Spell DC (Difficulty Class) is how challenging it is for the enemies to resist a spell effect or reduce spell damage when you cast a spell against them. 

Calculating Spell DC can be complicated for new players because it varies for different classes and characters in the game. So, this article will go through Spell DC, what it is and how to calculate it.

What Is Spell DC 5E?

Spell DC is an attribute of all spells, but it is often only used when it involves a saving throw. It is a target number representing how difficult it is for the opponent creature to avoid your spells. A Spell DC is the DC you will use for every spell cast by that class or creature. 

A target will roll a d20 saving throw to compare it with your spell DC. If it gets an equal or higher number, the spell will have partial to no effect, but if it rolls a number lesser than Spell Save DC, it will fail, and you win. 

Let us now calculate the Spell DC and Spell Save DC.

How to Calculate Spell DC?

Calculating Spell DC:

You need to add 10 points to your spell level and ability modifier. Ability modifier differs for Wizards and Clerics. Wizards use Intelligence modifier, Clerics use Wisdom modifier, and Bard class use Charisma modifier to determine their Spell DC. 

Spell DC = 10 + the spell level + ability modifier (Wizards will use INT, Clerics will use WIS, and Bards use CHA). 

If you are at level 1 and have a +2 ability modifier as a Wizard character, then your Spell DC = 10 + 2 + 2 = 14

Spell DC differs from the DC related to Extraordinary (EX) and Supernatural (Su) abilities, like Clerics channel energy ability. 

The formula for calculating Spell DC for these abilities:

Spell DC for abilities: 10 + 1/2 level + ability modifier.

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier.

Spell Save DC 

According to the Spellcasting Ability header on page 114 of PHB, Intelligence is the spellcasting ability for wizard spells. You should use your intelligence whenever the spell refers to your spellcasting ability.

 As a Spellcaster, your Spell Save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your ability modifier. 

If you have a +2 proficiency bonus and a +2 ability modifier, your Spell Save DC = 8 + 2 + 2 = 12

At level 3, your proficiency bonus will be +2, and your ability modifier is wisdom (for Cleric class). DC is the difficulty class of the spells you can cast, such as having the wisdom of 16 (+3), your Spell save DC will be 13.

If you target a goblin whose wisdom is 8 (-1), it must roll 14 or higher on the dice to resist your spell, and 14 will be your Spell save DC in the game. 

Spell Saving DC of a few D&D 5e classes:

Spell Save DC for a Bard, Paladin, Sorcerer, and Warlock:  8 + proficiency bonus + Charisma Modifier. 

Spell Save DC for a Cleric and Druid:  8 + proficiency bonus + Wisdom Modifier. 

Spell Save DC for an Artificer and Wizard:  8 + proficiency bonus + Intelligence Modifier. 

Spell Save DC for an Eldritch Knight and Arcane Trickster:  8 + proficiency bonus + Intelligence Modifier. 

Spell Save DC for a Monster:  8 + spellcasting ability modifier + proficiency bonus. 

Spell Saving Throw DC

A saving throw against your spell has a DC of 10 + the spell level + your bonus for the relevant ability (INT for wizard, CHA for Bard, Paladin, or Sorcerer, and WIS for Cleric, Druid, or Ranger).

The level of the spell varies based on your class. As a result, you should always use the spell level appropriate for your class.

How Does Spell Save DC Work?

To use Spell save DC, you do not have to roll a die. The spell’s description tells you when you need to factor in saving throws and DCs. When you use spell DC while crafting a spell attack, the opponent creature must roll a number equal to or greater than your Spell DC to counter the spell attack.

If your Spell DC is 14, then the opponent creature must roll 14 or higher on the total roll to defeat you, and if it fails, you win.

DC in Spell DC stands for Difficulty Class. Whenever your character makes an action that does not have a success guarantee, you need to skill check for success. If the result of the skill check is equal to or greater than the DC of the action, you succeed in acting. 

How Do I Increase the Spell Save DC?

There are a few ways to increase your Spell save DC in D&D 5e. If you increase your proficiency bonus and ability modifier, your Spell save DC will increase because of its formula (Spell save DC = 8 + proficiency bonus + ability modifier). 

Gain levels until your proficiency increases:  Your proficiency bonus rises as you level up. A proficiency bonus is required to determine your Spell save DC. So increasing it will automatically increase your Spell save DC. The minimum proficiency bonus is +2, and the maximum proficiency bonus you can earn in the game is +6 at level 17.  

LevelProficiency Bonus

Increasing your spellcasting ability modifier score: Various spellcasting classes have distinctive spellcasting ability modifier scores (Intelligence for wizards, Wisdom for clerics, Charisma for bards, etc). It is also required to calculate Spell save DC, whenever your ability modifier score raises, your Spell save DC will increase. Under normal circumstances, the maximum ability score you can earn is +5 at level 20. 

LevelAbility Score
10 to 11+0
12 to 13+1
14 to 15+2
16 to 17+3
18 to 10+4

Magic Items:  Apart from proficiency bonus and ability modifier scores, you may need magic items to increase your Spell save DC. Pink Ioune stone adds +1 to your proficiency bonus, Robe of the Archmagi adds + 2 to your Spell save DC, and Tome of Clear though gains +2 Intelligence. 

  • The Barbarian Capstone feature increases the Strength and Constitution capstones to 24. 
  • Some Rods, Wands, and Staves increase the Spell save DC.

How do I increase the spell save DC Pathfinder?

  • The easiest way to increase the spell save DC in the Pathfinder edition is by using the metamagic feat. 
  • Heighten spell allows you to use the higher level for calculating things that include saving DCs. 
  • Other meta magic feats like Focussed Spell will also raise the Spell Save DC in specific contexts. 
  • Other feats, like spell focus and elemental focus, will also boost specific groups of spells. 
  • The right traits, race, and class variants can also increase the Spell Save DC. 
  • The Spell Save DC also depends on your class. The Heighten spell also increases the save DC.

In D&D 5E, What’s the Highest Possible Spell Save DC?

In D&D 5e, the highest Spell save DC attainable is 30. This can be accomplished by having the following classes, levels, and equipment:

Player Class:  A Warlock with a Cleric or Paladin of at least level 1. 

These modifiers and items will gain you the following bonuses:

Base: +8

Charisma Modifier: +5

Proficiency Bonus: +6

Tome of Leadership: +1

Robe of the Arch Magi: +2

Rod of the Pact Keeper +3: +3

Amulet of the Devout (it requires a level 1 Paladin or Cleric) +3: +3

Ioun Stone: +1

Deck of Many Things (Star Card): +1

Total Spell Save DC becomes: 8 + 5 + 6 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 1 + 1 = 30 Spell Save DC. 

Technically, it could go higher by giving the monster a negative to saves, like cutting words (-1d12) and a few other spells. But, we will not consider it. 

The classes should be Warlock and Paladin, or Cleric because only a Warlock can use the rod, and only Clerics/Paladin and Warlock can use the amulet of devotion. Another benefit to picking the Warlock class is that it can use the robe of Archmagi.

Using an elf, you can achieve 95 Spell Save DC:

However, you may attain outrageously high Spell Save DC with the appropriate character, some luck, or the DM’s favor.  

Start with an elf character, an Undying Warlock at level 10 or above, or a Druid at level 18. By leveling up, the spellcasting ability score is 20. An elf character may live for up to 750 years, with a level 10 Undying Warlock increasing life expectancy to 750 x 100 = 7500.

If the elf got one of the 200-year-old Tomes, its life expectancy would drop to 7300 years. Each Tome boots its Charisma (Tome of Leadership and Influence) or Wisdom (Tome of Understanding) by 2. The elf can use them once every 100 years. The Spell save DC becomes 22. 

Now, the elf reads a tome once per century to make its Charisma or Wisdom score 166 to increase the ability modifier by +83. Now, the Spell save DC increases to 22 + 83 = 95.