Is there a name for a single saving throw with multiple DCs (i.e. whose effect is determined based on the highest DC met)?

For example, say a character is placed in a supernaturally hot environment, requiring a Constitution saving throw with the following result table:

\$\begin{array}{|c|l|} \hline \textbf{Result} & \textbf{Effect}\\ \hline 16\text{ or more} & \text{no effect}\\ 10-15 & \text{1d6 fire damage}\\ 9\text{ or less} & \text{1d6 fire damage + 1 level of exhaustion}\\ \hline \end{array} \$

This Con save would have 2 DCs: 10 and 16.

Is there a name or precedent for something like this? Or just "multiple DCs"?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? What is an ability check without a DC called? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2020 at 23:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it is quite a duplicate, but could be convinced to change my vote. - from review. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Apr 4, 2020 at 0:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Whether it "makes sense" (per the title) seems... entirely opinion-based. As for whether it has a name, @SirTechSpec's link seems very closely related but not quite the same (note that the linked question asks about an ability check that grants certain info depending on how high the roll is, rather than a save whose effect varies depending on the highest DC met by the roll). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 4, 2020 at 7:12

2 Answers 2


Dungeon Master Guide calls this Degrees of Failure or Success at a Cost

The opening paragraph of the Resolution and Consequences section of the DMG (p. 243) encourages non binary results to player actions:

As a DM, you have a variety of flourishes and approaches you can take when adjudicating success and failure to make things a little less black-and-white.

It goes on to addresses variable skill check results directly.

Success at a Cost

When a character fails a roll by only 1 or 2, you can allow the character to succeed at the cost of a complication or hindrance.

Degrees of Failure

Sometimes a failed ability check has different consequences depending on the degree of failure. For example, a character who fails to disarm a trapped chest might accidentally spring the trap if the check fails by 5 or more, whereas a lesser failure means that the trap wasn't triggered during the botched disarm attempt...

Varied Success by Skill Check

Also addressed is tiers of success based on the skill check in the social interactions section.

A neatly formatted explicit example is on DMG page 245 detailing reactions of NPCs based on the roll of the skill check.

\begin{array}{|l|l|} \hline \textbf{DC} & \textbf{Reaction} \\ \hline 0 & \text{The creature offers no help but does no harm.} \\ \hline 10 & \text{The creature does as asked as long as no risks or sacrifices are involved.}\\ \hline 20 & \text{The creature accepts a minor risk or sacrifice to do as asked.}\\ \hline \end{array}


The idea you're thinking of is often called degrees of success or grades of success. It's been seen in a handful of places in Dungeons & Dragons history, and stands at the base of many other game systems, such as Apocalypse World.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While your answer may be right, it would be improved by citing/quoting at least one instance of it being referred to as such in one of the games mentioned. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 4, 2020 at 7:18

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