The spell Enhance Ability augments the caster or their allies on ability checks.
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Enhance Ability 5e
Providing advantage on skill checks and various bonuses based on the ability score chosen for the target is the main function of Enhance Ability. The spell is available to the Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid and Sorcerer classes. It requires concentration and can last 1 hour. It has a range of Touch and targets only one creature at base level. Casting the spell at higher levels allows for the caster to target additional creatures.
Enhance Ability Effects
Casting Enhance Ability at the base level provides the following bonuses for the chosen ability:
- Bears Endurance- Advantage on Constitution checks and 2d6 temporary hit points.
- Bulls Strength- Advantage on Strength checks and carrying capacity doubles.
- Cat’s Grace- Advantage on Dexterity checks and cannot take fall damage from 20 feet or less.
- Eagles Splendor-Advantage on Charisma checks.
- Fox’s Cunning- Advantage on Intelligence checks.
- Owl’s Wisdom- Advantage on Wisdom Checks.
How Enhance Ability Works
The base level cast of the Enhance Ability spell provides advantage to ability checks of the chosen ability. This means that the target has advantage on initiative, grapple, shove, all skill checks, and straight ability checks. The effect also benefits the target in situations of contested rolls. For example, when a Wizard is casting Counterspell.
Attack Rolls, Ability Checks, and Saving Throws
5e has three main types of rolls: attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. The Effects of Enhance Ability only apply to skill checks. This means that attack rolls and saving throws are not affected.
Even though attack rolls and saving throws are based on ability scores they are not included in ability checks. This is why the target gains advantage on initiative and grapple (ability checks) but not to hit with a sword (attack roll) or evade spell damage with a dexterity save (saving throw).
Enhance Ability vs Guidance
The changes made to Enhance Ability in 5e are pretty significant compared to older versions. The granting of advantage instead of a flat bonus have made players question if the spell is any good. For example, Guidance provides 1d4 added to any ability check of its choice as a cantrip; while Enhance Ability lasts longer, it is a 2nd level spell.
The 1d4 from Guidance averages a bonus of +2 to any ability check. The advantage granted by Enhance Ability averages out to a +4 to any ability check. Mathematically, Guidance is less beneficial.
It also takes a full action to cast and only lasts for one use compared to an hour with maintained concentration. This may not seem important on the surface but when used in combat it frees up the caster to do other things while actively providing a buff to a teammate(s).
The downside of comparing the two spells is the need for concentration. The rules for concentration indicate that the caster can only have one concentration spell active at a time so a caster would not be able to use the spell in combination with any other concentration spell such as Alter Self. Guidance is a cantrip that doesn’t require concentration and can be used with concentration spells.
To summarize Enhance Ability, like many spells provides the most benefit in specific circumstances. While the changes to previous editions are significant, they are balanced well in the structure of 5e. The spell has huge role-playing potential and possible impact, as well as uses in the confines of combat. It is possibly one of the best and most overlooked buff spells in the game. Granting advantage on initiative to yourself or an ally could be absolutely encounter changing.