Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saving Throws

[I wrote this 3months ago, meaning to edit it some more and add pictures. Now I'm too lazy but want to reference this post in another I'm working on. I'm still as undecided as I was then...]

Can't decide what saving throw system to use. Leaning towards Three Stats. The pros and cons below are from my perspective and based on my desires. They aren't "facts". I'm curious to hear why people like elder edition style.

Also, one optional rule is to make players request saving throws (say they are going to do something besides just stand there and take what's coming). Ex: a dragon breathes on a fighter and a wizard. The wizard's player says, "Jump out of the way." The fighter's player says, "Hold my shield up over my body." The fighter makes his saving throw and lines his shield up. The wizard misses and jumps half-way out of the cone of fire and is blown back a few steps. This makes it a little more realistic... if you want a saving throw, you need to try and move out of the way or resist it somehow. Players get too used to automatically getting saving throws.

Three Stats
d20's Fortitude, Reflex, Will Saves. I like the variation were highest of Str or Con bonus applies to Fort saves, Int/Dex -> Reflex, Wiz/Cha -> Will.

  • Familiar (to many players and myself).
  • Simple.
  • Players roll saves.
  • Easy to map effects onto save.
  • Same mechanic d20+bonus > target#.

  • Mechanical.
  • Three more stats needed for every monster, NPC, etc.
  • Have to come up DC's.
  • DC's can be arbitrary.

Abilities Are Saves
Castles & Crusades system. Basically each ability score is a save vs a couple kinds of attack. Str vs paralysis / constriction, Cha vs charm / fear / death attack. Spells are spread around.

  • Simple.
  • Same mechanic d20+level+ability bonus > target#.
  • No extra stats / crap to calculate or track.
  • Same progression for all classes.
  • Players choose what their good at saving against, not fixed by class. (Primary stat has easier saves.)

  • Never gonna remember the categories and what stats they map to.
  • Flavour lost compared to MoM.
  • Saves are brutally hard (easily fixed but that impacts rest of SIEGE)
  • Same progression for all classes.
  • Have to come up DC's.
  • DC's can be arbitrary.

Mess of Mechanics
System used with variations in OD&D / AD&D and I guess BECMI / 2ed also.

  • Different for each class.
  • Has a lot of "flavour".
  • All spells in one category emphasizes magic is magical. Easy to give bonus saves vs spells.
  • No need to come up with DC's, but IRRC there are often bonus/penalties to saves which amount to the same thing except you have to have a DC bon/pen could be ignored.

  • Different for each class.
  • I never remember what the categories are.
  • Have to look up values in table.
  • Slightly different in every system that uses it. (confusingly dissimilar, the opposite of familiar)

4ed D&D
Multiple defences each more or less like Armour Class. I'd use Fortitude, Reflex, Will, Touch, Ranged, Melee (maybe even further split Crush, Pierce, Hack/Slash). Is ranged folded into Reflex?

  • Universal Mechanic, roll > defence.
  • Non-melee player's get more rolls. (spells and such are now often "attacks" vs a defence)
  • Combines attack and save into one roll, faster play.

  • Players don't roll saves and lose "control" over their character's fate.
  • Lots of stats to track.

Systems not considered

One value ala S&W.

D&D 3.5 Spell resistance is DOA.


  1. I go with the ability checks, modified by other ability scores. But Im thinking on drastically cutting it down in complexity to where the type of action the player goes with determines the ability score, and the chance of it succeeding the effect:

    Crazy enough to work(I leap at the lightning bolt and hope it goes under me):
    Double or half
    Double or nothing

    Standard response (duck, dodge, dip, dive or dodge)
    Normal or Half
    Normal or Nothing

    Brilliant defense ("I throw the chest into the path of the fireball to make it explode prematurely!")
    Half or Quarter
    Half or Nothing

  2. I like saving throws based on ability scores.

    I saw something on the interwebs several months ago, providing some suggested mechanics. I should have blogged about it and added a link, so I could find it later.

  3. I like "One value ala S&W."

    Keep in mind that each class has a bonus against certain effects (magic users get +2 against spells for example). The good thing about this, is that players need to remember their bonuses, not the DM


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