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I made a homebrew class. (I’m happy to share any details anyone deems necessary or even the entire class if it isn’t against the rules.) It’s a Cha-based class which, for flavour reasons, has a variable secondary ability (depends on subclass). One subclass uses int, another uses Str and the other uses Wis.

It’s been brought to my attention that two of the subclasses suffer from not being proficient in any of the “big three” / “strong” saves (Dex, Con, Wis) while all 5e classes get one “big three” save and one of the other saves — and therefore my class is at a disadvantage defence-wise 2/3 of the time.

The class gets a feature at 11th level that allows it to gain advantage on saving throws with one ability of its choice for a while, but it’s a once-per-short-rest thing and it doesn’t have access to that from 1st level to 10th level.

For flavour reasons, the secondary abilities and save proficiencies of my class’s subclasses absolutely cannot be changed; those two subclasses are stuck with not having any “big three” save proficiencies. How else could I offset the disadvantage this creates?

I’ve thought about bumping the save-advantage feature down from 11th level to 5th level and relying on low-CR monsters not having too many AOE/save attacks, but that seems like a really powerful feature for 5th level and I’m not entirely convinced by the idea.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: "What is D&D 5e's Saving Throw distribution across attributes?" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Dec 29 '19 at 16:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Irrelevant, since I want to make the class viable regardless of whether or not the DM allows feats. (That said, I do allow feats and every DM I know does so too. I know there are a few feats which are great for defence, especially for squishy characters, but I don't want to design my class around a feat.) \$\endgroup\$ – Rain Dec 29 '19 at 18:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ "the secondary abilities and save proficiencies of my class’s subclasses cannot be changed": You could consider disconnecting those two. Some, but not all classes are proficient in the saves linked to their main two abilities. \$\endgroup\$ – Jorn Dec 30 '19 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jorn That comment is already covered in my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Dec 30 '19 at 14:58
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In my experience playing and running D&D, unless you have an unusually high number of spellcasting enemies, this won't actually be that big of a deal — your once-per-short-rest-advantage feature should cover it. (You might want to move it down from 11th level, maybe starting with once per long rest.)

But, I also want to challenge one of your statements. You say that the secondary abilities and save proficiencies can't be changed for flavor reasons. I buy that for the secondary abilities, but I think you could reconsider this for saves. A lot of the "secondary" saving throw proficiences in the core classes are not particularly thematic — notably, Int for druids, Cha for clerics, and arguably Con for sorcerers. They're not unreasonable, but don't deeply tie to the class overall.

So, I wouldn't blink at making the saving throw proficiencies for your subclasses not align with the secondary ability scores for those subclasses.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting idea. There's precedent in 5e for secondary abilities not lining up with save proficiency (monk, paladin, ranger, dex-based fighter), so I might look into that. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – Rain Dec 29 '19 at 18:45
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I would recommend not getting too hung up on the save rolls themselves. The lack of a "big three" save, as you put it, should be an offset for how your class works. What does this class do that makes it unworried about these saves, and why it trains itself to defend against less common threats? Using INT and STR as saves usually implies that the class is going to do something related to these stats that a target would need them as a defense, thus your class trains to defend against its own antics. I think if you focus on why these saves matter versus how to compensate into other saves, you'll find a better balance in your choices. Your mention of things working for "flavor" reasons leads me to believe there's still some flexibility yet, and without knowing what the class entails this is the best advice I can offer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the advice! That actually makes a lot of sense, and the issue with me was I was assuming saving throws and primary/secondary abilities had to line up (but see mattdm's answer and my comment on it). I'll take a look at which saves are most common for the class's spell list and adjust accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – Rain Dec 29 '19 at 18:48

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