Saving Throws

ELIMINATION OF SAVE-OR-DIE

Saving throws in the form of save-or-die are reduced drastically if not eliminated. This means that poisons, monster abilities, and a lot of spells have been changed from their functions as originally written. Those that I missed will likely be changed as they turn up. Though this is undoubtedly (and intentionally) going to improve the life expectancy of PC’s to some degree it does not by any stretch mean that there is no longer any real danger. It also means that players no longer know all the behind-the-scenes details and should exercise appropriate caution.

A FEW WORDS OF EXPLANATION

The lower the level of the party the fewer instant-death situations they should face (though there may be some). Even at higher levels (actually, especially then) it is unnecessarily arbitrary for a high-HP fighter to go from full health to a corpse as a result of just one unlucky die roll, which it is often only minimally possible to adjust favorably (if at all) and VERY rarely something that the player can/should be expected to have the PC attempt to avoid altogether.

I think it’s better that PC’s always have some kind of chance rather than to be killed without any opportunity to avoid an effect (assuming their choice of actions hasn’t deservedly resulted in more dangerous circumstances), no ability to meaningfully reduce it, or hinging their absolute survival on one die roll alone. Saving throws are meant to be a last chance when other options have failed, not to be the ONLY chance, and certainly they are not intended to ensure a certain rate of failure and death. This doesn’t mean characters should be un-killable – they won’t be – just that their deaths should be increasingly less likely to be from mere arbitrary bad luck.

THE TRUTH-IN-ADVERTISING RULE

All this says is that if you’re allowed to have a saving throw in the first place, and that saving throw succeeds, then the effects will not kill you. At worst it can reduce hit points to 0 or lower where the PC is bleeding out, or has other effects, but a successful save WILL actually save the character from death for at least that round. Now, this doesn’t save the character from dying the round after that, nor remove or prevent additional effects that will kill him the round after his save, directly or indirectly. It only prevents the saved-against attack from directly resulting in the characters death that round. So, if you save successfully against a fireball for only half-damage, then the half-damage CANNOT kill you.

SAVES AGAINST SPECIFIC EFFECTS

The close companion of save-or-die is known in certain internet circles as “save-or-suck”. All that means is that being petrified, paralyzed, or otherwise permanently and utterly incapacitated and/or certain to die anyway is nearly the same thing as save-or-die. They sort of suck equally. Here are some specific effects which now have altered rules regarding how they are saved against and what happens.

Petrification

You have to fail three save rolls to be truly petrified. Fail the first save and you’re slowed as if by a Slow spell for d4+8r. If it runs its duration without your needing to save again then you’ll recover without any further difficulties or debilitation. If you get hit again with the effect and fail a second save against it then you will be effectively Held as the spell for 2d4+12r. You can still recover from that, however. After the Hold has run its duration your condition will change back to Slowed (re-roll duration). Failing a third save while Held means you’re petrified and that condition will be permanent until cured.

These effects hold true for all the MM monsters with petrification ability – medusa, gorgon, cockatrice and basilisk – and this will be the default for any petrification attack from another source unless specifically overruled by a revised description.

There are “cures” for complete petrification. Obviously the 6th level MU spell Stone to Flesh. It will still be rare and expensive even though the raw, character-killing power of petrification has been rather reduced. Alternate cures could be researched by characters.

No “system shock” is involved – that is subsumed in the saving throw. However, there IS the possibility of the effect being well and truly permanent. If you do become petrified you have 1 week plus 1 day per experience level to be transformed back or your character is considered irrevocably dead and will then require resurrection magic even after being un-petrified.

Paralysis

The cumulative effects of paralysis are similar as for petrification but there are only two saves, not three. First failed save and you’re affected as if by a Slow spell for d4+8r. Second failed save and you’re paralyzed for the remainder of the current round, after which the character returns to being slowed and the duration for that is re-rolled. Failed saves beyond that are simply cumulative duration. Each save thereafter is another cumulative round of paralysis. If the character remains paralyzed for a number of rounds greater than their experience level it means they’re fully paralyzed for 2-12 turns without recourse to further saves.

Ghouls and carrion crawlers are perhaps the most typically encountered creatures that have paralysis attacks, especially at lower levels. Players are advised to consider their tactics and strategies against such creatures in light of these changes.

The game does not, by default, have spells or non-magical cures to counteract paralyzing, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be permitted.

Poison

Deadly poison is hardly deadly if it doesn’t ever kill, but I don’t need to pile up PC bodies with it just to make players or PC’s paranoid, so I came up with “The Shelob Rule”: As with plants and creatures in real life, not all monsters have poison for the same reason. They might have poison as a defense or to incapacitate prey to eat it later. If they do then it’s generally a paralyzing poison or one that makes you sick in some way rather than killing outright. Intelligent, evil monsters will, however, frequently poison just to kill out of sheer spite. Poison volume can also be a factor, so a large or giant monster understandably injects more venom into a PC so keep that in mind too. Poisons will be far more varied. They can damage flesh, cause additional bleeding, prevent normal healing, cause numbness, cramps and vomiting, blindness, weaken you, drain spell ability, slow, sleep, confuse, and much more.

The changes are partly a matter of giving onset times and having effects OTHER than just death. Many poisons will still just do hit points of damage; X pts per round for Y rounds. The damage should scale according to the monsters size (and thus the assumed size of their typical victims). A small snake or spider can still kill PC’s with a “weak” poison doing just 1 point per round – but lasting for 20 rounds. A successful save against such poison might halve the damage, halve the duration, limit damage to all but 1 hit point, or even convert to temporary damage, depending on the creature. Get poisoned and find out.

Adjusted Saving Throw Charts

Clerics and Druids
Paralyzation Poison or Death Magic

Petrification or Polymorph

Rod, Staff or Wand

Breath Weapon

Spell
1
10
13
14
16
15
2
10
13
14
16
15
3
9
12
13
15
14
4
9
12
13
15
14
5
8
11
12
14
13
6
8
11
12
14
13
7
7
10
11
13
12
8
7
10
11
13
12
9
6
9
10
12
11
10
6
9
10
12
11
11
5
8
9
11
10
12
5
8
9
11
10
13
5
8
9
11
10
14
4
7
8
10
9
15
4
7
8
10
9
16
3
6
7
9
8
17
3
6
7
9
8
18
2
5
6
8
7
19
2
5
6
8
7
20
2
5
6
8
7
Fighters Paladins or Rangers
Paralyzation Poison or Death Magic

Petrification or Polymorph

Rod, Staff or Wand

Breath Weapon

Spell
1
14
15
16
17
17
2
13
14
15
16
16
3
13
14
15
15
16
4
12
13
14
15
15
5
11
12
13
14
14
6
11
12
13
13
14
7
10
11
12
12
13
8
9
10
11
11
12
9
9
10
11
11
12
10
8
9
10
10
11
11
7
8
9
9
10
12
6
7
8
8
9
13
6
7
8
7
9
14
5
6
7
6
8
15
4
5
6
6
7
16
4
5
6
5
7
17
3
4
5
4
6
18
2
3
4
3
5
19
2
3
4
2
5
20
2
2
3
2
4

Magic-Users
Paralyzation Poison or Death Magic

Petrification or Polymorph

Rod, Staff or Wand

Breath Weapon

Spell
1
14
13
11
15
12
2
14
13
11
15
12
3
13
12
10
14
11
4
13
12
10
14
11
5
13
11
9
13
10
6
13
11
9
13
10
7
12
11
9
13
10
8
12
10
8
12
9
9
12
10
8
12
9
10
11
9
7
11
8
11
11
9
7
11
8
12
11
9
7
11
8
13
10
8
6
10
7
14
10
8
6
10
7
15
10
7
5
9
6
16
10
7
5
9
6
17
9
7
5
9
6
18
9
6
4
8
5
19
9
6
4
8
5
20
8
5
3
7
4

Thieves Assassins or Monks
Paralyzation Poison or Death Magic

Petrification or Polymorph

Rod, Staff or Wand

Breath Weapon

Spell
1
13
12
14
11
15
2
13
12
14
11
15
3
13
12
13
10
14
4
12
11
13
10
14
5
12
11
12
10
13
6
12
11
12
9
13
7
12
11
11
9
12
8
11
10
11
8
12
9
11
10
10
8
11
10
11
10
10
8
11
11
11
10
9
7
10
12
10
9
9
7
10
13
10
9
8
7
9
14
10
9
8
6
9
15
10
9
7
6
8
16
9
8
7
5
8
17
9
8
6
5
7
18
9
8
6
5
7
19
9
8
5
4
6
20
8
7
5
4
6

Saving Throws

Crucible of Souls duanevp