D&D 5E A better model for Legendary Resistance


Legendary Resistance remains one of those mechanics that is both necessary and completely hated. On the one hand, BBEG type monsters need greater protections against just getting gacked by a single big condition spell. But on the other, there is nothing more deflating than when a caster gets off their big whammy, the BBEG actually fails the save, and the DM goes.... "sorry, I don't want that spell, so no it didn't work". Also the 3/day model is very skewed, if you have one caster in the party it means you might as well give up on saving throws for that fight. If you have 3 casters in the party, its might just be a speed bump.

I was recently inspired by the Zargon monster released to a possible better way to do LR (even if the version I finalized isn't really like Zargon), so here it is for your thoughts. In many ways I think it looks like 3e spell resistance, though without many of the complexities and pitfalls of that mechanic.

Legendary Resistance (X)
Certain creatures are so innately resistant to magic, that a caster must dig deep and draw out deeper, stronger magic to have any real hope of affecting them.

When casting a spell, roll 1d10 + your spellcasting ability stat. On a roll of X+, the spell works as normal. If you roll lower than X, any creature with legendary resistance automatically passes any saving throw against the spell.

Example: A wizard with a 20 int faces a creature with Legendary Resistance 10. The wizard must roll 1d10 + 5 and get a 10+ for the spell to work as normal, otherwise, the creature auto passes any saving throw.

So the idea here is that the caster has to pass a check to get passed the legendary resistance. Now the reason I made it a d10 roll instead of a normal ability check, is that removes the innumerable ways to add adv/disadv/rerolls/divination wizard auto setting the number, etc etc. To provide some of the consistency of the OG LR I think its imperative we don't let players or dms game the roll to much with various abilities.

This new model changes a few key things:
  • Its caster number agnostic. Whether your party has 1 caster or 4, LR provides a consistent defense.
  • It puts beating LR in the caster's hands. This is probably the biggest shift, the onus is on the caster to "beat" the monster's defenses ,rather than the monster just "hehe you can't get me!". While technically you could give the same roll to the monster....players love rolling the dice, they FEEL better when it's their rolls that beat the monster, rather than a monster's ability that thwarts their attack.
  • Its more scalable. You can have different tiers of LR. So some creatures are "decently resistant" like a LR10, whereas others practically magic immune (LR: 14-15)
  • You could have all sorts of mechanics that play around with the LR. Things like "its LR15 until its at half health, than LR 8". Or "if you possess the rod of X, the LR is dropped by 3". Again now that the mechanic is scalable, you could have lots of abilities that play with it, rather than the boring and rigid "LR 3/day"

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Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Nope, not happy with it.

1. So a monk's stunning strike, a wildshape's special ability, and every class ability that isn't magic works just fine?

2. It makes high ability scores even more important, taking away player choice. The majority of spells don't even add casting ability to damage because of how important it is for DCs/spell attack. Now you're doubling down on how important it is.

3. It doesn't fulfill the mandate. Legendary Actions plus Legendary saves are a workaround to allow solo creatures to keep up with the action economy AND keep those actions viable (avoid action denial, stun, single-target debuff which is more powerful per creature than multi-target debuff, and just Condition: DEAD). Any solution that can fail to activate before the solo has had 2-3 rounds full of actions doesn't replace the game use of Legendary saves.

#3 is probably the most important. This is a Chersterton's Fence scenario - you can't replace the rule until you understand why that rule is there, and your proposed solution shows you don't grasp the Game part of why it exists.

Now, you could take your proposed solution, and have that it changes between "effect is ignored" and "effect is delayed for 3 rounds", and you'd be set as long as you included everything non-magic as well. It still would be a worse solution in one axis, that of doubling down on those ability scores, and likely would be unabalanced against abilities that don't use your prime ability like a monk's Stunning Strike (WIS), but it would at least then fulfill the mandate and you could workshop how to remove those negatives like using Proficiency instead of an ability score.


I wonder if an ablative almost hit points style system would work. The creature has Legendary Resistance equal to its CR (for example). The PCs have to burn through that LR before the monster can suffer a "failed save" condition. For spells, if the monsters fails a save, it reduces its LR by the spell level. If it is a class ability or another monster's ability, it reduces the LR by half the character level or CR, as appropriate. As long as the monster has enough LR to "burn" the failed save is instead a successful save.

It's crude and fiddly as a first blush idea, but might be worth exploring further.


What if they just get advantage on saves? Each time it is successful, check off a hit. When they end up succeeding 3 saves, the ability is expended. Or they get 3 rerolls.

I think the creature should take a penalty of some sort for the duration of the spell.

If it fails its save, it gets a -1 (or something similar) to all actions until it makes its save naturally. (Like, if it was Hold Monster where it can save against the effect every round)

So yes, your spell took hold but the ctreature is resisting but the act of resisting is distracting it.

If it has 3 uses of legendary resistance, and it fails 3 saves on 3 separate spells, it’s now taking a -3 on all actions.


That doesn't solve the problem of the monster getting sidelined in round 1 by a failed save.
That's true.

4E's later solution was pretty neat. Some solos had 2 turns. They also got to shake off certain abilities at the end of a turn. So a stun could take down one of their turns, but it didn't lock them in forever.

I'm A Banana

I liked how Flee Mortals! addressed this.

Legendary Resistance works like legendary resistance - monster chooses to make the save.

However, the monster suffers some debuff for a small time after it does. It might move slowly, not be able to use certain legendary actions, gain vulnerability to a damage type, lose a bonus action or a reaction, lose an aura, etc.

The play experience for the caster is a little better since you do something to the monster, even if it's not what you chose to do. It's not just negated. But, the debuff isn't the result of the spell, it's the result of a monster's trait, so the monster designer still has good control over the pacing and power levels of the creature.

This also lets you characterize the monster in different ways, or to have a caster strategically have it use a legendary resistance in order to proc the debuff.

I like it better than things like advantage or the "spell resistance" model in the OP, because each of those still has the core problem of a successful casting trivializing the fight (even if they reduce the odds of a successful cast). Your denial effects can still have utility. It's just that for certain fights, we can let the monster describe how it's useful, rather than have you define it.

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