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5E Are 5e Saving Throws Boring?

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
The nature of saves is similar to ability checks and even attack rolls really. How much you do with them depends a lot on the table IMO. We generally role-play/story 1's and 20's on saves and ability checks akin to critical hits (and fumbles if you use them).

Really, there isn't any more than that unless you want to add it. Should there be? Well, I wouldn't find it essential to the mechanic or enjoyment of the game, but I can understand how others might like something.
 

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dave2008

Legend
It still completely eliminates the ability to crit with spells. Having choices that allow me to roll a 20 for special effects is much more satisfying, IMO, than the DM just telling me something succeeds or fails. Not to mention that there's a ton of design space for bonus effects like wild magic or meta magic upon critical success of magic casting. Just the idea of having special riders and additional effects that proc on a spell crit is much more juicy than the saving throws we have now.
There was a UA article providing guidelines for players rolling attacks instead of DMs rolling saves
 


tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
There was a UA article providing guidelines for players rolling attacks instead of DMs rolling saves

I've read the math was wrong because d30 starts at 1 and proper formula is... 8+statmod+misc bonuses+d20 vrs prof(if prof) +statmod+misc+22. I use it for player save vrs whatever spells and abilities vrs monsters (it can crit fail and crit) and its a big help at speeding things up. The attack roll is prof+statmod+misc+22 vrs d20+ac and I use it for monster attacks vrs pcs it really speeds things up

My players didn't like being subjected to saving attacks or having an attack DC so meh
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
I've read the math was wrong because d30 starts at 1 and proper formula is... 8+statmod+misc bonuses+d20 vrs prof(if prof) +statmod+misc+22. I use it for player save vrs whatever spells and abilities vrs monsters (it can crit fail and crit) and its a big help at speeding things up. The attack roll is prof+statmod+misc+22 vrs d20+ac and I use it for monster attacks vrs pcs it really speeds things up

My players didn't like being subjected to saving attacks or having an attack DC so meh
I just fixed the math error myself to get the same probability. That was simple enough. It’s just my players prefer the enemies make the saving throw roll.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
I just fixed the math error myself to get the same probability. That was simple enough. It’s just my players prefer the enemies make the saving throw roll.
It makes it soo much easier/smoother to have 20 zombies(or whateverhypothetical big group) hit by a saving attack :D I'd suggest offering "nat 20 with a fireball/ligningbolt/etc crits" & they might rethink their preference :D
 

Saelorn

Hero
Announce someone is making a Saving Throw at the gaming table, and nobody pays much attention...too hum drum, too common.
Honestly, it's no different with attack rolls. If an ogre swings its club, nobody really cares, because the outcome isn't possibly exciting. The game expects you to be the target of dozens of attacks every day, and it expects you to get hit on a regular basis. Why would anyone care? Why would anyone care whether they take 23 damage or 11 damage, when they're just going to heal back up regardless, after the fight?

Fixing these issues would require addressing the fundamental expectations of the game.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
What can you expect from a mechanic that only exists because it's a sacred cow?

I don't know how a mechanic that's changed radically into something completely different from edition to edition can be considered a sacred cow. The name "saving throw" might have stayed the same, but it used to be separated by category: poison, dragon breath, spells, etc, then by fortitude, reflex, etc, and now to an enhanced ability check.

But in all cases, it exists because it's an important mechanic that has meaning. It's the mechanic to reflect a core tenet of fantasy heroic stories. I.e., dodging out of the way of the flaming breath weapon, or fighting through the effects of a deadly poison, or resisting the mental spell attack the evil wizard is attempting.
 

dagger

Explorer
I find the kids gloves version of 5e saving throws kind of boring and prefer the way it’s done in older editions.

Save or suck adds lots of tension and is fun as hell.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
I find the kids gloves version of 5e saving throws kind of boring and prefer the way it’s done in older editions.

Save or suck adds lots of tension and is fun as hell.
It kinda did, few things in 5e have the kind of tension you see when the gm has a beholder out & utters the words "make a save for..." while pointing at someone, but the 3.5 version resulted in things being pretty far into rocket tag & that had its own set of problems
 

dave2008

Legend
Honestly, it's no different with attack rolls. If an ogre swings its club, nobody really cares, because the outcome isn't possibly exciting. The game expects you to be the target of dozens of attacks every day, and it expects you to get hit on a regular basis. Why would anyone care? Why would anyone care whether they take 23 damage or 11 damage, when they're just going to heal back up regardless, after the fight?

Well a few reasons to care without changing the fundamental expectations in the game (IMO):
  1. You have to make it through the fight first. if you have 20 hit points, whether an attack does 11 or 23 damage is important.
  2. Massive damage
  3. Healing variants in the DMG (or one's own). Not everyone plays that you can just heal up on a short or long rest.
 

dave2008

Legend
I find the kids gloves version of 5e saving throws kind of boring and prefer the way it’s done in older editions.

Save or suck adds lots of tension and is fun as hell.
It started with at least 4e (where it tended to require 3 failures instead of the 5e 2 failures).

Of course it is pretty easy to add save or die & save or suck effects back in. For example, with the basilisk simple change the first failure to be petrified instead of restrained. Personally, I find there is more tension with two save system, but to each their own.
 

Saelorn

Hero
Of course it is pretty easy to add save or die & save or suck effects back in. For example, with the basilisk simple change the first failure to be petrified instead of restrained. Personally, I find there is more tension with two save system, but to each their own.
It isn't quite that easy, because 5E is (theoretically) designed as a cohesive whole, with parts that only make sense in context. The weak-sauce saving throw effects make sense in 5E, because Bounded Accuracy means you're going to fall victim to a lot of these effects, and there's nothing you can really do to protect yourself. Likewise, easy healing makes sense in 5E, because Bounded Accuracy means that you can't really defend yourself against attacks.

If the only changes you made were to increase the stakes of saving throws and reduce the availability of healing, the game would be a bloodbath.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Saving throws - which are major turning points in many battles - are very simple for a reason. They are not intended to make the game more interesting mechanically - but rather to be as invisible as possible.

D&D is an RPG, a role playing game. Characters play a role in a story.

If you're telling a good story, you want the mechanics of the game to be as simple as possible so that they do not get in the way of the story. You want the precious moments where the player grabs a die, rolls it and calculates wheher they succeeded or failed to go quickly enough that the environment of suspense and urgency that you've crafted together is not harmed. You don't want the mechanics to steal your inertia.

If you craft an intriguing and thoughtful mechanic with several interwoven elements, you're going to disrupt the story's momentum. Those types of mechanics are best used to stretch out a moment in the game that is highly impactful, but stands on its own, such as a moment when a spell is used outside combat to do something dramatic (raise the dead, divinate, etc...) There, you want to take a single moment and turn it into a series of dramatic elements that weave together to make it longer and greate than the moment it represents. However, if you try to do that with every saving throw, every attack roll, every damage roll, etc.... Well, the game drags on and stalls out.

This is a good summary. You don’t want a player doing math in their head at a time when they should be going “please don’t fail please don’t fail”.

mechanics should be simple, the consequence is what needs to be thrilling.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Save or sucks exist you just have to be creative as the dm.

you want a save or die: telekinesis near a cliff.

save or suck: banishment. They can be out of the fight and the whole adventure if you want them to be!
 

GlassJaw

Hero
Not sure I would say they are boring per se. They can be lackluster though. The thing happens or it didn't.

I do like what PF 2E did with spells, at least in concept: degrees of success/failure. I like games that have that as a mechanic. It's tricky with d20 though because you essentially have to create possibilities for every condition or effect. Shadowrun (and dice pool games) handle that much better.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
Honestly, it's no different with attack rolls. If an ogre swings its club, nobody really cares, because the outcome isn't possibly exciting. The game expects you to be the target of dozens of attacks every day, and it expects you to get hit on a regular basis. Why would anyone care? Why would anyone care whether they take 23 damage or 11 damage, when they're just going to heal back up regardless, after the fight?

Fixing these issues would require addressing the fundamental expectations of the game.
We must not be playing the same game
 

ad_hoc

Hero
A big aspect of whether saving throws, or attack rolls, etc. are exciting is whether failure is allowed.

In a game where the party are not allowed to fail their task then there isn't tension. "They know they will just heal up after the fight."

In a game where failure is looming then it matters. Yes, they can heal up after the fight, but they only have a limited number of hit dice and healing potions. Once they run out of those they're probably going to need to abandon their mission to rest up.

Maybe they can make another attempt after resting, but then, maybe things have gotten much harder too. Maybe they can't make another attempt at all.

TPKs or individual character deaths, while rare, also create tension when possible.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think there are a lot of ways of building tension without save or die spells or similar. My players regularly fear for their PC's lives. Target different abilities so you're not focusing on people's strong saves. Have that magical tentacle grab the wizard and start pulling them into the pit of doom, give them a strength save or be pulled closer.

I also like (and occasionally use) the incremental failures, but that's generally for more environmental type hazards than spells. For example smoke inhalation is deadly, fail a save and gain a level of temporary exhaustion. Fail by 5 or more, 2 levels of temporary exhaustion. Continue until you get out of the smoke or counter it.

But these are just a couple of simple examples. I vary it a lot and don't use these things all the time so they stand out. I will also set up multiple save (or skill) challenges. Give others the option of helping their fellow PCs out of a jam at a risk to themselves and so on. Use your imagination to make saving throws more than just "save or take damage".

Just don't do it too much or you'll bog the game down. Save it for especially difficult challenges or when the group fails at some task or other.
 

It’s a very simple fix that doesn’t change the math of the game. However I have one player that feels he is jinxed to roll bad and hates the idea. He would prefer to never roll a die and let the DM do it.
Also perfectly reasonable.

Attacker always rolls makes sense, because he's the active combatant, whether it's a weapon, spell, or figurative, like bluff.

Player always rolls makes sense because it keeps the action and excitement with the player who gets the sense of the character's fate being in his own hands.

DM always rolls makes sense because you can keep the mechanics behind the screen and heighten mystery, immerssion & suspense.
 

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