At some point in your Dungeons & Dragons 5E career, you’re going to be asked to make an attack roll. Every single class has the potential to attack and deal damage. But, some types of attack are flat-out confusing. Let’s go over them all and learn how to calculate attack bonus 5E.
How to Calculate Attack Bonus 5e
Your attack bonus is not too difficult to calculate by default. It goes like this:
Attack Roll = Ability Modifier + Proficiency + Enchantment/Item Bonus + Class Features
Most of the time, you’ll only have to worry about Ability Modifiers and Proficiency.
How Can I Increase My Attack Bonus?
What your attack roll hinges most on is that ability modifier. That’ll change based entirely on the weapon you’re using. In general, if your weapon is either strictly Ranged or has the Finesse quality, you’ll use Dexterity. Otherwise (melee or thrown weapons without the Finesse quality), you’ll use Strength. That means thrown weapons use Strength unless they are also Finesse.
Unlike older editions, spells now use their Casting Ability Score to calculate attack rolls. That means that a Wizard casting Firebolt adds their Intelligence modifier to their attack roll (back in the old days, it was Dexterity!).
Boosting your Ability Modifier is therefore one of the easiest ways to get your Attack Bonus high. Make sure you find ability boosting items, gear, and Tomes to get it as high as possible!
Proficiency modifier increases just by leveling up, but be warned; You only add your proficiency modifier if you’re proficient with the weapon used. A Wizard doesn’t get to add their Proficiency to Greatsword attacks unless they got proficient from feats or racial features. Make sure you have proficiency, either from class or race, before using weapons, since proficiency is such a major boost to accuracy.
In almost all cases, you’ll find enchanted weapons scattered along your quest. These bonuses go from +1 to +3, and augment both your attack and damage rolls. If you have a weapon with a numerical bonus, that means you just add that to the attack roll. Easy as pie! If you’re a spellcaster, there are a few magical items that boost your spell attack rolls – the Wand of the War Mage is the most popular, able to increase to +3 and attunable to all magic users. There’s a few other magic items that are more useful, but more specific to classes that they can attune to.
Finally, there are class features. There aren’t too many class features that boost your attack rolls, but they’re there. A bunch of features add dice to attack rolls. Bardic Inspiration is one of the most popular – and powerful – ways to get a bonus to attack rolls. The Battle Master can add similarly sized dice to their own rolls, and the Wild Magic Sorcerer can do similar things to Bardic Inspiration… But with tiny dice. So does Guidance, a spell on a few lists.
The Archery Fighting Style adds a flat +2 to a Fighter or Ranger’s attack rolls with a ranged weapon. The War Cleric and Oath of Devotion can use their Channel Divinity to get huge bonuses on attack rolls for a short amount of time.
Then there’s the “enchant my weapon” effects. Some classes can use an ability to enchant their weapon, giving it a magical bonus to attacks. These don’t stack with normal enchantments. The Kensei Monk and Forge Cleric have access to this without using magic. Paladins can use a 3rd level spell – Elemental Weapon – to do so. Wizards have access to Magic Weapon, which – shockingly – gives a weapon a magic bonus.
Wrapping Up the Attack Bonus Guide
Unlike older editions, 5e runs off the idea of “bounded accuracy.” There’s just not many ways to boost your attack bonuses compared to older editions. If you want to be more accurate, consider ways to gain advantage on your attack rolls instead. There are a ton of ways to do that, and the d20 you roll will almost always influence your attacks more than your modifier will.
Need more 5E Content? see our guide on how to level up in DND.