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Abilities are representations of a creature's physical and mental attributes in Baldur's Gate 3. There are six abilities in Baldur's Gate 3, and every creature has a set of six ability scores – numerical values which represent how well they perform at each ability.

Each ability score translates directly into an ability score modifier – modifiers which function as bonuses or penalties that are added to most dice rolls in the game.

Overview[edit | edit source]

The six abilities each represent an aspect of a creature's capabilities:

Ability scores are bought with points during character creation. The minimum ability score during character creation is 8, and the maximum is 15, before any of the ability score increases are applied.

Ability score modifiers[edit | edit source]

Each ability has an ability score modifier, which is derived from its ability score. The ability score modifiers are being added to any ability checks, saving throws and attack rolls a creature makes associated with that ability, as well as to the Difficulty Class (DC) of any spells that they cast.

Creatures also add an ability score modifier to initiative rolls and some damage rolls they make, and some features allow creatures to add additional or alternative ability score modifiers to specific rolls.

An ability's modifier is decreased by 1 for every odd score below 10, and is increased by 1 for every even score above 10. Alternatively, it can be calculated by subtracting 10 from the ability score, then dividing by 2 and rounding down.[note 1]

Ability score modifier chart
Ability score Modifier value Ability score Modifier value
1 -5 16-17 +3
2-3 -4 18-19 +4
4-5 -3 20-21 +5
6-7 -2 22-23 +6
8-9 -1 24-25 +7
10-11 +0 26-27 +8
12-13 +1 28-29 +9
14-15 +2 30 +10

Ability checks[edit | edit source]

Ability checks are dice rolls made to determine whether a creature succeeds or fails at a task. They are rolled against the task's Difficulty Class (DC), which is generally predetermined by the game. Each ability check is made using one of the six abilities in the game, and creatures add an ability's corresponding ability score modifier to the results of ability checks they make.

Skills[edit source]

Ability checks are usually made using a specified skill. Skills are specific areas of expertise, each associated with an ability, that characters can be proficient in.

Characters add their proficiency bonus to any ability checks they make using skills they are proficient in.[note 2]

Strength icon.png

Athletics icon.png Athletics

Dexterity icon.png

Acrobatics icon.png Acrobatics
Sleight of Hand icon.png Sleight of Hand
Stealth icon.png Stealth

Intelligence icon.png

Arcana icon.png Arcana
History icon.png History
Investigation icon.png Investigation
Nature icon.png Nature
Religion icon.png Religion

Wisdom icon.png

Animal Handling icon.png Animal Handling
Insight icon.png Insight
Medicine icon.png Medicine
Perception icon.png Perception
Survival icon.png Survival

Charisma icon.png

Deception icon.png Deception
Intimidation icon.png Intimidation
Performance icon.png Performance
Persuasion icon.png Persuasion

List of skills, sorted by ability
Ability Score Skills
Strength icon.png Strength
Dexterity icon.png Dexterity
Intelligence icon.png Intelligence
Wisdom icon.png Wisdom
Charisma icon.png Charisma

All characters gain proficiency in two skills based on their chosen background during character creation, and can choose 2-4 more skills to be proficient in from a list of skills determined by their class.

Additionally, some races, subclasses, and feats also give proficiency in specific skills, and bards receive the class feature Jack of All Trades at level 2, allowing them to add half their proficiency bonus (rounded down) to ability checks they make using skills they are not proficient in.

Proficiency does not stack – there's no benefit to having multiple sources of proficiency for a skill.

Expertise[edit source]


Characters can also have expertise in a skill, which allows them to add double their proficiency bonus when making a corresponding ability check. While it is possible to have proficiency and expertise in a skill at the same time, they do not stack. Some sources of expertise do, however, require the character to already be proficient in a skill.

Sources of expertise that require prior proficiency in the respective skill include:

  • Rogues gain expertise in any two skills they are proficient in at both level 1 and level 6.
  • Bards gain expertise in any two skills they are proficient in at both level 3 and level 10.

Sources of expertise that do not require prior proficiency in the respective skill include:

Common scenarios[edit source]

Automatic rolls
Some ability checks are automatic. For example, when a creature approaches an inactive trap, the game rolls a Perception ability check to determine whether the creature notices the trap. Perception is a Wisdom skill, so the character adds their Wisdom modifier and, if proficient in Perception, their proficiency bonus to the ability check. Once the trap is discovered, the character can interact with it to attempt to Disarm it, which requires a successful Sleight of Hand check, a Dexterity skill.
During dialogue
Ability checks are also common during dialogue, where some responses require an ability check to determine the outcome. Examples include using Charisma-based skills like Persuasion, Deception, or Intimidation to influence others, or Intelligence-based skills like Investigation, History, or Religion to determine or remember facts.
A contest is a special type of ability check in which two creatures both roll an ability check to oppose each other, and one wins over the other. The creatures don't necessarily roll the same type of check.
An example of this is the Shove Shove action. The creature attempting the Shove rolls Athletics, and the defending creature rolls either Athletics or Acrobatics (the game chooses the Skill with the highest bonus) to contest the Shove. If the attacker's roll is higher than the defender's, the Shove succeeds; otherwise, it fails.

Saving throws[edit | edit source]

Saving throws represent a creature’s attempt to “save” themselves from harm. Spells and actions taken by other creatures frequently allow their targets to attempt a save, as do hazards like traps and surfaces. Each save has an associated ability – referred to using terms like Strength saving throw or Dexterity save – and a save DC that creatures attempting to save roll against. When attempting a save, a creature adds an ability score modifier corresponding to that save's associated ability, and if they are proficient in saves made using that ability, they add their proficiency bonus as well.

While the result of an attempted saving throw is always binary – it is either a success or a failure – the exact outcome of a successful save depends on the effect in question. Typically, the damage or conditions inflicted by the associated effect will be reduced in severity, and sometimes negated entirely.

Saving throws do not automatically fail or succeed on natural 1s and 20s, except when made during dialogue.

A number of features affect saving throws, and some races have advantage on certain saves.

Save proficiency[edit source]

All classes give save proficiency with two abilities. Though when multiclassing, only the first class taken gives its save proficiencies. An additional save proficiency can be gained by taking the Resilient feat.

Save DCs[edit source]

The Difficulty Class rolled against when attempting to save is called save DC. A successful save can mean completely avoiding negative effects, reducing the damage received (usually by half), or both. For example, successfully saving against a spike trap could mean that a creature takes no damage at all, because it successfully evaded the spikes. On the other hand, if it's caught in the area of effect of a Fireball Fireball, then a successful save will merely halve the damage. Saving against Thunderwave Thunderwave both halves the damage taken, and prevents a creature from being pushed by the spell.

Different mechanics calculate save DC differently:

Danger save DC
In scenarios such as traps, the game chooses an appropriate Difficulty Class, depending on how serious the danger is. This includes consumable items such as elemental arrows or throwables.
Spell save DC
The Difficulty Class of a spell that can be saved against is determined through the following formula:
8 + proficiency bonus + spellcasting ability modifier.
Certain conditions and equipment worn by the caster can also affect their Spell Save DC.
Weapon save DC
Most weapons allow proficient users to perform special "weapon actions", which are typically limited to once per short rest (e.g. Backbreaker). These actions often include the chance to inflict a condition on the target, and these conditions require the target to attempt a Save to avoid them. Each weapon action can grant its own inherent bonus to DC that isn't listed anywhere, but is frequently +2. The Difficulty Class of saves allowed by weapon actions is calculated as follows:
Weapon Action DC = 8 + proficiency bonus + Strength or Dexterity modifier + inherent weapon action bonus DC
Certain weapon actions, notably Concussive Smash, instead allow the acting creature to either use their Spell Save DC or weapon action DC with a +2 bonus, whichever is higher.

Other effects[edit source]

In the case of threats that don't originate from a spellcaster, such as a trap or a poisonous apple, the game sets the DC based on how serious the threat is intended to be. For example, a rather ineffective trap might have a DC of just 5, whereas an effective trap could have a DC of 15. A slightly spoiled tart could impose a DC 5 Constitution save when eaten, whereas a potent venom from a snake could impose a DC 15 Constitution save on the victim.

Death saving throws[edit source]

Death saving throws are a special type of saving throw made by playable characters after they have been Downed Downed. Death saves are made once per turn while the character remains Downed. If a Downed character receives damage from any source that isn't a critical hit, they automatically fail one death saving throw. A critical hit against a Downed character results in 2 failed saves. Melee attacks against a Downed target are always classified as a critical hit.

Three successful saves will let a creature stabilize, no longer needing to make death saves to survive, and three failures will lead to the creature becoming Dead Dead.

Death saving throws are not associated with an ability score and so don't get any modifiers, nor do they benefit from the proficiency bonus. They only benefit from bonuses that apply to all saving throws (such as Bless Bless) or specifically to death saves (such as Family Ring). Death saves are always DC 10. A character dies when three failures are accumulated, or stabilizes when three successes are accumulated, whichever happens first.

Death saving throws can be critical failures and critical successes. A natural 1 rolled for a death save will add two failures to a character's death save count, while a natural 20 will immediately stabilize the character regardless of their current death save count.

Spellcasting ability[edit | edit source]

For more information, see Spellcasting ability and proficiency.

Every class has a spellcasting ability whose modifier they add to the attack rolls and save DCs of their known spells.[note 3][note 4]

Fighter, Rogue, Wizard.
Cleric, Druid, Monk, Ranger.
Barbarian, Bard, Paladin, Sorcerer, Warlock.

Spells from sources other than class instead use the spellcasting ability of the class the caster most recently took a first level in.

Interactions with classes[edit | edit source]

Each class has designated primary and secondary abilities. While these have no particular mechanical significance, they are mentioned in the character creator, and serve as recommendations for players unfamiliar with the rules of the game. Classes do, however, frequently have features that rely on these abilities.

Overview of abilities and skills[edit | edit source]

Strength[edit | edit source]

Main article: Strength
Strength Score Icon.png

Strength represents a creature's ability to exert physical force, and is the game's recommended primary stat for barbarians and fighters.

Uses of Strength[edit | edit source]

Attack and damage rolls
Creatures add their Strength modifier to the results of attack and damage rolls for melee weapons.
Jump distance
The distance which a creature can jump is determined by their Strength score.
Carrying capacity
A creature's Strength score is used to determine how much weight a creature can carry before becoming encumbered.
The maximum weight a creature can throw is determined by their Strength score.

Strength checks[edit | edit source]

Strength checks are made when physical might is required, such as when attempting to push over a heavy object or when attempting to force open locked doors or containers during dialogue.
Athletics is used during attempts to shove other creatures, as well as when attempting to resist being shoved.

Strength saves[edit | edit source]

Strength saves are rare, and primarily called for when attempting to resist being knocked prone.[1]

Dexterity[edit | edit source]

Main article: Dexterity
Dexterity Score Icon.png

Dexterity represents a creature's agility and reflexes.

Dexterity is the game's recommended primary stat for monks, rangers and rogues.

Uses of Dexterity[edit | edit source]

Attack and damage rolls
Creatures add their Dexterity modifier to the results of attack and damage rolls of ranged weapons and, when the creature's Dexterity score is higher than their Strength score, melee weapons with the Finesse property.
Armour Class
Creatures also add their Dexterity modifier to their Armour Class (AC) – making them more difficult to hit, up to a maximum of +2 when wearing most medium armour. The bonus is ignored when wearing heavy armour, unless otherwise specified.
Creatures add their Dexterity modifier when rolling for initiative, used to determine the turn order during combat.

Dexterity checks[edit | edit source]

Dexterity checks are made when attempting to be nimble.
Acrobatics is used to resist attempts at being shoved.
Sleight of Hand
Sleight of Hand is used when attempting to pick locks, disarm traps, pickpocket NPCs or when attempting to steal items without being noticed.
Stealth is used to hide from other characters and when attempting to remain undetected while invisible.

Dexterity saves[edit | edit source]

Dexterity saves are commonly called for by spells that deal area of effect damage, often halving the damage rolls of those spells.

Constitution[edit | edit source]

Main article: Constitution
Constitution Score Icon.png

Constitution represents a creature's health and endurance.

Uses of Constitution[edit | edit source]

Hit points
Creatures add their Constitution modifier to the amount of hit points they gain on level up. This increase is applied retroactively.

Constitution checks[edit | edit source]

Constitution checks are rare and have no associated skills.

Constitution checks are made when a creature's resilience is tested, but more commonly a Constitution save is attempted instead.

Constitution saves[edit | edit source]

Constitution saves are made to maintain concentration on long-duration spells, and are used when saving against poisons or spells that test a target's endurance or resilience.

Intelligence[edit | edit source]

Main article: Intelligence
Intelligence Score Icon.png

Intelligence represents a creature's recall, as well as their ability to reason and think quickly.

Intelligence is the game's recommended primary stat for wizards, and it is the spellcasting ability of wizards, fighters and rogues.

Intelligence checks[edit | edit source]

Intelligence checks are used when a creature attempts to apply logic or reason, or when attempting to remember something specific.
Arcana is used when attempting to remember facts about the Weave, the source of magic and spells.
History is used when attempting to remember specific historical dates or events.
Investigation is used by creatures to discover unusual things in their surroundings, and is used during attempts at deduction during dialogue.
Nature is used when attempting to remember facts about nature.
Religion is used when attempting to remember facts about deities and the planes of existence.

Intelligence saves[edit | edit source]

Intelligence saves are used against psionic spells and features, such as those used by illithids.

Wisdom[edit | edit source]

Main article: Wisdom
Wisdom Score Icon.png

Wisdom represents a creature's awareness of their surroundings and their intuition.

Wisdom is the game's recommended primary stat for clerics and druids, and it is the spellcasting ability of clerics, druids, monks and rangers.

Wisdom is also an important ability for monks, as several of their class features benefit from it.

Wisdom checks[edit | edit source]

Wisdom checks are attempts to discern situations and read between the lines.
Animal Handling
Animal Handling is used when interacting with animals.
Insight is used to read situations and when attempting to get a greater understanding of someone's intentions.
Medicine is used during dialogue to heal and aid others, as well as by Transmutation School wizards to craft extra materials with the Experimental Alchemy class feature.
Perception is used when a creature attempts to discover hidden or hard to find things in their surroundings, such as hidden containers, mechanisms or traps, as well as when attempting to spot hidden creatures. During dialogue, it is used to notice hard to spot details.
Survival is used when attempting to spot hidden treasure, as well as during dialogues when dealing with anything related to experience with animals or the wilderness.

Wisdom saves[edit | edit source]

Wisdom saves are some of the most common saves in the game, frequently made to resist spells that test a creature's composure, willpower or self control.

Charisma[edit | edit source]

Main article: Charisma
Charisma Score Icon.png

Charisma represents a creature's ability to exert their will when interacting with others.

Charisma is the game's recommended primary ability for bards, sorcerers, warlocks and paladins, and it is the spellcasting ability of barbarians, bards, paladins, sorcerers and warlocks.

Charisma checks[edit | edit source]

Charisma checks are attempts at influencing others during dialogue.
Deception is used when attempting to deceive or trick others.
Intimidation is used when attempting to frighten or coerce others.
Proficiency in Performance allows characters to play instruments, and the skill is used when attempting to entertain others.
Persuasion is used when attempting to negotiate with or convince others.

Charisma saves[edit | edit source]

Charisma saves are rare, generally found only on effects which inflict the banished condition, or given as class-based alternatives to Sorcerers, Warlocks, or Bards on Wisdom or Intelligence saves found in dialogs, such as reading the Necromancy of Thay.

Improving or reducing ability scores[edit | edit source]

There are multiple ways of improving or reducing ability scores, either permanently or temporarily.

Permanently[edit | edit source]

Ability scores can be permanently improved through the Ability Improvement feat, though this cannot raise any score above 20.

There are also several ways of permanently improving ability scores through quests and interactions, which can raise ability scores over 20.[note 5]

Temporarily[edit | edit source]

Ability scores may be temporarily increased above 20 through various enhancements, such as magical spells, elixirs, or special equipment.[note 5]

Ability score reduction[edit | edit source]

Some supernatural or magical effects (like Devour Intellect) can temporarily drain abilities, reducing one or more of the target's ability scores, potentially to zero. If any score is reduced to zero, the target dies instantly.

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. Ability score modifiers cannot be increased beyond +10, even if their respective ability scores are increased further.
  2. These rolls are often referred to as "skill checks" by the community, although they are not referred to as such in-game.
  3. The primary ability of caster classes always corresponds to their spellcasting ability, with the exception of Rangers and classes that gain spellcasting via a subclass class feature.
  4. Racial spells may use their own designated ability. For example, the cantrip granted during character creation by the elf or half-elf race always uses Intelligence, regardless of the creature's class.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Mirror of Loss can both permanently improve and temporarily reduce ability scores.

References[edit | edit source]