In 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, characters specialize in different abilities. Barbarians tend to be strong. Rogues tend to be agile. Bards tend to be attractive. Most of the time, these advantages are enough to deal with the troubles they face. Sometimes though, even a dwarf’s constitution isn’t enough to get through that last tankard of ale.
Like a helium-powered calculator, sometimes you need to inflate those numbers. When base stats aren’t reliable enough to get the job done, the spell featured in this Enhance Ability 5e guide can help to boost them to heroic levels. Have this spell on standby, and your whole party will enjoy being even more incredible than they ever thought they could be!
Bottom Line UpFront
Enhance Ability is a 2nd level transmutation spell that gives one of six buffs, each based on one ability score. Each buff gives advantage on checks for their respective attribute, with strength, dexterity and constitution also gaining an additional beneficial effect.
For ease of reference, here is a brief rundown of the spells statistics:
- Level: 2nd
- School of Magic: Transmutation
- Effect Type: Buff
- Casting Time: 1 Action
- Range: Touch
- Target: A creature
- Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (fur or a feather from a beast)
- Duration: Up To 1 Hour (Concentration)
- Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 2nd.
As a 2nd level spell, Enhance Ability is relatively easy to pick up reasonably early in your campaign. Unlike many other spells of the same level, it retains its usefulness even at the highest levels due to scaling not being that present in the spell’s design. Advantage is always helpful to have on rolls, regardless of level, greatly extending this spell’s utility.
Though the spell has a generous duration of an hour, it also requires concentration, which means you risk dropping it when you take damage or are rendered incapacitated. It’s also impossible to cast another spell that requires concentration without losing this one, as you cannot concentrate on two spells simultaneously.
It’s worth mentioning that this spell comes with a material component, though one of the most lenient and easy to acquire. Fur or feathers from any beast is a lot of different possibilities. Moreover, it isn’t consumed by the spell, so once you have it, it’s yours for good.
The Six Enhancements
When you touch a creature with this spell, you get the choice of six different magical enhancements to bestow upon it, which it then gains until the spell ends. Since you are limited to just one of these abilities, choosing well is essential. Each enhancement gives advantage on certain skill checks (except for Bear’s Endurance) based on their corresponding ability.
There are eighteen skills within the ruleset of 5e DnD, and each of them is included in one of these enhancements, allowing you advantage on all skill checks in the game, provided you have chosen the correct buff. Advantage bestows the benefit of using a second d20 when rolling skill checks, taking the higher result to determine the outcome.
This buff grants advantage on strength checks and doubles carrying capacity. If a boulder is blocking your path, casting this on the group’s muscle can shift it in no time. The doubled carry weight is a little less helpful than it first appears and becomes almost useless once your party gets its hands on a Bag of Holding. Combine this with the fact that it effectively only grants advantage to one skill, and it becomes clear that this is generally the least useful enhancement of the six.
Nevertheless, This enhancement can still be used in some pretty inventive ways. With the inclusion of nothing more than a piece of rope and the Fly spell, you can turn your everyday, garden-variety barbarian into the party’s private helicopter!
This buff grants advantage on dexterity checks and negates damage taken from falling 20ft or less. In other words: a rogue’s dream! Sneaking, pickpocketing, and acrobatic flips all require dexterity-based checks, and being able to jump gracefully out of a window without a second thought provides a handy escape plan should a robbery turn sour.
The fall damage will still apply to anyone incapacitated, so don’t throw paralyzed party members off rooftops and expect this spell to save them.
- Sleight of Hand
This buff grants advantage on constitution checks and bestows 2d6 temporary hit points. As you can imagine, this makes it perfect for anyone performing a tank role for your party. The temporary hit points don’t outlast the spell, but that isn’t much of a big deal: if you needed them, you’ve already used them up by the time they go away.
Though no skill bases itself on constitution, this doesn’t mean that this enhancement won’t be able to give you advantage on some checks. Your dungeon master might provide you with a constitution check outside of the given rules (e.g. hiking in adverse weather conditions) or change the base for an existing skill (e.g. intimidation as a constitution check for a particularly gruelling staring contest). Even so, the temporary hit points make this enhancement worthwhile, even if a check doesn’t present itself.
This buff grants advantage on intelligence checks. Great for wizards, but also useful for any knowledge-based check you might need to succeed on. History, religion and arcana checks all prove helpful in squeezing information out of your dungeon master, and this buff will ensure you don’t fumble the roll.
This buff grants advantage on Wisdom checks, excellent for druids, clerics, monks and anyone that wants to make friends with animals. It also gives you advantage on two handy checks: Insight and perception.
Insight checks are outstanding for understanding the hidden intentions of people you talk to, whilst perception checks are great for catching those who attempt to sneak up on you.
As advantage cancels out disadvantage, you can also use this enhancement to remove many downsides of being in the dark without darkvision.
- Animal Handling
This buff grants advantage on Charisma checks. Bards, Sorcerers and Warlocks will find this particularly useful, especially if they’ve taken up a role as the party’s face.
Convincing, threatening, inspiring and deceiving others will all come easier with this supplement to your social skills.
Classes That Can Cast This Spell
Enhance Ability is available in the bard’s spell list, and they benefit from it quite a bit. As a bard, you’re probably already the party’s primary source of support buffs, so adding this spell to your repertoire synergises nicely with your usual playstyle.
Being able to give yourself advantage on charisma checks whenever you need them is invaluable for the other typical role for bards: the face of the party. Stack this spell with the Silver Tongue feature from the College of Eloquence subclass, and persuasion/deception checks will never cause a problem again.
Clerics often find themselves in the support role in campaigns and are no stranger to being the party’s go-to healer. As they have quite the smorgasbord of buff spells to choose from, this spell can slip under the radar. Indeed, I rarely encounter a cleric that has opted to learn this spell, which is a terrible shame considering its versatility.
Clerics also tend to have more hit points than most other classes, often filling in the tank role. As a result, whilst Owl’s Wisdom is great for boosting their high wisdom scores, clerics also benefit from the bonuses provided by Bear’s Endurance.
When I think of Enhance Ability, I think of druids. They occupy the same place in my mind, like a DM saying a room “appears empty” and an overwhelming sense of dread. I could chalk this up to the enhancements’ names referencing animals, but it’s more likely because I was playing a druid when I first started using this spell.
My favorite thing to do was buff myself with Bear’s Endurance, then use Wild Shape to turn into an actual bear, essentially becoming a super-mega-bear with an unreasonably high health pool. Considering that concentration is a constitution-based save, you’re unlikely to drop the spell in combat: Bears have exceptionally high constitution scores.
That said, it’s still possible and losing those temporary hit points can be dangerous in the wrong place at the wrong time. Keep this in mind whilst using this tactic, but don’t let it stop you from becoming the uber-tank your party needs!
Sorcerer brings Metamagic tricks to this spell, giving it more flexibility. Extended Spell doubles its duration to 2 hours, keeping your party buffed for longer. Quickened Spell allows you to cast it with a bonus action, freeing up your action for other uses, excellent for maximising action economy in combat.
Subtle Spell removes verbal and somatic component requirements, allowing you to cast the spell without anyone realising that you’ve done it, even with your mouth gagged and hands bound. Finally, Twinned Spell will let you buff two targets simultaneously, though both must receive the same enhancement.
In my experience, Sorcerers don’t often take this spell, preferring to focus on big explosions and fancy illusions over buffs for the party, which is a shame. Metamagic can bring new dynamics to this spell that you rarely see and can make for some impressive plays. If you’re planning on using a sorcerer, give this spell some thought: it’s criminally underrated.
This Artificer brings its flavor of synergy to the table and might be the best class at maximising the effectiveness of this spell. Tool Expertise doubles the proficiency bonus for any ability check made with tools. Flash of Genius works similarly, adding your intelligence modifier to ability checks. Both of these pair exceptionally well with a spell that gives advantage on those checks.
Spell-Storing Item can be used to keep this spell on standby in someone else’s possession, giving them the ability to activate the spell, even if they’re not a spellcaster themselves. Consider this an excellent gift for your party members, giving them a personal buff they can apply at any time.
Though not a common oath for Paladins to take, those that do attain the Enhance Ability spell once they reach level 5. This spell excels as an accompaniment to the other features of this class, which also focus on buffing party members.
You also gain access to a Channel Divinity option called Peerless Athlete, which grants a personal buff similar to that of Bull’s Strength. Coupling this with Enhance Ability can grant a super-buff or allow another party member a buff alongside you.
Wizard (Optional Class Feature)
Enhance Ability is somewhat unique in that it’s a utility spell that, whilst available to many classes, is not found in the wizard’s spell book, despite their reputation as the Swiss army knife of casters.
However, if you’re table has opted to use the optional class features found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, you’ll discover that Enhance Ability has found its way into the wizard’s bag of tricks, allowing them to cast it as well.
Arcane Tricksters usually have to pick spells from either the enchantment or illusion schools of magic, but there are a few spells they can learn that can come from any school, which opens up the option to pick this transmutation spell.
That said, they have to choose from the wizard spell list, requiring the optional class features from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything to be in play. However, even if they don’t choose to or cannot learn this spell, they gain the ability to steal spells from other casters at level 17 (Spell Thief), so they might still be able to cast it in certain circumstances.
Having Cat’s Grace on hand to boost pretty much all of your roguish skills is an excellent boon. Whether you’re serving the role of a thief or a scout, you’ll eventually need to do some solo work, and this spell superbly assists with sneaking in the shadows.
Don’t forget that this spell has a verbal component, which can blow your cover to anyone with a keen sense of hearing. Cast this ahead of time in a safe location; by the time it’s needed, you’ll be less noticeable than a ghost’s whisper.
It’s also great for Mage Hand Legerdemain, which relies on Sleight of Hand checks for performing tasks unnoticed.
Question: How Good Is Enhance Ability?
Answer: Although how good a spell is can be subjective, not only shifting based on personal opinion but also on what obstacles you’re likely to face, Enhance Ability is versatile enough that it’ll probably prove practical in most campaigns. What’s more, it provides advantage, which isn’t something that becomes less useful at higher levels, making it useful for longer than other spells of its level. Often underrated and forgotten, Enhance Ability is an excellent spell!
Question: Can You Cast Enhance Ability On Yourself?
Answer: Yes. The spell specifies its target as a single creature within touching distance. You are a single creature and are within touching range of yourself. Thus, you can cast the spell on yourself.
Question: Does Enhance Ability Work On Saving Throws?
Answer: No. Whilst the spell does grant advantage on checks, it doesn’t for saving throws. An often overlooked rule, many mistakenly think of saving throws as a type of check. They indeed have a lot of things in common: rolling a d20, adding modifiers and attempting to beat a difficulty class. Unfortunately, however, they are not the same thing, and this spell will do nothing to help you take half damage from a fireball or resist the charms of a succubus.
Question: Does Enhance Ability Work On Attacks?
Answer: No. Similarly to saving throws, attack rolls are not considered checks, and this spell will not grant advantage on them.
Enhance Ability is one of those spells that gets greatly overshadowed by other options. 2nd Level spells are exciting for a character to get, as it marks the start of gaining some powerful tools at a spellcaster’s disposal. are all more common spells to see at this level, and most players are going to side with those options.
Hold Person, Misty Step, See Invisibility, Blur and Heat Metal are all more common spells to see players take from this level, and we can hardly blame them: they are all exceptionally good spells! That said, overlooking Enhance Ability can be a crying shame, as it’s utility as a spell is arguably among the best in the game.
It gives you not only the option to buff any member of your party, but in a way that’s specifically tailored to their build type. This alone will make you the most popular person at the table. Make no mistake, even though this spell doesn’t help with saving throws or attack rolls, it is incredibly useful to have for a myriad of situations. See Invisibility gives you a single buff. Enhance Ability gives you the choice of six; the versatility is undeniable.