Are 5e Saving Throws Boring?

Ashrym

Hero
not really. That was just one example. Several spells also increase saving throws. Many of them low level spells most classes can get
Bless. Which other spells are you thinking of?

This is not true at all. Low level PCs (even level 1) routinely encountered poisonous traps and venomous creatures like centipedes and spiders that all resulted in your PC death if you failed the save. Also green slimes, rot grubs, and carrion crawlers were also a common threat, and they wrecked you with haste. Rust monsters churned through you armor and weapons way faster than 5e. Ghouls took you out (unless you were an elf) and were faced at low levels.

And 1e did have a scaling system of sorts in the form of saving throw bonuses or penalties. Many creatures gave one or the other depending on it's hit dice. However, in almost all cases, failure was death (or some form of it). PCs faces such perils from level 1 all the way up to name level and higher. Saying it didn't exist until the saves improved is just flat out wrong.
It's true that low level characters had much worse saves. It sucks to lose your character. Now, save are not as brutal at low level but they can still be brutal and they continue to be brutal at higher levels. It doen't take instant death to want to avoid not instant death but gonna die anyway effects.

That "scaling system" of sorts is not scaling. It's buffing and debuffing,

Let me give an example.

In AD&D, if you faced a creature that "their touch will turn flesh to stone (save vs stone or be petrified.)", you would do what you could to avoid that at all costs.

In 5e, that same creature is:
"dc 11 constitution saving throw against being magically petrified On a failed save, the creature begins to turn to stone and is restrained. It must repeat the saving throw at the end of its next turn. On a success, the effect ends. On a failure, the creature is petrified for 24 hours"

Your planning on the encounter will be much different. Worst case scenario, you're only petrified for 24 hours, and that's after 2 failed saves at an easy DC. Worst case with AD&D, if you fail once you're toast. Permanently.
And now when that save is failed there's suddenly a clock to race, and no guarantees on what happens in the meantime or after that period expires. Just because that save is easier at lower levels or there's 24 hours to revert doesn't change that a person isn't going to want to get hit or give guarantees over that 24 hours.

It does give the opportunity to save that character my actions other than casting flesh to stone.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
About the only thing I agree with here is that 1E saving throws were more deadly. A game in 5E is as deadly as the DM wants it to be. Blaming the encounter guidelines which are used to give a general idea of difficulty is meaningless; there is no way possible for them to be accurate for every group given the nature of the game. As far as how "most games" are run, you are no more of an authority on that topic than anyone else.
Well, seeing as how I'm citing the game rules on encounter design, and citing how the adventures for each edition have been written, I'd say it's a pretty good indicator on how most tables play the game. Those things give us a pretty good idea on how a typical game table is playing the game.

Or are you seriously arguing that when evaluating the lethality of each edition, the rules are meaningless because a DM somewhere can make the game harder?

There is an objective way to compare each other. And that's looking at the rules, looking at what happens when a save is failed, and looking at mechanics that make it easier or harder to keep going (like allowing multiple saves). You compare like vs like scenarios and see the difference.

You like save or die. Most people, based on feedback and play testing, do not.
So? That was never my point. Who cares if some people like it, and other don't. I've never argued one is better than the other objectively. Or that 5e is worse design objectively. I've never accused anyone of badwrong fun for enjoying modern saving throw design. And in fact, I don't like save or die so much as I like what it leads to (player planning behavior and how they approach each encounter)

The only think I argued that is objective is that AD&D was more lethal than 5e in accordance to the rules, and the penalties for failing a save were much worse than 5e.

Then I gave my personal opinion, about how one of the reasons I preferred the tougher penalties is because it make players plan more and give more thought into the upcoming adventure, and how they treated encounters much differently rather than the same generic arena style approach that I see more often in 5e (where the focus is on HP and HP only---lessening your loss of them and taking the most away from the opponent as fast as possible), which in turn makes the encounters, even those against undead, venomous creatures, and special attack creatures feel samey.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
It's true that low level characters had much worse saves. It sucks to lose your character. Now, save are not as brutal at low level but they can still be brutal and they continue to be brutal at higher levels.
wrong again. Even at low level, you instantly died if you failed. Or instantly turned to stone (or go petrified). On what basis do you keep making this assumption that saves weren't as brutal at low levels. How can you be more brutal than instantly dying or turning to stone? Being forced to listen to autotune music for a hour before dying?

That "scaling system" of sorts is not scaling. It's buffing and debuffing,
Wrong again. Low HD creatures might have a bonus of +2 to saves, while high HD monsters gave a penalty of -2. or -4 if they were super high. That is literally level scaling because the adj to the save is based on the HD (level) of the monster


And now when that save is failed there's suddenly a clock to race, and no guarantees on what happens in the meantime or after that period expires. Just because that save is easier at lower levels or there's 24 hours to revert doesn't change that a person isn't going to want to get hit or give guarantees over that 24 hours.

It does give the opportunity to save that character my actions other than casting flesh to stone.
I guarantee you that based on my example above, if you know you will die instantly from one failure, you will act differently than if you knew you had 2 chances, and even if you failed both, you were back to normal after 24 hours. People base their actions on risk assessment. This is true of every scenario on every behavior we as a species do. It's no different for RPGs. You'll have to work really hard to convince me that human behavior for risk assessment doesn't follow typical behavior for RPGs that it does for every other activity.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
When the monster list includes but not limited to:
ghouls
ghasts
ghosts
specters
wraiths
whites
vampires
basilisks
beholders
medusa
cockatrice
green slimes
black puddings
rot grubs
rust monsters
poisonous (sic) snakes
spiders
psuedodragons
carrion crawlers
catoblepas
Any poison trap
etc
etc

are all significantly more dangerous in AD&D than 5e, it's disingenuous to argue that the difference in deadliness between editions isn't mechanics, but GM preference. I know you know better. It absolutely is mechanics, not just with the monsters like v like themselves, with with 5e mechanics that allow you overcome conditions with a save attempt every turn.

The only way your argument remotely holds water is if the typical D&D game never encounters any creature or trap that is poisoned, never encounters any undead, and never encounters any other creature in that above list or creature that has magic resistance or weapon immunity that their 5e counterpart does not.

My point being, is that any adventurer worth their salt will plan ahead with the knowledge available to them, and put focus on the higher risk areas. In AD&D, that meant you planned for all of the above or you didn't last long. In 5e, since those risks are all extremely less than they were in AD&D, players don't spend nearly the effort planning for them. And IME, is a reason why every battle begins to feel the same for a lot of people, because they approach every battle very similar---bags of HP and and how much DPR you can do regardless of any special ability because the risk of suffering a bad save is much less than it was in AD&D.

If you're arguing that 5e mechanically is not less deadly than AD&D because it's all up to DM preference, then I'm sure most would laugh at such a statement. Everything being equal, the mechanics of AD&D were more lethal than 5e. It would be like me arguing that 4e was the most deadly edition because one DM made every player only have 1 HP and put them in a meat grinder, while the AD&D DM gave all the players max HP and monty haul magic items, and never had them face anything dangerous. Needless to say, that would be a very flawed analysis to make.
"When the monster list includes but not limited to:"

In an earlier response, you seemed tp push back that references to how many monsters were listed in MM was not your point and you were critical of this as not your point.

However, now you do list monsters and refer to them beingincluded in the system.

As GM of an actual game, its the monsters you choose that crestes the gsmeplay and experience and so on.

If you find these 5e monsters do not serve the style of gameplay you want - you are not required to use them. There is no expectation that any given creature will be the "right choice" or fitying for every campaign or playstyle. Thats partly why you have different options and a GM to choose the ones fitting.


"In 5e, since those risks are all extremely less than they were in AD&D, players don't spend nearly the effort planning for them."

The risks seen in actual gameplay in 5e are set by the GM and choices withinthat campaign, not 5e system itself.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Let me give an example.

In AD&D, if you faced a creature that "their touch will turn flesh to stone (save vs stone or be petrified.)", you would do what you could to avoid that at all costs.

In 5e, that same creature is:
"dc 11 constitution saving throw against being magically petrified On a failed save, the creature begins to turn to stone and is restrained. It must repeat the saving throw at the end of its next turn. On a success, the effect ends. On a failure, the creature is petrified for 24 hours"

Your planning on the encounter will be much different. Worst case scenario, you're only petrified for 24 hours, and that's after 2 failed saves at an easy DC. Worst case with AD&D, if you fail once you're toast. Permanently.
Absolutely - if a GM gives you a low threat in 5e encounter, spending a lot of time on turning it from low risk to very low risk is not wise.

On the otherhand, if the gm hands out a high risk, you are likrly well served.
That is true regardless of edition.

You seem hung up on the fact that between editions an encounter labelled "basilisk" is in one a low and in another a high...

To me, the label is not what i use or focus on. If i wanted a lohe threat, basilisk might fit that bill. If i wanted high, it might not

But, tekey is, 5e does not require by rule or system you as GM to include a encounter "basilisk" ever. Neither did 1e. So whether you use basilidk for low, high, inbetween is all up to you.


Additionally, a basilisk in 5e can be part of a high threat. Imagining a solo non-con saved caster separated from their party where that save is not trivial and where becoming petrified for w4 hours is quite lethal in fact.

Edit to clarify - i guessed at basilisk. Ifyou meant cockatrice or whateer point still holds.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
"When the monster list includes but not limited to:"

In an earlier response, you seemed tp push back that references to how many monsters were listed in MM was not your point and you were critical of this as not your point.

However, now you do list monsters and refer to them beingincluded in the system.
I argued against your statement that I was using how often monsters appear in the books as the reason why 1e was more lethal. Because that's not what I was arguing. I already explained it's how often they appear in the game, not in the manual. Those are two different things.

So when I listed a whole bunch of monsters that appear frequently, that doesn't change my point. The ghoul shows up once in the MM. So does an intellect devourer. But which of those shows up more often than the other in actual games?

That list I provided was meant to show you how your entire argument falls apart because those are monsters that appear in the game all the time. As I said, the only way your argument works if none of those monsters or traps or scenarios are ever encountered. Which I shouldn't have to point out is extremely implausible in a typical campaign of D&D.

As GM of an actual game, its the monsters you choose that crestes the gsmeplay and experience and so on.

If you find these 5e monsters do not serve the style of gameplay you want - you are not required to use them. There is no expectation that any given creature will be the "right choice" or fitying for every campaign or playstyle. Thats partly why you have different options and a GM to choose the ones fitting.


"In 5e, since those risks are all extremely less than they were in AD&D, players don't spend nearly the effort planning for them."

The risks seen in actual gameplay in 5e are set by the GM and choices withinthat campaign, not 5e system itself.

And I think we're done here then. If your argument is that the mechanics (getting multiple saves, less penalties for failing saves) and monster design (much less danger from special attacks) doesn't impact how lethal a typical game is, and insisting that no edition is typically played with more lethality than any other because it always comes down to the DM, and insist on ignoring how typical games are played, then I find that such a disingenuous position that I don't think it's possible to have an honest conversation.

People tend to play games as a whole based on the rules of the game. I could play 1e with giving every PC max HP regen after ever battle because that's my choice as a DM, but that doesn't mean 1e is typically played with PCs getting max HP back after every encounter. You're a smart person, you know this. So I don't know why you insist on arguing. Either way, I'm done.
 

dave2008

Legend
"There's almost no way I am going to fail two saves in a row, so I won't even bother averting my gaze against the medusa and just fight her like everything else."
I've thought of making have the 2nd save be attempted with disadvantage (no matter what the save is - death saves I'm looking at you), but I've never tried it.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
wrong again. Even at low level, you instantly died if you failed. Or instantly turned to stone (or go petrified). On what basis do you keep making this assumption that saves weren't as brutal at low levels. How can you be more brutal than instantly dying or turning to stone? Being forced to listen to autotune music for a hour before dying?



Wrong again. Low HD creatures might have a bonus of +2 to saves, while high HD monsters gave a penalty of -2. or -4 if they were super high. That is literally level scaling because the adj to the save is based on the HD (level) of the monster




I guarantee you that based on my example above, if you know you will die instantly from one failure, you will act differently than if you knew you had 2 chances, and even if you failed both, you were back to normal after 24 hours. People base their actions on risk assessment. This is true of every scenario on every behavior we as a species do. It's no different for RPGs. You'll have to work really hard to convince me that human behavior for risk assessment doesn't follow typical behavior for RPGs that it does for every other activity.
Yes, given opportunity most players and characters will do more prepto handle high risks than low risk threats.

Its the GM choicrs etc tho that setups up sn encounter as high or low risk. 5e gives the gm plenty of choices to set the difficulty and risk.

Simply put - risk seen in play is not and imo should not be chosen by system - but by gm, players, table.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Also, often times I'm not the DM, so I have zero control of overwriting the rules in 5e. Often I'm a player, and it's something I miss when you find out that you may face a basilik, undead, poisonous creature, trap, etc and the rest of the party is "Eh, it's no big deal. We don't need to plan special for it. Roll for initiative!"
 

Ashrym

Hero
wrong again. Even at low level, you instantly died if you failed. Or instantly turned to stone (or go petrified). On what basis do you keep making this assumption that saves weren't as brutal at low levels. How can you be more brutal than instantly dying or turning to stone? Being forced to listen to autotune music for a hour before dying?
Not all low level saves were instant death from that list of monsters. You also instantly died from taking enough damage quite regularly regardless of the saves because hit points were also lower.

Wrong again. Low HD creatures might have a bonus of +2 to saves, while high HD monsters gave a penalty of -2. or -4 if they were super high. That is literally level scaling because the adj to the save is based on the HD (level) of the monster
I'm not wrong. Adjusting the bonus or penalty to the saving throw was a case by case arbitrary adjustment made to change the effectiveness of those individual monsters because there was not scaling system built in.

It didn't matter if the evil NPC magic user was 7th level or 15th level. A fighter had the same target to save against either because there was no scaling. 5e has built in scaling.

I guarantee you that based on my example above, if you know you will die instantly from one failure, you will act differently than if you knew you had 2 chances, and even if you failed both, you were back to normal after 24 hours. People base their actions on risk assessment. This is true of every scenario on every behavior we as a species do. It's no different for RPGs. You'll have to work really hard to convince me that human behavior for risk assessment doesn't follow typical behavior for RPGs that it does for every other activity.
Dying from one failure isn't the point. The question is whether dying from one failure changes the behaviors you described compared to the current mechanics. Being sidelined for 24 hours impacts the rest of the fight just as much as instant stone. Losing the fight turned into a wipe anyway.

I don't agree that the behaviors have changed. Do you have something beyond personal experience to back that up?
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I argued against your statement that I was using how often monsters appear in the books as the reason why 1e was more lethal. Because that's not what I was arguing. I already explained it's how often they appear in the game, not in the manual. Those are two different things.

So when I listed a whole bunch of monsters that appear frequently, that doesn't change my point. The ghoul shows up once in the MM. So does an intellect devourer. But which of those shows up more often than the other in actual games?

That list I provided was meant to show you how your entire argument falls apart because those are monsters that appear in the game all the time. As I said, the only way your argument works if none of those monsters or traps or scenarios are ever encountered. Which I shouldn't have to point out is extremely implausible in a typical campaign of D&D.




And I think we're done here then. If your argument is that the mechanics (getting multiple saves, less penalties for failing saves) and monster design (much less danger from special attacks) doesn't impact how lethal a typical game is, and insisting that no edition is typically played with more lethality than any other because it always comes down to the DM, and insist on ignoring how typical games are played, then I find that such a disingenuous position that I don't think it's possible to have an honest conversation.

People tend to play games as a whole based on the rules of the game. I could play 1e with giving every PC max HP regen after ever battle because that's my choice as a DM, but that doesn't mean 1e is typically played with PCs getting max HP back after every encounter. You're a smart person, you know this. So I don't know why you insist on arguing. Either way, I'm done.
"As I said, the only way your argument works if none of those monsters or traps or scenarios are ever encountered."

Since as i understand it,neither of us has used "all" or "only" in descriotions of encounters or risks - you used ""most" i thnk quite a bit - then the claim that either point "only works if none..." are used seems at odds with what we have said.

My point has been from thr beginning that the GM can choose the risk and difficulty and threat seen in their actual gameplay not that either must be chosen.

As for... "typical game"... I made no comment making assumptions about typical games. You have tedned to refer vaguely about "5e games" etc... But my point has bern consistently that a 5e game will have its threat set by the gm or table etc regrdless of that being low or high or mixed and matched.

If you have a beef with your perceptio of how other groups run their games, "typical" games etc, thats a different topic and not one system would affect.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Not all low level saves were instant death from that list of monsters. You also instantly died from taking enough damage quite regularly regardless of the saves because hit points were also lower.
You could instantly die from any poisonous creature, even at level 1. Even from the lowly centipede. You are simply wrong. You really should familiarize yourself with the AD&D monster manual and DMG before continuing to show you don't know what you're talking about. And I'm not talking about damage. That's irrelevant. The point is that failing a save at every level was worse in AD&D than 5e. I don't know how you can argue against that. It's literally in black and white. Save or die largely doesn't exist in 5e. It does and was common in AD&D. End of story.


I'm not wrong. Adjusting the bonus or penalty to the saving throw was a case by case arbitrary adjustment made to change the effectiveness of those individual monsters because there was not scaling system built in.
When you have a bonus or penalty to saves that correlates with the HD of the monster, that is literally level scaling. 🤦‍♂️

Dying from one failure isn't the point. The question is whether dying from one failure changes the behaviors you described compared to the current mechanics. Being sidelined for 24 hours impacts the rest of the fight just as much as instant stone. Losing the fight turned into a wipe anyway.
Having your PC petrified for 24 hours, after failing two save attempts, is not the same as instantly and forever being turned to stone after one fail. Not even close.

I don't agree that the behaviors have changed. Do you have something beyond personal experience to back that up?
It's common sense that people adjust their behaviors based on risk. We have numerous examples of this in real life all the time. From a sports player with an injured leg who decides to sit the rest of the game if there is a high risk of them breaking a leg, to deciding to stop for gas instead of going on empty if there is no gas station down the road after this one, to being willing to eat all of that cake and not eating the rat poison because the cake will make you feel a bit sick for a day while the poison will kill you, to deciding not to jump out of a plane without a parachute, to everything else that has risk associated with it. If you disagree with that, it's up to you to prove how RPGs are different.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Nobody on this forum knows how "most games" are run. As far as how deadly the game is, that's been up to the DM in every edition I've ever been involved in.

In older games if I didn't want to kill off PCs because of a bad roll I had to avoid certain monsters, house rule or make raise dead easier.

In 5E if I want a deadly encounter I just throw more monsters or set up the environment to favor the bad guys.

The level of threat has always been set at a point agreed upon by me an my players. 5E just makes that easier.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
"As I said, the only way your argument works if none of those monsters or traps or scenarios are ever encountered."

Since as i understand it,neither of us has used "all" or "only" in descriotions of encounters or risks - you used ""most" i thnk quite a bit - then the claim that either point "only works if none..." are used seems at odds with what we have said.

My point has been from thr beginning that the GM can choose the risk and difficulty and threat seen in their actual gameplay not that either must be chosen.

As for...
I said we were done for the reasons I gave. Stop quoting me. I'm asking you twice now.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
If I want to kill PCs, as a DM in 5E I can always do that. I don't care if it takes not giving them an option to rest for 20 encounters or throwing a mob of Tarrasques, the DM controls the threat level.
Alternatively, as a DM, what I want is irrelevant. I am obligated to present the world in a fair and impartial manner. Any speculations regarding threat level are equally irrelevant, since out-of-game observations cannot impact the in-game reality.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Alternatively, as a DM, what I want is irrelevant. I am obligated to present the world in a fair and impartial manner. Any speculations regarding threat level are equally irrelevant, since out-of-game observations cannot impact the in-game reality.
Also, players have an expectation on how a game is being run based on the rules. I, and any player, can join an AL game and have a good idea of what to expect based on the rules of the game. And I would have a totally different expectation on a 1e game than I would a 5e game based on how those rules of each edition are written. That's not some outrageous claim I'm making here, and yes, we do have an idea of how the typical game is run because not only do we have many examples to look at, but we have an assumption that a typical table plays with the typical rules framework. Minor adjustments and houserules exist, but we can in fact make an assessment on a how a typical game works. Otherwise things like AL couldn't exist.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
If someone politely asks you to leave them alone, you should do so. Really. It's not much to ask.
I said we were done for the reasons I gave. Stop quoting me. I'm asking you twice now.
I am fine if you choose to not respond to my comments on this public forum.

But i am not obliged to not respond to this comversation evenyour comments because you dont like them.

I did edit out the name link in case being notified of the quote is distressing.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Nobody on this forum knows how "most games" are run. As far as how deadly the game is, that's been up to the DM in every edition I've ever been involved in.

In older games if I didn't want to kill off PCs because of a bad roll I had to avoid certain monsters, house rule or make raise dead easier.

In 5E if I want a deadly encounter I just throw more monsters or set up the environment to favor the bad guys.

The level of threat has always been set at a point agreed upon by me an my players. 5E just makes that easier.
"The level of threat has always been set at a point agreed upon by me an my players. 5E just makes that easier."

Yup. Even if that agreement is more deferred as in "play a module" or AL or "ssndbox" or whatever kind of personal labelling we adopt.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The only edition I've ever had a total TPK was in 3.5 (a party of all mages was not a good idea). But I've had plenty of near-TPK scenarios and killed off a PC or two in every edition, including 5E. I run a very sand-boxy game, but I still control what monsters populate the regions the PCs could possibly encounter.

But other than that? The current version of the game is easier to fine tune but it's never been any less deadly in my experience. Does that match up to the experiences the majority of other people have? I have no clue and I don't know how anyone else could know with any degree of certainty.
 

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