D&D 5e Level Up Guide for New Players

You just finished the session. Your Dungeon Master doles out that sweet, sweet XP. And, to your and the other players’ delight, you level up…

…now what?

If you’re new to Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, leveling up can be a little intimidating. And, even if you’ve played for a bit, it’s easy to forget certain aspects of leveling up your character.

And, leveling up is so much more than an increase to your hit points. You need to check modifiers, spells, and features among other things.

So, here’s a quick DnD 5e level up checklist to help you out:

  1. Proficiency Bonus
  2. Hit Points
  3. Racial Features
  4. Class Features
  5. Ability Score Increase
  6. Modifiers
  7. Spells Prepared

And, we’re going to go into detail for each of these.

Let’s get to it.

Did Your Proficiency Bonus Increase?

First off, you should check to see if your Proficiency bonus increases.

Since this number affects nearly everything your does, it’s super important to remember when it gets a bump. But, since it stays relatively static and only changes at certain character levels, it’s easy to forget.

Remember: your Proficiency bonus increases according to your character level and not your class level.

Here’s how your Proficiency bonus breaks down:

  • 1st-4th Levels: +2
  • 5th-8th Levels: +3
  • 9th-12th Levels: +4
  • 13th-16th Levels: +5
  • 17th-20th Levels: +6

Basically, your Proficiency bonus increases every 4 levels: 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th.

Now, your Proficiency bonus only every increases by one point. So, it’s not that big of a loss if you forget. But, since it affects so much of what your character does, it’s important to remember to check when you level up.

How to Increase Your Hit Points & Hit Dice

Now, this is probably the part everyone knows. But, since this is a full guide to leveling up in DnD 5e, we’ll go over it.

When you level up in DnD 5e, your Hit Points increase. You determine by how much it goes up by using your class’ Hit Die and your character’s Constitution modifier. You also gain one more Hit Die from your class.

So, when you level up, you calculate your Hit Point increase like this:

  1. Roll your class’ hit die (or use the average if your DM allows it)
  2. Add your Constitution modifier to that roll
  3. Add the total to your Hit Point Maximum
  4. Increase your total Hit Dice by one using your class’ corresponding die

Like I said, this is the step everyone remembers. But, it’ an important part of leveling up in any DnD game. So, make sure you remember to increase your hit point maximum.

What Class Features Do You Get?

Chances are you’ll remember this (because you’ve been looking forward in awe at all the cool stuff you eventually get from your class). But, here’s a reminder just in case.

Check what class features you get at level up. Now, you won’t always get something (a lot of spellcasters don’t get a ton of them). But, it’s integral to your class’ progression to add a new feature any time you get one.

Many of DnD 5e’s classes get a new feature at every level up.

These could be fairly generic or universal like Fighting Style or Extra Attack. Or, they could be very unique like the Druid’s Wild Shape or the Barbarian’s Danger Sense.

Whatever it is, whenever you level up make sure you check to see if your class gets a new feature.

You don’t want to forget new class features because you’re just leaving something on the table, so to speak. You’re cutting out something your character should be able to do which ends up lessoning their power.

Now, you won’t get a new class feature at every level.

Spellcasters in particular skip class level features a lot. But, they usually get a new spell at these intervals (which I’ll touch on later). So, it kind of balances out.

Do You Get an Ability Score Increase?

Here’s another one almost everyone remembers.

Roughly every four levels, you get an Ability Score Increase (or ASI). At these intervals you get to either add +2 to one Ability Score, +1 to two Ability Scores, or take a Feat (if your DM allows it).

While chances are this is an easy level up thing to remember, you should double check because some classes get them at different intervals. Specifically, the Fighter and Rogue get additional ASIs the other classes don’t.

Just remember to what level your character gets ASIs. And, actually remember to do your increases.

Adjust Any Modifiers (Attack, Initiative, Spell Save DC, Etc)

Now, once you’ve figured out whether you get an ASI or Proficiency Bonus upgrade, adjust all your stats.

Make sure you remember to increase all your numbers. Skills, Attacks, Save DCs, everything. Otherwise, you’re weakening your character for no good reason.

There are a lot of things to check. But, it’s important to check all of them.

So, here’s a list of things to check for adjustment when you level up in DnD 5e:

  • Skill Modifiers
  • Initiative Bonus
  • Passive Perception
  • Norman and Spell Attack Modifiers
  • Spell Save Difficulty Classes
  • Other Save DCs
  • Damage Bonuses
  • Armor Class
  • Movement (Only certain classes)

Chances are you’ll only need to adjust these at certain level ups (like when you get ASIs). And usually, only your number of Hit Dice and Hit Point Maximum will increase at level up. But, it’s important to check just in case.

Do You Get More Spells?

Finally, if you’re playing a spellcaster, check if you get more spells.

Every spellcasting class learns new spells at different rates. Now, some may be similar, but you should check when your specific class gets them. You don’t want to forget grabbing new spells whenever possible.

This is the tradeoff for spellcasters. They usually get less features than other classes, but they’re able to keep adding new spells to their repertoire at almost every level up.

Now, it’s not every level up. But, it’s pretty close.

This is an opportunity for you to fill a gap you might’ve had up until your level up. Which means you can go into the next level better prepared with another damaging spell for combat or something more utility for adventuring. Whatever you think you might need.

Also, check to see if you can switch out spells.

Switching out spells can get a little complicated (see how changing Sorcerer spells in 5e works). But, I recommend you consider which spells were helpful during your adventures and which ones you never used. Because now’s the time to make an exchange.


That about covers everything on how to level up in DnD 5e.

  1. Check to see if your Proficiency Bonus increases
  2. Make sure you add one more to your total Hit Dice
  3. Roll or use the average of your Hit Dice to increase your Hit Point Maximum
  4. Check to see if you unlock any racial features
  5. Check to see if you get more class features
  6. Make sure you use your Ability Score Increase at the appropriate levels
  7. Adjust any and all modifiers if applicable
  8. Add or change out your spells known if you’re able to

Remember: always check the Player’s Handbook when you level up.

Any questions you might have about the level up process and the specific level you’re at are there.

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