D&D 5E Saving throws in 5e

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Is the issue that there are six saves or is it that only half are used? If all six were used roughly equally would that be okay?
Maybe. But I think the reason that they are NOT used is that it is harder to understand what the difference is (story-wise) between, say, a WIS save, and a CHA save. (And I can only guess why they made things like Illusions into INT (Investigation) checks instead of INT saves)

The three physical abilities' saves are all used, because it's easy to see what they're for (even if STR saves are often interchangeable with STR (athletics) checks).

Of course, they could ALL be ditched for skill checks, with a better skill system, if they wanted to go that way.
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Is the issue that there are six saves or is it that only half are used? If all six were used roughly equally would that be okay?
IMO both. In the past there was a real level of strategy involved with guessing the weak save for a monster even though targeting it might involve using a less optimal spell or a spell that might even have a lower DC. Without opening the spoiler take a guess what thelowest dump stat save of a troll to target is & name some similar spells that a single caster class has targeting it vrs the next lowest save.

without cracking open the old 3.5MM the troll appears to have had this statblock
23/14/23/6/9/6 for attribs with16/8/8 fort/reflex/will saves
The 5e troll has:
18/13/20/7/9/7 attribs with saves of +4/+1/+5/-2/-1/-2

https://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/troll.htm
https://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/troll.htm
Targeting a save with a +16 vrs a +8 is huge even if it means using a less optimal spell. You can probably guess the +4 & +5 or at least narrow down the two stats involved. Targeting a +4/+5 vrs a +1 to -2 not so much & there's no real way to telegraph or guess which save is +1/-1/-2/-1. Even if you could guess or were sure what was what there isn't much you can do to target one save vrs another so instead of a huge 8 point difference it's more like a one or two or maybe three point difference even if you have more than one spell for those saves.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
One thing I would like to point out which I don't recall seeing is that much of this assumes the most powerful save DCs which keep pace with the PCs. IME many times save DCs fall well below this benchmark, allowing even non-proficient saves to have a decent, if not good, chance to succeed.

For example, in tier 3 your PC might face DC 18 saves, but have a +9 or +10, but their chances jump dramatically when they face a DC 13 or 14, which is still very possible in tier 3.

Now, because PCs only have two save proficiencies normally, the reverse is also an issue. A PC without proficiency might be just +1 or +2 to their save, so against those DC 13 or 14 is not great odds, but against the DC 18 it is much worse!
Yeah, I think having only 2 out of 6 save proficiencies is the main issue. If I recall correctly, in 3.X classes generally had two saves with the good progression and one with the bad progression, and in 4e your NADs always keyed off the better of two scores, and classes usually had one of each pair be at least of secondary importance. So we went from being “good” at 2/3s of the saves to being “bad” at 2/3s of them.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Maybe. But I think the reason that they are NOT used is that it is harder to understand what the difference is (story-wise) between, say, a WIS save, and a CHA save. (And I can only guess why they made things like Illusions into INT (Investigation) checks instead of INT saves)
Illusion spells are usually saved against with Wis because it represents your alacrity. After failing the initial save against an illusion, seeing through it is generally an Int (Investigation) check because that represents your deductive reasoning ability. Basically, you can avoid falling for the illusion in the first place by being keen enough to notice something about it that gives away that it’s not real. If you miss that, you have to use your reasoning skills to figure out that it can’t be real.

There is a logic behind what scores are used for what saves, but following that logic requires ignoring the names of the abilities and focusing on how the Using Abilities section describes what they actually do.

The odd one out is Charisma being used to save against forced teleportation/planar transportation. The only reason I can figure out for that is that it didn’t obviously fit under any of the abilities, and Charisma saves were the least-used type of save.
 


FitzTheRuke

Legend
Illusion spells are usually saved against with Wis because it represents your alacrity. After failing the initial save against an illusion, seeing through it is generally an Int (Investigation) check because that represents your deductive reasoning ability. Basically, you can avoid falling for the illusion in the first place by being keen enough to notice something about it that gives away that it’s not real. If you miss that, you have to use your reasoning skills to figure out that it can’t be real.

There is a logic behind what scores are used for what saves, but following that logic requires ignoring the names of the abilities and focusing on how the Using Abilities section describes what they actually do.

The odd one out is Charisma being used to save against forced teleportation/planar transportation. The only reason I can figure out for that is that it didn’t obviously fit under any of the abilities, and Charisma saves were the least-used type of save.

Oh, I agree, the way the 5e saves are done is not without any thought or logic. I also understand that symmetry for symmetry's sake is something that seems like a good idea, but often quickly fails in practice (in a "be careful what you wish for" kind of way). Us OCD-types will often force symmetry to our own detriment.

But STILL, I think the way saves and skills interact could (and should) be designed more cleanly, especially now with the gift of hindsight.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Oh, I agree, the way the 5e saves are done is not without any thought or logic. I also understand that symmetry for symmetry's sake is something that seems like a good idea, but often quickly fails in practice (in a "be careful what you wish for" kind of way). Us OCD-types will often force symmetry to our own detriment.

But STILL, I think the way saves and skills interact could (and should) be designed more cleanly, especially now with the gift of hindsight.
Indeed. I’ll repeat my preference for NADs to resist the initial effect and saves as a duration mechanic (but with 5e style variable bonuses and DCs). Honestly, you could even eliminate saves and just always use checks for that purpose.
 

Stalker0

Legend
IMO both. In the past there was a real level of strategy involved with guessing the weak save for a monster even though targeting it might involve using a less optimal spell or a spell that might even have a lower DC.
Eh not really. I think the vast majority of monsters in 3.5 it is pretty easy to guess what their weakest save is, or at least not picking their strongest save. The troll was frankly an easy guess. I think in general the same holds true in 5e, its is relatively easy to guess the weak saves (or at least pretty weak save) on most monsters.

I appreciated 5e's attempt to make all of the stats more relevant through saving throws, but at the end of the day they really didn't put enough effort to make it work. If all 6 saves were relatively balanced, than that's fine, but without that support, its probably better to go back to the 3. You might do what 4e did and average certain stats together to get saves (strength and con for fort as an example).
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Eh not really. I think the vast majority of monsters in 3.5 it is pretty easy to guess what their weakest save is, or at least not picking their strongest save. The troll was frankly an easy guess. I think in general the same holds true in 5e, its is relatively easy to guess the weak saves (or at least pretty weak save) on most monsters.

I appreciated 5e's attempt to make all of the stats more relevant through saving throws, but at the end of the day they really didn't put enough effort to make it work. If all 6 saves were relatively balanced, than that's fine, but without that support, its probably better to go back to the 3. You might do what 4e did and average certain stats together to get saves (strength and con for fort as an example).
Yea, the fact that a player could guess with confidence in the vast majority of cases for a big payoff is what made it work. In 5e the guess is often little more than horseshoes & rarely meaningful even if you guess right.
 


Save each round to end the effect is not wildly different from 50/50 each round to end the effect. Different yes, wildly different no.
A 50/50 mechanic is (essentially) guaranteed to wear off after at most four failed saves (chance of failing 5 consecutive saves is less than 5%, in fact exactly 3.125%.) When spellcasters can target weak saves and increase their own saving throw DC (through stats or through items), you can easily get that to be a 70% chance to fail. A weak save may be at +0 or even -1, while a level 4 caster with a single magic item can easily have a DC of 8+4+4+1 = 17, possibly higher; that would mean needing to roll at least 17 (possibly 18), which is an 80% chance to fail. Even if we don't include the magic item and presume a +0 bonus on a monster's weak saves, you're looking at a 75% chance to fail. The equivalent probability (less than 5% chance to fail that much) is twelve consecutive saves, meaning ~11 rounds of maximum effect as opposed to only 4.

And if we consider average effect it's even worse: 50/50 gives exactly 1 round of expected total value. 75/25 gives exactly 3.

I'm pretty sure 3x effect--particularly in a game where "three rounds" may as well be "until the end of the encounter"--is rather dramatically different.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A 50/50 mechanic is (essentially) guaranteed to wear off after at most four failed saves (chance of failing 5 consecutive saves is less than 5%, in fact exactly 3.125%.) When spellcasters can target weak saves and increase their own saving throw DC (through stats or through items), you can easily get that to be a 70% chance to fail. A weak save may be at +0 or even -1, while a level 4 caster with a single magic item can easily have a DC of 8+4+4+1 = 17, possibly higher; that would mean needing to roll at least 17 (possibly 18), which is an 80% chance to fail. Even if we don't include the magic item and presume a +0 bonus on a monster's weak saves, you're looking at a 75% chance to fail. The equivalent probability (less than 5% chance to fail that much) is twelve consecutive saves, meaning ~11 rounds of maximum effect as opposed to only 4.

And if we consider average effect it's even worse: 50/50 gives exactly 1 round of expected total value. 75/25 gives exactly 3.

I'm pretty sure 3x effect--particularly in a game where "three rounds" may as well be "until the end of the encounter"--is rather dramatically different.
First, you should be comparing the average saves vs. the average bonus, not the extremes, which won't happen nearly as often. Second, if 3 rounds may as well be until the end of the encounter, I've seen 50/50 come up the same way 3 consecutive times a fair amount. It happens 12.5% of the time.
 

First, you should be comparing the average saves vs. the average bonus, not the extremes, which won't happen nearly as often. Second, if 3 rounds may as well be until the end of the encounter, I've seen 50/50 come up the same way 3 consecutive times a fair amount. It happens 12.5% of the time.
Casters almost always have a choice, and will almost always attempt to use weak saves, so no, I don't feel at all like that's an incorrect thing to account for.

And what I'm saying is, that "3 consecutive times" thing happens 12.5% of the time for true 50/50 saves. It happens over 42% of the time for 75/25 saves. That means it would be more than 3x the frequency (3 and 3/8ths to be exact.)

Conversely, granting save bonuses is very much more a player-facing thing in 4e, while bonuses on both sides can vary wildly in 5e, from craptastic negative modifiers and no proficiency to beyond-mortal-limits modifiers and +6 proficiency (I don't believe anything gets expertise in saving throws), on top of the variability in the target numbers. Which even further cements the difference here.

So no. I don't think it's at all inaccurate to say they are so starkly different. Much as Hit Dice and Healing Surges.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Casters almost always have a choice, and will almost always attempt to use weak saves, so no, I don't feel at all like that's an incorrect thing to account for.

And what I'm saying is, that "3 consecutive times" thing happens 12.5% of the time for true 50/50 saves. It happens over 42% of the time for 75/25 saves. That means it would be more than 3x the frequency (3 and 3/8ths to be exact.)

Conversely, granting save bonuses is very much more a player-facing thing in 4e, while bonuses on both sides can vary wildly in 5e, from craptastic negative modifiers and no proficiency to beyond-mortal-limits modifiers and +6 proficiency (I don't believe anything gets expertise in saving throws), on top of the variability in the target numbers. Which even further cements the difference here.

So no. I don't think it's at all inaccurate to say they are so starkly different. Much as Hit Dice and Healing Surges.
Depending on party make-up, 10 spells with durations happen every combat or two. 3 consecutive failed 50/50 saves will happen a bit more often than that. I don't see how every combat or two is wildly different from every combat. There's a difference, yes, but I still wouldn't categorize it as wildly different.
 

So no. I don't think it's at all inaccurate to say they are so starkly different. Much as Hit Dice and Healing Surges.

Yes. About the same as healing surges and hit dice. Similar concept. Interpreted differently and having different repercussions for the game. But obviously one is an evolution of the other. Or devolution, depending how you look at it.
I would settle both 5e concepts between 4e and 3e.
 

Yes. About the same as healing surges and hit dice. Similar concept. Interpreted differently and having different repercussions for the game. But obviously one is an evolution of the other. Or devolution, depending how you look at it.
I would settle both 5e concepts between 4e and 3e.
....Hit Dice are literally nothing like Healing Surges other than that they provide healing.

That's it. That's literally the only thing they share in common.

Did you actually play 4e? Because statements like this usually indicate a person did not. That doesn't mean you definitely didn't, which is why I'm asking.
 

....Hit Dice are literally nothing like Healing Surges other than that they provide healing.

That's it. That's literally the only thing they share in common.

Did you actually play 4e? Because statements like this usually indicate a person did not. That doesn't mean you definitely didn't, which is why I'm asking.

Over its complete life span.
One evolved (or devolved) from the other.
Both are similar concepts, as I said with distinct differences.
Backpaddling more to 3e if you will.
The Idea of gaining hp back without the need for extern sources like healing magic.
In 4e healing surges limit daily healing on top of that. Again. I will discuss the amount of simiarities and I don't disagree with you that the repercussions for the game are big. They are related.
 

on offense that is a strategic game only casters can play... fighters target AC and AC alone...

in fact I have to laugh the fighter class (the one I would think should be about strategic play) briskly can't do it offensive and the best defense he can get is to acquire magic items...
About the only way to level the playing field is make all spells do less damage than martial weapons, but let them keep their side effects. Heck, give them more and varied side effects if you want. But we all know, near the end of the campaign, the fighter is, at best, someone who is trying to do their best. Too bad their best is a small fraction of what a caster can do.
 

I may enjoy 5e infinitely more than I did 3.x, but I think Fort, Reflex, and Will saves were a much better solution than trying to make all 6 abilities into saves (and then not using them half the time).
when looking for answers I was playing with mixing 4e and 3.5 and having 3 defenses AC Toughness and Mental... and have saves that are will and fort... BUT let the toughness and mental defense each have 2 possible stats and the saves each have 2 possible stats... and none were Dex that would only be for AC and initiative.
 

About the only way to level the playing field is make all spells do less damage than martial weapons, but let them keep their side effects. Heck, give them more and varied side effects if you want. But we all know, near the end of the campaign, the fighter is, at best, someone who is trying to do their best. Too bad their best is a small fraction of what a caster can do.
since everyone says that fighters are supposed to shine in combat I don't understand why we don't just make all damage super weak... but nobody at WotC asks me
 

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