I am planning a character with a lot of different character classes mixed in mostly to have a lot of useful, flavory low level feats and a broad selection of skills. What bothers me is that the base saves would go beyond the usual +12 or +6 base bonus respectively. In the end my character would end up with Fort +16 Ref +13 and Will +7 by level 20. Other GMs have laughed and told me about their players who even go way beyond those stats, but it bothers me personally.

Are there any variant rules by which base saves don't go beyond +12 or +6 respectively? Houserules on base saves or stat calculations in general are also welcome to me.

  • Not very much interacts with base saves, and a PC's gonna end up with a whole bunch of bonuses to saves anyway. Can you explain why this bothers you? – Hey I Can Chan Oct 22 at 12:53
  • I just don't like the idea of getting loads of +2 bonuses on saves from classes I merely take for flavour. While BAB for instance is not rewarded for picking lots of combat oriented classes, saves are. It doesn't seem to make sense. – TheQ Oct 22 at 15:45
up vote 12 down vote accepted

What I’ve started doing is have classes with good saves give you Great Fortitude, Iron Will, and/or Lightning Reflexes as bonus feats at 1st, instead of starting at a +2 base saving throw. That way, they don't stack when multiclassing, plus you avoid some of the stupidest feat taxes in the game.

Many other DMs just have the base +2 not stack, so you can only get it once per save. I think using the feats is better, though.

And in all cases, fractional BAB and saving throws are used, because not doing so is nonsense. When you use fractional (and block the +2 stacking for saves), you end up with multiclass characters whose base values are the same as single-class characters. When you don’t, you wind up with multiclass characters with inappropriately low (or high, if you don’t block the +2’s) base stats for no good reason. It introduces an awkward, artificial “breakpoint” in multiclassing that adds no value to the game, or results in uncomfortable character skew if it goes ignored.

As for allowing the +2 only from your 1st-level class, that I don’t like at all—every time something depends on the order in which you took your classes, you significantly complicate the game. It also leads to incentives to metagame, or “punishments” for not doing so, which is the opposite of how the incentive structure should work.

  • Fractional BAB/saves are the best way to handle this in 3.x. Swapping for the save feats is a good idea too, I'll have to look into that. – VHS Oct 22 at 17:53
  • I've already used the "apply +2 only once" rule and it did work well; I had never thought about merging it with tax feats, this sounds even better since feats naturally only count once and those feats are otherwise pretty terrible! – Matthieu M. Oct 22 at 18:43
  • a reference on the subject, archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20060303a – Wyrmwood Oct 24 at 17:48

Here's a solution I've cooked up in the meantime.

I'll use the fractional base bonuses rule from Unearthed Arcana p.73 with one alteration. Instead of adding a +2.5 bonus to at least one base saves for every new class I pick, the bonus is only +0.5 as if the class had already been taken once. Only the class you pick on level 1 will add a +2.5 bonus for the good saves.

Calculating like that will give the same character the following base saves: Fort 9 ; Refl 8 ; Will 9 which is quite a nice average between the classes I picked.

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