rationalizing basic D&D saving throws

I was writing up a big post about how I want to deal with skill checks from now on, but I think I need to write it another time. Instead, I will write about old school saving throws.

I have never, ever liked the basic D&D saving throws. They don’t make sense. Why is dragon breath its own save? Why are some things saves versus totally unrelated things? (I seem to recall rules calling for saving versus wands for needle traps, or versus petrify for falling damage.) So, what about the 3E saves of Fortitude, Reflex, and Will? Well, I really, really respect the attempt to rationalize things, but I’m not a huge fan of those categories. For one thing, I liked that magic was its own thing. For another, I want to keep using the original tables! I just want to have some internal reasoning for why I pick a given save to require.

I want to use saving throws a good bit more in the future, so I wanted to sort this out soon. Here’s the mapping I’m going to use:

B/X Says                  RJBS Says
Death Ray or Poison   →   Death
Magic Wands           →   Projectile
Paralysis or Petrify  →   Distraction
Dragon Breath         →   Assault
Rods, Staves, Spells  →   Magic

This mapping makes me happy.

Written on January 6, 2012
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