Attacking with spells instead of saves

Zaukrie

Adventurer
One thing I liked about 4e was that spellcasters rolled to attack with spells, instead of targets rolling to save.

Has anyone experimented with changing this, so the players roll to attack, instead of the monsters roll to save (or vice versa)?

thanks!
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
There are some groups with use the players make all rolls idea, which includes spellcasters trying to overcome target resistance, aka the target's save ability. The save becomes a DC or target for the spellcasting roll.
 
One thing I liked about 4e was that spellcasters rolled to attack with spells, instead of targets rolling to save.

Has anyone experimented with changing this, so the players roll to attack, instead of the monsters roll to save (or vice versa)?

thanks!
Experimented? It worked well for years in 4e. (One tip: when resolving AEs for full/half damage, roll damage first, then the attacks.)

The only trick in 5e is getting the numbers right when you convert save bonuses to defenses (you might also want to consolidate them). Aside from that its a flat simplification, consolidating the unnecessary complexity of two different attack-resolution mechanics.

An interesting related variation I considered for 4e was Players Always Roll.

In 5e, I'd actually consider the reverse.
 

aco175

Adventurer
I just have the player roll the save instead of trying to convert it. It makes him roll low instead of high, but it works and it is easy.
 

DWChancellor

Kobold Enthusiast
Doing this removes a purposeful design choice in 5E, namely that you need to select spells based on hints about the target's likely stats to optimize. A brute is likely proof against STR and CON saves for example...

You're removing something that is supposed to make casters feel "smart" about spell selection and replacing it with... to hit maximization. If you've got a player who prefers this, maybe they shouldn't be a wizard =) ?

But yeah, it is a little unsatisfying. I like "attack rolls vs. stats" better.
 

ikos

Villager
A couple years ago they released an option to do just that in UA, but the math (many derided) was a bit off. Each defense set to 14 + target’s saving throw modifier was the most frequently proposed fix. This still does not address how AoE spells interacted with the mechanic, however. Getting the dice to all roll in the same direction makes a lot of since, as an idea, especially if you want to affix a fumble crit. mechanic based on the caster rolls.
 

Zaukrie

Adventurer
As DM, I just don't want to roll if I can help it. Letting the players roll the saves might work out.....thanks so far everyone, for the suggestions!
 

aco175

Adventurer
It is not the best making the player roll for a low number instead of a high one, but the player is getting to roll something which is the point.
 

jmartkdr2

Villager
One thing to note: having differing mechanics for how weapon attacks and spells are resolved helps magic feel different from just attacking - if you make everything an attack roll (even if it's mathematically the same) you can make different classes not feel nearly as different from each other.

In other words, saving throws instead of attacks is a part of why magic feels magical.

Edit: on the other hand, having the player always roll, or even just the attacker always roll, has it's own set of benefits, so I'm not saying it's a bad idea either way.
 
One thing to note: having differing mechanics for how weapon attacks and spells are resolved helps magic feel different from just attacking - if you make everything an attack roll (even if it's mathematically the same) you can make different classes not feel nearly as different from each other.
Sure.
Rolling to hit at Prof+DEXmod to inflict 1d10 piercing damage because you used a bow to send an arrow downrange is exactly like rolling to hit at Prof+INTmod to inflict to 1d10 fire damage because you conjured a bolt of fire from nothing.
Totally. The. Same.

Edit: on the other hand, having the player always roll, or even just the attacker always roll, has it's own set of benefits, so I'm not saying it's a bad idea either way.
Different things, but similar positives. Attacker always rolls is consistent, mechanically, and simplifies the game. Player always rolls is consistent in terms of player vs DM role, and puts more drama in the players' hands, less work on the DM's side - the reverse, DM always rolls, is more work for the DM, but can seriously enhance descriptive immersion by taking further sense of control out of the players' hands.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Sure.
Rolling to hit at Prof+DEXmod to inflict 1d10 piercing damage because you used a bow to send an arrow downrange is exactly like rolling to hit at Prof+INTmod to inflict to 1d10 fire damage because you conjured a bolt of fire from nothing.
Totally. The. Same.
I mean, cosmetic similarity is apparently extremely important to a lot of players.

It will never matter how different the effects of a mechanic are, if they’re delivery to the eyeballs of the player are the same.

It’s frustrating and makes literally no sense at all to me, but it’s a thing. 🤷‍♂️
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
Saves are d20+mod (sometimes prof) vs 8+prof+stat.

Or d20+DATTR+DPROF - (8+OPROF+OATTR) < 0 means you "hit".

d20+DATTR+DPROF < (8+OPROF+OATTR)
DATTR+DPROF < 8+OPROF+OATTR-d20
now d20 = (21-d20)
DATTR+DPROF < 8+OPROF+OATTR-(21-d20)
DATTR+DPROF < -13+OPROF+OATTR+d20
DATTR+DPROF+13 < OPROF+OATTR+d20
meets it beats it; convert < to <= by adding 1 to defence:
DATTR+DPROF+14 <= OPROF+OATTR+d20

So your Defence on a stat is equal to 14+Modifier, plus optionally Proficiency.

Double check.

14 con L 1 Fighter (Con Save = +4, Con Defence = 18)
18 int L 5 Wizard casting Levitate (DC = 8+3+4=15, ATK=+7)

Fighter saves on an 11+; 50% chance.
Wizard hits on an 11+; 50% chance.

Now one difference is that things like "Bless" adds to your save rolls; now you have to add it whenever people attack your attributes (but not your AC). And similar for things that grant advantage on saves; they now impose disadvantage on attacks.
 
It’s frustrating and makes literally no sense at all to me, but it’s a thing. 🤷‍♂️
It also seems like a pretty selective thing.
Now one difference is that things like "Bless" adds to your save rolls; now you have to add it whenever people attack your attributes (but not your AC). And similar for things that grant advantage on saves; they now impose disadvantage on attacks.
One of the perks of going to a consistent attacker-rolls convention for all attacks is that you do away with both the clumsy language of "you have disadvantage on saving throws and attackers have advantage on you" (and vice-versa) and oversights where something really should do both, but one or the other is omitted.
 

jmartkdr2

Villager
Sure.
Rolling to hit at Prof+DEXmod to inflict 1d10 piercing damage because you used a bow to send an arrow downrange is exactly like rolling to hit at Prof+INTmod to inflict to 1d10 fire damage because you conjured a bolt of fire from nothing.
Totally. The. Same.
I never said they were totally the same - but the degree of difference, is, well, different.

If the method of getting the result didn't mater, there'd be no reason to change in the first place.
 
Using range to hit spells when in melee also come with disadvantage (there are ways to remove this of course) - the 'advantage' of save spells is they don't have this restriction which is often why my players choose to use these instead. Players do like to roll dice but I haven't noticed any one having a problem with the different types of spells.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
A couple years ago they released an option to do just that in UA, but the math (many derided) was a bit off. Each defense set to 14 + target’s saving throw modifier was the most frequently proposed fix. This still does not address how AoE spells interacted with the mechanic, however. Getting the dice to all roll in the same direction makes a lot of since, as an idea, especially if you want to affix a fumble crit. mechanic based on the caster rolls.
I mean. 4e did it for years. You make one attack roll for each target in the area. Easy.
 
I wouldn't do it in 5e.

If we are considering a hypothetical new game system, I would like it only if it was mathematically very simple, for example the spell attack roll be d20 + ab.mod. + prof.bonus, and the defense be equal to the target ability score.

For instance, a 1st-level Wizard with Int 14 would roll d20 + 2 + 2 against the target's Dexterity score when casting Burning Hands, target's Wisdom when casting Charm Person, and so on...
 

ikos

Villager
I mean. 4e did it for years. You make one attack roll for each target in the area. Easy.
Yes, this is true, rolling once does change the effect of spells. Rolling multiple times would avoid that epic single roll with a fireball that would otherwise mean everyone is toast. Individual saves makes that statistically less probable. It would better preserve the odds of everyone not getting caught by one good roll, as you suggest, by rolling to attack each target of an AoE. The time/effort required when saving would shift, which could be more onerous for some. Everyone roll once and report versus GM rolling multiple times and checking them versus individual defenses.
 
Last edited:

mortwatcher

Explorer
from a mechanical perspective, it would also add disadvantage to many spells when you cast them in melee

from just feelcrafty perspective, it would seem to me that it would slow the game down, as DM it seems faster to roll myself and check than having player roll, asking what he rolled and then adding the save bonus and resolving whether that is enough or not
 

Advertisement

Top