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I'm curious which saves are the best to target (as a player). As in, if I have a spell that forces the enemy to make a dex save and another spell that forces a con save, which am I better off using? This question came to mind due to the Lore Mastery Wizard's Spell Secrets ability which allows them to change the saving throw of a spell from one ability score to another of your choice. I'm curious which ability score I am typically best off selecting on a generic level (obviously you can logically deduce that some monsters are more or less intelligent/strong/etc, but I'm curious about the general level).

I'm looking for some analysis on how many monsters in the Monster Manual are proficient with a given save and how many have a high stat to naturally add a good bonus to their roll.

What is the distribution of monster save proficiencies among monsters in the Monster Manual?

Note: I am aware that the Lore Mastery Arcane Tradition was apparently scrapped and generally not considered balanced. That isn't relevant to the question.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation about how the question arrived at its current state has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Oct 11 '18 at 17:34
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Platypusbill over on the ENWorld forums seems to have done a chunk of this research already here, building a spreadsheet of Monster Manual creature defenses.

Taking the overall averages from each saving throw column, I get the following average saving throw values for all the listed monsters (rounded to 3 decimal places):

  • STR: 2.816
  • DEX: 2.003
  • CON: 3.346
  • INT: -0.439
  • WIS: 1.816
  • CHA: 0.866

CON seems to be by far the most common one to have a high bonus, while INT is actually rare enough for save bonuses that the average is negative- likely due to all the unintelligent beasts and monsters.

(Their spreadsheet also has precalculated the average save bonus of each type broken down by CR, as well as showing the average of all their save bonuses for any given monster.)


Other notes:

The average saving throw bonus for monsters at any given CR seems to scale from -1 at CR 1/8 to 10 or 11 at the higher end of CRs, with some outliers from CR tiers that have a low sample size of monsters.

This spreadsheet appears to have every Monster Manual creature save for the ones excluded by the following criteria that Platypusbill specified:

  • Monsters such as the Spore Servant and Half-Dragon were ignored because they are just templates that could be applied to almost any monster.

  • Some monsters may have multiple versions with different CRs, e.g. the Faerie Dragon is CR1 or CR2 depending on its age/colour, which determines its spell list, but I only included the CR2 version. Monsters with increased CRs within their lair were included as the version without a lair.

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