Saturday, 13 November 2010

Why I Don't Like Rules with Saving Throws

What the hell is he on about? - you may ask, but I just don't like rules with saving throws. My main gripe is that they usually don't tell you why they included a saving throw mechanism in the rule mechanics. Now I can come up with post event rationalisations for most things, and there are reasons why saving throws might be appropriate, but I often think they've just been included due to the limitations of using the d6.

So you can probably justif saving throws where they represent armour or cover, you could also include them as a way of representing defending in a melee combat but including them in 18th or 19th Century rules as part of a fire combat mechanism just mystifies me. I suppose you could argue it does give the inactive player something to do but the net result is pretty damned frustrating for the active player and that's not a good result (paeticularly when the inactive player doesn't know why he's actually rolling any dice!)

However, being a deeply flawed and cynical individual I think it's probably more to do with the fact that the people writing the rules are used to the saving throw mechanic as opposed to there being any actual logic behind it. Or if it was really thought about it was just to address the way probability works when modifying d6 results - if that's the reason then use a die with more sides would be a better option IMHO!

Anyway, there it is and so now you know why (a) none of the rules I write has a saving throw mechanic (although if I did ever use one I would tell people what it was intended to represent!) and (b) why none of my favourite rules has it either. Alternatively I could just be too damn picky or just p,ain old bonkers - I'll leave you to figure that out...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. I think they use the saving throw to keep both players doing something each turn of the game. Rather than I go and you do nothing. But I could be wrong.

  2. That's certainly one option; however most don't say that's why they are doing it and as the attacking/firing player it can end up being a deeply frustrating mechanic - you go all through the work out how many dice to throw, what mods/target number etc. and then the saving throw means no effect anyway - much better to put it all in one throw but with a die bigger than a d6 I think.

  3. Calm down Al, Calm down.
    (Said in a 1990's Liverpudlian Brookside accent)

    Good points though Al

    There is also the "copy me" tendency of consciously or sub-consciously borrowing accepted/popular themes from recent literature/rules without thinking

    The "probability angle" is like a stealth tax in that you are really asking the "attacker" to throw two d6 dice instead of one for a curve

    But I think the latter is a bit of a dirty fudge

  4. Heartily agree. It's needless complexity. Good stuff!


  5. ...and you an old AD&D player too! ;-)

    Mind you I suppose it would be one way to reduce my excessively large rules library, by getting rid of all the ones with saving throw mechanisms, given that I think that Edward is not keen on them either and the pair of you are the only people I regularly inflict games on?