... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Saving Throws as Attack Rolls

Everyone wants to simplify the way saving throws work, but the approaches I’ve seen all leave something to be desired. The single target number save system is just too simplistic, when it’s not the original system in disguise. The Fortitude/Reflex/Will system adds saving throws where I don’t want them, and I vehemently object to Will as a category.

How about this?

It merges the saving throw table with the attack table by equating saving throw categories to types of armor. It assumes the following for normal humans:
  • Save vs. Magic or Dragon Breath is as difficult as “to hit” vs. Heavy armor (plate,)
  • Save vs. Stone or Wands is as difficult as Medium armor (chain,)
  • Save vs. Death is as difficult as Light armor (Leather.)
Character classes would get bonuses for some categories: Wands and Dragon Breath for Fighters, Magic and Death for Clerics, Stone and Magic for Magic-Users. Thieves could get a bonus to Wands and Death.

Since this is a dice-neutral table, the exact bonus depends on what dice you are rolling for attacks and saves. A +1 or +2 would do in most cases. The M-U save vs. Magic bonus should be Level/4 (round up) if you want it to be closer to the original probabilities. Or, as an alternative, you can use the advantage system on one or both of a class’s favored saves, rolling twice and taking the best, which will give a much greater benefit than a simple +2.

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  1. What's your problem with a Will save?

    1. Hmm. Was going to track down and link some old posts, but maybe I should just write a new post summarizing my feelings. Haven't done a rant in at least a month!

  2. Does everyone really want to simplify saving throws?

    1. It certainly seems like it. Lots of people asking on forums for help in finding a system that either uses Fort/Ref/Will or a single save (like Swords & Wizardry.) Or switching to ability score-based saves.

      I didn't do a poll or survey, though. Or tally up how many OSR blogs mention switching to something like those options.

    2. To each his own! I like the 5 saves. It feels kludgey and arcane like it should.

    3. I am not sure it's that common among people who likes to play old editions of D&D, as it's kind of part of the core of the game.

      Personally I consider it a weird fetishism of some less than stellar rulings by Gary back in the early seventies. We have documents hinting that Dave in Minneapolis and a few years later Ken in Phoenix did utilize on the spot saves based on stats. I think Gary picked up on that behaviour, but mistakenly thought they should be thought out sets, instead of the improvised rolls they started as.

  3. Personally, I have never understood the impulse to rid the game of that wonderfully tense moment when we get to say, "Save versus Death!"

    1. Nor I. Made sure I could keep the old save names.

    2. I can sympathize with that phrase, but that's all I like with the old saves system.