Many spells throughout Dungeons and Dragons provide buffs to selected players in many ways. For example, some give back health to a wounded party member, while others weaken the enemies in some way or another, giving the members of the party an easier chance to inflict damage on them.
But there is one spell that can be used outside of combat to provide a small buff to the other player characters within a party, One that is simple in its casting but extremely broad in its usage. That spell is the Guidance Spell, the topic of this article.
What is Guidance 5e: mechanics and requirements
- Casting time: 1 Action (6 seconds)
- Level: Cantrip
- Range/Area: Touch
- Target: One willing creature
- Components: Vocal and Somatic
- Duration: 1 Minute (with concentration)
- Classes: Artificer, Cleric, and Druid
Guidance 5e description
You touch one willing creature. Once before the spell ends, the target can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to one ability check of its choice. It can roll the die before or after making the ability check. The spell then ends.
Advantages and drawbacks
- Can assist with any ability score check
As is the nature of the spell, the spell can give a slight bonus to any ability score check the target creature has to make. Granted, this small bonus is a d4, but such a bonus can help a player through ability checks for which their character is not built correctly. In addition, this gives the targeted, willing creature a more leisurely time passing ability checks that could benefit the party in some way or another.
1. either by convincing an enemy to let them pass by and skip a combat encounter
2. haggling the price of a handy item down to a more manageable price for another player character to buy.
- The spell has no limits on how many times it can be cast
As seen in the Attributes section of the article, Guidance is a Cantrip, or what some people call a Level 0 Spell. Using this spell as a cantrip means the caster can use it whenever they want without fearing any limitations from spell slots.
Pair this with the lack of a physical material required to cast the spell, and there is no limit to how many times the spell can be used by a spellcaster, save one; The Duration.
So long as the Guidance bonus 4d granted to the willing creature targeted for the spell hasn’t been used, the d4 remains for a minute before going away. Now, this is not a problematic limit to go around, as if that creature uses the bonus d4 for their ability checks, then the spell ends prematurely, thus allowing for another casting of it if the caster who has the spell chooses to do so.
- One out of a small few
The Guidance spell is one of only three spells out of the entire selectable spell list for the three classes that can use this spell that provides a buff while also being a cantrip. This small number of spells that provide a buff effect means that the Guidance spell does not get overshadowed by other buff spells in the cantrip spell list.
In fact, out of the possible spells for Dungeons and Dragons, Guidance is only one in four of the possible spells. This means that if a player was looking for a buff spell that could be used incredibly easily, they could be more easily drawn towards the Guidance spell out of a lack of competing spells.
- Similar in function to another spell
Speaking of Guidance 5e’s lack of competition, one spell in the realm of selection for a player works very similarly to another spell that can be selected; Resistance. Resistance works in almost the same way as Guidance, with only two main differences; Resistance works on saving throws instead of ability checks, and it requires a physical material to be able to be cast. There is a way these spells can be utilized in tandem, but that will be discussed later in the article.
- Incredibly short range
The range for Guidance is incredibly short, especially for a spell that is incredibly simple to cast; By touch. This range effectively means that the caster has to move all the way over to wherever their desired target is to be able to use the spell. This is no issue outside of combat as there is no real threat that could harm them while they are conducting the spell, but it can still cause some issues in the future.
Such an example is if the party is in a situation where the caster has a use for the spell but cannot reach the creature that could benefit from the spell due to some obstacle that the caster cannot get around.
- Not viable inside of combat
When a player is making their spell list as they are building a new character, they will sometimes tend to go for useful spells both within and outside of a combat encounter, so they can have as many damage spells as possible. Unfortunately, such a mindset can easily have a player look over Guidance as a spell selection, as it is simply unusable within a battle situation.
This is not only because of the previously mentioned range limitations the spell has but also because the spell is meant for ability score checks, which are rarely used during combat. As such, the Guidance Spell would most likely be ignored and instead have the player choosing the previously mentioned Resistance spell, which holds the same functionality as the Guidance spell but is meant for saving throws instead of ability checks.
Best uses for Guidance 5e
To help with affording an expensive item.
When it comes to haggling a price for a magical item that another player or the caster wants to purchase, a Persuasion check is normally required to convince the shopkeeper to lower the price to a more affordable one. Thus, using the Guidance spell during this haggling attempt can give the player trying to convince the shopkeeper a small extra boost to their persuasion check, making it all the easier to try and get the sought-after item.
Trying to get past and skip a combat encounter
Negotiating a better price on a magical item is not the only thing the Guidance spell can help with in the persuasion department. For example, if there is a combat encounter that the party can talk its way out of, the caster can use the Guidance spell on the person trying to convince the enemies to simply let them pass. Similarly to the first use, giving the persuader this little extra d4 boost in their roll can make a successful result all the more conceivable, especially in a situation with a high DC that is required to pass for the check to be successful.
Utilized in Tandem with Resistance
As mentioned previously, Resistance and Guidance can technically be cast to benefit one another during a situation. However, there are not many situations where such a combination could be properly used; Those few are still highly doable.
A prime example of these few scenarios is if a player is going through a dungeon and has to first discover the trap in the party’s path and then tank through whatever damage the trap might throw against the person who triggered it.
Since discovering the trap would require an ability check, and then the damage taken from the trap would most likely require a saving throw of some kind, a caster could give the victim of the trap both Guidance and Resistance to help them just a little bit in succeeding the checks they need to do.
Advice and final thoughts
Although this spell is incredibly useful outside of combat encounters, it is not fully recommended to use it within one, as most situations that could revolve around an ability check would be handled during peaceful moments in the campaign.
However, this doesn’t mean that the spell can be used during a combat situation, but its incredibly short range and the focus of the spell do not warrant its use during a fight. So, as it stands, Guidance is a spell best used for situations outside of combat, going way beyond the few uses described in this article.
Guidance 5e FAQ
If a player has an advantage on their ability check, can they roll the d4 twice for Guidance?
This is truly up to the Dungeon Master, as there is nothing that is written in the spell that neither permits nor restricts the usage of the spell in this manner. I would roll with advantage and then roll the d4 on the higher result to make it fairer to both the spell’s caster and the person making the check.
Can Guidance be cast on the owner of the spell itself?
Yes, As with many spells within Dungeons and Dragons, Guidance can be cast on the user of the spell to give them a d4 bonus to an ability check they have to do.
Is there any way for a spellcaster outside of the three classes to use Guidance 5e?
There is one way; A Warlock’s Book of Shadows allows them to choose three cantrips from any spell list, meaning that a player who is classed into the Warlock class can choose Guidance as one of the Cantrips chosen for the feat’s effect.