Making the Save

A granular approach to saving throws

Saving throws represent a character’s ability to avoid some significant calamity, disaster, or other danger directed at or around him. As a result, the types of threats one might save against are numerous, ranging from various spell effects to mental controls to relatively mundane hazards presented by traps, the elements, or extreme conditions.

Making Saving Throws

In this variant, all saving throws are rooted in one of the six ability scores (Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, or Charisma; RC/9). As a result, any saving throw is made via an attribute check (i.e., a d20 roll, which succeeds if the result is less than or equal to the attribute used).

Save Check Modifiers

Generally speaking, a character’s saving throws improve as he gains experience: Apply a bonus of +1 per level up to Name level, then a +1 for every three levels thereafter. Double the bonus for saves that use the character’s primary attribute (i.e., STR for fighters, INT for magic-users, DEX for thieves, WIS for clerics, etc.).

Saving Throw Types

The roster below contains hazards that allow saving throws; the save’s corresponding ability score is cited parenthetically. In general, a successful save either completely negates or halves the attack’s effect.When an attack spans multiple categories, (e.g., a black dragon’s acid breath weapon or a medusa’s petrifying gaze), use the type that most closely represents the attack’s source (i.e., breath weapon for the black dragon, gaze weapon for the medusa’s stare). Our logic is that if one can avoid the cause, they need not bother with the effect.

Acid (Dexterity)
Any attack formed of some acidic or caustic substance. A successful save reduces damage by half.
Breath Weapon (Dexterity)
Any attack that originates from a creature’s breath (a dragon, hell hound, etc.). A successful save reduces damage by half.
Charm (Wisdom)
The beguiling effects of a charm person or similarly suggestive spell, from whatever source. A successful save negates the effect.
Disease (Constitution)
Any disease, virus, germ, or pathogen. A successful save negates the disease.
Energy Drain (Constitution)
Any attack that traditionally drains one or more experience levels. Note that the saving throw variant works with both the official rules (RC/154) and the energy drain option. A successful save reduces the drain by half (drop any fractions).
Falling (Strength)
Falls from any distance allow the victim to make a saving throw; a successful save reduces damage by half.
Fear (Wisdom)
Any panic or fear based attack. A successful save negates the terrifying effect.
Force (Strength or Dexterity)
Any non-weapon physical attack whose impact buffets the victim. At the DM’s discretion, you can make the save with STR (to represent sheer resistance to the impact) or DEX (to avoid the blow altogether). In either case, a successful save allows the target to dodge the brunt of the attack and take half damage.
Gaze Weapon (Wisdom)
Any attack delivered through eye contact (a medusa’s turn-to-stone attack or a vampire’s charm). A successful save negates the attack’s effect.
Paralysis (Strength)
Any attack that freezes, immobilises, holds, or otherwise deprives the target of free action on a temporary basis. A successful save negates the paralytic effect.
Petrifaction (Constitution)
Attacks that turn the target to stone on a permanent basis. A successful save negates the effect.
Poison (Constitution)
Toxins (natural or manufactured) from a creature’s bite, claw attack, or tail sting, or venom from a poisoned blade or weapon. A successful save negates the poison.
Spell (Dexterity)
A catch-all for spells or spell-like effects not subsumed by another saving throw category; this category includes magic missiles, fireballs, and lightning bolts. A successful save negates the spell’s effect.


Blinky is a 1st-level thief who fails to disarm a poison needle in a lock he’s trying to pick. He must save with his CON, which is only 9. Being 1st-level, he has a +1 bonus, so he must roll a 10 or less to save successfully.

Mertrand is a 3rd-level fighter who accidentally trips a rock fall in a cavern. The DM classifies this as a Force save, and rules that Mertrand can avoid the tumbling boulders with his STR (his primary attribute). Mertrand’s STR is 13 and his save modifier is +6 (+3 for being 3rd-level, doubled because he’s using his primary attribute). Mertrand therefore needs to roll 19 or less to make the save.

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Erin Smale

Erin Smale is the author of the Chimera RPG and, a sporadic, rambling blog that provides tips and tools for the time-challenged game master. He lives in secret along the New Jersey coast with his ass-kicking wife Kim and astoundingly cute dog Bella.

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