Classic Dungeons and Dragons and Old School Gaming

D&D etc.

"Heir to a crumbling summit: to a sea of nettles: to an empire of rust: to rituals' footprints ankle-deep in stone."

-Mervyn Peake

"...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped."

-Sir Bedevere in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More fun with Saving Throws

Hopefully this post will finally get this out of my system and I can move on other things like hirelings and dungeons and traps and whatnot.
Why isn't it more common to change the names of the categories to hew more closely to whatever genre or mood the DM and players are going for?
For example, say you are playing some brutal, dark and weird DnD, then the Saving Throws could be:
Poison and Plague   (for tests of endurance and ability to withstand physical ailments)
Sudden Death   (for situations like dragon breath, or any situation where survival means getting out of the way quick)
Mortal Terror   (fear, undead, tests of willpower)

Cosmic Doom   (used when the players are up against magic, magic devices, or things they don't understand)

or simply Plague, Death, Terror, Doom.

These are essentially the current DnD Saves: Fortitude, Reflex, Willpower plus one.

(After I wrote this I decided to google "mutant future saving throws" because I figured it would have interesting variations on saving throw categories, and I found this.   Clearly I'm on to something here - If it works in the post-apocalypse it must be good.)

I'm surprised Mr. Raggi didn't do something like this with LotFP.  But maybe you don't want to deal with each class having it's own chart (I don't).  So let's make it simpler, but still add some flavor that Fort/Ref/Will does not.

How about a Mental Save, a Physical Save and a Social Save?
At first level and every other level after each character gets +2 to a primary Save or +1 to a secondary.
Spellcaster's primary is mental and Fighter's primary is Physical.  The save is made if the PC rolls over a difficulty set by the DM just like in 3e & 4e.

Ok, maybe that works but let's make it not so boring.  Say you're playing in a Fey infused, Northern Euorpean-esque setting:

Mental:  Save vs. Faeries Glamour
Physical: Save vs. Jaws of Winter
Social: Save vs. King's Law

Or how about an Arabian Nights inspired setting:

Mental:  Save vs. Djinn
Physical: Save vs. Scorpion
Social: Save vs. Caste

But what if we like fort/ref/will? And we don't like the idea of a social save.  Fine. Keep the new school saves but call them:

Save vs. Slow Death   (fort)

Save vs. Quick Death   (ref)

Save vs. Brain Death   (will)

Save vs. Endless Enemy
Save vs. Lightning Strike
Save vs. Invisible Hand

Whatever, now I'm just dressing up the DnD barbie in different clothes.  Let's get back to using Saving Throws to change something about the game, make it feel slightly different to emphasize a certain genre or flavor:

Say in your game wizards are bad-asses and all the other classes are their hirelings.  Maybe you'd do saves like this:

Save vs. Magic
Save vs. SpikePitLawAgeTrick

Its roll-over on a D20.  Magic-Users start with 14 in both, and both go down by one each level till 11th level.  All other classes start with 16 in both, Save vs. Magic never goes down and Save vs. SPLAT goes down one each level till 9th level.

Or say you want Elves to be all Tolkienesque and otherworldly in an annoyingly superior sort of way: They have one Save for all occasions and it starts at 2. (roll-over on D20)  It goes up by one every time they fail, and when they fail the save they don't actually die or necessarily suffer the effect they were saving against.  They might get hurt or inconvenienced, but they won't die.  When they're Save gets to 20 they're out of the game, they end that adventure/session and go get on a boat to the undying lands.

Ok.  I'll be done for now, but clearly fun can be had with saving throws even if your not making them up as you go along like I described in my last post.

1 comment:

  1. Plague Death Terror Doom is awesome; consider it poached. Will, Reflux, and Fortitude can suck it; I loathe them with all my might.

    I usually make up saving throw categories on the fly, which perplexes my players when I say "Save vs. Caustic Irritation" or "Mnemonic Device". My bewildered players gape at me until I make up something like "roll a 15 or higher on a d20 adding your movement rate to the roll." Unified mechanics? Ha!

    For things like traps and such, I like to limit the impact of level on the premise that if you're so experienced you should have seen it coming.