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Saving Throws in fantasy rpg

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deadDMwalking:
There's a psychology to saving throws.

If you roll an attack roll and kill me, it feels like it is completely unfair and I couldn't do anything about it.

If I roll a defense die and I fail, it feels like it's my fault because I could have rolled well and avoided it. 

Obviously having the attacker roll the attack and then applying the effect is faster to resolve, and most players are okay with it MOST OF THE TIME, but most of them also feel like they should get a chance to avoid something (like falling in a pit) even if the act of failing to notice it says you just resolve it.  Ie, if you walk on a section of floor that opens into a pit trap, the most reasonable thing is that 'you fall in the pit'.  If you don't want to fall into a pit, don't step on the pit trap.  AND YET, most people still feel like they should have had a chance to 'leap aside' or 'grab the edge'. 

People are approaching things from the perspective of Action Movie Physics.  If you take out saving throws in all situations, you'll usually end up having players ASKING for them in some situations.  It's probably better just to be clear about when they are appropriate and when they're not and go from there. 

For example: an attack that does level appropriate damage with an attack roll (no save) is by definition appropriate.  An attack that does 2x level appropriate damage but offers a save (50% chance) for no damage works out about the same.  Giving people a saving throw against the more powerful attack will make them feel lucky when they make the save, and gives you another way to distinguish monsters from each other. 

Persimmon:

--- Quote from: Lunamancer on September 22, 2021, 10:34:47 PM ---Something I came across that I thought was interesting.

In post-Gygax AD&D (2E), if you take more than 50 damage in one shot, you have to make a save (system shock) or die instantly.

In post-AD&D Gygax (LA), if you take more than 50 harm in one shot, you get a special save (disaster avoidance) to reduce or even avoid all harm entirely.

This seems to suggest that it's not about just making sure there's a die roll associated with any attack. It's about, in the former case, making an attack dangerous that would otherwise not be a threat to someone with triple-digit hit points. Or in the latter case, for an attack that would surely kill a character not at full health (and even some that are), giving the character a fair chance at surviving.

Seems to me saves aren't for the sake of rules symmetry or for internal coherency or anything like that. They are there to keep possibilities in play, whether to imperil even the most powerful characters, or to give a fighting chance to a target against even the most powerful attacks.

--- End quote ---

Yeah, I still use that 50 HP of damage rule in my OSR games.  Plus, we have a fairly lethal critical system so even low level foes can pack a punch if they gewt lucky.

Jaeger:

--- Quote from: Ghostmaker on September 21, 2021, 11:29:07 AM ---Sort of. IIRC, 4E inverted the saves and turned them into armor class DCs. You had physical AC, and then Reflex, Will, and Fortitude, based on 10 + the better of two attribute modifiers related to it (this cut down on the MAD) plus bonuses.

An enemy would use a power, let's say 'confusion', and he'd roll to hit your Will AC, rather than having you make a saving throw.

--- End quote ---

This is certainly one of the more elegant ways to do a 'save'.

It eliminates an additional die roll at the table, and tracks with how standard AC works for D&D.

4e did have some good ideas, but man did they screw them up in execution and overcomplication.


Then there's this:


--- Quote from: deadDMwalking on September 23, 2021, 02:54:46 PM ---There's a psychology to saving throws.

If you roll an attack roll and kill me, it feels like it is completely unfair and I couldn't do anything about it.

If I roll a defense die and I fail, it feels like it's my fault because I could have rolled well and avoided it. 

Obviously having the attacker roll the attack and then applying the effect is faster to resolve, and most players are okay with it MOST OF THE TIME, but most of them also feel like they should get a chance to avoid something (like falling in a pit) even if the act of failing to notice it says you just resolve it.  Ie, if you walk on a section of floor that opens into a pit trap, the most reasonable thing is that 'you fall in the pit'.  If you don't want to fall into a pit, don't step on the pit trap.  AND YET, most people still feel like they should have had a chance to 'leap aside' or 'grab the edge'. 
...

--- End quote ---

There is a lot to that...

In design terms one would have to really define what they wanted saves to do.

Vic99:

Thanks for all the constructive input.  I can get over the history part that says " . . . because we've always done it this way."


DeadDMwalking said: "There's a psychology to saving throws.

If you roll an attack roll and kill me, it feels like it is completely unfair and I couldn't do anything about it.

If I roll a defense die and I fail, it feels like it's my fault because I could have rolled well and avoided it."


This is part of what I wrestle with.  Part of me wants to be objective and stick with just mechanics, but part of me says the psyche piece is very real. 

I'm looking for fast, efficient, and at least somewhat realistic for combat and danger (I know I'll never get completely there).  I'm not doing a player rolls everything system.  What I'm trying to create is d20, significantly more lethal than 5e, but not OD&D lethal, and hopefully a more streamlined rules lightish system.

Ideally I'd like none, one, or two save categories.  The obvious choices are:

-None: Save is baked into the to hit roll.

-One category: Luck attribute

-Two categories: Will & Fortitude type groups

The other thing I wrestle with is that if I'm going to have saves, what qualifies to get a save? As others have said, D&D  doesn't give a save when you get shot by an arrow, but does if a dragon breathes all over you.  I feel like I'm missing the way to delineate between what makes some dangers qualify for save and others not . . . remember this is a roll to hit, even for spells, system.

Steven Mitchell:
Vic, I found the article on saves that I referred to above.  You might find it useful, more the thoughts behind it than any direct mechanics.  It's from an OD&D perspective, but comes at the whole question from a different angle.

Saves as Severity

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