Classic D&D: Unified B/X Saving Throws

I've been toying with a unified save throw mechanic for B/X. Nothing against the one proposed in Swords & Wizardry, I simply wanted something a bit closer to the source material.

Here is the table with unified save throw for each class:

Level Fighter Magic-User Cleric Thief Dwarf Elf Halfling
1 14 14 14 14 10 10 10
2 14 14 14 14 10 10 10
3 14 14 14 14 10 10 10
4 12 14 14 14 8 8 8
5 12 14 11 13 8 8 8
6 12 12 11 13 8 8 8
7 10 12 11 13 6 6 6
8 10 12 11 13 6 6 6
9 10 12 8 10 6 6
10 8 12 8 10 4 4
11 8 8 8 10 4
12 8 8 8 10 4
13 6 8 6 8
14 6 8 6 8

Unified B/X Saving Throws table is designated as Open Gaming Content.

Unified B/X Saving Throws by Attronarch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a work at https://attronarch.com/classic-dnd-unified-b-x-saving-throws.

I suggest the following two house rules:

Example 1: Fighter with STR 13 and WIS 13 would add 2 to all their saving throws.

Example 2: Elf with STR 13, INT 9 and WIS 10 would add 1 to all their saving throws.

This is a minor buff to offset the loss for the Death Ray or Poison saves, the latter being quite present in old-school modules.

Commentary

Above saving throws were based on calculating both the mean and median for each level, and then choosing what felt in the spirit of the edition. For example, Fighters and Clerics progress the most with their saving throws, followed by Magic-Users, Thieves, Dwarves, and Elves. Halflings have the poorest progression, but such is life...

By unifying the savings throws, spells lose some of their power (easier to make save against them), while poison and instant-death-inducing effects gain power (more difficult to make the save). For that reason I proposed two house rules above.

Why not simply use attribute checks more often? Because they do not scale with character experience. This is of critical importance for games that use 3d6 in order to roll character abilities. Characters get better at avoiding danger (i.e., making a saving throw), because they get more skilful as their experience grows.

On the other hand, ability scores are mostly static. They can usually be changed by either powerful artefacts (e.g. Gauntlets of Ogre Power) or magic (e.g. Wish). For that reason, I consider them to be a poor alternative to a saving throw.

What would work though, is combining unified saving throw with attribute modifier. Save versus dragon breath? Unified saving throw + dexterity modifier. But if one goes that route, why bother unifying throws at all?

One of my assumptions is that using unified saving throws might make for a faster, smoother, and more universal adjudication. I plan on testing it with my players. Once I do, I'll update this post.

Should you wish to come up with your own unified saving throws, I've included the class calculations below. Classic saving throws are from the D&D Expert Rulebook, page X24.

Classic B/X Saving Throws

Cleric

Level Death Ray or Poison Magic Wands Paralysis or Turn to Stone Dragon Breath Rods, Staves, or Spells Mean Median
1 11 12 14 16 15 14 14
2 11 12 14 16 15 14 14
3 11 12 14 16 15 14 14
4 11 12 14 16 15 14 14
5 9 10 12 14 12 11 12
6 9 10 12 14 12 11 12
7 9 10 12 14 12 11 12
8 9 10 12 14 12 11 12
9 6 7 9 11 9 8 9
10 6 7 9 11 9 8 9
11 6 7 9 11 9 8 9
12 6 7 9 11 9 8 9
13 3 5 7 8 7 6 7
14 3 5 7 8 7 6 7
Improvement 8 7 7 8 8 8 7
8 8

Dwarf

Level Death Ray or Poison Magic Wands Paralysis or Turn to Stone Dragon Breath Rods, Staves, or Spells Mean Median
1 8 9 10 13 12 10 10
2 8 9 10 13 12 10 10
3 8 9 10 13 12 10 10
4 6 7 8 10 10 8 8
5 6 7 8 10 10 8 8
6 6 7 8 10 10 8 8
7 4 5 6 7 8 6 6
8 4 5 6 7 8 6 6
9 4 5 6 7 8 6 6
10 2 3 4 4 6 4 4
11 2 3 4 4 6 4 4
12 2 3 4 4 6 4 4
Improvement 6 6 6 9 6 6 6
7 6

Elf

Level Death Ray or Poison Magic Wands Paralysis or Turn to Stone Dragon Breath Rods, Staves, or Spells Mean Median
1 8 9 10 13 12 10 10
2 8 9 10 13 12 10 10
3 8 9 10 13 12 10 10
4 6 7 8 10 10 8 8
5 6 7 8 10 10 8 8
6 6 7 8 10 10 8 8
7 4 5 6 7 8 6 6
8 4 5 6 7 8 6 6
9 4 5 6 7 8 6 6
10 2 3 4 4 6 4 4
Improvement 6 6 6 9 6 6 6
7 6

Fighter

Level Death Ray or Poison Magic Wands Paralysis or Turn to Stone Dragon Breath Rods, Staves, or Spells Mean Median
Normal Man 14 15 16 17 18 16 16
1 12 13 14 15 16 14 14
2 12 13 14 15 16 14 14
3 12 13 14 15 16 14 14
4 10 11 12 13 14 12 12
5 10 11 12 13 14 12 12
6 10 11 12 13 14 12 12
7 8 9 10 10 12 10 10
8 8 9 10 10 12 10 10
9 8 9 10 10 12 10 10
10 6 7 8 8 10 8 8
11 6 7 8 8 10 8 8
12 6 7 8 8 10 8 8
13 4 5 6 5 8 6 5
14 4 5 6 5 8 6 5
Improvement 10 10 10 12 10 10 11
10 10

Halfling

Level Death Ray or Poison Magic Wands Paralysis or Turn to Stone Dragon Breath Rods, Staves, or Spells Mean Median
1 8 9 10 13 12 10 10
2 8 9 10 13 12 10 10
3 8 9 10 13 12 10 10
4 6 7 8 10 10 8 8
5 6 7 8 10 10 8 8
6 6 7 8 10 10 8 8
7 4 5 6 7 8 6 6
8 4 5 6 7 8 6 6
Improvement 4 4 4 6 4 4 4
4 4

Magic-User

Level Death Ray or Poison Magic Wands Paralysis or Turn to Stone Dragon Breath Rods, Staves, or Spells Mean Median
1 13 14 13 16 15 14 14
2 13 14 13 16 15 14 14
3 13 14 13 16 15 14 14
4 13 14 13 16 15 14 14
5 13 14 13 16 15 14 14
6 11 12 11 14 12 12 12
7 11 12 11 14 12 12 12
8 11 12 11 14 12 12 12
9 11 12 11 14 12 12 12
10 11 12 11 14 12 12 12
11 8 9 8 11 8 9 8
12 8 9 8 11 8 9 8
13 8 9 8 11 8 9 8
14 8 9 8 11 8 9 8
Improvement 5 5 5 5 7 5 6
5 5

Thief

Level Death Ray or Poison Magic Wands Paralysis or Turn to Stone Dragon Breath Rods, Staves, or Spells Mean Median
1 13 14 13 16 15 14 14
2 13 14 13 16 15 14 14
3 13 14 13 16 15 14 14
4 13 14 13 16 15 14 14
5 12 13 11 14 13 13 13
6 12 13 11 14 13 13 13
7 12 13 11 14 13 13 13
8 12 13 11 14 13 13 13
9 10 11 9 12 10 10 10
10 10 11 9 12 10 10 10
11 10 11 9 12 10 10 10
12 10 11 9 12 10 10 10
13 8 9 7 10 8 8 8
14 8 9 7 10 8 8 8
Improvement 5 5 6 6 7 6 6
6 6

#Resource #BX #OSR

Subscribe to get the latest post in your inbox. No spam.