Monday, March 10, 2014

Death to the Saving Throw, Part 1

  Note: These are not the final version of this, just my hastily scrawled ideas.
   I don't know about anyone else, but I dislike the saving throw systems found across the various editions (The TSR edition ones turn the game too superheroic at high levels, and the d20 ones always make me wonder, 'why didn't they use flat ability checks?').
   Part of my dislike of the system is that it's a bit of a get out of jail free card. You or your character fucked up, and it's the game's way of insulating you from your own stupidity. That's all well and good for heroic games, but I don't play that sort of game. In my games player characters are not heroes, they're adventurers, and high level heroes are special enough in that they have that great big heaping pile of hit points to begin with.
   As such, below are the rules I've come up with to replace the 5 score system used in 2e. I'll only be
dealing with the core rules(PHB, DMG, MM)

  • Elves and Half Elves still get their % chance to resist sleep and charm spells
  • Dwarves, Gnomes, & Halflings get Magic/Poison Resistance equal to the Constitution Scores. Been debating whether or not to just add this percentage on to the Magic Malfunction chance for the appropriate races. I'll have to do more playtesting before I decide one way or the other.
  • Paladin: Paladins get a flat 10% Magic Resistance with a +1% bonus per class level. This actually makes more sense to me than a save bonus because I've always seen Paladin as a state of being akin to a race rather than 'just a class'.
  • Ranger: Rangers get to double their charisma(to a max of 25) when dealing with animals.
  • Bard: To influence others, the Bard gets to make a charisma check. If he passes, he gets to re-roll his encounter reaction, with a bonus equal to 1/3 his bard level rounded down. He takes the better of the two rolls. If he fails the Cha check, no change. A natural 20 results in a reroll, with a penalty, and the worst of the two rolls is taken. Countersong automatically works.
  • The DM needs to state up front, before characters determine their actions that casters that can be seen are attempting to cast spells (if the spellcasting is obvious), or that the creature is attempting to use a breath weapon. 
  • Gaze Attacks: If your character isn't trying to protect himself, he automatically falls victim. If he tries to look in the general direction rather than directly at the creature, there's still a 20% chance he's still automatically affected. If he completely averts his gaze, then he suffers blind fighting penalties as normal.
  • Breath Weapons: Breath weapons are already variable damage as is. I see no reason to actually grant a saving throw. If the character however manages to find a significant cover however, the damage should be mitigated either by 1/2, taking 1 dmg per die off, or negated completely.
  • Massive Damage: A System Shock Roll should cover this. 
   For damage poisons, you take 1d8 damage for each onset increment until the listed damage is dealt. Example: Type A poison would do 1d8 damage in the first 10-30 minutes, then another 1d8 damage the next, and so on, until the total damage done is 15.
  Death poison: There are two ways of handling this. If you are using the death's door rules, the poison instantly drops the character to 0 hp, and the character starts dropping 1 hp per round as normal. In order to stop this, the character must be cleansed of the poison, at which point he may heal naturally. The second method of handling it is that the poison does 1d8 damage every
round starting with the poisoned round, and continues until the character is cleansed of poison, or slain.
   Paralysis: Reduce the length of time paralyzed by 1 for each bonus HP the character gets from high Constitution(all characters get the warrior con bonus for this purpose).

  I'll be posting Spells in the next post.


  1. Ability checks weren't used because saving throws predate ability checks. They even predate the ability scores themselves. The two main abilities that are often used as saves, Dexterity and Wisdom, where actually added last. Just a few months before the game was printed.

  2. Interesting. Amazing that they didn't just drop the clunky saves then, but I guess they really did like their tables and stuff.