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Background: I was hoping to use Enhance Ability and its Bear's Endurance option to speed up our travelling a bit. But now I am not sure if it will work, hence this question.

Enhance Ability - Bear's Endurance lasts for 1 hour with concentration, and gives advantage on constitution checks (also 2d6 temp HP, but that's not relevant here). It does not specify "ability check", just "check".

Things like forced march, spell concentration and holding your breath actually call for constitution saving throws (see this related queston).

Does Enhance Ability help with saving throws?

In other words, is Bear's Endurance useful for the above, or does it only help with constitution ability checks (of which there are precious few, it's almost always a saving throw)?

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Enhance Ability only works on ability checks. Ability checks are not saving throws. Enhance Ability does not help with saving throws.

Enhance Ability enhances, well, abilities...

  • Bear's Endurance: Advantage on Constitution checks.
  • Bull's Strength: Advantage on Strength checks.
  • Cat's Grace: Advantage on Dexterity checks.
  • etc. etc.

These are all ability checks for a specific ability. Note that even in the rules for ability checks it calls it a "Charisma check" not a "Charisma Ability check". If a game feature is taking about ability checks in general (e.g. the Guidance spell) then yes, they are called "ability checks" because it's not relating to a specific ability.

Nowhere in the saving throw rules does it refer to them as being checks and this is also reinforced in the Sage Advice Compendium:

Are attack rolls and saving throws basically specialized ability checks? They aren’t. It’s easy to mistake the three rolls as three faces of the same thing, because they each involve rolling a d20, adding any modifiers, and comparing the total to a Difficulty Class, and they’re all subject to advantage and disadvantage. In short, they share the same procedure for determining success or failure.
Despite this common procedure, the three rolls are separate from each other. If something in the game, like the guidance spell, affects one of them, the other two aren’t affected unless the rules specifically say so. The next few questions touch on this point again.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yep, poor spell has had a significant nerf through the editions ☹️ \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Sep 14 at 11:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you add anything more about how "constitution check" and "constitution ability check" are synonyms? Is it made explicit somewhere? Because that's the core source of my confusion, combined with how eg. that Guidance spell talks about "ability checks", but Enhance Ability does not include words "ability check" anywhere. \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Sep 14 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...actually the way Jack of All Trades, which explicitly affects ability checks, interacts with Initiative roll, which is said to be just a dexterity check. This seems to make it clear that "X check" is synymous with "ability check" in this context. \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Sep 14 at 13:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WakiNadiVellir it's not just "in this context" though. "[Insert ability here] checks" (eg. Constitution check) are "ability checks" in any context. They're just ability checks for specific abilities. Things like Jack of All Trades and Guidance talk about ability checks in a general sense i.e. they can be used on any ability check, not just one specific ability check. I've added a bit more of a description in my answer to hopefully address the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Sep 15 at 0:27

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