Dungeons & Dragons isn't all about combat. Players aren't just hacking and slashing and casting Fireball — most of their time is spent navigating the world, hunting for treasure, and interacting with NPCs they encounter. And as they do, the success or failure of all their actions are governed by d20 skill checks.
All skills can come in handy; for example, druids use Animal Handling to rally their creature companions, and paladins can rely on Religion checks to inspire followers of their faith. Still, certain checks tend to come up more often across campaigns. Others may not be as common, but are critical when they do appear. It's always an advantage to have at least one party member proficient in the following skills.
Updated May 22, 2023, by Demaris Oxman: With the release of the Dungeons & Dragons movie, Honor Among Thieves, even more players have been flocking to the classic tabletop RPG. The appeal of immersing oneself in a fantasy world is undeniable, and creating a character for a new campaign allows players to venture forth on an exhilarating adventure.
One important step of the character creation process is choosing Proficiencies, ability skills for which that character receives a bonus. For new players, it can be hard to know what skills are worth investing Proficiency in. While certain abilities will always be more useful than others, they all have their uses, even the less-common ones. As such, this list now includes all ability skills in D&D 5th Edition, ranked from least to most useful.
16 Religion (Intelligence)
This skill governs knowledge of the gods and their worship; for example, what certain gods represent, who worships them, and their followers' principles. Religion checks do have their uses in D&D; however, they rank low on this list because they are highly situational.
Generally, the only characters who use Religion checks frequently are Clerics and Paladins. The information these checks provide is rarely game-breaking, and can sometimes even be covered under other skill checks such as History or Arcana. However, it may be worth having one character in the party with a strong Religion skill, in case the adventure takes the players into ancient temples or has them face off against cults.
15 Survival (Wisdom)
Survival covers skills that help one stay alive in the wilderness. Like Religion, though, it overlaps with other skills that are often more useful. Actions that a Survival check might cover (for example, scanning the area for dangerous animals or assessing the incoming clouds) can often fall under other skill checks such as Nature or Perception, making it redundant.
Still, as with other less-useful skills, it's worth having at least one party member (such as a Druid or Ranger) with Proficiency in Survival, in case the party finds themselves wandering dangerous wilderness. In such cases, that player can take charge of building fires, finding clean water, and sussing out potential dangers.
14 Animal Handling (Wisdom)
Looking to pet an unfriendly dog, catch a stray goose, or climb onto a wild horse? Roll Animal Handling. Like many skills on the lower end of this list though, Animal Handling checks simply don't happen very often.
This skill might come in handy when facing animal enemies, or when used in tandem with the spell Speak With Animals to try and make allies out of beasts. Additionally, it may be more relevant in certain campaigns. For a party venturing through wilderness, Animal Handling may help them survive encounters with snakes or bears. For a city-dwelling party, though, it might not be as useful.
13 Medicine (Wisdom)
Medicine might seem useful on the surface, covering first aid and the like, but it's not as useful as other Wisdom skills. Usually, characters don't need to know why they're bleeding; they just need a healing spell to make it stop.
Medicine checks might come in handy when trying to identify an ailment, find a cure, or even gain information about a local narcotic for a quest. It can be a useful skill in keeping the party safe, but it's a bit more niche than higher-ranking skills on this list.
12 Intimidation (Charisma)
Trying to get NPCs to cooperate can get tricky. Fortunately, D&D characters have a variety of options to make it easier, and Intimidation is one of them: the ability to scare or bully people into submission.
This skill can be helpful in getting players the information or items that they want or need, but it can come at a price. Depending on how the party wants to be perceived by the rest of the NPCs in the world, Intimidation might not always be the wisest tactic. Use it on the baddies, but try not to scare innocent townsfolk — unless that's the reputation a character wants.
11 Arcana (Intelligence)
Knowing what spells are active in a given area at a given time can be invaluable, potentially saving the party's skins. If magic is known to be present, an Arcana check can determine the school magic, and potentially who or what might have cast the spell or enchantment.
Arcana checks are great when it comes to identifying magical objects. At other times, they can potentially allow the party to take precautions and protect themselves from imminent threats. Like History and Animal Handling, Arcana is a situational skill. Players may not find themselves rolling for it as often as Perception or Investigation, but a good Arcana roll can provide essential information.
10 History (Intelligence)
Understanding the laws, lore, and legends of one's area can often be invaluable in a D&D campaign. Successful History checks can help players identify important people or locations, understand an area's local customs, and pinpoint dangers that are likely to surface in a given locale. History checks can also give book-smart characters a head start on quest objectives, letting them know where to start looking for an item or enemy without having to spend time chasing rumors.
However, unlike skills that rank higher on this list, a History check is unlikely to rescue the party from a dangerous situation. They're useful, but situational, and aren't life-saving as some others can be.
9 Nature (Wisdom)
Whether they're traversing a snowy wasteland, hostile wood, or blistering desert, the party will undoubtedly be at nature's mercy at one point or another in most campaigns. When navigating the untouched wilderness, Nature checks allow players to guide themselves by the stars, determine whether a storm is brewing, or find the safest place to camp for the night.
Like History, Nature checks can also be useful for identifying dangers. While History checks provide general background information, though, knowledge of Nature is more immediate and specific. There's an animal lurking in the trees — is it a predator, or a harmless creature? Which mushrooms are edible, and which berries are poisonous? Knowing these details can help parties avoid unnecessary risks.
8 Sleight Of Hand (Dexterity)
There's more to this rogueish skill than picking pockets and shoplifting. Jimmying a lock, forging a signature, trying to pocket a valuable magic item before the party's sorcerer sees — all of these actions require deft, silent hand movements, and all can come in handy throughout a campaign.
In a broad sense, Sleight Of Hand describes one's ability to use one's hands without others noticing. When players approach it from that angle, it becomes incredibly versatile. For example, since some spells require somatic components (i.e., movements), a player may attempt a Sleight Of Hand check to cast such a spell without NPCs noticing. Similarly, characters may communicate via hand gestures, with Sleight Of Hand checks indicating how subtly they are able to do so.
7 Athletics (Strength) / Acrobatics (Dexterity)
Throughout the Forgotten Realms, there are cliffs to be scaled, paths blocked with boulders and trees, sinkholes that open up beneath one's feet, and more. In situations like these, characters rely on their muscles or flexibility. Both Athletics and Acrobatics aid characters in physically navigating the world. Since Athletics is governed by Strength, it covers checks such as climbing or moving heavy obstacles. Dexterity-based Acrobatics, meanwhile, might mean balancing on a narrow bridge or vaulting over a fallen tree.
These skills rank together because they cover similar scenarios. Many situations provide players with the option to choose between Athletics or Acrobatics, depending on which skill is higher or what makes more sense for their character. Climb down the rock face, or dive gracefully into the water below? D&D is all about choice.
6 Deception (Charisma)
For characters who have a knack for getting into trouble — which is to say, most TTRPG characters — this skill is essential. Quite simply, Deception is the ability to lie convincingly. A roll for this skill will determine just how obvious a character's tells are when trying to sell their story.
Whether a character is pretending to be someone else, selling a counterfeit product, or providing a false alibi, players can use Deception to unlock opportunities that would otherwise be barred to them. It may irritate Lawful Good members of the party, but they'll thank their resident tricksters in the end.
5 Investigation (Intelligence)
This skill is particularly useful in a scenario that comes up over and over again: looting for items. Whether the party has slain a troupe of ruffians or stumbled upon a treasure-filled cellar, an Investigation check will tell characters what they find when they're rummaging through bodies, chests, or crates.
High rolls on this skill may allow players to find rare or valuable items. Meanwhile, a low roll may result in players missing out on an essential clue, such as a letter hidden in a slain foe's pocket.
4 Insight (Wisdom)
Not all NPCs are to be trusted. Even if they're not strictly lying, they may have hidden agendas, or information that they're not sharing with the party. A quest-giver might downplay the dangers that await in a given location. Townsfolk might avoid discussing their tyrannical ruler, for fear of being imprisoned. Insight is a character's skill at reading other people, and determining just what their angle is.
This skill doesn't come up as often as some others, but when it does, a successful or failed roll can determine the direction that an interaction or quest will take. Can the party evaluate a dangerous situation, and outsmart an NPC who's trying to play them? Or will they fall into a trap, and wind up in a dungeon full of angry goblins? Either way, players (and even the DM) may be in for a different adventure than they expected depending on how an Insight check goes.
3 Stealth (Dexterity)
No matter what the Barbarian says, it's not always the best idea to charge headfirst into battle. Whether the party is storming a castle, sneaking through caves full of hostile creatures, or just trying not to wake a sleeping bear, Stealth checks can often make or break an encounter.
By sneaking, the party may be able to gain the element of surprise when attacking a foe. Alternatively, a character may be able to gather intelligence in enemy territory without even being spotted. Ask any Rogue, and they'll confirm that Stealth is always a smart approach — when it's successful.
2 Persuasion (Charisma)
Every party needs a smooth talker. Whether trying to gain access to a restricted area, convincing an NPC to agree to a plan, haggling a shopkeeper, or getting information out of someone, a silver tongue does the trick. Because it comes in handy so frequently, it's one of the most useful skills in the game.
The Intimidation skill can work in many of the same circumstances; however, as the saying goes, it's easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. NPCs may not take too kindly to the party if one character becomes known for their threats and scare tactics. A persuasive character can use words to get their way, and stay on everyone's good side.
1 Perception (Wisdom)
For parties to complete their quests, it's often necessary to pick up on little details in one's environment. DM's know this all too well, and often hide essential information that players might not notice outright. Whereas Insight involves reading another's behavior, Perception checks test the keenness of a character's senses.
A successful check might allow a player to pick up the sound of footsteps that tell them they're being followed, or sense an eerie feeling in the air that tells them dangerous magic is nearby. With a character proficient in Perception, players will be able to pick up essential clues or get the drop on their enemies. In almost any scenario from combat to exploration, a high Perception roll will tell players something they didn't know before. This universal utility makes it the most useful ability skill in D&D.
What is the most useful ability score in DnD? ›
When it comes to ability scores surrounding your character's psyche, Wisdom takes the number one spot. It's necessary for some spellcasters, like Druids, Clerics, and Rangers, but there's more. There are quite a few skill checks relying on it, as well as saving throws.What is the least important stat in D&D? ›
D&D has a long history of strength being viewed as the worst/least important stat. That's basically a cultural thing, though.What is the weakest DnD class? ›
Monks are generally considered the 'weakest' class in DnD 5e, with low AC until the late game (when monsters have huge attack bonuses anyway), low damage dice (levels 1-4 being the apex in terms of damage compared to other martial classes) and being far too resource intensive.What is the most overpowered class in D&D? ›
The paladin is perhaps the most powerful combatant of all of D&D 5e's classes. It combines the best aspects of the fighter and cleric into a single character. Paladins get a fighter's weapons, spellcasting like a cleric, and several unique features.What should I roll for ability scores? ›
An ability score is determined by rolling 4d6 and discard the lowest score. This is repeated six times and each score is placed next to the ability where they are wanted by the player. This method tends to produce higher than average scores, which is more appropriate for a heroic character.What is the 1 to 10 rule in DnD? ›
The 1:10 rule is a commonly used roleplaying mechanic that limits the time players can make choices about their actions to ten times the length of action their character can take. In combat this means that when a player's turn comes up, they are given one minute to make up their mind about what they want to do.What is the best low level character in DnD? ›
- 3 Bards Become More Versatile As They Level Up.
- 4 Fighters Can Hold The Line From The Start. ...
- 5 Druids Are Beasts In The Late Game. ...
- 6 Clerics Play An Important Role In The Early Game. ...
- 7 High-Level Paladins Are Extremely Strong. ...
- 8 Barbarian Can Dominate At Lower Levels. ...
- Choose a theme (fantasy, adventure, sci-fi…)
- Choose an appropriate class (Dwarf, archaeologist, space-pilot…)
- Choose appropriate gear (axe/s.
Demigods. They are the weakest of the deities, and are able to grant spells and perform a few deeds that are beyond mortal limits. Lesser deities. These entities can perform more powerful deeds than demigods can, and have keener senses where their portfolios are concerned.What is the most broken multiclass in D&D? ›
The warlock and sorcerer are one of D&D 5e's most infamous multiclass combos. A build combining the two is often dubbed the "coffeelock." This build takes advantage of the warlock's ability to regain spell slots on a short rest and the D&D sorcerer's ability to convert spell slots into sorcery points.
What is the strongest race in D&D? ›
Half-orcs are one of the strongest of the playable races/species in D&D. Image: Wizards of the Coast. Half-orcs might not be as bulky as their full-blooded orc brethren, but if you're looking to create a character who is stronger and hardier, then the half-orc is your best bet from the core D&D races/species.
The fastest a character can be without spells would be a Monk with the mobile feat dashing. Monks in 5th edition gain a bonus to their movement up to 30ft. Wood Elves have the fastest move speed on the ground with 35, already giving our punchy boy a 65 ft per turn. With the mobile feat it becomes 75 feet.What dice do you roll for damage? ›
After you roll a D20 to see if you hit an enemy, you will roll other dice to see how much damage you deal. Small weapons use a D4, larger weapons deal D6 or D8 damage, and the biggest deal D10 or D12. D20, The "decider" of D&D dice.What dice do you roll for stats? ›
Rolling for stats is sometimes called the 4d6 drop method because you roll 4 d6 and drop the lowest die result from the stat score calculation.What is a normal ability score? ›
An ability score is not just a measure of innate capabilities, but also encompasses a creature's training and competence in activities related to that ability. A score of 10 or 11 is the normal human average, but adventurers and many monsters are a cut above average in most abilities.What is the best class for a Dragonborn? ›
Dragonborn gain bonuses to both Strength and Charisma, which makes them more optimal for classes that want high Strength or Charisma scores like Barbarians, Bards, Fighters, Paladins, Sorcerers, and Warlocks.What is a good DnD character sheet? ›
The best D&D character sheet for most players
The most straightforward of the bunch is GSheet. This is a spreadsheet version of the classic D&D 5E character sheet that provides handy notes and streamlined calculations. Since this is just a spreadsheet, you also have “unlimited' character slots.
- Warlock. If you're someone who LOVES making up backstories for characters, the warlock is for you. ...
- Fighter. If you're just starting out with D&D and don't want to fully commit to it, the fighter is your best option. ...
- Barbarian. ...
- Druid. ...
- Bard. ...
- Wizard. ...
- Paladin. ...
Generally, you can hide if the creature you want to hide from can't see you, and you can't hide if they can see you, but this is subject to the DM's discretion. Hiding ends if you make excessive noise, make an attack, or come out of hiding and approach a creature.What is the golden rule of DND? ›
The golden rule of D&D is that the word of the DM is the final say on any matter when it comes to rules. Even if it directly goes against what it says in the Player's Handbook or Dungeon Master's Guide. While this can be a useful tool to introduce cool aspects into the game it can also take away from player enjoyment.
What is the take 20 rule in D&D? ›
Taking 20: When you have plenty of time, you are faced with no threats or distractions, and the skill being attempted carries no penalties for failure, you can take 20. In other words, if you roll a d20 enough times, eventually you will get a 20.Who is the strongest evil character in DnD? ›
- 8 Xanathar.
- 7 Jarlaxle Baenre.
- 6 Strahd Von Zarovich.
- 5 Orcus.
- 4 Zariel.
- 3 Demogorgon.
- 2 Vecna.
- 1 Tiamat.
For first time players I always start at level one and I make it clear that, if after a few sessions, they don't like their chosen race/class/character, they are welcome to change once, no questions asked. This prevents analysis-paralysis and the fear of not liking the class they chose.What is the easiest DnD class to learn? ›
- 1 Barbarian.
- 2 Fighter. ...
- 3 Paladin. ...
- 4 Ranger. ...
- 5 Bard. While Bard can be a little difficult to get started with, it's a great class for those that want to see some action during combat, but don't necessarily want to be on the front lines. ...
Based on that experience I'd say the average person seeking to enter my game is about 24 to 26 years of age but it can vary a lot.Does age matter in D&D? ›
As a character ages their capabilities change along with them, for every 10 years after a character reaches 60% of their max age they must roll two 1d4s taking the first result on the physical effects tabel and the second on the mental.What is the most versatile character in D&D? ›
Bards are very deliberately the best D&D class for versatility. They are very hard to specialize, as they don't lean in any one particular direction.What is the smartest class in DnD? ›
1- Wizards: academic intelligence. 2- Rogued: cunning intelligence. 3- Bards: empiric intelligence. 5- Fighter: strategic intelligence.What is the strongest damage type in DnD? ›
1 Magical Bludgeoning, Slashing, and Piercing
In all of the monster manual, there is but one creature who is resistant to magical weapons. None are immune or vulnerable. Magic weapons provide the most reliable damage type in the game, bar none.
To those who plan on Multiclassing, ideal options to consider include Artificer-Cleric, Barbarian-Fighter, and Bard-Paladin Multiclasses to maximize both survival and utility offerings.
What is the most common damage in DnD? ›
What is the most common damage type in DnD? Non-magical weapon damage (aka bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing) is the most common. Aside from that, fire damage, poison damage, and necrotic damage are the most common damage types.What is the least played race in D&D? ›
Aasimar. The Aasimar is the least-played race according to DnD Beyond stats.What is the best D&D race to be a gunslinger? ›
The main reason halflings are great gunslingers though is their lucky ability. Fumbling an attack with a gun becomes a misfire, and misfires are terrible. Without a backup, a broken gun can leave you useless for the rest of a fight.
According to the Player's Handbook, the most common character races are dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans. There are more uncommon races such as dragonborn, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and tieflings.What D&D class has the highest charisma? ›
Warlocks are a class known for their traditionally high charisma which they utilize in order to cast spells.What is the best DnD class to fight dragons? ›
Rangers Are A Good Starting Point When Fighting D&D Dragons
In Dragonlance, DnD's Rangers have a huge advantage over other classes. The first build is the most obvious for a ranged character capable of taking on dragons: the Hunter Ranger.
Using your normal action, action surge, haste action, bonus action, and Feline Agility, you can move 4200 feet in one turn. With your readied moving that you expend as a reaction, you can move 5060 feet in one round, or 843 feet per second. That's 575 miles per hour.What is a good Intelligence score in DnD? ›
|INTELLIGENCE SCORE||LANGUAGE||WORKING MEMORY|
|6-7: Sapient||Misunderstands & Misuses Words Often||Volatile Train of Thought|
|8-9: Sub-Common||Dull||Solid Train of Thought; False Multitasking|
|10-11: Common||Fluent||Inefficient Active Sequential Multitasking|
|12-13: Smart||Witty or Sarcastic||Rumination|
The six main stats in DnD are Dexterity, Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Charisma, and Wisdom. These six stats are meant to sum up the physical and mental abilities of any given character. In other words, each ability represents a different field of abilities that are separate from each other.What are the best stats for a fighter in DnD? ›
- Strength/Dexterity -> Constitution -> Strength/Dexterity -> Charisma -> Wisdom -> Intelligence.
- Strength/Dexterity -> Intelligence -> Constitution -> Charisma -> Strength/Dexterity -> Wisdom.
- Do you have any tips for starting Fighters? Let us know in the comments!
What is the average Intelligence score in DnD? ›
An IQ of 100 is average; in fact, a bit less than 52% of the population have an IQ from 90 to 110. About 2% of the population have an IQ of 130 or greater, and 2% of the population have an IQ of 69 or less. In D&D, you use 3d6 to determine your character's intelligence.What is the average player level in DnD? ›
There is no average level in DnD, though there are milestones at lv. 5, 10, 15, and 20. There may be more milestones scattered in there depending on your class.What is the average intelligence score? ›
In general, an IQ score is defined with a median and mean of 100. Scores above 130 are labeled as above average or “very superior,” while scores under 70 would be considered below average or labeled as “borderline impaired.” Most people have an average IQ between 85 and 115.What is a good DND level to start at? ›
While some DMs continue to start their D&D campaign at level one, others prefer to start their players at level two or three to have more durability and skills for combat, but it still allows them to get a feel for the play style of their characters.What is the best level in DND? ›
At level 20, D&D characters become nearly godlike, but some classes boast stronger high-level features than others. Level 20 is a rare threshold in Dungeons & Dragons, where players pretty much turn into gods.What is the strongest NPC in D&D? ›
Vecna, popular across the multiverse as the Chained God, serves as one of the most powerful entities in all of Dungeons & Dragons.What abilities are best for fighters? ›
- Strength - - This is your main stat. ...
- Constitution - - Adds HP and healing surges, which are always good to have. ...
- Dexterity - - Gives you Reflex defense and AC in light armor. ...
- Intelligence - - Your designated dump stat.
14 Intelligence Company - sometimes referred to as 14 INT, 14 Company, 14th Intelligence Detachment or 'The Det' - was a British Army special forces unit, established during the Troubles, which carried out surveillance operations in Northern Ireland.What does it mean if your intelligence score is 100? ›
On many tests, a score of 100 is considered the average IQ. Sixty-eight percent of scores fall within one standard deviation of the mean (that is, between 85 and 115). That means that nearly 70% of all people score within plus or minus 15 points of the average score.How smart is 11 intelligence? ›
A score of 11 is about 105 - still within the range of average. If each point roughly equates to a 5 point bump on the IQ scale, the numbers really mirror each other pretty well - except when you talk about really high or low scores, where both systems tend to break apart (it's really hard to measure extremes).