Saving throws! These are some of the defining moments within a game of Dungeons and Dragons. These are the moments where your character can do something incredible, perhaps save themselves or another, squeeze past by the skin of their teeth!
No matter your playstyle or that of your party, you’re likely to run into situations where you’ll have to make one.
Saving throws are, however, a more unique kind of check that only appear in very specific situations. Because of this, if you’re new to 5e D&D you might not be so used to rolling for them and you might be wondering how saving throws are calculated.
If you want to know more about this, then you’ve come to the right place! In the article below we’re going to be teaching you everything you’ll need to know about saving throws.
We’re going to explain where they are on a character sheet, why they are different from other stats with the same name, and how you can calculate them to get your character out of a bind!
What Is A Saving Throw?
A saving throw comes about when your character needs to make a ‘save’ of some kind. For example, let’s say you’re fighting a Mind-Flayer – a classic D&D enemy that will attack your mind.
Mind Flayers can cast ‘charm person’ which is a spell that causes you to become friendly to them and possibly even hurt your other party members.
To resist this enchantment, you’re going to have to make a ‘Wisdom Saving Throw.’ This basically represents your character’s wisdom to try and brush off the psychic attack.
Will your character be able to resist, or will the Mind Flayer take control of you? This is what a saving throw represents in this scenario.
What Stats Are Used In A Saving Throw?
This is the part where new players can get a little confused. Let’s face it, there are a lot of different stats all over a character sheet, and trying to figure out what all of them do can be difficult.
Chances are, you’ve hardly even looked at the saving throws section of your sheet before this moment.
If you want to find the saving throw section, you’ll find it in the upper left hand corner of your sheet. It will be just below where your base ‘Strength’ and ‘Dexterity’ stats are. Here there will be six different Saving Throw Modifiers, as well as a little bit of text that says ‘Saving Throws’.
You will see these abbreviations: STR, INT, DEX, WIS, CON, and CHA, as well as a selection of different numbers beside them. But what do all of these numbers and stats mean, and how can you calculate them in order to work out what you need?
How To Calculate Saving Throws
Using the Mind Flayer scenario we spoke about before, we’re going to take you through the entire process.
The mind flayer tries to charm you, your DM lets you know, and tells you to make a ‘Wisdom Saving Throw.’ So you look over to the Saving Throw section of your character sheet, and you take a look at your wisdom stat. Let’s say you’re a wizard and have +3 wisdom, this is the stat that is going to modify your roll.
Next, you roll a simple d20 die. Let’s say you got a 12. Okay so, 12 + 3 for your modifier is 15! So your saving throw was a 15! Depending on the level of the monster you’re fighting, and any other additional modifiers going on, it’s likely that you have passed this check – but your DM will be able to tell you for sure.
From here, your character will shirk off the attack and stay intact with their own mind. This is, of course, until the next time the Mind Flayer tries to get ahold of you.
And it really is as simple as that. A saving throw is separate from your normal stats, but the way they function isn’t all that different. It’s worth noting that it’s not just player characters that will have to use saving throws, but also enemies and NPCs.
Enemies And Saving Throws
If we take for example the spell ‘Tascha’s Hideous Laughter’ – a spell that makes an enemy laugh hysterically – whether or not this comes to pass is based on an intelligence saving throw.
So if you have this spell and you cast it on an enemy, they will have to make a saving throw themselves. If they fail, they will laugh hysterically no matter the situation. Your DM will make this role themself based on the monster they are controlling’s own stats.
Death Saving Throws
This is a special type of saving throw that is designed to stop your character from dying! Depending on the campaign you’re in (and how nice your DM is), there are many scenarios where your character will lose in battle and have a big chance of dying.
But there is something that stops them from dying right away, and that something is Death Saving Throws.
Death Saving Throws occur when your character is bleeding out, when they’re reaching towards the light, and they work quite differently from other saving throws. To make a death-saving throw you need to roll a standard d20.
If you get 10 or higher, then you get 1 successful death saving throw. At 9 or lower, you will fail one. If you pass 3 then you will survive, but fail 3 and your character will be dead forever. That is, unless your DM comes up with an inventive way to survive.
We hope that this article has given you some insight into the world of Saving Throws and that you now feel a lot more confident about how to calculate them, and why they are important for your character.
Let’s hope that your character has some good luck the next time they have to make one!
Best of luck on all future rolls!