Roll equal or under on D20.
Before rolling, the Player describes what the character does to make the save and the DM applied bonuses (if any).
Examples of how a player might describe escaping a calamity requiring a roll:
- A coward may flee at the first opportunity
- A tough guy may just stand there and take it
- wizards and clerics may make a plea to otherworldly beings or combat their fate with their own mystic prowess
At the end of each session Players & DM vote on the best, most entertaining save, and the PC with the most votes gets +1 to similar saves from then on. They do this by each writing down a character name and a very brief description of the action on a scrap of paper, then all are read and voted on. For example: "Oswald the Thief - runs away when scared" Might win the vote.
Why I like this:
1. Player creativity is at it's highest when character death is on the line.
2. What the player comes up with has the potential to contribute to the depth of the character.
3. The result has the potential to be more interesting than the pass/fail of a typical saving throw.
A while back I played around a bunch with various indie games, some of the more story game variety. I didn't ever pick up a rules system whole cloth though. For a while we had a game that was like Savage Worlds combined with the FATE system, and we did "People's Republic of Experience Points" which I'm pretty sure I got from the game Burning Wheel. I would find out about some rules sub-system and bolt that on to other systems and arrive at weird frankenstein games. I'm mostly over that now...