OD&D A Look at Saving Throws By XP

Iosue

Community Supporter
Having some time on my hands, I took a look at how saves scale over the course of a campaign as measured by XP. That is, one can look at the tables and clearly see the advancement by level, but since pre-WotC classes advance at different rates, who has the best saves at a particular point in the campaign (assuming everyone has roughly the same amount of XP) is somewhat obscured.

Of course, there is the caveat that in play as originally conceived, it was not assumed that everyone would accumulate XP at the same rate, with different party configurations, solo adventuring, and so on. Also, my analysis looks at raw Save numbers, not accounting for, say, Wisdom bonuses vs. magic saves, Dex bonuses vs. area of effect attacks, or racial bonuses. Nonetheless, I think it's interesting to see how a hypothetical party of a cleric, fighter, magic-user, and thief would fare with everyone receiving the same XP.

Part 1 - Original Dungeons & Dragons (with Thief from Greyhawk supplement)
So, first, the saves of OD&D are quite different from AD&D. They are:
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
Thieves have the fastest level progression, but use Magic-user saves, which improve at levels 6, 11, and 16. Clerics have the next fastest progression, with saves improving at levels 5, 9, and 13. Fighters have the next fastest level progression, and the best save progression, improving at levels 4, 7, 10, and 13.

When we start out, Clerics have the best saves, with the lead in two categories, and with no save worse than any other class:
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C11,F12,M13,T13C12,F13,M14,T14C14,F14,M13,T13C16,F15,M16,T16C15,F16,M15,T15
The Fighter will maintain a stranglehold on Dragon Breath saves throughout the campaign.

This continues for 8,000 XP, at which point the Cleric and Thief are Level 4 and the Magic-user is Level 3. At this point the Fighter hits Level 4 and gets his first save upgrade, with every save dropping by two:
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C11,F10,M13,T13C12,F11,M14,T14C14,F12,M13,T13C16,F13,M16,T16C15,F14,M15,T15
This puts him in the lead on all saves for the next 4,000 XP.

At 12,000 XP, the Cleric hits Level 5 and again pulls ahead. The Magic-user has reached Level 4, and the Thief has reached Level 5, but they still haven't seen any save improvement:
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C9,F10,M13,T13C10,F11,M14,T14C12,F12,M13,T13C14,F13,M16,T16C12,F14,M15,T15
This state of affairs continues for another 8,000 XP.

At 20,000 XP, the Thief hits Level 6, and finally gets an upgrade. The Fighter and Cleric are already Level 5, with Magic-user finally reaching the same at this point. The Thief pulls into the lead on Saves vs. Turn to Stone, and matches the Cleric on those vs. Staves and Spells. The Cleric still has the best over all, leading two categories and not being worst in any one, while the Magic-user still has the the same Saves as at 1st level, and lagging quite behind the rest of the party.
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C9,F10,M13,T11C10,F11,M14,T12C12,F12,M13,T11C14,F13,M16,T14C12,F14,M15,T12
The party continues on like this for another 15,000 XP!

At 35,000 XP, the Magic-user hits Level 6 and finally gets an upgrade. At this point, there has been a lull in the Thief progression, allowing all members to catch up at Level 6. The Magic-user's Saves all drop by two (vs Staves & Spells drops by three), bringing us to the same state of affairs as at Level 1:
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C9,F10,M12,T11C10,F11,M12,T12C12,F12,M11,T11C14,F13,M14,T14C12,F14,M12,T12
This state of affairs continues for another 29,000 XP. Combined with the initial 8,000 XP, most of the game experience up to the mid-levels will be this kind of make-up -- the Cleric leading in two categories and not trailing in any, the Fighter with best saves vs. Dragon Breath and worst vs. Staves and Spells, and with Magic-users and Thieves holding the best saves vs. Turn to Stone, but trailing in the first two categories.

At 64,000 XP, the Fighter hits Level 7 and gets another upgrade. The Cleric is already Level 7, while the Thief has jumped ahead again to Level 8, and the Magic-user trails at Level 6. The Fighter again jumps ahead, leading all categories except for vs. Staves and spells, where everyone is the same at 12:
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C9,F8,M12,T11C10,F9,M12,T12C12,F10,M11,T11C14,F10,M14,T14C12,F12,M12,T12
At this point in the game, leveling up really slows down, and the party stays in this configuration for the next 136,000 XP, the second longest gap in the game. In fact it has taken the party fewer XP to get to this point (64,000 XP) than it will to get to the next Save upgrade.

At 200,000 XP, the Cleric finally gets another upgrade. The Cleric hits Level 9. The Magic-user sees an increase in advancement pace: they passed the Cleric and Fighter and caught up to the Thief at Level 8, then went up to Level 9 when the Cleric hit Level 8. The Magic-user moves up again here, so that they join the Thief at Level 10, with the Fighter lagging at Level 8. However, the advancement spurt hasn't helped the Magic-user at all with Saves, thanks to their slow progression. Here, the Cleric again jumps ahead, with a 3-point drop and the best saves in all categories except for vs. Dragon Breath, which is still owned by the Fighter.
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C6,F8,M12,T11C7,F9,M12,T12C9,F10,M11,T11C11,F10,M14,T14C9,F12,M12,T12
After the long drought previous, this state of affairs continues for only 50,000 XP.

At 250,000 XP, the Thief hits Level 11 and sees their own 3-point drop across the board. Vs. Staves & Spells drops by 4! The Cleric and Fighter are at Level 9, with the Magic-user now at Level 10.
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C6,F8,M12,T8C7,F9,M12,T9C9,F10,M11,T8C11,F10,M14,T11C9,F12,M12,T8
This continues for another 50,000 XP.

At 300,000 XP, the Magic-user hits Level 11, and finally gets the second of their three save upgrades. The Cleric also advances to Level 10, the Thief is now at Level 11, and the Fighter lagging still behind at Level 9. At this point, all classes are Name level, and their advancement is at set-intervals instead of increasing rates. But the Thief is much slowed down, needing 125,000 XP to advance a level, followed by the Fighter at 120,000. But the Magic-user and Cleric need only 100,000 to advance. Nevertheless, the Fighter maintains very competitive Saves, even when lagging behind a level or two.
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C6,F8,M8,T8C7,F9,M9,T9C9,F10,M8,T8C11,F10,M11,T11C9,F12,M8,T8
This state continues for 60,000 XP.

At 360,000 XP, the Fighter hits level 10, drawing even with the Cleric. They are still behind the Magic-user and Thief, who sit at Level 11, but here they get another juicy Save upgrade:
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C6,F6,M8,T8C7,F7,M9,T9C9,F8,M8,T8C11,F8,M11,T11C9,F10,M8,T8
We now hit another lull, the longest at 240,000 XP, two-thirds of the amount of XP it took to get this far.

At 600,000 XP, the Cleric hits Level 13, and maxes their Saves. The Magic-user also levels up to Level 14; ever since 100,000 XP, the Magic-user has been a Level ahead of the Cleric, and always Leveling at the same time. The Fighter also takes this opportunity to go to Level 12. The Thief hit Level 13 at 500,000 XP. The Cleric takes the lead in all categories, and even for a while draws even with the Fighter in Saves vs. Dragon Breath.
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C3,F6,M8,T8C5,F7,M9,T9C7,F8,M8,T8C8,F8,M11,T11C7,F10,M8,T8
We have another lull of 120,000 XP before the next Save upgrade.

At 720,000 XP, the Fighter hits Level 13. The Magic-user is now at Level 15, while the Cleric and Thief are at Level 14. The Fighter now maxes out their Saves, and they'll remain essentially in the same position for the rest of the game: just behind the Cleric vs. Death Ray/Poison, tied with the Cleric vs Wands, the best, or tied for best vs. Turn to Stone, the best vs. Dragon Breath, and the worst (just behind the Cleric) vs. Spells.
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C3,F4,M8,T8C5,F5,M9,T9C7,F6,M8,T8C8,F5,M11,T11C7,F8,M8,T8
This continues for 80,000 XP.

At 800,000 XP, the Magic-user hits Level 16 and maxes their Saves. In the meantime, the Cleric and Thief have advanced to Level 15. The Fighter is still at Level 13. The Magic-user's saves vs. Staves & Spells drops 5 whole points! It has accelerated throughout the campaign, dropping 3, then 4, and now 5.
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C3,F4,M5,T8C5,F5,M6,T9C7,F6,M6,T8C8,F5,M8,T11C7,F8,M3,T8
The campaign continues for another 75,000 XP.

At 875,000 XP, the Thief hits Level 16 and maxes their Saves. The Magic-user is at Level 16, the Cleric is at Level 15, and the Fighter is at Level 13. The campaign can certainly continue from here, but Saves will remain the same.
Death Ray/
Poison
All Wands –
Including Polymorph or Paralization
Turn to StoneDragon BreathStaves & Spells
C3,F4,M5,T5C5,F5,M6,T6C7,F6,M6,T6C8,F5,M8,T8C7,F8,M3,T3
I'll do another post with AD&D saves, but just as a preview, it's interesting to compare some structural differences. The categories are reorganized, the advancement rates for both levels and saves revised, and most interestingly, while OD&D saves max out here at Levels 13 and 16, and 875,000 XP for Thieves, AD&D saves max out at Levels 17 (Fighters), 19 (Clerics), and 21 (Magic-users and Thieves), with Magic-users being the last to max out their saves at 4,125,000 XP!
 

pemerton

Legend
[MENTION=6680772]Iosue[/MENTION], great post.

I've never looked at the original numbers (and have never quite so systematically looked at the AD&D or B/X numbers).

Your analysis really reinforces my sense that they made a lot of this stuff up without analysing it in too much mathematical detail - for instance, what's the rationale for the MU's 5 drop after 5 levels rather than a drop of 1 per level?

Do you think that's fair, or is there an underlying logic that I've missed?
 

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