Enhance Ability 5e

You touch a creature and bestow upon it a magical enhancement. Choose one of the following effects; the target gains that effect until the spell ends.

Bear’s Endurance. The target has advantage on Constitution checks. It also gains 2d6 temporary hit points, which are lost when the spell ends.

Bull’s Strength. The target has advantage on Strength checks, and his or her carrying capacity doubles.

Cat’s Grace. The target has advantage on Dexterity checks. It also doesn’t take damage from falling 20 feet or less if it isn’t incapacitated.

Eagle’s Splendor. The target has advantage on Charisma checks.

Fox’s Cunning. The target has advantage on Intelligence checks.

Owl’s Wisdom. The target has advantage on Wisdom checks.

At 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.

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (fur or a feather from a beast)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour
School: 2nd-level transmutation

Player’s Handbook, pg. 237

Enhance Ability 5e

Enhance Ability is a support spell of nearly endless utility. But some new players don’t understand just quite how powerful Enhance Ability is at first glance, skipping it over for more straightforward blasting spells.

We’re here to show you why that’s a mistake, as well as cover the spell’s rules and many, many applications.

Who Can Cast Enhance Ability in 5e?

The following classes have Enhance Ability on their spell list:

The following subclasses get Enhance Ability for free:

  • Paladin (Oath of Glory) (TCoE 53)

What Does Enhance Ability Do in 5e?

Enhance Ability grants a target you touch advantage on all ability checks for an ability of your choice (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma).

This also grants the target advantage on all skill checks associated with the ability (e.g., buffing a target’s Intelligence will also give them advantage on Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, and Religion checks).

The three physical abilities also come with rider effects:

  • Constitution also gives 2d6 (7 average) temporary hit points (lost when the spell ends)

  • Strength also doubles carrying capacity

  • Dexterity allows the target to fall up to 20 feet without taking damage (if it isn’t incapacitated)

Finally, Enhance Ability can be upcast for +1 target per spell slot level above 2nd.

What Are the Rules for Enhance Ability in 5e?

The rules for Enhance Ability in DnD 5e are as follows:

  • You can target yourself with Enhance Ability. Like all spells with a range of Touch, you can choose to touch yourself and grant yourself the benefits of Enhance Ability.

  • Does Enhance Ability affects skills? Yes, Enhance Ability affects skills. For example, if you use Owl’s Wisdom on a target, it has advantage on Perception checks. This also goes for passive skill checks, which receive a +5 modifier in lieu of advantage (PHB 175, Passive Checks).

  • Enhance Ability does not help with attack rolls. From the Sage Advice Compendium: “Are attack rolls and saving throws basically specialized ability checks? They aren’t…. 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” (SAC 13).

    So using Enhance Ability on Strength or Dexterity will have no effect on the attack or damage rolls. However, Grappling and Shoving are pseudo attacks that rely on ability checks, and therefore grapples and shoves do benefit from Enhance Ability.

  • Enhance Ability does not help saving throws. Same reason as the attack roll ruling, straight from the Sage Advice Compendium.

  • Enhance Ability: Cat’s Grace gives advantage on initiative. Initiative checks are simply Dexterity checks (PHB 177), and so Enhance Ability: Cat’s Grace will give a target advantage on their initiative rolls.

  • Cat’s Grace affects initiative, even if the spell wears off after initiative has been determined. “The initiative order remains the same from round to round” once it has been determined (PHB 189).

    So if you lose the effects of Enhance Ability: Cat’s Grace mid-combat, you still retain your spot in the initiative order that you got with the advantaged roll.

  • When upcast, Enhance Ability can enhance different abilities for each target (probably). The spell’s verbiage for upcasting is “you can target one additional creature.” Its verbiage for targeting a creature is “touch a creature and bestow upon it a magical enhancement. Choose one…”

    Putting the two together, it appears that targeting a touching a creature precedes choosing the enhancement. By that logic, it appears you can choose a different enhancement for a different target.

    No developers have weighed in on this, and I can’t find an explicit rule that guarantees this is how it’s meant to be played. But just using the internal logic of the spell’s description, this seems to be the way upcasting Enhance Ability works.

dungeons and dragons 5e adventuring party miniatures

How Do I Use Enhance Ability in 5e?

Here are a few ways to use Enhance Ability in DnD 5e, specific to each ability enhancement:

  1. Bear’s Endurance (Constitution)

    • Pre-buff temporary hit points. Getting a few temporary hit points on your party’s tank (or a squishy) is always a good way to prepare for an intense fight.

    • Survive difficult conditions. The Player’s Handbook outlines a few scenarios when a Consitution check might come up — things like going without sleep, food, and water are among them.

      This also goes for holding your breath (deep dive swimming missions) and marching/laboring for hours (tunneling through a makeshift entry/exit).

    • Drinking contests. Hey, the ability to knock a few ales back also falls under the purview of Consitution checks. Never go up against a dwarf in a drinking contest without Bear’s Endurance up your sleeve.

  2. Bull’s Strength (Strength)

    • Boost your party’s grappler. Grapples tend to be the most common Strength checks at most DnD tables, and there’s good reason for it — having a grappler in the group opens up incredibly powerful combinations. Giving that party member an edge at what they already do best is a great use of EA.

    • Climbing, swimming, pushing. Athletics checks aren’t very common, but they often come in quick succession as you or a party member tries to do something epic. Bull’s Strength is just what you need for those situations.

    • Become (or enhance) a pack animal. Carrying heavy stuff long distances can create an obstacle for your party — but not with Bull’s Strength. EIther double your strongest party member’s already considerable 240+ lb carry weight to nearly 500 pounds, and heck, they may even be able to carry most of your party’s lightest members up a cliff.

      Or, use Enhance Ability on a Mule; with their Packhorse ability already doubling their carry weight to 420 pounds, EA brings them up to 840 pounds. Go mule, go!

    • Busting down doors. Locked doors just need a good battering ram to bring them down; i.e., the guy with Bull’s Strength on him.

  3. Cat’s Grace (Dexterity)

    • Stealth missions. Stealth missions often involve a number of successful Dexterity checks — Stealth, Sleight of Hand, and maybe even some Acrobatics. Having advantage for all of these things is quite impactful. You can also pair this with Pass Without Trace for a truly godlike experience.

      Lesser-known tip: EA is also great for canceling out disadvantage on Stealth checks that your party’s plate-wearer suffers.

    • Enhance your initiative. This is an incredibly useful application of Enhance Ability on its own. If it’s really important that a specific party member has a favorable spot in the initiative order, EA can make that much more likely.

      This becomes even more potent when you can upcast EA to get advantage on multiple party members’ initiative rolls.

    • Disarming traps. It’s rare that you find a dungeon that only has one trap — if there’s one, there’s usually more. Having advantage for an hour’s worth of minesweeping is a real boon.

    • Enhance your performance. If you’re entertaining a crowd and relying on extreme feats of Acrobatics, don’t go in cold — throw on some Cat’s Grace first. Also good for fighting on/traversing through slippery, narrow, or rumbling environments.

    • Jump away from enemies. Don’t sleep on Cat’s Grace’s rider effect. If you pay attention to the environment, being able to jump down 20 feet from enemies is really strong — if they want to follow, they’re take 2d6 bludgeoning damage and fall prone (PHB 183).

  4. Eagle’s Splendor (Charisma)

    • Boost your party’s face. This is the most dependable application of Enhance Ability, as Charisma checks usually come in quick succession as you try to talk your way through a situation. Whether your performing, persuading, deceiving, or intimidating, your party’s face will always welcome Eagle’s Splendor.

    • Upcast for more convincing party lies. Sometimes, you can’t count on your party’s face to sell a story on their own. Smart interlocutors will want to suss out the rest of your party for cracks. Upcasting Eagle’s Splendor will turn even your party’s brutish barbarian into a silver-tounged diplomat.

    • Interrogations. Both the good cop (persuation) and bad cop (intimidation, deception) parts of interrogations will benefit from Eagle’s Splendor as the poor bastard tells you everything you want to know.

    • Get better deals. Haggling is more fun when you’ve got an edge in every interaction.

  5. Fox’s Cunning (Intelligence)

    • Investigate better. Investigation checks are incredibly common in most campaigns. Whether you’re looking for secret passages, important documents, or clues to answers, Fox’s Cunning is your best friend.

      This is also good for seeing through disguises and illusions.

    • Know more stuff. When it comes to Arcana checks to understand the magical symbols and lore around you, Fox’s Cunning can make you a super student with savant-level recall.

      And who needs history class when you can just enhance your ability at a moment’s notice to remember all the important historical context your DM worked so hard on?

      Same goes for religion and nature.

    • Win a game of skill. If you need your wits to win a contest, inject a bit of mental steroids with Enhance Ability.

  6. Owl’s Wisdom

    • Boost passive perception. A +5 boost to passive perception is massive for your party’s scout/leader. Use this when you’ve got good reason to expect an ambush (which is always in DnD).

    • Tell if someone is lying to you. Insight checks come up all the time, especially if your party is constantly suspicious (paranoid?) about people’s true intentions.

    • Become the ultimate tracker. Boosting your Survival is great when you’re trying to track down your quarry or better understand a new and hostile environment you’ve entered.

    • Become besties with animals. Advantage on Animal Handling paired with Speak With Beasts (or any other way of speaking with beasts) is a great combination. Also good if you’re in a mounted competition and need to become the best damn jockey you’ve ever been.

And here are a few general tips for making the most out of Enhance Ability:

  • Buff Counterspell and Dispel Magic. Counterspell and Dispel Magic both automatically work against spells of 3rd level or lower. After that, it requires upcasting the spell or making an ability check using your spellcasting modifier.

    Getting advantage on this check is absolutely massive, as both of these anti-caster spells have the power to completely swing a fight’s momentum.

  • Using spell scrolls. Spell scrolls can be used by an underleveled spellcaster if it’s on their spell list, but they need to pass an ability check with their spellcasting ability (DC = 10 + spell’s level) (DMG 200).

    Using a higher-level spell scroll in combat is usually devastating, so doing everything you can to increase your odds of success is optimal — enter Enhance Ability.

  • Use it in an “ability gauntlet.” Political discussions, a series of charisma checks, an extended climb up icy treacherous conditions, sneaking past multiple camps, disarming traps — you get the idea.

    Whenever you know that a series of challenges is coming up, make the most of Enhance Ability’s one-hour duration to make everything that much easier.

  • Keep it up continuously during downtime activities. Whether you’re making trades, doing research, or checking out a new town, there’s no reason to not constantly have a fully upcast Enhance Ability helping as many party members as possible.

    You can always take a long rest before departing and get that spell slot back.

  • Help the weak link. When the Help action isn’t an option, Enhance Ability is. Plate-wearing Paladin messing up Stealth checks? Enhance Ability. Dumb barbarian keeps saying the wrong things to the high thane? Give ’em the eloquence they need.

    Whenever you’re dealing with a persistent disadvantage, Enhance Ability can bring the playing field back to level.

  • Use it on solo missions. While the Help action can sometimes be used to aid a weak link, you need to be present and next to the party member you want to help.

    Take advantage of EA’s long duration and lack of a proximity requirement (after casting) to enhance your party’s ability to split up and get things done.

Is Enhance Ability 5e a Good Spell?

Yes, Enhance Ability is a great spell in DnD 5e. The sheer number of applications that Enhance Ability has is enough to make it the true “Swiss-army knife” of DnD 5e buff spells.

Plus, Enhance Ability stays powerful from early levels right up to the endgame of your adventuring career. Advantage never stops being useful — in fact, it just gets stronger as your party gets stronger and proficiency modifiers get higher.

Enhance Ability 5e DM Tips

Enhance Ability is a satisfying spell to use — especially when a DM presents plenty of opportunities to take advantage of it. Once a player is buffed by Enhance Ability, be sure to give them challenges corresponding to the ability that’s been modified.

You can also ask the player for both of their dice rolls when they make an advantaged ability check. If the lower roll wouldn’t have succeeded but the higher one did, you can make a point of describing how the players enhanced abilities saved the day.

That way, the caster gets to feel good about helping his buddy be a badass, and the target has a better sense of their supernatural abilities.

Simple Enhance Ability 5e Spell Text

Enhance Ability: (2nd-level transmutation, Touch, Concentration, up to 1 hour, V/S/M (fur or a feather from a beast)) Target gains advantage on ability checks of an ability of your choice. If you choose Constitution, also grant target +2d6 temporary hit points, which are lost when the spell ends. If you choose Strength, double target’s carrying capacity. If you choose Dexterity, target takes no damage from falling 20 feet or less if not incapacitated.

+1 target per slot level above 3rd.