Thursday, July 30, 2015

Saving Throws: How many is too many?

In my game, I prefer the one universal saving throw category advanced by S&W White Box and perhaps a few other OSR ripoffs as well.  While I find the saving throw categories that Father G. devised back in the 70s to be as charmingly quirky as the next old schooler, they've always struck me as rather arbitrary, needlessly complex, and, ironically, uncomprehensive.  Instead, at my table everyone needs an 18 to save against everything.  Everyone.  Against everything.*

This doesn't mean that all saving throws are created equal however.  When I, as MC, declare that a save is in order, I don't just say "All right dickheads, make a save".  Oh no, there's always a descriptive component to the save.  Often it's "save vs. death" or "poison" or something standard like that, but it can also be extremely specific as well, here's a list of saving throws that I can remember offering to my players:
save vs. poison
save vs. traps
save vs. death
save vs. parallelization
save vs. nausea
save vs. libido
save vs. flesh-eating bile
save vs. watching-your-innards-spill-out-on-the-ground
But it really doesn't matter: in most cases the descriptor has no bearing on the saving throw. You still need to roll an 18 or higher.  As a fer instance, no PC class or race in my game has any advantage over another in watching their innards spill out on the ground.  You're still just hoping to roll an 18 or better.**

However, there are circumstances where I'd allow a bonus based on the characters race, class, or personal experience.  Thieves, I'd say, might be offered an advantage on saves vs. traps.  Or elves saving vs. libido; everyone knows how virtuously dull they are.  They get a +12 bonus in addition to level and any applicable wisdom bonus.  If, despite all that, they still manage to blow their save I'd offer them best 2 out of 3.

*You do, in most cases, get to add your level/hit dice to your die roll.  Possibly other bonuses.  Keep reading. 
** Gutless beings such as water elementals or stone golems would likely be immune to this sort of thing.


Zenopus Archives said...

I like it. All of the variety without having to remember all the numbers for class/level.

Sean Robert Meaney said...

I abandoned the savingthrow table and allocated two points every level to the player's character. Now the player can allocate saves as desired. Dragonbreath+5, spells+2, poison+1 and its just a DC check.

Patrick Halter said...

"** Gutless beings such as water elementals or stone golems would likely be immune to this sort of thing."

You forgot elves.

Timrod said...

Well played Patrick.