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Table of Contents - Chapter 1 - Chapter 3

Saving Throws

The saving throw is the chance, however slim, that the character or creature finds some way to save himself from certain destruction (or at least lessen the damage of a successful attack). More often than not, the saving throw represents an instinctive act on the part of the character--diving to the ground just as a fireball scorches the group, blanking the mind just as a mental battle begins, blocking the worst of an acid spray with a shield.

Saving throws are made in a variety of situations: For attacks involving paralyzation, poison, or death magic; petrification or polymorph; rod, staff, or wand; breath weapon; and spells. The type of saving throw a character must roll is determined by the specific spell, monster, magical item, or situation involved.

Sometimes the type of saving throw required by a situation or item isn't clear, or more than one category of saving throw may seem appropriate. For this reason, the saving throw categories in the table are listed in order of importance, beginning with paralyzation, poison, and death magic, and ending with spells.

Imagine that Rath is struck by the ray from a wand of polymorphing. Both a saving throw vs. wands and a saving throw vs. polymorph would be appropriate. But Rath must roll a saving throw vs. wands because that category has a higher priority than polymorph.

The categories of saving throws are as follows:

Save vs. Paralyzation, Poison, and Death Magic: This is used whenever a character is affected by a paralyzing attack (regardless of source), poison (of any strength), or certain spells and magical items that otherwise kill the character outright (as listed in their descriptions). This saving throw can also be used in situations in which exceptional force of will or physical fortitude are needed.

Save vs. Rod, Staff, or Wand: As its name implies, this is used whenever a character is affected by the powers of a rod, staff, or wand, provided another save of higher priority isn't called for. This saving throw is sometimes specified for situations in which a character faces a magical attack from an unusual source.

Save vs. Petrification or Polymorph: This is used any time a character is turned to stone (petrified) or polymorphed by a monster, spell, or magical item (other than a wand). It can also be used when the character must withstand some massive physical alteration of his entire body.

Save vs. Breath Weapon: A character uses this save when facing monsters with breath weapons, particularly the powerful blast of a dragon. This save can also be used in situations where a combination of physical stamina and Dexterity are critical factors in survival.

Save vs. Spell: This is used whenever a character attempts to resist the effects of a magical attack, either by a spellcaster or from a magical item, provided no other type of saving throw is specified. This save can also be used to resist an attack that defies any other classification.

Character Saving Throws

 Attack to be Saved Against
Character Class and Experience LevelParalyzation, Poison, or Death MagicRod, Staff, or WandPetrification or Polymorph*Breath Weapon**Spell***
 Attack to be Saved Against
Character Class and Experience LevelParalyzation, Poison, or Death MagicRod, Staff, or WandPetrification or Polymorph*Breath Weapon**Spell***
 Attack to be Saved Against
Character Class and Experience LevelParalyzation, Poison, or Death MagicRod, Staff, or WandPetrification or Polymorph*Breath Weapon**Spell***
*Excluding polymorph wand attacks.
**Excluding those that cause petrification or polymorph.
***Excluding those for which another saving throw type is specified, such as death, petrification, polymorph, etc.

Voluntarily Failing Saving Throws

No save is made if the target voluntarily chooses not to resist the effect of a spell or special attack. This is the case even if the character was duped as to the exact nature of the spell. When a character announces that he is not resisting the spell's power, that spell (or whatever) has its full effect.

The intention not to resist must be clearly stated or set up through trickery, however. If a character is attacked by surprise or caught unawares, he is normally allowed a saving throw. The DM can modify this saving throw, making the chance of success worse, if the situation warrants it. Only in extreme cases of trickery and deception should an unwitting character be denied a saving throw.

Item Saves

Many times an attack or spell will be on a chest, door, sword, or other type of item. Perhaps the character wants to break a sword in two or wants to know what happened to a scroll that fell into a pool of acid.

There is a separate chart for Item Saving Throws.

Note: This table is taken from the Players Handbook and is used here to provide existing players ease of access to the numbers.