Skip to Content

Spell Attack Bonus D&D 5e – Calculate, Use & Increase!

When you use a spell attack in DnD 5e, your spell attack bonus is added to your d20 roll to boost your number to hit. Here we look at how to calculate your Spell Attack Bonus in Dungeons and Dragons 5e, when to use it, and how to increase it!

Spell Attack bonus on dnd 5e character sheet

What is your Spell Attack Bonus?

The Spell Attack Bonus (sometimes called spell attack modifier) is one of the stats on the spells page of your character sheet along with Spellcasting Ability and Spell Save DC. Together they represent your character’s affinity for spellcasting.

Spellcasting Ability, Spell Save DC and Spell Attack Bonus on a D&D 5e character sheet
Spellcasting Ability, Spell Save DC and Spell Attack Bonus on a D&D 5e character sheet

Spell Attack Bonus

Sometimes you’ll need to roll to see if your spell hits your mark. Your Spell Attack bonus is what you add to your d20 attack roll. Spells go against the Armor Class (AC) of your target. If your roll plus your spell attack bonus meets or exceeds your target’s armor class, your spell succeeds.

Hi! This post may contain affiliate links to online stores. If you click a link and buy something, I may get a commission at no extra cost to you. See my affiliate disclosure.

Spell Attack Bonus is only ever added to the attack roll, not to damage.

Your Spell Attack bonus = your Spellcasting Ability modifier + your Proficiency bonus

To learn all about your proficiency bonus, see our full guide!

Spellcasting Ability

This is your character’s natural ability for spellcasting and where they draw their power from. Druids draw their power from their innate wisdom and understanding of nature, so their spellcasting ability comes from their Wisdom stat.

Your Spellcasting Ability modifier is one element that goes into calculating your character’s Spell Attack Bonus.

For more on Spellcasting Ability, see our article.

Spell Save DC

Your Spell Save DC represents how difficult it is for your targets to resist your spell. The higher your Spell Save DC, the harder it is for them to resist it. For some spells, this is what monsters need to roll against to see if your spell actually hits.

Your Spell Save DC = 8 + your Spellcasting Ability modifier + your Proficiency Bonus + any Special Modifiers

For more on Spell Save DC, see our article.

When to use your Spell Attack Bonus

Some spells specify that the caster must make either a “ranged spell attack” or a “melee spell attack.” (Yep, melee attacks can be magical too). Your Spell Attack Bonus is added to your d20 attack roll to hit for these types of spells.

The spell Magic Missile is a ranged spell attack. The Wizard needs to make an attack roll to hit the intended target if she hopes to dazzle her enemy’s face.

You create three glowing darts of magical force. Each dart hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range. A dart deals 1d4 + 1 force damage to its target. The darts all strike simultaneously, and you can direct them to hit one creature or several.

Magic Missile, Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook 5th Edition, page 257.

But, because it’s three magical darts, she uses her magical abilities to aim instead of physical. Good news for mages that don’t spend much time in the gym.

How to calculate your Spell Attack Bonus in 5e

Here’s the calculation for working out your Spell Attack Bonus in 5e.

Spell Attack bonus = Spellcasting ability modifier + Proficiency bonus

Let’s see where these numbers come from.

Spellcasting Ability Modifier

This number comes from the ability your character uses to power their spells. For example, a wizard uses Intelligence. So to get their spellcasting ability modifier, you’d look to the first page of your character sheet and see what modifier is listed for Intelligence.

All you need to know is which ability powers the spells for your class. The table below provides a handy reference, or you can use the step-by-step formula for your class later in the article.

ClassPrimary Ability/Spellcasting Ability
ArtificerIntelligence
BardCharisma
ClericWisdom
DruidWisdom
Fighter (Eldritch Knight)Intelligence
Monk (Way of the Four Elements)Wisdom
PaladinCharisma
RangerWisdom
Rogue (Arcane Trickster)Intelligence
SorcererCharisma
WarlockCharisma
WizardIntelligence
Dnd 5e class primary ability table

Now you know which ability to look at, check the score for that ability and get the modifier. Here’s how scores translate into modifiers. For example, if you’ve got a 14 Intelligence score, you’ve got a +2 modifier.

ScoreModifier
1-5
2-3-4
4-5-3
6-7-2
8-9-1
10-11+0
12-13+1
14-15+2
16-17+3
18-19+4
20-21+5
22-23+6
24-25+7
26-27+8
28-29+9
30+10
DnD Ability Scores and Modifiers

Proficiency Bonus

The second piece of information you need to calculate your spell attack bonus is your proficiency bonus.

Proficiency bonus is based on your character’s level. A quick reference table is below, but for a full look at proficiency bonus, then see my article!

LevelProficiency Bonus
1st+2
2nd+2
3rd+2
4th+2
5th+3
6th+3
7th+3
8th+3
9th+4
10th+4
11th+4
12th+4
13th+5
14th+5
15th+5
16th+5
17th+6
18th+6
19th+6
20th+6
5e proficiency bonus table

Spell Attack Bonus Calculation Example

Using an example, let’s see how to work out the Spell Attack Bonus for a Level 1 Warlock. Here’s the calculation formula again.

Spell Attack bonus = Spellcasting ability modifier + Proficiency bonus

 

Join the My Kind of Meeple newsletter!

Exclusive email updates! New Strategies, Kickstarter Picks, What I'm Playing + Special Extras!

Thanks for joining!

Your email is only used for updates and email-based ad targetting. (Ads keep this site free!) You can view the terms & can opt-out of email-based ad targetting here.

First, we find out what warlocks use to power their spells. It’s Charisma. Next, we look at the first page of the character sheet to find out what their Charisma stat is, it’s 15. A base stat of 15 means a modifier of +2. That’s our spellcasting modifier.

Because we’re level 1, we have a proficiency bonus of +2.

So our spell attack bonus is 2 + 2 = 4.

We’d write +4 in the Spell Attack Bonus box on our character sheet.

Now, every time we roll to attack with a spell, we add +4 to our d20 roll. If our roll plus our spell attack bonus meets or beats the AC of our target, it succeeds.

How to find the Spell Attack Bonus for your class


Artificer

Artificers mix the flavor of wizard, alchemist, mad scientist, and tinker into one class. Specializing in tools and inventing, they are some of the best DIYers in the game. 

The artificer relies on their powerful intellect to craft and work magic, so their spellcasting ability modifier is their Intelligence modifier.

Artificer Spell Attack Bonus = Intelligence modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Bard 

Bards weave their words and music with mystical power. Whether they are singers, instrumentalists, healers, or beat poets (shudder), bards focus their magical ability through force of personality. That means the modifier for their spellcasting ability is their Charisma modifier.

Bard Spell Attack Bonus = Charisma modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Cleric

Clerics are conduits for the divine. They try to fully embody the values of their deity and, like a priest, their biggest strength is wisdom. Use their wisdom modifier whenever a spellcasting ability modifier is requested.

Cleric Spell Attack Bonus = Wisdom modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Druid

While Clerics cast their gaze towards a higher deity, Druids root themselves firmly in nature. Their magic is an extension of the plants, animals, and earth around them. 

A Druid’s mystical abilities come from their well-tuned instincts and insights (not their Vegan Powers). The wisdom modifier is filled in for their modifier for spellcasting ability.

Druid Spell Attack Bonus = Wisdom modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Fighter (Eldritch Knight) 

Combining the martial prowess of the Fighter and the deadly, arcane knowledge of the Wizard, the Eldritch Knight is an opponent to be reckoned with.

Like the Wizard class that they share spells with, Eldritch Knights rely on their smarts to power up their spells. Intelligence modifier is the number to paste in for your spellcasting ability modifier.

Fighter Spell Attack Bonus = Intelligence modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Monk (Way of the Four Elements)

Water, Earth, Fire, Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar… Er, the Monk of the Way of the Four Elements, master of all elements could stop them.

This type of Monk uses their wisdom modifier in place of modifiers for spellcasting ability. (But instead of spell slots, the Monk expends ki points to work their magic.)

Monk Spell Attack Bonus = Wisdom modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Paladin

Paladins are warriors that have taken an oath to serve a god or goddess. Paragons of righteousness, they can wield magic to harm or heal.

A Paladin isn’t just a muscle head or clergy member though – their greatest strength is their leadership and integrity. Charisma is the spellcasting ability modifier for these divine champions.

Paladin Spell Attack Bonus = Charisma modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Ranger

Rangers are the outdoorsy Jack-of-All-Trades of the D&D world. They can be explorers, guides, protectors, survivalists, and more.

The finely honed senses of this class means that their modifier for spellcasting ability is their Wisdom modifier.

Ranger Spell Attack Bonus = Wisdom modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Rogue (Arcane Trickster)

Rogues are that friend who has a plan, a tool, and a book for everything. Like a Fighter sharpens their blades, the Rogue is always learning to keep their skills sharp. And the Arcane Trickster adds yet another skill to their ever-growing box of toys: magic!

These whip-smart scoundrels use their Intelligence modifier as the spellcasting ability modifier.

Rogue Spell Attack Bonus = Intelligence modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Sorcerer

Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s sorcery. Unlike those who learn magic from study, Sorcerers are born with magic in their blood. Quite literally for some: Draconic Bloodline Sorcerers get their power from ancestry shared with a dragon.

Since it’s all about natural talent, Sorcerers use Charisma when applying a modifier to their spellcasting ability.

Sorcerer Spell Attack Bonus = Charisma modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Warlock

Warlocks have no qualms about making a deal with the Devil – or any number of powerful, supernatural beings for that matter. Seekers of the unknown, their magic comes from pacts made with mystical forces and creatures.

The spellcasting ability modifier of a Warlock is their Charisma modifier.

Warlock Spell Attack Bonus = Charisma modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


Wizard

Whether it’s blasting a troll with a fireball, sending someone into a magical sleep, or even turning completely invisible – a Wizard has a book for that. Wizards take a more academic approach to magic than some classes and are rewarded by a vast catalogue of magical effects.

True to their dedication to learning, Wizards use the Intelligence modifier for their spellcasting abilities.

Wizard Spell Attack Bonus = Intelligence modifier + proficiency bonus

Attack rolls: your d20 roll + spell attack bonus


How to increase your Spell Attack Bonus?

You can improve your Spell Attack Bonus by increasing your spellcasting ability modifier. Leveling, using items, magic items and choosing certain feats will increase it.

Check out all the ways to boost your spellcasting ability in our D&D 5e Spellcasting Ability – Find, Calculate, Use & Increase article.

What’s the highest possible Spell Attack Bonus?

The highest possible Spell Attack Bonus depends on the class.

However, looking just at bases stats and level, if you’ve maxed out your spellcasting base stat at 20, you’ll get a +5 from that. Then because you’re level 20 you’ll get a +6 proficiency bonus bringing your Spell Attack Bonus to +11. Adding items, feats and abilities will boost this higher.

Over on RPG StackExchange, one user decided to see which class could get the highest possible Spell Attack Bonus. Turns out it’s not a wizard, druid, warlock or sorcerer as you might expect, but a Ranger.

Their Spell Attack bonus is +25 using:

  • 20th Ranger, 20Dex + 20Wis, target is a favored enemy
  • +6 profiency bonus
  • +5 dexterity ability score modifier
  • +5 foe slayer feature
  • +3 magic bow
  • +3 magic arrow
  • +2 archery fighting style
  • +1 ioun stone mastery

That’s not even counting for all the potential buffs from other adventurers such as bards or clerics in the party!

A note – Spell Attack Bonus in DnD 5e

For when you’re down to your last spell slot and you really, really need your spell to hit, a decent Spell Attack bonus will help you to save the day!

And to help you keep track of those spell slots, I highly recommend this customizable handpainted spell tracker scroll on Etsy!

More TTRPG articles for you

emily sargeantson profile pic

Emily
Hi, I’m Emily, the tabletop gamer behind My Kind of Meeple. If this article helped you, I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

Buy me a coffee at Ko-Fi button