D&D 5E The Perils of Dump Stats

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
AD&D saves made no damn sense. If I get hit with a poison spell from a staff, what do I roll against?

F/R/W made sense and it was easy to figure out what you would roll against. We don't need forced grid symmetry of 6 stats 6 saves.
Poison. AD&D saves have a hierarchy- the first applicable save on the list is the one you use.

Amusingly, this should mean that "Spells" is the last port of call, but I remember making more Spell saves than anything, largely because a lot of people didn't read the section where this is explained.

There's a few more caveats to saves as well that most people missed, like how your Dexterity defense adjustment applies to saves against things you could theoretically dodge (I assume this is why the Thief has such terrible Breath Weapon saves- since you're heavily incentivized to have high Dexterity), Wisdom applies to anything mind affecting, and so on.

2e added an interesting wrinkle most people missed, that magic armor can add to many saving throws (save for things like immersion in acid), which leads to one of the big issues with AD&D saving throws.

It's too easy to get very good at them. Not only do you get better at saves as you level, but bonuses to saving throws were ubiquitous from ability scores, races (the infamous "shorty bonus" for Dwarves, Gnomes, and Halflings), class features, spells, and magic items. The entire point of saving throws could get left behind in the dust as the game progressed- there was even a magic item that let you make saving throws against things that didn't allow saving throws!*

*(The Scarab of Protection)

Now granted, the fact that so many saving throws were lethal if failed in AD&D probably makes this sort of thing necessary, but it gets very bizarre when the most terrifying things in the game have only a 5% chance of affecting a character.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Poison. AD&D saves have a hierarchy- the first applicable save on the list is the one you use.

Amusingly, this should mean that "Spells" is the last port of call, but I remember making more Spell saves than anything, largely because a lot of people didn't read the section where this is explained.

There's a few more caveats to saves as well that most people missed, like how your Dexterity defense adjustment applies to saves against things you could theoretically dodge (I assume this is why the Thief has such terrible Breath Weapon saves- since you're heavily incentivized to have high Dexterity), Wisdom applies to anything mind affecting, and so on.

2e added an interesting wrinkle most people missed, that magic armor can add to many saving throws (save for things like immersion in acid), which leads to one of the big issues with AD&D saving throws.

It's too easy to get very good at them. Not only do you get better at saves as you level, but bonuses to saving throws were ubiquitous from ability scores, races (the infamous "shorty bonus" for Dwarves, Gnomes, and Halflings), class features, spells, and magic items. The entire point of saving throws could get left behind in the dust as the game progressed- there was even a magic item that let you make saving throws against things that didn't allow saving throws!*

*(The Scarab of Protection)

Now granted, the fact that so many saving throws were lethal if failed in AD&D probably makes this sort of thing necessary, but it gets very bizarre when the most terrifying things in the game have only a 5% chance of affecting a character.
I think, you could never go down to 5%. I think this was reserved for gods or so. I think I remember the minimum saves for normal people was 15%, even in the rare case when your saving throw list showed a base score of 2.

Edit: googled it and found out this was an optional rule in DMO: HLC (High Level Campaigns). Has been a few years...
 
Last edited:

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
A lot of wrong with them. Rather go back to AD&D saves.

Nothing wrong with this idea. But then use those minor saves consitently whenever those status effects or spell types happen.

Str: resist grapples, trips, push backs, restrains (sorry, I disagree with your assesment here)
Dex: reduce damage from area effects, dodge rays.
Con: resist poison, paralyzation, cold effects you can't dodge.
Int: save vs illusions, save vs spells that attacks your intellect itself.
Wis: resist spells that try to controll you or stun or hold you.
Cha: save vs charm or fear.

Or something like this.
I also vote for AD&D saves.
 


Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Pretty much all of AD&D was whatever off the cuff ruling scribbled on a pizza box survived being thrown away. Look, I loved it when I was 10, but I'm not 10 anymore, and expect a bit coherence in game design. AD&D is the worst of all the save options.

Lol. No, U.
What a respectful response. Nearly all the OSR (with all the OSR players) use basically those same saves. Are all of us too childish to use more recent save design?
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
AD&D saves made no damn sense. If I get hit with a poison spell from a staff, what do I roll against?

F/R/W made sense and it was easy to figure out what you would roll against. We don't need forced grid symmetry of 6 stats 6 saves.
Poison. As James explained.

They make a lot more sense if you read the explanatory material and are aware of the context, but of course they're poorly explained and many of us as kids were totally ignorant of the context. :LOL:

Pretty much all of AD&D was whatever off the cuff ruling scribbled on a pizza box survived being thrown away. Look, I loved it when I was 10, but I'm not 10 anymore, and expect a bit coherence in game design. AD&D is the worst of all the save options.

What a respectful response. Nearly all the OSR (with all the OSR players) use basically those same saves. Are all of us too childish to use more recent save design?
No one owes any particular respect to rules, but to people. No attack was made on OSR players. Just a colorful swipe at this particular part of the rules, which he admits that he doesn't really understand. His perspective is understandable. Many OSR players also have issues with the old school saves, which is part of why many of those games also update them. Including Swords & Wizardry's single save simplification.
 

nevin

Hero
Now granted, the fact that so many saving throws were lethal if failed in AD&D probably makes this sort of thing necessary, but it gets very bizarre when the most terrifying things in the game have only a 5% chance of affecting a character.
and feeds the certain things are overpowered arguements, when they really aren't overpowered just powerful and very unlikely to work.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
and feeds the certain things are overpowered arguements, when they really aren't overpowered just powerful and very unlikely to work.
Although TBF that's another balance/taste question. Is it just a choice of two feel-bads when the available outcomes of a powerful spell are "you're dead" or "it does nothing, sucks to suck, wizard"?

I think this is why progressive iterations of D&D have tended to downpower spells but also mitigate the downsides for the casters. And change spells that can insta-defeat a character to often allow saves on subsequent rounds (e.g. Hold Person) rather than making it "pass this one roll or you're dead".
 



Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top