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From reading the current preview of the "Basic Rules" it looks like each ability score is now granted the possibility of being connected to a Saving Throw. In fact, certain classes get proficiency with a saves against a given attribute, such as a Fighter getting proficiency in saves for STR and CON. So instead of Reflex/Fort/Will saves, we have a save for each ability score.

At first glance, I really like this idea. A spell should clearly be able to be "defended" by something other than just DEX/CON/WIS.

However, I looked through the existing spell list and all of spells use only DEX/CON/WIS for saves.

What's going on here? Is this on purpose? Is this an oversight?

Why give Fighters proficiency in STR saves and then not print a single spell that uses that stat? (Note that Web appears to allow an STR "check" but not an STR "save" to escape, though this may be a mistake.)

My driver for this question was the oddity of inventing STR saves or INT saves and then not printing a single spell in the Basic set that used them. Based on the answers below, there are spells printed in the "playtest" set that do use these saves. So there is some reference material for what should be a STR save.

However, the answers below have even more and better information.

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You might enjoy this homebrew adaption for the saving throws.… – GMNoob Jul 23 '14 at 17:30
Thank you for the link, illusion spells were also on my list of "this is weird". Other links indicate that INT may be used for Psionics saves, but those actually seem like Wisdom saves to me. Also one of the links talks about Charisma being used to overcome "possession", but somehow "Dominate Person" does not qualify in the "Basic" printing. – Gates VP Jul 23 '14 at 17:40
Dominate Person is an attempt to overcome the target's willpower, not their personality. Possession means literal bodily possession by an invading personality, by a demon or artifact for example, which is a battle where the strongest ego (Charisma) wins. – SevenSidedDie Jul 23 '14 at 17:55
up vote 17 down vote accepted

Six saving throws instead of three is by design, intended to emphasize the ability scores, and new usages are likely to come up in future expansions.


Associating saving throws with ability scores makes the scores more relevant, or at least come up a lot more often. It has been six saving throws since the first playtest rules.

Quoting the transcript of an early seminar back in 2012:

Monte: We wanted to distill down the essence of D&D. We wanted to make sure that the ability scores and their modifiers had a big influence.
A couple of days ago I talked a little bit about how we want the core mechanic of the game to be the interaction between the DM and the player. And one of the great tools for that is the ability score.
Monte: Making a saving throw against something has become something that’s really a part of D&D. So again, what we’ve done is tie those into the ability scores.

It has other benefits, such as less terms to learn or more varied defense. But the main reason to deviate from 3e and 4e, despite the costs, is likely for the reason quoted above.


The playtest had spells that are not included in Basic, and among them you can find uses for the other three saving throws. For example, Gust of Wind requires a Strength save, while Banishment and Holy Word ask for a Charisma save.

Apart from spells, monsters' abilities also call for saving throws. For example, in the playtest the Mind Flayer's Mind Blast calls for an Intelligence saving throw from each victim. Or the Water Elemental, when it pushes you, forces you to make a Strength saving throw.

Monsters are not included in Basic for the moment, but should be in the future.

There are also rumours that Intelligence saving throws will be used for psionics, which Mike Mearls appears to substantiate on Twitter:

The Snark Knight: @mikemearls What would be examples of Strength, Intelligence, or Charisma saving throws?
Mike Mearls: @SnarkKnight1 Strength save - resist a gust of wind or push effect
Mike Mearls: @SnarkKnight1 Int save - psionics when we do it
Mike Mearls: @SnarkKnight1 charisma - possession
Mike Mearls: @SnarkKnight1 I think this is an area where we will see more as designers get more used to the edition

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Thank you, did not see playtest version, it's good to know they did print something that used them. – Gates VP Jul 23 '14 at 14:42
The stats for the wolf in the starter set use a Strength Save against being tripped, if I remember my session this weekend properly. – Aviose Jul 28 '14 at 16:10

This isn't an oversight. Spells aren't the only thing that could possibly cause a saving throw.

Saving throws are written to be generally applicable, so that they can cover every possible situation and future rule. This provided a solid foundation upon which both official rules and home rulings can build, as it provides for making saving throws against any kind of effect imaginable.

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There is a series of Mearls tweets from the past few days that indicate what the 3 that aren't currently used are good for: – wax eagle Jul 22 '14 at 23:11
I must admit it looks like an oversight to me. Why can't Hold Person be broken with Str? Why spells that push are Con saved, not Str? Looks like new rules might (should?) be used already, but simply wasn't. – Mołot Jul 23 '14 at 8:40
@Molot Hold Person is a mind-affecting spell and doesn't use force. Thunderwave's effect includes damage (from concussive force, not just falling down), which makes no sense to resist using Strength. Looks like the current spell saves are what they should be. – SevenSidedDie Jul 23 '14 at 14:05
Didn't they also state that Int saves are part of resistance to Illusions? I can't quote page right now, but remember seeing it either in the last playtest, in the Basic Rules, or in the Starter Set within the last 24 hours. – Aviose Jul 23 '14 at 15:49
@Robert Detecting an illusion's illusory nature is an Intelligence (Investigation) skill check, not a save. See Major Image as an example. – SevenSidedDie Jul 23 '14 at 15:59

Saving throws are in no way limited to spells or poison. According to the definition, any threat that is not an attack (because that targets AC) could call for a saving throw. For instance: let's say the thief fell into a pit trap and the fighter is grabbing his hand and trying to pull him up. If a tentacle brutally grabs the thief and try to pull down, I would definitely ask the fighter to save with STR or let go.

If the party is navigating a maze and they currently have a general sense of where they are going but suddenly the maze shuffles and the party must keep track of the moving walls and rotating floor tiles to keep a sense of direction: Call for a saving throw with Int or Wis (depending on if they try to keep their direction in sight or figure the puzzle with their brain).

The intention is clearly to make the ability scores matter but also to enable designers with new creative ways to challenge characters. Diversity allows you to be more focused and specific (just like there was Spot and Listen instead of just Perception) and so far in D&D basic, only the Fighter is proficient in Strength and Constitution saving throws. I can easily imagine the Barbarian have identical proficiencies and maybe the Paladin will have Strength and Charisma.

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