The help action is probably one of the most powerful abilities that anyone can use in D&D. It seems like a bold claim for something that everyone has access to, but it’s true. Where the help action shines is that it can selectively apply advantage, which is a very big deal. When your players learn to utilize the help action properly, their bumbling around can be transformed into impactful teamwork.
How The Help Action Works
In Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, the Help action is a strategic choice a player can make during their turn in combat or in a non-combat scenario. When a character takes the Help action, they are essentially providing assistance to another character in completing a task or making an attack against a creature within 5 feet of them. This action does not require any ability checks from the helper; it simply signifies their effort to aid their ally.
The primary benefit of the Help action is that it grants advantage to the next ability check or attack roll the aided character makes against the target before the start of the helper’s next turn. Advantage means the player gets to roll two d20s and use the higher roll, increasing the likelihood of success.
Example of Help Providing Advantage
One example of effectively using the Help action to provide advantage in combat involves a wizard and a fighter. Imagine a scenario where these two allies are facing a formidable enemy. The fighter is engaged in melee combat with the enemy, but the wizard, positioned at a safer distance, prepares to cast a spell that requires an attack roll, such as ‘Fire Bolt’. Normally, the wizard would make this attack roll without any bonuses.
However, on the fighter’s turn, instead of launching another attack, the fighter chooses to use the Help action. The fighter does this by feinting, shouting challenges, or otherwise occupying the enemy, making it easier for the wizard to aim their spell. This tactical move grants the wizard advantage on their next attack roll, significantly increasing the likelihood of their spell hitting the target. Such teamwork demonstrates the strategic use of the Help action in enhancing combat effectiveness beyond direct attacks.
Example of Help Negating Disadvantage
Another scenario where the Help action can be crucial is when it’s used to negate disadvantage. For instance, consider a scenario where a character is trying to sneak past a guard in dim light, which normally imposes disadvantage on Stealth checks due to poor visibility. Another character, who is not sneaking, can use the Help action to create a diversion, drawing the guard’s attention away from the sneaking character. This action effectively removes the disadvantage imposed by the dim light, allowing the sneaking character to make a regular Stealth check instead of one with disadvantage. This example highlights how the Help action can be used creatively to mitigate challenging circumstances.
Why Help Is So Powerful
The help action is extremely powerful for a few reasons:
- There is no roll required to provide help
- It can apply advantage
- It can negate disadvantage
- It can be used in combat
- It can be used outside of combat
- It can be applied selectively
The Help action, in terms of roll statistics, might be one of the most powerful things that a player can do. 5e really wanted to lean into the power of friendship it seems!
The Help action also enhances cooperative gameplay, allowing players to strategize and work together more efficiently. Consider a scenario where your adventuring party needs to gather crucial information to defeat a formidable enemy. Two members of the party, let’s say a wizard and a rogue, head to a library to conduct research. They have a choice: work separately or collaborate, with one assisting the other.
If they decide to use the Help action, it’s particularly advantageous if one character has a higher Investigation skill modifier. By assisting, the character with the lower modifier (in this case the rogue helps the wizard) then makes the Investigation check with advantage.
This could be roleplayed as the rogue searching for relevant books and managing the index, while the wizard focuses on reading and analyzing the content. This teamwork approach significantly increases their chances of uncovering the information they need, compared to if they were both to conduct their research independently.
How to Encourage The Help Action
Encouraging players to use the Help action in a Dungeons & Dragons game can greatly enhance teamwork and strategic play. As a Dungeon Master, you can foster this by designing scenarios where collaboration is clearly beneficial. Introduce complex challenges or puzzles that require different skill sets, nudging players to assist each other.
For instance, a locked ancient tome that requires both Arcana knowledge and Thieves’ Tools proficiency to open can encourage a wizard and a rogue to work together. Highlighting the narrative aspect of the Help action can also motivate players. Describe how their characters’ skills and backgrounds uniquely position them to assist each other, making the action feel more integral to the story.
Additionally, you can offer in-game rewards or inspiration points for creative uses of the Help action, reinforcing its value. Lastly, lead by example: have NPCs use the Help action during combat or in social encounters, demonstrating its effectiveness and encouraging players to consider similar tactics. By integrating these approaches, you can create a game environment where cooperation and strategic teamwork are not just beneficial, but also exciting and rewarding for your players.
How the Help Action Elevates Your D&D Adventure
In conclusion, the Help action in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is a versatile and often underutilized tool that can significantly enrich the gaming experience. It promotes teamwork, strategic thinking, and creative problem-solving, adding depth to both combat and non-combat situations.
For Dungeon Masters, incorporating and highlighting the Help action in your games is a simple yet effective way to foster a collaborative and engaging atmosphere among players. By presenting scenarios where the Help action can shine and rewarding inventive uses of it, you can elevate the gameplay and encourage players to think beyond their individual abilities.
Remember, D&D is a game of collective storytelling and shared adventures; the Help action is a mechanic that beautifully underscores this spirit of cooperation and camaraderie. Whether you’re a seasoned DM or just starting, experimenting with the Help action can lead to memorable and dynamic game sessions, enhancing the overall enjoyment for both you and your players.