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Saving Throws in fantasy rpg

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Steven Mitchell:
The saving throw made less and less sense as WotC changed how it was used.  This pertains to the mechanics of how it works, how it scales, and the severity of the effects.  To make it meaningful and useful, the game would need to hearken back at least partially to the original.

Consider the scaling in earlier D&D versus the WotC versions.  In my opinion, one of the huge mistakes that WotC made was to have the target of the save move systematically with the attacker.  At first, this looks like a clever elaboration of the normal attacks and things like some of the opposed dispel magic ideas.  However, what it leads to is an arms race, but the saves can't keep up.  With attacks, you've got multiple types of attacks and 1 defense (AC).  The variety of the attacks gives options, but they don't change the math all that much.  Whereas, escalating save targets means that there are multiple defenses (different types of saves) and multiple attacks.  However, since most of the attacks are magical, they are easier to vary than the saves.  Saves fall behind.

If you get a +1 at the same time all your difficulties go up by 1, those are phantom improvements in regular play.  Note that the usual thing with WotC is semi-phantom improvements, where the bonuses increase a little more than the difficulties.  In 3E, they really messed up the math, such that what looked like semi-phantom was actually falling steadily behind. 

In the earlier versions, the saves are largely set.  Sure, there are occasional, situational exceptions, such as the standard Hold Person thing where if the caster only targets one individual, that target takes a -2 to their saves.  That's tactically interesting.  However, as the character levels, their saves get slowly better while Hold Person stays the same.  It doesn't get better based on the Int of the caster or the level of the caster.

So yeah, if someone changes saves to work exactly like all other attack/defense, and keeps multiple saves, there is no point in having them.  In fact, they are just causing math problems at that point.  Or you can make them just another defense and build into the system cleanly. 

Me, I specifically wanted a mechanic where the character really does get better as they level against certain effects--i.e. not phantom better but really better exactly as it says on the bonus.  So saves work for me.  Coupled with a different set of attack/defense math, where defense start out generally better but attacks increase faster, this creates a changing dynamic as characters increase in power.  Not coincidentally, it also happens to give casters a little extra oomph when their effects are low-powered and warriors/rogues a little extra oomph when the casters get the impressive spells.

All of the above is completely orthogonal to the question of "Save or Die" or how much you want to dilute effects to avoid "Save or Die", if any.

Eric Diaz:
They are not necessary, no. 4e even inverted them in some cases (i.e., the attacker rolled to hit your Dexterity save. or something).

It is a matter of preference. Knave and Shadow of the Demon Lord are good examples on different ways to use that. In my own Dark Fantasy Basic, there are saving throws, but they are basically opposed rolls.

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.

Personally I like the Swords & Wizardry option of a single saving throw for everything.  Much simpler than ability checks, conditions, etc. 

Say your save is a 10.  You know what you need in every scenario.

Player: "Do I fall into the lava?"
DM: Roll a save.

Player: "Do I dodge the trap?"
DM: Roll a save.

Player: "Do I resist the poison?"
DM: Roll a save.

Maybe less granular,  but quicker at the table for sure.

The C&C Siege Engine is also pretty simple, but it takes awhile to get used to which ability scores go with which saves.  Plus, you need to account for levels, ability score adjustments etc.  So it can be more steps.

How does "Shadow of the Demon Lord" do it?  I've heard that's pretty rules light, but I've never played it.

Eric Diaz:

--- Quote from: Persimmon on September 21, 2021, 09:20:57 PM ---How does "Shadow of the Demon Lord" do it?  I've heard that's pretty rules light, but I've never played it.

--- End quote ---

There are so "saves" per se; when needed, you add your modifier to 1d20 and must roll 10 or more. (If you have 15 Strength, your bonus is +5).

So, if you're poisoned, make a Strength check (roll 1d20+5, the DC is 10).

Attacking is the same, basically, but you must meet the target's defense (similar to AC).

OTOH, if two sides are fighting, both would roll 1d20+ bonus.

(If you know "Target 20", this seems somewhat similar)

"Shadow of the Demon Lord" is not exactly rules light, but lighter than D&D. It is a great game; I'm currently running a campaign.


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