Wizards and Saving Throws

So, I've had a problem with my party's wizard. I'm running them through White Plume Mountain with the conversion pdf, and the wizard's save DC is absurdly high. They're fifth level, and due to lucky rolls at stat rolling, he's got a +5 intelligence modifier, plus the two from class.

Most of the monsters don't really have much of a stat modifier, so I usually have to roll a 17 or so to save against any of his spells. Is this just how rolls are supposed to be, or am I forgetting to add something to the monster's rolls? 
In the current iteration it is that high. 

I'm hoping for an adjustment in the next packet.
Yup...that's a problem WoTC has to fix. In one of my games, a 10th level wizard was able to turn some nasty devils (an Ice Devil and a Bone Devil) into a chicken and a sheep respectively.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

The spell bonus needs to lose two to three points. It would fix the math at mid-high level.
Or should certain monsters be granted a bonus to saving throws in addition to ability modifiers?  Granted, this adds one more modifier for the DM to keep track of and apply when needed which isn't overly desirable.
Hang on! At 5th level a martial char with similar stat has +7 to hit before any class tricks, advantagr or the potential +1 weapon.
 The average level relevant monster have 11-13AC (a few with more and a few with less) so lets use 12 as the avrg AC and deny the player any tricks or other bonus.
+7 to hit means he misses on 1,2,3 and 4    or a 20% chance to miss.
DC 17 with no bonus to save misses on 17,18,19 and 20   or a 20% chance to miss.
note this without any bonus to save at all, which corresponds to most monsters range of saves are between -1 to +2 so an average of +1 ish but as you can target a low save +0 is probably fair.

The math is balanced, now we can talk about PLAYERS hitting too much, but spell saves are fair within the system! So stop caster bashing please. I am a DM and completely unbiased in this, I just want a system where all my players have balanced fun.
Fair enough, Keendk. I hadn't done the math, so I didn't see that there was a relative parity between melee and spells.
Yea, but many spells do more much worse than a sword blow, like polymorph, stone to flesh, etc.  Spells can end the combat right then without a chance if the monsters don't have a hope to save. 
hence why they are a dayli resource used by people with less armor/hp than most martial classes and less at will tricks to do. Its all quite (never perfectly of course) balanced viewing the bigger picture
 Taking HP damage is still 90%+ of how my monsters die, so Im not too worried about the occational big bad end bad guy getting killed by that one spell the caster have been saving all night just to shine at this particular moment. If its anticlimax for your style of play, ask the caster not to use them and if they put their own enjoyment over everypne else....cheat and roll a 20 for the sake of everyone elses fun
I'm running five 14th level PCs through the Mud Sorcerer's Tomb right now. Loving the adventure, but the spell save DC has resulted in a number of boring fights.

I don't think a monster has passed a spell save DC yet. Some of them just can't. I've got to hit a DC 22 check with a +1 roll. Even when the monster has advantage on spell saves, the PCs spells are going to work every single time. Where's the fun in that?

So far, two encounters that were supposed to be "boss fights" were aced with no PCs taking damage. The PC spellcaster wins initiative, casts a take-out spell like Hold Monster, and then the PCs rip through the creature's 200+ hit points in two rounds.

Even the spellcasting PCs are complaining about this.
Rather than alter the DCs I would suggest changing the spells to have a scaleable HP threshold.

Example: Hold Person works on humanoids upto 40 HP. Each additional spell level increases threshold by 20 HP.

This would solve the complaint about DCs and create more spell scaling. 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

Rather than alter the DCs I would suggest changing the spells to have a scaleable HP threshold.

Example: Hold Person works on humanoids upto 40 HP. Each additional spell level increases threshold by 20 HP.

This would solve the complaint about DCs and create more spell scaling. 



This would only affect save-v-suck spells. High damaging spells would still hit for a lot of damage. Losing 2-3 points and increasing HP threshold on save-v-suck would fix both issues.

@Malzizipox: I don't know how a 14th level PC could get DC 22 saves. 10 +4(bonus) +5(Intelligence) +2(robes if you're nice) = 21, and this relies on you giving them a Legendary magic item.
If they don't fix the save DCs at medium and high level, then saves will be come almost irrelevant since it will be very rare for any monster to make its save.  In that case just remove the save and balance the spells assuming they take full effect every time.  If saves are to have real meaning, either DCs have to come down or the monsters' save modifiers have to go up a bit.  Maybe the solution is to remove the magical modifier from saves, and just leave it as an attack bonus for the few spells that actually require rolling an attack roll.

I have had players use disabling spells like hold person and polymorph make encounters much easier for themselves. I think that the best solution is if you have a tough monster you don't want to get taken out this way, give them a bonus somewhere between +1 and +3 to saves against spells. Another option would be to give them advantage, especially if they are particularly large and/or magical. 


I also found that the same goes true for monsters. I threw a mindflayer and 2 umber hulks against a level 9 party and almost got a TPK even though it wasn't supposed to be a "tough" encounter in terms of EXP budget.


I think that ideally the DC's should match the monsters... ranging from 11 to 15, but I am not sure how to impliment that without making casters feel like they progress really slowly. I guess you could make their DC's start from 8 instead of a base of 10 or something wierd like that...

I think, at bottom, saves just don't work under bounded accuracy.  For attacks, BA works fine, because it subs hps for getting better at defending yourself, and extra damage for getting much better at hitting.  The net effect is that you hit more as you level up, but enemies can still stand up to you.

When a spell gives a save and has an effect on a save, but no effect on a failed save, BA fails, as the spell just gets better as the magic bonus accumulates, regardless of the level of the target.  If the spell does damage, the save just stands in for an attack roll, and it's not an issue.  

Hp thresholds try to keep hps in the equation to compensate for the fact that saves will be failed more and more often as you level up, but it doesn't seem like its enough.   

 

 

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What would happen if Spell Saves worked on a relative scale instead of a fixed scale? For example, if I'm a 4th level wizard, but I'm casting against a 7th level opponent, the opponent gains +3 to save. If I'm casting the same spell vs. a 2nd level opponent, that opponent gets a -2 to save. Then, toss in some spells that are physical spells targeting AC to add variety to spells and give casters an option when attacking different foes.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

What would happen if Spell Saves worked on a relative scale instead of a fixed scale? For example, if I'm a 4th level wizard, but I'm casting against a 7th level opponent, the opponent gains +3 to save. If I'm casting the same spell vs. a 2nd level opponent, that opponent gets a -2 to save. Then, toss in some spells that are physical spells targeting AC to add variety to spells and give casters an option when attacking different foes.



Sounds like a good idea, Might give this a try to see how well it works.
What would happen if Spell Saves worked on a relative scale instead of a fixed scale? For example, if I'm a 4th level wizard, but I'm casting against a 7th level opponent, the opponent gains +3 to save. If I'm casting the same spell vs. a 2nd level opponent, that opponent gets a -2 to save. Then, toss in some spells that are physical spells targeting AC to add variety to spells and give casters an option when attacking different foes.

It wouldn't be 'bounded' anymore, I suppose.

 

 

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The problem isn't with the save DC system at all, it's with the tendency for people to max out their primary stats. 

Have your players roll 3d6 for their ability scores and this problem all but vanishes.  

If you have to fix it, it's broken.

The system should actually be balanced around characters having a good to high primary stat. Most people do not pick bad stats to base a character around, which makes sense. If one enters a life and death occupation ( adventuring ) it makes perfect sense for them to be good at their primary field ( str or dex for a fighter, int for a wizard, etc ).

I agree the DC system needs some tweaking since even magic resistant monsters can still auto fail the DCs.
So, I've had a problem with my party's wizard. I'm running them through White Plume Mountain with the conversion pdf, and the wizard's save DC is absurdly high. They're fifth level, and due to lucky rolls at stat rolling, he's got a +5 intelligence modifier, plus the two from class.

Most of the monsters don't really have much of a stat modifier, so I usually have to roll a 17 or so to save against any of his spells. Is this just how rolls are supposed to be, or am I forgetting to add something to the monster's rolls? 



I think the problem started with the rolling.  One good roll can ruin the game.  The Array method and the Point Buy methods both allow for a max starting stat before race and class adjustments of 15 I believe.  There's a very good reason for that.

Granted that you could start with 15, work that up to 17 at 1st level and then get it up to 18 at 4th level for a +4 bonus.  Still that's +1 less.

So probably the best thing to do is to adjust saves and AC's by +2 or +3 to be fair to everyone.
Im running all my games with all the 'vanilla' monsters as is, ie these are henchmen that are designed to get blown away - as soon as anything comes on the table that should pose any real challenge i'll give them a +2 AC/Spell save bonus. (This can account for any 'magical bonuses that they might have aquired during their own lives, eg Blessing from their dark god, natural evolution to be the strongest in their brood etc etc)

This allows me to differentiate to the players the differnce between say two kobolds, one I desbribe as being of average build - the other looks bigger and much more bloodthirtsy, they know instantly he's a 'boss' or at least more potent and will normally focus fire on him - giving the remainder monsters a change to do some damage before the get wiped out. 

I would like to see some more written guidance on math adjustment for the monsters, i think the current stats/xp values for the monsters as is are good baselines, nice points to start from - it would be nice to get clear instruction on how to customise them in a functional and fair way.
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