Dungeons & Dragons: The Help Action Explained

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  • What Is The Help Action?
  • When To Use The Help Action In Combat
  • Familiars And The Help Action
  • How To Improve Your Help Action

While Dungeons & Dragons is a game synonymous with role-playing and puzzle-solving, it's also home to a robust combat system that can offer significant complexity and depth for those looking for it. Each player's character brings different utility to a party that can be utilized when creating strategies in combat.

While different types of characters tend to focus on fulfilling various roles in combat, in turn using different actions and abilities provided by their class, subclass, and race, there are several universal actions that can be used by any character in Dungeons & Dragons. Perhaps one of the most easily overlooked yet useful actions a character can take both in and out of combat is the "Help" action. So today, we're going to deep dive into everything players need to know about this great action in D&D.

What Is The Help Action?

As the name would imply, Help is an action a creature can take in order to help another creature with a task. If a creature takes the Help action, the target of the action gains advantage on the next ability check they make, potentially allowing for a task to be more reliably fulfilled.

Outside of combat, this can be incredibly useful when trying to perform a key task. Even if a character isn't skilled at a given task, by helping an ally with proficiency in the area at hand, the Help action can allow players to try to further tip the scales in their favor.

In the context of combat, Help can be used to assist an ally in attacking a foe, distracting a creature to make it easier to hit. When doing so, a creature has an advantage on their next attack roll made against the distracted creature. When using the Help action in combat, it's important to remember that the helper must be within five feet of the creature being distracted. Additionally, even if an ally is capable of making several attacks on their turn, Help only provides advantage to the first attack made.

When To Use The Help Action In Combat

While the Help action is quite useful in general, there are definitely key scenarios in which it is notably more welcome than others. As Helping provides advantage to an attack roll, if an ally is suffering from an effect that causes them to make an attack roll at disadvantage, such as if they're blinded, Help can be used to cancel out this disadvantage.

Additionally, when trying to ensure that a key attack is able to land its mark against a foe, such as a Paladin looking to land an attack with double smites, the Help action can ensure the attack makes contact with the target. Plus, when in dire straights and running low on resources such as spell slots, this action can be used to assist a character of a martial class dependably deal damage.

Familiars And The Help Action

While receiving Help from an ally is nice, it's often not the most optimal use of a character's action economy. One of the most reliable ways to ensure that your character will be able to help their allies or even receive help for themselves is through having a familiar.

Familiars are animal (and sometimes monster) companions that can be created via the Find Familiar spell. They have access to their own turns and are controlled by the creature that created them. While in most cases Familiars are incapable of attacking, they can take other actions such as Help. This means that, through the use of a Familiar, a character is capable of providing themselves and allies with advantage on attack rolls without sacrificing one's own actions to do so.

How To Improve Your Help Action

While the Help action is already quite solid in its own right, there are several options in character creation that may let a player augment its benefits. Firstly, as of the release of Monsters of the Multiverse, the Hobgoblin race has access to the Fey Gift trait allowing Hobgoblins to help allies as a Bonus Action a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus. Although helping as a Bonus Action is already a more economical use of one's actions, upon helping a creature this way, the Hobgoblin can provide extra bonuses to itself and the helped creature such as additional movement speed, or temporary HP.

Alternatively, for those looking to play a Rogue, the Mastermind Subclass greatly improves a character's Help action. Like Hobgoblins, Mastermind Rogues are capable of Helping as a Bonus Action rather than an action. Unlike Hobgoblins, however, Masterminds aren't limited in how many times they may do so per long rest. Additionally, while helping in combat normally requires the helping creature to be within five feet of a target, Masterminds increase this range, allowing the target to be as far as thirty feet away.

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