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Saving Throws: What Should Become of Them?

Felon

First Post
One of the 4e mechanics that never grew on me was how they handled saving throws as a way of ending conditions. They basically just made it a flat-up coin toss, causing many "big gun" attacks from both players and monsters fizzle out after a single round's duration.

I liked 3e's division between Fort, Reflex, and Will. It allowed for variation where certain character types could shrug off some conditions more easily than others. Of course, there are some other mechanical differences in 4e's saving throws. They didn't mitigate damage up front; no save for half against a fireball or dragon's breath, for instance.

Any thoughts?
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
4th edition's saving throw system was a good idea, the problem like you said is the high chance of the same being made by the second round.

I think if they went back to good and poor saving throw while using the 4th edition save system. Good saving throws need a 5 or higher to succeed. Average needs an 11+. And poor requires a 16+. Split it in physical and mental saving throws and give VERY VERY few ways to increase saving throws after creation and call it a day.
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
The 4e model is ideal for me. But I could see them borrow from M&M 3e where your Fort, Ref, and Will can act as both a save AND a defense (just add 10) depending on the situation and the effect used against you.

But I never again want to play a D&D game where I fail a save and essentially sit and watch my friend's play for the rest of the night while I can do nothing. NEVER. The mere thought of 5e going back to something like that makes me want to unleash a torrent of profanity.

Being able to save every round with a chance to get back into the action was a godsend. Even Paizo recognized this and changed a few spells to save every round in Pathfinder, but they didn't go nearly far enough, IMO.
 

I like that 4e had the ascending defences in place of the old saving throws. That certainly seemed to give more variety in attacks, and worked really well IMO.

I was never keen on the 4e saving throw mechanic. As you say, it did seem like too much of a coin toss. Unfortunately, I don't see an obvious alternative - perhaps each ongoing condition should instead make an attack against a specified defence with an attack bonus appropriate to the condition (rather than the attack that applied the condition)? The problem with this is that it makes the conditions even more complex, and tracking them was an area of 4e that I thought was already way too complex.
 

Felon

First Post
The 4e model is ideal for me. But I could see them borrow from M&M 3e where your Fort, Ref, and Will can act as both a save AND a defense (just add 10) depending on the situation and the effect used against you.

But I never again want to play a D&D game where I fail a save and essentially sit and watch my friend's play for the rest of the night while I can do nothing. NEVER. The mere thought of 5e going back to something like that makes me want to unleash a torrent of profanity.

Being able to save every round with a chance to get back into the action was a godsend. Even Paizo recognized this and changed a few spells to save every round in Pathfinder, but they didn't go nearly far enough, IMO.
OK, that's a legitimate beef. So let me ask you this: what should happen when a spellcaster throws a hold person, or a mind flayer cuts loose with its mind blast, or a medusa catches you with its gaze? These are effects expressly intended to stop an opponent in their tracks. Should they do nothing more than cause a momentary delay?
 

Viktyr Gehrig

First Post
Saving throws would be better if they depended on some innate quality of the character to determine the probabilities-- and if the chances of success improved every time you rolled one.

It's frustrating being stuck unable to do anything, but if the odds of the saving throw mean something and your odds get better every round, the saving throw itself can be a source of tension and thus excitement. That, and it means that the duration of save-or-suck effects will be a measure of relative power.
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
4E saving throws replace a lot of the duration mechanics. The 4E defenses of Fort, Reflex, and Will are 3E saving throws in all but name, most of the time. The biggest difference is who rolls, and this of course has ramifications for who gets bonuses or penalties, and where.

You can see it most clearly in a single target spell that used to alllow a save for no damage. Say it is Fort-based. In 3E, the wizard automatically hits you with it. Then you either save against Fort and take no damage, or you fail and take full. In 4E, the wizard rolls to hit your Fort. He either hits for full damage, or fails and you take nothing. When you get into "miss effects" versus the older half damage on saves, it diverges more, but the essense is still there.

I happen to favor the 4E version for the thing being modeled, because it is generally faster handling time for the players to be making these rolls than the DM, in my experience.

Now, it is true that saving throws modeling durations is not as good or interesting as it could be, currently. I see that, however, as a separate issue from who should roll to determine the rough effectiveness of an attack.
 

OK, that's a legitimate beef. So let me ask you this: what should happen when a spellcaster throws a hold person, or a mind flayer cuts loose with its mind blast, or a medusa catches you with its gaze? These are effects expressly intended to stop an opponent in their tracks. Should they do nothing more than cause a momentary delay?

I can see two ways of dealing with this:

1) Keep the "save or suck", but make damn sure that the combat is really short. It's maybe okay to be held for the duration of a 5-minute combat; it certainly isn't acceptable if the combat lasts the whole night! (And, if you do this, keep the duration down to a small number of rounds.)

Probably better:

2) Allow the save each round. Particularly nasty effects could apply an ever-reducing penalty to the save. So, the first round you save at -5, then -4, -3, -2, -1, no mod, +1, +2... That way, you get a greater likelihood of the effect lasting more than a couple of rounds (but probably no guarantee), you still get a save every round, and you also eliminate the problem of "stun locks" that 4e had.

(That said, effects that apply any modifier to a save should be extremely rare.)
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
OK, that's a legitimate beef. So let me ask you this: what should happen when a spellcaster throws a hold person, or a mind flayer cuts loose with its mind blast, or a medusa catches you with its gaze? These are effects expressly intended to stop an opponent in their tracks. Should they do nothing more than cause a momentary delay?

4e addressed the medusa issue. If she hits you I think you start out paralyzed as you slowly turn to stone. If you fail two saves you turn to stone, otherwise you manage to shake it off.

For everything else, I think players should be able shake off most other effects. There are a few things that can take you out of a combat in 4e, like turning to stone, but they are exceedingly rare as I think they should be. Long term effects should be more in the purview of DM fiat for story reasons.

I think 4e design of saves (success on a 10+) was predicated on the notion that mathematically most people will save within two rounds, and often only miss one round. And that two rounds is most you should have to sit out of the action. I think that is a good reasonable number.

It is a paradigm shift for those used to failing a save and just being dead, stone, paralyzed, dominated, or whatever. And if that is the reality of the game world to you, then yes the 4e way feels gamist.

But I think this is one area where we have to recognize that D&D is a game and what good is simulating some kind of fantasy reality that you don't have fun playing in?

And yes, someone will post that simulation makes the game fun for them. I get that. But I've been playing this game for over two decades and I think most people want to actually play, not fail a save and do nothing. And besides, I think the 4e approach is equally valid from a simulationist standpoint if you imagine that those mechanics simulate a world where heroes can shake off debilitating effects as opposed to being more prone to succumb to them.
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
OK, that's a legitimate beef. So let me ask you this: what should happen when a spellcaster throws a hold person, or a mind flayer cuts loose with its mind blast, or a medusa catches you with its gaze? These are effects expressly intended to stop an opponent in their tracks. Should they do nothing more than cause a momentary delay?

I'd like to see them at least experiment with a condition track model that included positive conditions, as was briefly discussed on the 4E house rules forum some time ago. (I've lost track of the thread with all the forum thread moving and merging since.) Anyway, I've been experimenting with that idea for some homebrew (only somewhat D&D-ish) stuff, where it seems to work very well. I'm not as sure if it will work for D&D though.

You'd have several tracks for major types of conditions. For example:

Movement: Petrified | Held | Restrained | Normal | Loose | Mobile | Free

Most effects move you a spot up or down the track. Only really powerful effects move you more. The big advantage is in how stacking would work. You only get the worst and best effect on your track at any time, but you do get to slide for whatever that best effect is. (That is, number of slots from "Normal". If you best good effect is "Loose", that moves you one slot to right from wherever you otherwise would be with a bad effect, if any.")

So a medusa petrifies you. You aren't making your save. Your cleric or wizard buddy isn't nearly powerful enough to hit you with a "freedom" spell, which would apply the "free" condition and cancel out the petrification while the durations overlap. But he can hit you with a lesser spell that gives you the "mobile" condition for a short time. This lets you shift the petrification up to restrained (which works much like 4E difficult terrain). After the fight, the spell will wear off, and the party will have to find a more permanent reversal. You got to participate, but the nasty effects are still nasty. OTOH, the spells they needed to keep you in the fight are also useful in lesser situations. Making you "mobile" when no nasty monster effects are thrown around can still help with environment.

In this system, too, "Held" wouldn't be quite as bad as the AD&D hold spells. You'd have limited movement with it on. So if your cleric buddy has a permanent cure type spell that slides you one step up, you can at least talk and walk with them while they find a complete fix. In a pinch, you can even keep going, depending upon the casters to keep you "Mobile" in every fight. But you definitely know you've been hit. :D
 
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Greg K

Adventurer
But I never again want to play a D&D game where I fail a save and essentially sit and watch my friend's play for the rest of the night while I can do nothing. NEVER. The mere thought of 5e going back to something like that makes me want to unleash a torrent of profanity.

I am the opposite. There are several things, in my opinion, that should take one out of the fight and, potentially, the campaign unless countered with magic- Petrification, Polymorphs, certain mind affecting attacks, banished/transported to other planes etc. Not doing so makes want me want to unleash profanities and did with 4e.

If a player gets taken out, DMs should let the player run some of the allies/henchmen or enemies (in a fight), etc. until the character can be restored or a new PC can be introduced.
 

jodyjohnson

First Post
I think the core question here is

'Do you want effects that bypass the hit point mechanic for ending a fight?'

If you do then you keep pre-4e pinning, disarm, petrification, poison, hold/paralysis, death, disintegration, domination, sleep, etc.

If you don't then you use a 4e-like attack and just say that effect takes place in the narrative when such an attack reduces the target to 0 hp.

I think you can write this into the 5e system with keywords. Either the effect is literal or it takes effect when the attack reduces HP to 0 depending on your table's dial.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I am the opposite. There are several things, in my opinion, that should take one out of the fight and, potentially, the campaign unless countered with magic- Petrification, Polymorphs, certain mind affecting attacks, banished/transported to other planes etc. Not doing so makes want me want to unleash profanities and did with 4e.

And right here I think might be one of the biggest potential hurdles the designers will have to figure out going forward... figuring out the rules for just how fast/easy it is to instantly remove/kill someone from the game. Because there are quite a number of players like you, GregK, who seem to want insta-death effects... just like there seems to be players who want 1st level characters to potentially start with only 1-3 hit points. As I'm sure that there are players who are steadfast in their desire for -10 rather than -half HP to be the bleeding out point.

It's a dial for the "gritty" aspects of the game that will be interesting to see if they can put that insta-death or virtual insta-death side-by-side with more moderate dying rules and keep both sides somewhat happy.
 

TheFindus

First Post
My 3e experience tells me that "save or suck" attacks just, well, suck. Plus, the 3e save made an additional die roll necessary, which dies not speed up the game. In that way, 4E defenses are much better, because there is only one roll, the attack roll that targets a specific defense.

In addition, PCs are subject to more attacks than the individual opponent, since PCs are subject to attacks in every combat, while their opponents are most likely subject to the PCs attacks for only one combat.
So the PCs suffer more from effects like daze, stun, etc.
This can be frustrating, since, as a player, you want your character to be able to do something every round.
For this reason, 4E saving throws are basically a 55:45 chance, which is good.

Now, PCs can have the ability to reduce the chances to succeed a saving throw. And that can frustrate a GM.
So there needs to be a mechanism for the GM to shake off a saving throw effect on one of his creatures.
And 4E had that, too.

So, in general, I find the 4E saving throw mechanic plausible. It also offers many ways to narrate the effects of attacks, which is always a plus for me.
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
2) Allow the save each round. Particularly nasty effects could apply an ever-reducing penalty to the save. So, the first round you save at -5, then -4, -3, -2, -1, no mod, +1, +2... That way, you get a greater likelihood of the effect lasting more than a couple of rounds (but probably no guarantee), you still get a save every round, and you also eliminate the problem of "stun locks" that 4e had.

(That said, effects that apply any modifier to a save should be extremely rare.)
What about allowing a save every other round for really nasty effects like being turned into stone or a dragon's fear aura. Like you said, those effects should be a whole lot harder to shrug off. And I don't think a penalty is enough.
 
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Greg K

Adventurer
Defcon 1,
I agree with you. This has been my concern from the initial announcement. However, it can be done. There are games including, my favorite, Savage Worlds (within the corebook as of Deluxe), that allow you to adjust lethality. Some have the range go from cartoon violence to Life is cheap (i.e., very gritty).

And right here I think might be one of the biggest potential hurdles the designers will have to figure out going forward... figuring out the rules for just how fast/easy it is to instantly remove/kill someone from the game. Because there are quite a number of players like you, GregK, who seem to want insta-death effects... just like there seems to be players who want 1st level characters to potentially start with only 1-3 hit points. As I'm sure that there are players who are steadfast in their desire for -10 rather than -half HP to be the bleeding out point.

It's a dial for the "gritty" aspects of the game that will be interesting to see if they can put that insta-death or virtual insta-death side-by-side with more moderate dying rules and keep both sides somewhat happy.
 
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Greg K

Adventurer
In addition, PCs are subject to more attacks than the individual opponent, since PCs are subject to attacks in every combat, while their opponents are most likely subject to the PCs attacks for only one combat.
So the PCs suffer more from effects like daze, stun, etc.

Nobody said that an adventurer's life was an easy one. It is often cut short by spell or sword and, therefore, should not be entered lightly. However, survive and the rewards are worth it- women (or men depending upon prefernce), gold, glory, and immortality in bardic tales. XD
 

CleanCutRogue

First Post
The breakdown of Fortitude, Will, and Reflex worked well in 3e. Made perfect sense, nobody every wondered which to use for what circumstance. I honestly hope it makes its way to DnDNext.

4e's use of the effect occurring then making a player make a save each turn until he shruggs off effects (or something worse happens) is cool, adds a little tension to an encounter, and in my opinion is a really cool system. Gives a player something to do even though his character out of commission. But basing it on a flat 10+ seems arbitrary and silly. I think the two concepts would work together.

A medusa effect could be: target is paralyzed and turning to stone. Each turn he may make a FORT save to try to shrug off the effects. If he passes his save, he may act normally next turn. If he fails twice, he turns to stone and will remain that way until the medusa is killed or someone casts a heal spell (any type) on him.

something to that effect. Low level characters might take 3-4 turns to escape the effect, but high level characters can shrug it off in one turn.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
Th
A medusa effect could be: target is paralyzed and turning to stone. Each turn he may make a FORT save to try to shrug off the effects. If he passes his save, he may act normally next turn. If he fails twice, he turns to stone and will remain that way until the medusa is killed or someone casts a heal spell (any type) on him.

That is fine for dials. There are several 1-3e spells that I would prefer the effect based upon the amount you missed the save rather level/hd giving you immunity.

For medusas, however, I, personally, want it all or nothing (you met the gaze or did not) and determined by one roll. You save or fail. No partial save and being, partially, transformed. No additional roll to be able to shrug it off.
 

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