What is Dexterity in D&D 5e?

A character’s dexterity can be described as a combination of their quickness and agility, their muscular coordination, and their sense of equilibrium.

A character’s physical and mental capabilities are measured by this ability score, which is one of the six primary ability scores.

Dexterity is sometimes referred to as the “God stat” in D&D 5e because it may be useful to virtually any character, especially in fighting, but it’s more useful to some characters than others.

When it comes to combat, agility is crucial. Dual-wielding martial characters and those that rely on bows and crossbows also have this problem.

(a) initiative, (b) dexterity saving throws, (c) attack and damage rolls with finesse or ranged weapons, (d) armor class calculations, (e) certain skill tests, and (f) dexterity ability checks are all examples of how dexterity is employed in 5e.


In D&D, dexterity can be useful to any character because it can be added to the character’s initiative.

As an example, a character with 14 dexterity (+2) gets an additional +2 bonus on all initiative rolls.

Rolling for the initiative is a form of ability check, so it’s important to keep that in mind. See below for details on different sorts of dexterity ability assessments.

What are dexterity-saving throws?

Saving throws based on dexterity are often used to avoid being hit by spells or other hazards.

Many campaigns use dexterity saving throws as the primary form of saving throw, making them the most important type of saving throw in the game (along with Con and Wis).

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Dexterity saves are frequently employed to mitigate the full impact of some effects, such as a fireball.

Even if you make a successful save against one of these effects, you will still take half the damage.

In contrast to saves made with Con or Wis, failing a dexterity saving throw rarely has major consequences (unless you pass out unconscious), such as being poisoned, paralyzed, or charmed.

Weapon Attack and Damage Rolls

Dexterity can be used instead of strength in the calculation of attack and damage for melee weapons with the finesse trait.

When using a long-range weapon, the attack and damage dice are always based on dexterity.

Finesse is required for throwing weapons in order to employ dexterity for attack and damage rolls.

As a result, characters with a high level of dexterity can profit from wielding either ranged or finesse weapons.

Finesse weapons are few and far between. There are no heavy or two-handed finesse weapons, and the whip is the only one with the reach characteristic.

Strength-based weapons, on the other hand, are more powerful and versatile.

These disadvantages, on the other hand, maybe outweighed by the sneak attack damage that rogues have or the ability to dual-wield two weapons simultaneously that Dex-based characters have.

For Dex-based martial characters, the rapier is frequently the best weapon.

Dexterity & Armor Class (AC) Calculations

Characters can use all or part of their dexterity modifier when wearing certain types of armor.

Dexterity does not impact a character’s AC if they are wearing heavy armor. Because of this, dexterity is less relevant if you’re wearing a lot of heavy armor.

Characters wearing medium armor can increase their armor class by up to two points, depending on their dexterity ability modifier.

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This indicates that dexterity of 14 (+2) is ideal for most characters who plan to wear medium-weight armor, but anything higher may be overkill.

Dexterity can be used to increase the AC of characters wearing minimal or no protection or those who utilize the mage armor spell.

As a result, these characters will need a high level of agility to ensure their survival in battle.

In some cases, AC is calculated in a unique way.

This means that dexterity is an absolute necessity for monks, as they can employ (10 + Dex modifier + Wis modifier) In the case of barbarians, AC can be calculated as follows: 10 + Dex + Con

Dexterity is less of an issue for them because they can also use medium armor and shields.

It would be nice to have a Dex of at least 14. Strength is more important than dexterity for barbarians because of the barbarian’s other abilities.

Dexterity may or may not be a factor in computing AC for some races.

Remember that characters only have one means of determining their armor class. Armor and unarmored defense cannot be used together, for example, by a barbarian.

Dexterity-Based Skills

Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth are all examples of dexterity-based skills.

While rogues may benefit the most from these abilities, they can be applied to a wide range of characters.

Of these, stealth is typically the most useful. It’s possible to employ stealth to slip past someone in a crowded hallway or to conceal an object.

Even in the midst of the fighting, stealth can be deployed. Certain types of medium and heavy armor can have an impact on a player’s ability to evade detection.

Pickpocketing, coin tricks, slipping evidence into someone’s pocket, slipping an item into your own pocket, cheating at cards, tying knots, and casting a spell can all be accomplished with the use of sleight of hand (if your DM allows it).

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Acrobatics and athleticism are often seen as overlapping qualities.

As a general rule, acrobatics checks are used to retain balance, leap and tumble, move past adversaries, perform flips and rolls, and the like.

Climbing and jumping are frequent uses for athletics, but DMs don’t always forbid players from using acrobatics instead. Swimming, strength, and grappling feats hanging from a cliff’s edge, and other such feats are all part of athletics.

Dexterity Ability Checks

Dexterity in D&D 5e

Other than initiative, a game master can require a player to do a dexterity check.

In most cases, this would be used to make a roll to perform a dexterity-based action that doesn’t combine with one of the dexterity-based talents and isn’t a saving throw. “

Using a set of jeweler’s tools to fix a shattered amulet might necessitate a Dex ability check. It is possible to add a competence bonus if you are skilled in the use of jeweler’s tools.

Understanding Dexterity in 5e

Dexterity, as you can see, has a wide range of applications in D&D 5e.

It’s possible to create a perfectly serviceable character even if your ability scores are a complete mess because all you need to worry about is dexterity.

There are times when playing a character with poor dexterity while wearing heavy armor is a lot of fun.

Tortles and loxodons have natural armor that isn’t dependent on Dex, so they’re a good option if you don’t want to sacrifice AC to dump Dex.

My basic recommendation for starting dexterity depending on each 5e class is mentioned below:

ClassRecommended Starting Value
Artificer14, or lower if you plan to go into the Armorer subclass and wear heavy armor
Bard14, or lower if you plan to become a Valor bard and wear heavy armor
Cleric14, or lower if you plan to take a subclass with heavy armor
Fighter14, or 16+ if you want to use a finesse or ranged weapons
Paladin10+ if you plan to use heavy armor, or higher if you want to use medium or light armor, or use a finesse or ranged weapons
Ranger14 for str-based melee builds, 16+ for archery or dual-weapon builds
Warlock16, or 14 for the hexblade subclass