Saving Throes

Saving Throes

A brave hero is sometimes faced by a chance of dire misfortune. He may be teetering at the edge of a crumbling Roman roof, or the pained target of a malicious sorcerer’s spell, or writhe under the whip of some serpent’s evil venom. If there is any question over whether he may keep his balance, or resist the spell, or endure the poison without perishing, he may make a Saving Throw

Brother Cornix, Wolves of God

My first exposure to saving throws was in the AD&D 1st edition, the Dungeon Master's guide. Coming from First Legends, the concept wasn't very straightforward for me, but the category names were making me dream: Paralyzation, Poison, Death Magic, Petrification, Polymorph, Rod, Staff, Wand, Breath Weapon, Spell...

I don't really remember saving throws in the Red Box, AD&D second edition and third edition. Fast forward to 5th edition, and the saving throws feel very elegant. I like how a saving throw feels "aligned" on skill checks and attack rolls.

Now my battle horse is Wolves of God and the saving throws are different.

The target number for a save is 16 minus the best of two attribute modifiers and the character level.

Physical Resistance Saves are requested when the character has to resist poison, disease, or exhaustion. The best of the STR and CON modifiers is chosen.

Mental Resistance Saves are used when resisting illusions, magical effects, temptation, and willpower challenges. The best of the WIS and CHA modifiers is chosen.

Evasion Saves for when nimbleness and reaction speed are essential. Ducking for cover, avoiding falling... The best of the DEX and INT modifiers is chosen.

Sheer Luck Saves are equal to 16 minus the character level, no attribute involved. It doesn't appear in Wolves of God, I think it's to help the referee use wyrd instead.

Here is a table to render those save target numbers as percentages. The current Sine Nomine games use 2d6 for skill checks, but 1d20 for attack rolls and saving throws, so here are the target numbers for a d20 and the corresponding percentage:

levelbest modifier
11720 %1625 %1530 %1435 %1340 %
21625 %1530 %1435 %1340 %1245 %
31530 %1435 %1340 %1245 %1150 %
41435 %1340 %1245 %1150 %1055 %
51340 %1245 %1150 %1055 %960 %
61245 %1150 %1055 %960 %865 %
71150 %1055 %960 %865 %770 %
81055 %960 %865 %770 %675 %
9960 %865 %770 %675 %580 %
10865 %770 %675 %580 %485 %

For example, a character of level 3 with a DEX modifier of +2 has to roll 11 or better on a d20 to avoid falling in a suddenly spotted pit, that's 50%.

I quite like this system, but I am tempted to unmoor it and align it on the attack rolls. Instead of the static 16 (minus level, minus modifier), I'd like to determine a different Difficulty Class for each set of circumstances. That makes it very 5th edition like, but the players are already used to give me their attribute modifiers when I request skill checks from them, it might be easier for them to remove the save numbers and stick with modifiers.

I could further unmoor the thing and go with attribute saves (still using the three + one basic saves). That'd make for three + six + one saving throws. Why not? It's probably better to stick to the Physical resistance Save, Mental resistance Save, and Evasion Save, their names tell it all, less explaining to do to the player.

Still, moving the 16 target up and down 5% and thus point at a difficult class is tempting. I need to make a Mental Save myself to resist doing that.