I love most things about 5e, but I was really disappointed to see that the saving throws are still not distributed very well (at least in the spells). Therefore, I am bringing back a houserule that I implemented to great success during the playtest. This house rule makes the six Ability Saves make more distinct.
If you read through "Using Each Ability" (Basic Rules, Chap 7, pg 59), you'll see definitions for each of the six ability scores. By directly following these definitions, we can easily extrapolate which kinds of effects belong under which ability score. The following are my new definitions for saving throws.
(Note: If a spell is listed in bold, it means the saving throw for the spell changed to reflect my new definitions.)
Ramzour's Six Ability Save System
Strength: to resist any effect that forcefully moves, restrains, or paralyzes you.
- Spells: Hold Person; Imprisonment; Levitate (against an unwilling creature); Thunderwave; Web
- Monsters with effects that cause physical paralysis (Carrion Crawler, Ghoul, etc.)
- Note: Strong creatures are hard to physically control! You don't cast Hold Person on an Ogre because it's probably too strong to be held by your magic. The invisible magical restraints of the spell are easily overcome by the Ogre's brute strength. If, however, you want to take advantage of an Ogre's weaknesses, then you should target their poor mental saves by casting Illusion, Fear, or Charm spells!!!!!!!
- Potential Issue: Failing your STR save vs Hold Person gives you the Paralyzed Condition, which means you automatically fail STR and DEX saving throws. Now, the Hold Person spell also says that you can attempt a new saving throw at the end of each of your turns. This has the unfortunate side effect that means you can never re-save to end the spell early because you would automatically fail your Strength Save. This problem doesn't exist in the RAW because the spell calls for a WIS save, not my proposed STR save. How do we solve this? Solution: The most simple solution is to say that you can attempt to make a new STR save to end the spell effect early, but this STR save does not automatically fail from your Paralyzed Condition. This is a perfect example of Specific Beats General. I know it seems like a clunky fix, but that's what happens when you try to modify an existing system. You might want to use this same "fix" when an effect would give you the Stunned Condition as well.
Dexterity: to avoid area effects; to dodge projectiles or rays; to maintain your balance.
- avoiding ball bearings, caltrops, hunting trap
- Remain on mount when an effect forces the mount to move against its will
- Spells: Blade Barrier; Burning Hands; Chain Lightning; Delayed Blast Fireball; Disintegrate; Earthquake (maintain balance and avoid holes); Faerie Fire; Fireball; Firestorm; Flame Strike; Flaming Sphere; Guardian of Faith; Light; Lightning Bolt; Meteor Swarm; Sacred Flame; Wall of Stone
Constitution: to resist effects that target your Health or Body; to resist Cold effects; to maintain your Concentration.
- Poison, Disease, Necrotic or Radiant damage, Energy Drain
- Forced March
- Resist starvation or thirst
- Recuperate during Downtime
- Maintain your Concentration on a spell when you take damage
- Spells: Cone of Cold; Finger of Death; Harm; Holy Aura; Ice Storm; Spirit Guardian; Sunburst;
Intelligence: to see through illusions; to avoid being tricked or confused.
- Spells: Power Word Stun; all Illusion spells now require making an Intelligence Saving Throw instead of making an Intelligence (Investigation) check to disbelieve.
Wisdom: to resist Fear effects; to resist Psychic damage;
- Turn Undead
- Spells: Dream; Sanctuary; Fear
Charisma: to resist Charms, Enchantments, and Compulsions. Also to stay connected to your Plane.
- Spells: Charm Person, Command, Dominate Monster, Dominate Person, Mass Suggestion; Otto's Irresistible Dance; Suggestion;
Implications of these changes to saving throws:
- The saving throws are now more spread out over the six ability scores
- Effects that call for a saving throw now better follow the definitions of each ability score
- Wisdom isn't the generic catch-all for "mental things"
- Strength and Constitution are finally differentiated
- There are no "bad saving throws" anymore!!!! Each type of Saving Throw has a unique niche in the game mechanics.
- CHARISMA IS NO LONGER A LEGITIMATE DUMP SCORE!!! EVEN FOR COMBAT!!!! VICTORY!!!!
- Clerics are good at resisting Fear and Charm effects (but not necessarily Illusions)
- Fighters are actually good at resisting Stuns, Restraints, Paralysis, Poison, Energy Drain, Cold, and other endurance targetting effects. This makes a Fighter HARD to CC with physical effects...just like it should be!
- Rogues are good at dodging things and hard to be tricked by illusions! Makes perfect sense to me.
- Wizards are good at resisting tricks, Illusions, and Fear (but not necessarily charms)
Hope you like my changes!