Thursday, 7 March 2013

In Favour of Static Saves

You might notice a big change in the current edition of Into the Odd.

- Saves are now "roll equal or under the appropriate stat". Nothing modifies this roll.

Here's my reasoning.

I want players to be fully informed of the risks they take.

A character with DEX 7 now knows that they'll have to roll 7 or less on a d20 to pass a DEX Save. No matter what. They won't be asking you what number they'd have to Save against when considering their actions. All the data they need to make an informed choice is on their own character sheet.

The game advises Referees to warn players when their actions will lead to a Save. Saves occur as a result of a choice or action.

These factors should combine to make the DEX 7 player do whatever they can to avoid DEX Saves. No leaping across that pit unless it's a safe jump. Better yet, let's find a way to bridge the gap or go in another direction.

The changes should also eliminate the unpleasant surprise a Save can bring. Imagine this.

A STR 12 character is fighting a corrupt guard. They take a big hit, run out of HP and find out their opponent has STR 17.

The Referee said the guy looked burly, but STR 17?

Using the old system, the player must now roll 15 or more to avoid being incapacitated and possible killed. I love deadly combat, but this could come out of nowhere.

I don't want players to be thinking about the STR score of their opponents or working out probabilities during combat. Having static Saves greatly reduces the amount of numeric data you're factoring into the decision and lets you focus on the situation.

D&D was pretty close to having static saves all the way up to third edition, and that seemed to work just fine. Of course, saves were often modified for tougher circumstances, which I won't be doing.

So, let's get this straight. A STR 10 character has a 50% chance to avoid Critical Damage from both a stick-waving street urchin and a Timeless Horror from Beyond?


The Urchin is beating his stick for d4 damage. He has a handful of hp and you can knock him down without much thought.

The Astral Horror is lashing out for d12 damage, warps your form into a tortured abomination with each hit and constantly barrages you with mind control effects. Your swords and bullets glean off its shadowy hide, turning your weapons ice cold. Even if you find something that can hurt it, it has dozens of hp and is going to make a few Saves before you can bring it down.

I'm not worried about the Astral Horror not being scary.

Anyone that can help to playtest these rules earns a universal re-roll token.


  1. Yes, I'm for all of this. I think having GM selected difficulties for tasks/conflicts in RPGs introduces other problems and I've found removing these often makes surprisingly little impact on actual gameplay.

  2. Here's hoping you're right, David. Playtest will tell!

  3. I've been thinking about staticness of rolls in a similar way lately... I am currently undecided in my context but will give it some further thought after reading this.

  4. I like this change even if I find this useful especially speaking about combat (and a bit less when we talk about jumping pits or similar)

    The only think I like less is the starting gear generation... I would prefer a "take the money, buy what you can and earn the rest" approach, but that's me... I like to see them earning their hirelings and pets (with actions and/or money, not with random rolls)