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We had a great discussion at my table recently about the frequency of different saving throws, which got me thinking...

Inspired by my previous similar question, what are the most and least common saving throws?

I'd be looking to evaluate the most and least common saving throws based on not only player spells in all officially published materials, but also other sources of saving throws (e.g. unique monster abilities, magical items, class features, etc.). This question may serve as a good starting point (thanks to GoodGuy5!).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Strongly Related (actually a dupe, if it's only spells): Spell Save Distribution \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Jan 11 at 15:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ In terms of the sheer number of abilities that force a save? No adjustments for how common those abilities, spells or monsters are? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jan 11 at 17:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri I imagine an ambitious answer would include at least some commentary on that, if not a detailed examination. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov agreed, though not expected. The accepted vs bountied answers to my previous question are a good indication of this. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11 at 18:15

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Three are common, three are uncommon.

The work on this has already been done for spells, as you linked in your question, and from looking over the various monster manuals, the pattern seems to hold pretty well. Dex, Wis, and Con saves are wildly more common than the other three, by something like to 4-to-1.

Among those, Constitution is probably the most-used save due to the number of venomous monsters out there, and I feel justified in calling out Intelligence as the least used save overall.

But that's not nearly the whole story. Some abilities call for a save from a single target, while others affect everyone in an area, so while you could call that "one dex-based spell/ability and one con-based spell/ability", they're not really going to have the same amount of impact at the table. A single dragon or fireball may be responsible for a half-dozen Dex saves at a time, while a whole group of snakes might only inflict two or three hits that require Con saves. Furthermore, some spells and creatures show up often in games, depending on the game (like, say, dragons), while others are often going to show up only one time if at all (like an astral dreadnought). Should those creatures be counted the same way?

Ultimately, which saves show up most often at the table is going to depend heavily on choices your DM makes rather than raw counts of "How many things can I find in a book that call for this save?" Even then, not all saving throws are equal -- Strength saves are often made to avoid relatively minor inconveniences like getting pushed back or knocked down, while a failed Wisdom or Intelligence save is often incapacitating.

Does "most" and "least" really matter?

The best analysis here is a higher-level view. It's not about exact counts of effects or trying to determine how often they're each going to show up on your particular table; rather it's the general understanding that Con, Dex, and Wis are common saves, while bonuses to Int, Cha, and Str are not very often used.

Which of the three "important" saves is "most important"? It depends on your game, your DM, your party, and other elements. Which of the others is "least" important? Well, Intelligence, really, but none of them are particularly common, so it's hard to just pick out one and say "this one is the worst". Generally, failing a saving throw sucks no matter which save it was, so it's more just picking your poison.

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    \$\begingroup\$ One of the problems with INT saves and CHA saves is that when you do miss them, it can be very debilitating (Mind Flayer stuff, banishment, feeblemind) and this gets to be a bit more pronounced in higher tier games. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11 at 21:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would have thought Dexterity was more common than Constitution. Perhaps there are less unique triggers for it, but the triggers for Dexterity occur far more often. At least in my experience it is the most rolled save. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Jan 12 at 1:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dexterity is the save for 64 distinct spells according to D&D Beyond, compared to 57 for Constitution. Additionally, many of the most common offensive spells -- pretty much everything doing fire and lightning damage, and anything projectile-based like catapult or conjure barrage -- are all Dex-based. Poisons are Con-based, sure, and so are many cold-damage things, but I guess I haven't been in a campaign that used a lot of poison; I'd've assumed Dex was far in the lead. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 12 at 2:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin Well the point of my answer is it just doesn't really matter, but: In terms of spells, Dex is somewhat more common, but in monsters, Dex saves aren't as prevalent as Con. But there's probably another argument to be made that Dex saves tend to be things like breath weapons where it affects a group, while many Con effects are just like "the target you hit", so even if there's more monsters with venom, a single dragon accounts for a lot more actual dex saves at the table than an equivalent mass of snakes. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 12 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ One Possessed Barbarian later, my group never dumps Cha again... \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jan 12 at 14:43

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