How to Calculate Spell Save DC in DnD 5e


This is one of the essential mechanics for spellcasters in DnD 5e, as such; today we will explore how to calculate spell save in DnD 5e.

Dungeons and Dragons as we know it has a lot of intertwining mechanics that help develop the classes. One such mechanic is the spell save DC for spellcasters. The principle is the same between all the classes, so we just have to look at the basics.

Having said that, let’s see what it’s all about.

What is Spell Save DC?

Spell Save DC is in essence a number your enemies have to roll against to avoid your spells. Kind of like a regular saving throw really. Your enemies have to know what your capabilities are so that they can even stand a chance against you.

In essence, spell saves are a difficulty class that your specific class or character has, which helps them resist the effects of enemy offensive spells and or a cursed magic item.

Spell save is determined by multiple factors which we will look into later, one other thing that is important to mention here is magical items. Magical items are an optional addition to the game that most players use, these can add an extra bonus on top of your preexisting DC.

While it doesn’t specifically increase your spell save, an ioun stone for example is very helpful for defense. Other items may grant you special modifiers that hamper the effects of an enemy’s spellcasting abilities.

It’s important to mention that spell save DCs isn’t a wisdom saving throw, nor are they a constitution saving throw, they certainly aren’t a dexterity saving throw – you just might be required to make a DC check in all of these respective ability scores.
That is because of how the system works, read each spell’s description carefully and which ability score they require to be rolled.

Each spellcaster has a spell save DC to their name. What that number is, is based on a few factors. So let’s see what those factors are – and how to actually calculate them.

How to Calculate it.

The structure is simple.

You take a base spell save DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your ability score modifier. We talked about ability score modifiers and how they affect proficiency in the previous guide, so check it out there.

Now, what does this all mean you may ask? And where does the 8 come from?

Well, just like magic – from thin air… No, seriously. There is no reason for the 8 to be there, it’s just something the creators of the game decided. Where the real difference comes is from your proficiency and ability score for the class you are playing.

Your proficiency modifier can go up to a +6 and your ability score modifier goes to a +5. So if you’re optimized your character by the time you reach level 17 you should have a spell save DC of 19. Now, if you have magical items that boost that; you can reach over that number – this is why I brought up magical items earlier.

To sum it up. Your character’s spell save dc is his ability to avoid an enemy wizard spells that you would under normal circumstances decimate you – or at least take half damage if your DM feels like it.

That really is all there is to calculating your spell save DC. Now onto other important information about this and FAQs.

How Does it Work in Practice?

In practice, it works as follows. You, the caster. Have a predetermined spell save DC. The enemy who is on the receiving end of your spell has a d20. The enemy has to roll a save check with their corresponding stat to see if they get hit by your spell or not.

What is The Highest Spell Save a Character Can Have?

As mentioned earlier. The highest possible spell save DC you can have is 19 without class features or magical items, with magical items the sky is the limit.

It is worthy to note here that you should be careful when leveling up your ability score where you allocate your points in. A wizard requires intelligence to cast – but a cleric requires wisdom. So if you’re wrongfully distributed your points in the wrong stat, good luck getting your DC up.

You have to be prudent with your proficiency bonus increases, as the way you allocate your points during a campaign can either leave you immune to most magical effects – or on the other hand, it can leave you a magnet for fireballs and unwanted status effects.

Spell Save DC for Multiclass Characters

Multiclassing is a neat little thing that you can do. It also adds more numbers you gotta memorize. Yayyy!

What I mean by this is that. If you multiclass, you must calculate different spell save DCs based on which stat those classes use for their casts. So in the end you can end up either will a multiclass character that just covers one specific niche – or a jack of all trades.

As always, multi classed characters remain for the more experienced players. Just looking at a multiclass spellcaster table is bound to give you a headache.

Disadvantages While Casting

There are many spells and conditions that can give either you or your enemy disadvantages. The third level of exhaust for example can give you a disadvantage. Study and understand the conditions that can bring you a disadvantage and avoid them.

Conclusion on How to Calculate Spell Save DC in DnD 5e

That’s all there is to know about spell save basically. It really is a simple mechanic, players just get overwhelmed at the beginning when you add another roll that they have to perform after everything they’ve had to roll for already.

As always, I recommend reading the Player’s Handbook to get a better understanding of spellcasting and the class you want to play. And if you don’t find the information you need there, consult the dungeon master’s guide or any other relevant rulebook released by Wizard of the Coast LLC.

And if you’re still interested and want to learn more, then check out our site for further reading. I am sure you will find something informative.

Related Content:


Your #1 source for the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons! Visit the about us site for more on the project!

Latest news