D&D General Converting AD&D saving throws to stat-based saves

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Dex for Breath Weapons. While Warriors have good Breath Weapon saves:

Dexterity.jpg

I'm pretty sure Defensive Adjustment applies. Likely also Rod, Staves, Wands. Probably any spell with save for half damage.
 

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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I'd look at which of the four class-groupings are good at each of the five saves and in which abilities those classes should have good scores. In the PHB (1978), aside from the minimum requirement of 9 in the prime requisite for each class (Wis, Str, Int, Dex), it says clerics benefit from a high Str and Con, and (perhaps secondarily) from Dex. Fighters also have a minimum requirement of 7 in Con and benefit from a high Dex, while magic-users have a minimum requirement of 6 in Dex and thieves are said to benefit from a high Int. So we have the following minimum ability scores associated with each class in order of importance:
  • Clerics - WIS (9), Str (5), Con (5), Dex (-) / not important: Int (5), Cha (5)
  • Fighters - STR (9), CON (7), Dex (5) / not important: Int (-), Wis (5), Cha (5)
  • Magic-Users (including Illusionists) - INT (9), DEX (6) / not important: Str (-), Wis (5), Con (-), Cha (5)
  • Thieves (including Assassins) - DEX (9), Int (5) / not important: Str (5), Wis (-), Con (5), Cha (-)

Paralyzation, Poison, or Death Magic: Clerics generally have the best save against this, but fighters are good too (except at the earliest levels) and share the top spot with clerics from levels 13 to 18. For this, I would go with your best of either WIS or CON.

Petrification or Polymorph: Fighters are best at this from levels 9 and up. Thieves are best for levels 1 through 6 but are consistently among the worst starting from level 11. I think the best way to do this would be to use an average of your WIS and DEX for lower level challenges and then to transition around 9th level to using CON or an average of CON and CHA.

Rod, Staff, or Wand: Early on, magic-users are the best at this, and fighters are the worst, so it should be a straight INT save. Then at level 13, fighters catch up to magic-users and share the top spot from then on, so higher level challenges should use an average of STR and INT.

Breath Weapon: This follows a similar pattern at lower levels, with magic-users having the best save, so it should be a straight INT save. At level 7, fighters begin taking the lead and thieves start falling behind, so challenges at that level or above should use the better of either STR or an average of your STR and INT.

Spell: This one's nearly identical to "Rod, Staff, or Wand" above so should use the same saves.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
So this is applicable to 5E, Castles & Crusades, Shadowdark and other D&D-related games that use stat-based saves.

AD&D (and its retro-clones) use the following saving throws:
  1. Paralyzation, Poison or Death Magic
  2. Petrification or Polymorph
  3. Rod, Staff or Wand
  4. Breath Weapon
  5. Spell
So we have five save types verus six stats. And, worse, they don't break down evenly. At a glance, both Breath Weapon and Petrification saves should probably both use Dexterity, for instance. Poison/Death Magic sounds like Constitution.
Aren’t Petrification effects usually saved against with Constitiution (or Fortitude) in post-3e editions?
And why are Rod/Staff/Wand and Spells different save types?
That one has always confused me too.
The easiest way to convert these for newer game systems would be if there was a one to one correspondence, but that doesn't seem realistic. The other obvious way would be to adjudicate each of these on the fly (and take notes on it for next time) when there's not an equivalent ability in the newer version.

Of the many things I would like to take a time machine to talk 1970s TSR folks out of, how saving throws work is a big one.

How would you all do it?
Personally, I’d convert poison/death and Petrification/polymorph to Con, rod/staff/wand to Dex, and Spell to Wis. Maybe shift some spell effects and some magic implement effects to a different save on a case-by-case basis. At that point, you’ve basically reconstructed Fort, Ref, and Will.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Well whatever you do there's only a 4 point gap or less on most saves between good and bad saves.

How you translate that to fort/ref/will or 5E 6 saves is up to you (probably proficient in all saves -1 to +5 saves via ability scores).

C&C uses 6 saves with a 6 point fifference between good and bad saves.

5E has around a 12 point difference between good and bad save.
 

Without looking it up, I'm going to assume "spell" is if nothing else applies. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) And likewise for "rod/staff/wand". So if there is a monster ability that paralyzes, it's paralysis. But if it's from a wand of paralysis, it's wand. And if it's hold person, it's spell.

I'm also assuming going for fidelity with what saves apply to what in 5e first, and trying to convert AD&D numbers into it. If you are going for the opposite approach of basically trying to represent AD&D in 5e rules, I don't have any advice, because I'd just play AD&D (or a retro-clone) in that case.

This will be easiest if you go with some sort of approach where you either take the best of two saves, or you average them.

Strength = (Best/Average of) 1 (Paralyzation) and 2 (Petrification*)
Dexterity = (Best/Average of) 3 and 4
Constitution = (Best/Average of) 1 (Poison, Death Magic) and 2 (Petrification)
Intelligence = (Best/Average of) 3 and 5
Wisdom = (Best/Average of) 1 (Paralyzation) and 5
Charisma = (Best/Average of) 2 (Polymorph*) and 5

This does leave 4 and 3 underrepresented compared to the others that each get used in three places.

* I'm cheating a bit here, since I think petrification and polymorph are normally Con rather than Strength and Charisma in 5e, but there are somewhat similar things that are Strength and Charisma that aren't represented by these saves
 


Jahydin

Hero
I'd just use C&C's method, since they already did the work:

Saves vs. Paralysis – Strength Based Saves
Saves vs. Breath Weapon (and area of affect spells like fireball) – Dexterity Based Saves
Saves vs. Poison, Death – Constitution Based Saves
Saves vs. Wands, Staves, Wands (and Illusions) – Intelligence Based Saves
Saves vs. Spells (except illusions and area of affect spells like fireball and charm or sleep spells) – Wisdom Based Saves
Saves vs. Enchantment spells (sleep, charm, etc) and fear – Charisma Based Saves
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
And why are Rod/Staff/Wand and Spells different save types?
The description says "these are magical attacks from an unusual source", so I always took it to mean any magic that doesn't require the rigamarole of spellcasting, which is usually visible and audible (ie, you have some warning). So this covers magic traps as well as spells from items.

Though sometimes it's used in weird places; the 2e Ranger's ability to calm animals requires a save vs. rods for no real reason other than...somebody thought it was a save that needed to be made more often?
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
The description says "these are magical attacks from an unusual source", so I always took it to mean any magic that doesn't require the rigamarole of spellcasting, which is usually visible and audible (ie, you have some warning). So this covers magic traps as well as spells from items.
That makes sense, although I have a suspicion the rationale was worked out after the saving throw categories.
Though sometimes it's used in weird places; the 2e Ranger's ability to calm animals requires a save vs. rods for no real reason other than...somebody thought it was a save that needed to be made more often?
Yeah, this is why stat-based is probably a better system.
 


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