How to Calculate Spellcasting Ability Modifiers 5e


The one thing beginner caster class players do often is not look into which Ability Score they need for their Spellcasting Ability Modifiers in DnD 5e.
They leave it to common sense and just add on to their Intelligence Ability Score. Because, in most games at least. Intelligence = more mana = more spells you can cast.

That isn’t the same in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. Thankfully DnD has a lot of fleshed out systems and mechanics covering everything. That can be a double edged sword though, as that only means you have to remember more things.

Not to worry thought. Today we will make at least one of those systems easier to understand.
And for that reason. Today we will be looking at what Spellcasting Ability Modifier is in DnD 5e and which class uses what Ability Score.

We looked at Ability Score Modifiers in another article, so go check that out to learn more. We also looked at another system that correlates to Spellcasting in DnD – that being the Spell Save DC. Check that article out too if you wish to know more.

Without further ado thought. Let’s get into looking at what’s what.

What are Spellcasting Ability Modifiers in DnD 5e?

Your Spellcasting Ability Modifiers are based on the main Ability Score that your class uses to cast spells. They give you a further bonus to your casts, up to a total of +6 at lvl 17.

There are 6 Ability Scores in DnD 5e. Which are: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma.

Each class that is capable of casting spells has a corresponding Ability Score that they use for that.
All this means is that, you should know what your class uses at the start of your campaign; before you start building it. Putting points in the wrong Ability Score modifier every time you get an Ability Score Increase will just harm you in the long run. Getting the wrong feats – even more.

Spellcasting works differently for different classes. Know and understand what the prerequisites are.
Though the Spellcasting Ability Modifier principle remains the same for every class. So let’s look instead which class uses what. So that you may better know in the future which path to go down.

The Ability Scores Used For Casting

As mentioned in the introduction. DnD isn’t as simple as most other games. Stacking Intelligence won’t make you stronger, unless your specific class uses it.
Speaking about Intelligence.


The Classes that use Intelligence as their base for casting are.

The Wizard

The Eldritch Knight (Subclass)

The Arcane Trickster (Subclass)

I always like to think that this Spellcasting system is intuitive in the way it constructs the system.
Stereotypically you’d imagine a Wizard pondering over ancient tomes in his tower. Using his Intellect to uncover hidden secrets long lost to the world. These secrets in turn give him the powers that allow him to cast spells.
Although I find it hard to see a stereotype that might be applicable to the other two. But my best guess is that, since they are mystical beings; they draw upon those powers to help them perform their magic.


The Classes that use Charisma for their spellcasting are.

The Bard

The Paladin

The Sorcerer

The Warlock

Again, same principle as before. All of these classes need to form a deep connection to the force that gives them their powers, as that’s what Charisma is. The ability to entrance something else.
Just as the Bard does with his listeners. Just like the relationship the Paladin has with his deity of choice. Just like the Warlock does with it’s patron. You get my point.


The Classes that use Wisdom for their casting are the following.

The Cleric

The Druid

The Ranger

Again, you can distinguish which class uses what by contemplating a bit about them.

Long years in the field has made the Ranger wise, that is why he uses his wisdom to perform his deeds. The Druid has spent many a year as a hermit in the forest, he has the wisdom of not just himself, but of nature as well. And what can be said about the Cleric that hasn’t been said already. Unlike the Paladin, the Cleric prefers calm meditation in his spare time, forming a deeper connection with his deity of choice. Years of meditation will eventually enlighten you and make you wise indeed.

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