D&D 5E What if save proficiencies were based on categories instead of abilities?

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Just a random thought I had. What if, instead of each class getting proficiency in all saves with two of the six abilities, we brought back the old saving throw categorires: death/poison, rods/wands/staves, breath weapons, pettification/polymorph, and spells, and each class was proficient in all saves against effects in two of those categories? You’d still have saves with each of the six ability scores, but if you were proficient in saves against spells for example, you’d get to add your proficiency bonus to all saves against spells, regardless of what ability score the save was made with.

If one were to implement this as a house rule, I wonder if those traditional six categories would be the best ones to go with, or if it would be better to rejigger them slightly. For example, death/poison could become poison and disease, since there aren’t really a lot of save or die effects left these days. Rods/wands/staves could just be all magic items. Breath weapons and paralysis/polymorph are pretty narrow categories, whereas spells is extremely broad. Maybe those could get redistributed a bit to like areas of effect, transmutation (as in being transformed, not the school of magic), and mind-affecting?
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I like the root idea here; and if you can keep it at six categories it might even be possible to map each category to a different stat as well.

First off, though, I'd split out Poison and Disease. Why? Because disease should ideally threaten all classes equally while certain classes e.g. Rogue should be better vs poison due to training. I did this in my 1e-variant game for much the same reason - poison, paralysis and death used to all be the same; I split them out mostly to give Thieves and Assassins a bit of help vs poison.

"Disease" ties to Constitution. That's the easy one out of the way. :)

"Breath Weapons/Polymorph" could tie to Dexterity. It's a stretch, I know, but this is a nice way of downgrading Dex just a tiny bit in relation to the other stats as these saves are probably the least common.

"Poison" might tie to Wisdom; though I'm half-tempted to lob AoE stuff in here as well and call it "Poison/Damage".

One category could be "Spiritual", covering anything that affects the mind or spirit regardless of its source. This could include instant death effects, possession, domination, magic jar, charms, etc. and would map to Charisma.

"Magic Items" could tie to Intelligence. Some illusions would fall in here as well.

And "Other", a catch-all for anything not covered by one of the above, would tie to Strength as it's the only stat left. This might serve as a boost for Strength's usefulness, in that there will be many things that fall under "Other". There will, however, be many things that while they use Strength as their save stat in fact have nothing to do with the character's Strength; but this is kind of unavoidable with this idea.

After that, the only thing you'd need to do would be to prioritize the categories to set which order they are checked in. For example, a magic item that inflicts poison - which save do you use? I'd probably put them in the order listed above - you go down the list and the first save that applies, that's what you use.

The biggest amount of work involved, though, will be going through all the 5e spells and books and monster effects and noting which save applies in each case. Dunno 'bout you, but that alone would be enough to put me off putting this otherwise great idea into practice. :)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I like the root idea here; and if you can keep it at six categories it might even be possible to map each category to a different stat as well.

First off, though, I'd split out Poison and Disease. Why? Because disease should ideally threaten all classes equally while certain classes e.g. Rogue should be better vs poison due to training. I did this in my 1e-variant game for much the same reason - poison, paralysis and death used to all be the same; I split them out mostly to give Thieves and Assassins a bit of help vs poison.

"Disease" ties to Constitution. That's the easy one out of the way. :)

"Breath Weapons/Polymorph" could tie to Dexterity. It's a stretch, I know, but this is a nice way of downgrading Dex just a tiny bit in relation to the other stats as these saves are probably the least common.

"Poison" might tie to Wisdom; though I'm half-tempted to lob AoE stuff in here as well and call it "Poison/Damage".

One category could be "Spiritual", covering anything that affects the mind or spirit regardless of its source. This could include instant death effects, possession, domination, magic jar, charms, etc. and would map to Charisma.

"Magic Items" could tie to Intelligence. Some illusions would fall in here as well.

And "Other", a catch-all for anything not covered by one of the above, would tie to Strength as it's the only stat left. This might serve as a boost for Strength's usefulness, in that there will be many things that fall under "Other". There will, however, be many things that while they use Strength as their save stat in fact have nothing to do with the character's Strength; but this is kind of unavoidable with this idea.

After that, the only thing you'd need to do would be to prioritize the categories to set which order they are checked in. For example, a magic item that inflicts poison - which save do you use? I'd probably put them in the order listed above - you go down the list and the first save that applies, that's what you use.

The biggest amount of work involved, though, will be going through all the 5e spells and books and monster effects and noting which save applies in each case. Dunno 'bout you, but that alone would be enough to put me off putting this otherwise great idea into practice. :)
If you assigned each category to an ability score, you’d be doing a whole lot of work just to arrive right back at what 5e already does. The point here would be to change up the dynamic so that instead of being proficient with (for example) all Dexterity saves, you’re instead proficient at (again, for example) all saves against breath weapons, be the Dex saves, Con saves, or some other type of save, while not necessarily being proficient in Dex saves against, like traps or whatever.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If you assigned each category to an ability score, you’d be doing a whole lot of work just to arrive right back at what 5e already does. The point here would be to change up the dynamic so that instead of being proficient with (for example) all Dexterity saves, you’re instead proficient at (again, for example) all saves against breath weapons, be the Dex saves, Con saves, or some other type of save, while not necessarily being proficient in Dex saves against, like traps or whatever.
Ah. I was thinking one would use category first and stat second, so instead of saying "Make a Con save" you'd say "Save vs poison", with each class having its own poison-save DC at each level and each character then able to throw their Con bonus on top, very much like 1e. Right now it's just a straight stat-based save no matter what class you are.

This allows different classes to be suitably good at some saves and poor at others, helping to further differentiate them.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Ah. I was thinking one would use category first and stat second, so instead of saying "Make a Con save" you'd say "Save vs poison", with each class having its own poison-save DC at each level and each character then able to throw their Con bonus on top, very much like 1e. Right now it's just a straight stat-based save no matter what class you are.


This allows different classes to be suitably good at some saves and poor at others, helping to further differentiate them.
Well, depending on your class it’s either a straight stat-based save, or a stat plus your proficiency bonus. I’m not looking to change that, but I think it would be interesting if the proficiency bonus was added to, say, all saves against poison, instead of all constitution saves.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I've actually been working on a homebrew to bring back AD&D but into a 5E frame-work, including saving throws, which Fighters had the best overall by the end. So, I'm definitely interested in what people have to say here.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I've actually been working on a homebrew to bring back AD&D but into a 5E frame-work, including saving throws, which Fighters had the best overall by the end. So, I'm definitely interested in what people have to say here.
This sounds like something I would be interested in. Though, I suspect you and I would have different aspects of AD&D we would want to carry over and different aspects we would want to leave behind. Still, always interesting to see others’ takes on such things.
 




Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
In another thread I suggested this:

- 1d20 + Class Bonus + Racial Bonus + PB (maybe) vs a DC
Categories are:
Ray/Beam/Breath
Poison/Sleep/Death
Spells
Magic item/Devices
Polymorph/Petrification/Baleful Transformation

Now, how do you save against a martial/mundane effect? Like a push or prone effect from a BM.
Well, you dont. Calling a save against a pretty basic effect is just a waste of time. Keep those special defenses for powerful corner cases, let the martial have auto-small-effects or make it a skill test somehow.
 
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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I can't say I'm a fan of reverting back to categories. They were kind of a mess when we had them back in AD&D. Sometimes you got to add a stat bonus, sometimes you added a magic armor bonus, sometimes you rolled vs spell but sometimes it was something else.

The only thing really good about it was PCs could get better against every save (eventually) but the table even handled that poorly (see thief saves). If I wanted to incorporate this into the current saving throws, I'd just add half proficiency bonus to non-proficient saves.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Would concentration be its own category?
Oh, good point! Someone also brought up mundane effects, like how a lot of beasts have attacks that force you to make a Strength save to avoid falling prone. So, maybe instead of a polymorph category and a mind-affecting category, you keep spells as one category and then have mundane/physical effects as another, and put concentration saves under that category.
 

Just a random thought I had. What if, instead of each class getting proficiency in all saves with two of the six abilities, we brought back the old saving throw categorires: death/poison, rods/wands/staves, breath weapons, pettification/polymorph, and spells, and each class was proficient in all saves against effects in two of those categories? You’d still have saves with each of the six ability scores, but if you were proficient in saves against spells for example, you’d get to add your proficiency bonus to all saves against spells, regardless of what ability score the save was made with.

If one were to implement this as a bourse rule, I wonder if those traditional six categories would be the best ones to go with, or if it would be better to rejigger them slightly. For example, death/poison could become poison and disease, since there aren’t really a lot of save or die effects left these days. Rods/wands/staves could just be all magic items. Breath weapons and paralysis/polymorph are pretty narrow categories, whereas spells is extremely broad. Maybe those could get redistributed a bit to like areas of effect, transmutation (as in being transformed, not the school of magic), and mind-affecting?
i like it but I would want to take a page from 4e and make it the better of 2 stats (str/con int/dex wis/cha)
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
.
"Poison" might tie to Wisdom;
No.

Poison is resisted with your body - your liver, your kidneys. Not how wise you are.

Fantasy poison does not work like real poison. But it has to be at least somewhat related to reality - if not, might as well call it "green damage" or something.
 

Clint_L

Hero
If you assigned each category to an ability score, you’d be doing a whole lot of work just to arrive right back at what 5e already does. The point here would be to change up the dynamic so that instead of being proficient with (for example) all Dexterity saves, you’re instead proficient at (again, for example) all saves against breath weapons, be the Dex saves, Con saves, or some other type of save, while not necessarily being proficient in Dex saves against, like traps or whatever.
I guess I would just find that confusing. Like I found those categories confusing in the old days. For example, if my reflexes are what help me dodge a breath weapon, shouldn't they also be good at helping me dodge a scythe trap, or whatever? Did I specifically train JUST against breath weapons? Like I went to Breath Weapons University or something?

What is being gained here?

The current system works MUCH better, IMO. Because it allows the saving throws to make sense in the situation. For example, instead of saving "against spells," the spell specifies what you are saving against. Is it a fireball? Dexterity makes sense. Is it mind control? Then intelligence makes sense. Etc.

The old system was just confusing.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I guess I would just find that confusing. Like I found those categories confusing in the old days. For example, if my reflexes are what help me dodge a breath weapon, shouldn't they also be good at helping me dodge a scythe trap, or whatever?
They would, as you would still add your dexterity modifier in both cases. It’s just that your proficiency bonus might be added to one and not the other, reflecting your training at avoiding dragon’s breath, which would help whether dodging fire breath (Dex) or trying to resist frost breath (Con), but would not help against avoiding traps, be they scythes (Dex) or poison gas (Con).
What is being gained here?
I’ve just never liked that save proficiencies in 5e are along stat lines. You’re either proficient with every single Con save or with none of them, every single Intelligence save or none of them, etc. Keeping the ability bonus but putting the proficiency bonus on a perpendicular track would allow a character who might not have a super high Wisdom score to still have a chance against Charm spells because they gained training in resisting spells from their class. It’s kind of like the Skills With Different Ability Scores rule, but for saving throws.

Also nostalgia (or anemoia in my case).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I think if I were to do this, I might go with something like…

• Poison and Disease
• Enchanted and Cursed Items
• Alteration
• Physical Force
• Illusions, Charms, and Possession
• Teleportation

Then the question becomes how to distribute proficiencies in those categories. Going through the classes alphabetically…

Artificer: Enchanted and Cursed Items for sure. Poison and Disease might fit with alchemist-type artificers.
Barbarian: Enchanted and Cursed Items fits the old “barbarians shun magic items” idea, and Physical Force is a no-brainer.
Bard: Illusions, Charms, and Possession is obvious here. Maybe Teleportation for the second one?
Cleric: Illusions, Charms, and Possession seems fitting, and Enchanted and Cursed items seems like an obvious fit as well.
Druid: I could see Alteration here - the Druid is a master of many forms, so forcibly changing their form could be difficult. Then maybe Poison and Disease reflecting familiarity with natural toxins and antitoxins?
Fighter: Physical force, and Poison and Disease seem like the obvious choices.
Monk: Poison and Disease fits the purity of body angle and Alteration fits mastery of the self.
Paladin: Poison and Disease ties in with the classic Paladin ability to resist and cure illness. Illusions, Charms, and Possession seems like an obvious choice.
Ranger: Poison and Disease on the same grounds as Druid. Maybe Teleportation for the other? The ranger is master of their own path?
Rogue: Poison and Disease seems obvious. I’d like to go with Enchanted and Cursed items as well, but that would give them the same set as I currently have for Artificer…
Sorcerer: I’m thinking Alteration and Teleportation?
Warlock: Teleportation and Illusions, Charms, and Possession?
Wizard: Alteration and Illusions, Charms, and Possession?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think if I were to do this, I might go with something like…

• Poison and Disease
• Enchanted and Cursed Items
• Alteration
• Physical Force
• Illusions, Charms, and Possession
• Teleportation
So, ignoring the source (spell, item, creature, etc.) and looking only at the end-result effect. OK, got it...except Enchanted and Cursed Items then stands out like a sore thumb as that's still looking at the source. Maybe change this one to just "Curse"?

That said, I think you either need more categories or to expand those already present, to account for:

Fear or Panic
Paralysis
AoE damage (fireball, lightning, cold, etc.)
Concentration
Other; including corner cases, save-or-dies, and anything else not covered by an existing category.

And there's still death saves - the ones you make when unconscious and dying - that work differently again. Changing the terminology so these rolls aren't called "saves" would help.
Then the question becomes how to distribute proficiencies in those categories. Going through the classes alphabetically…

Artificer: Enchanted and Cursed Items for sure. Poison and Disease might fit with alchemist-type artificers.
Barbarian: Enchanted and Cursed Items fits the old “barbarians shun magic items” idea, and Physical Force is a no-brainer.
Bard: Illusions, Charms, and Possession is obvious here. Maybe Teleportation for the second one?
Cleric: Illusions, Charms, and Possession seems fitting, and Enchanted and Cursed items seems like an obvious fit as well.
Druid: I could see Alteration here - the Druid is a master of many forms, so forcibly changing their form could be difficult. Then maybe Poison and Disease reflecting familiarity with natural toxins and antitoxins?
Fighter: Physical force, and Poison and Disease seem like the obvious choices.
Monk: Poison and Disease fits the purity of body angle and Alteration fits mastery of the self.
Paladin: Poison and Disease ties in with the classic Paladin ability to resist and cure illness. Illusions, Charms, and Possession seems like an obvious choice.
Ranger: Poison and Disease on the same grounds as Druid. Maybe Teleportation for the other? The ranger is master of their own path?
Rogue: Poison and Disease seems obvious. I’d like to go with Enchanted and Cursed items as well, but that would give them the same set as I currently have for Artificer…
Sorcerer: I’m thinking Alteration and Teleportation?
Warlock: Teleportation and Illusions, Charms, and Possession?
Wizard: Alteration and Illusions, Charms, and Possession?
And here the tricky bit becomes looking carefully at the relative power/usefulness/frequency of each category, so as not to nerf or over-boost any one class. For example, a bonus vs IC&P is way more useful (and thus, powerful) than a bonus vs Teleport, not only because IC&P usually comes up far more often in play than does Teleport but because those things are often very effective when they do.

I wouldn't worry about two or more classes ending up with the same set; if it makes sense that they would, let it happen.
 

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