Basic Beginnings and Saving Throws

A few years ago, Vince and I began work on revising his fantastic Mazes & Perils rules set, which eventually became Mazes & Perils Deluxe. And it’s pretty awesome, but… like everything in life, can always be better. Since then, Vince has been toying with a simplified version of the rules. Though we all love those Old School rules inspired by Holmes back in 1977, the world has changed in the decades that followed. We’d like to change with the times to reflect that.

So we’re now working on what we’re tentatively calling Mazes & Perils Basic. Basic hearkens back to the time of the old D&D classic boxes. I still fondly remember my old Red Box D&D set way back in my early days of role-playing games.

Don’t worry, we’re not going too crazy. This is still based on that old rules set you know and love. But we are knocking the rust off a few rough corners that could use some love.

One of the first places we hit was how Saving Throws work.

The Old Way

In the old days, we had the classic set of five saves:

  • Save vs. Breath Weapons
  • Save vs. Death or Poison
  • Save vs. Magic Items
  • Save vs. Petrification
  • Save vs. Spells

And yes, they were all awesome. I have fond memories of dodging dragon breath while playing at a friend’s house in junior high school as well as in college. So they have served me well over the years. But, if there’s anything newer editions of D&D and other systems have shown us, it’s that we can simplify things to make them easier and more flexible at the same time.

The New Way

With Basic, there will only be two saving throws you need to worry about:

  • Save vs. Mental (Int/Wis/Cha)
  • Save vs. Physical (Str/Dex/Con)

To determine these values, you add all the modifiers together for the applicable ability scores and subtract that from 20. Then, based on your level, it drops a bit more as the character goes up. At level 1, it goes down by 1. And then every even level after that it drops a little more.

Note: We’ve simplified ability modifiers a bit as well. 🙂

Let’s look at an example. John is creating Thrawn the Powerful, his glorious magic user! After he rolls all his ability scores, he tries to figure out his saving throws. Looking at his Mental save first, he has Int 17, Wis 17, and Cha 10. For the first two, he gets a bonus of 2, but his Charisma results in a zero. That gives him a modifier total of 4, plus the 1 for being a 1st level character, which gives him a 5. He subtracts that from the 20 base and gets a 15 for his Mental saves.

He figures out his Physical save the same way by looking at his Str 10, Dex 14, and Con 12. His Dex gives him a bonus of 1, but the other two are both zero. But he adds his level bonus in for a 2 and subtracts that from 20 to get his Mental save of 18.

As you might expect, a wizard is usually tougher mentally than physically, so this plays out.

Note that though as you increase in level, your saves improve, but if your ability scores change, that does not affect your saves. So be sure to mark your original Mental and Physical saves somewhere!

During gameplay at the table, these Saves work just the same as before. Roll a d20 and roll the target number or higher. So if another wizard casts a spell at Thrawn, John would roll against the character’s Mental save. And if Thrawn were to be somehow poisoned, he would roll against the character’s Physical save.

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