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I read somewhere that in D&D 5e, the Saving Throw distribution for spells was biased towards DEX, CON and WIS. In other words, if you had proficiency in those attributes, you would benefit a lot more than having proficiency in other attributes.

What is the distribution of Saving Throws across attributes for spells in D&D 5e?

I'm looking for a percentage of each attribute for all the spells available (one would expect this to be uniform). Bonus points if this is also calculated for only spells that can be cast by RAW monsters (MM and VMG).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that every PC has proficiency with one of Dex, Con, and Wis and one of the remaining three, so "if you had proficiency in those attributes, you would benefit a lot more than having proficiency in other attributes" may be a redundant motivation for the question. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14 '17 at 11:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder I think it's intended to say that if you have proficiency in more than one of those listed you would benefit more than not having it, but then even that's a tautologism. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14 '17 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I've opened a Meta discussion here: Is asking about the distribution of saving throws across all books too broad for this site? \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    Apr 15 '17 at 6:40
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In a similar format to the previous answer, here's an updated count of spells with saving throws from all official published sources available on D&D Beyond. It’s current as of 14/01/2022.

I am aware of one spell, Nathair's mischief from Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, which doesn’t list a primary save, but can force either a Wisdom or Dexterity saving throw, depending on the random effect rolled. I have counted it as both, which is why the total spell count here seems slightly lower than it ought to be. It’s possible there are other such spells but there is no easy way to search for them; I believe this list is still pretty indicative of the frequency of saving throws in spells.

Attribute Spells % spells
Strength 18 8.33%
Dexterity 65 30.09%
Constitution 57 26.39%
Intelligence 9 4.17%
Wisdom 54 25.00%
Charisma 14 6.48%
Total 216

I note a significant jump in the number of spells with Constitution saves, but only three recently published spells have them, so this may indicate a previous counting error on my part.

For a list of official sources for spells, and how to find them on D&D Beyond, see this question: What official books contain spells?

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    \$\begingroup\$ BTW, here's a question specifically covering the topic of what books have spells: What official books contain spells? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Dec 30 '19 at 5:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast it includes both Tasha’s and Xanathar’s; the UA spells mentioned are those which ended up in Fizban’s, I think without significant alteration, but there are a handful of spells in Strichaven which are not included. I’ll do an update. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11 at 19:44
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According to D&D Beyond, the number of spells in the SRD that require saves on each attribute is:

Attribute # spells
Strength 4
Dexterity 32
Constitution 24
Intelligence 2
Wisdom 34
Charisma 12

But saving throws are required for many things that aren't spells, including non-spell monster abilities (a medusa's Petrifying Gaze, for example), traps, poisons, and environmental hazards. So I don't think optimizing based on spells alone is ideal.

Furthermore, spells don't appear with equal frequency, so just counting the number of spells that call for a given attribute's save is probably not going to yield much useful information.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Of note, almost all of the illusion spells require an Intelligence (Investigation) check to reveal the illusion, and they aren't counted on this list (most likely because they're not an automatic save, but rather an active check.) Still, might be worth adding to your answer if you see fit. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16 '17 at 0:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli those aren't saving throws (which is what the question was about), and I was limiting my answer to information easily provided by the D&D Beyond beta spell search tool. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Apr 16 '17 at 3:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I understand, and I agree with your answer. That's why I added the last sentence, since it would be extra information that is tangentially connected. Like, if this was my answers, I'd simply add a sentence that says, "And in addition to the automatic saves above, there are many spells and effects which also have active checks against attributes in order to end their ongoing effects. For example: A grapple requires an active strength check, or illusion spells which usually require an active Intelligence check." - But again, add it if you see fit, it's your answer, and a good one at that. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16 '17 at 4:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Marq, you may want to update this now that Xanathar's Guide To Everything has been released: quite a few more Int save spells now. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16 '18 at 19:19

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