I'm struggling to understand when and how I would use my spell save DC and my spell attack modifier.

Would I use my spell save DC as the DC that enemies need to beat when a spell calls for them to make a spell save?

An example of this is the spell burning hands. Since burning hands requires creatures to make a Dex saving throw and my spell save DC is 13, would they need to beat 13 to avoid damage?

As for spell attack modifier, I am completely at a loss on how to use that.


1 Answer 1


Spell attack modifier is what you add to spell attacks when trying to hit a target

In the same way that a non-magic class would roll strength or dexterity to make an attack, a caster uses their primary casting ability to try and hit the target. Which stat you use depends on which class you play (the rule book tells you in your class section). The result is compared to the target's AC. If you equal or tie the AC value, you hit and the spell has whatever effect it describes.

Spell Save DC is what foes must roll to avoid your spell effects.

If you cast a spell that requires a target to make a saving throw, the DC is what they need to roll (after adding their stat mod) to avoid or reduce the effect of the spell. Like rolling to hit, if their save equals or exceeds the value of your spell save DC, they pass and the spell's effect is reduced (often, a success will mean the target takes half damage instead of full damage).

A spell will either tell you to make a spell attack or direct your targets to make a [stat] saving throw. This is how you know whether you are rolling to hit the target or if the spell automatically "hits" but the target gets a chance to resist the effect.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ May also want to note that in the case of a tie, whoever's rolling wins. In Lottee's Burning Hands example, any targets that roll a 13 (after modifiers) succeed, therefore taking only half damage. In short, they need to meet or beat the DC, not just beat it. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 27, 2018 at 2:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it is important to mention that just because you are 'hitting' something with a spell doesn't mean you roll to hit. Example: If you told me I use my spell attack to roll to hit whenever I use a spell, I might assume I need to roll to attack with magic missile. Perhaps change hit with attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jihelu
    Dec 27, 2018 at 7:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ this is a very rookie question, some examples might help \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Dec 27, 2018 at 10:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also perhaps mention the page she can read about this (PHB, p. 205) \$\endgroup\$
    – fabian
    Dec 27, 2018 at 11:58

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .