In an RPG, a saving throw represents a character's abiltity to resist or avoid some or all effects of some manifestation or power.

In the early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, each character class has five different saving throw targets:

Each of these numbers was drawn from a chart, with the numbers decreasing as the character gained levels. When a character was attacked with one of these effects, they would attempt to roll equal to or greater than their target number. No matter how high a charcter was, certain low numbers would always fail. All creatures failed on a 1, all non-gods failed on a 2.

To simulate stronger or weaker effects, many spells or abilities would have "make a Breath Weapon save at -4", requiring players to continuously check the rule books, and have to figure out whether the modifer applied to the target or the roll. In addition, multiclass characters simply used the better of their two save targets, rather than gaining some aggregate bonus.


In the d20 system (used in Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition), saving throws are easier to compute. There are only three types of saving throw (Reflex, Fortitude, Will); the type of saving throw is based on what effect the attack has (a poison attack requires a Fortitude save, while mind control triggers a Will save). Unless otherwise specified, the difficulty check (DC) of the save is 10 + effective spell level of the effect + relevant ability modifier of the caster. To beat the effect, a character rolls a 20-sided icosahedron, and adds their saving throw bonus. If they meet or exceed the DC, they have "made their save."

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