Modifying Saving Throws
Saving throws can be modified by magical items, specific rules, and special
situations. These modifiers can increase or decrease the chance of a successful
Modifiers that increase the chance are given as a number preceded by a plus
sign. Modifiers that make success more difficult are given as a number preceded
by a minus sign (-1, -2, etc.).
Saving throw modifiers affect a character's die roll, not the saving throw
number needed. Thus, if Delsenora needed an 11 for a successful saving throw vs.
petrification and had a +1 bonus to her save, she would still need to roll an 11
or higher after all adjustments were made (but the +1 bonus would be added to
her die roll, so that effectively she needs to roll only a 10 on the die to
reach her saving throw number of 11).
High ability scores in Dexterity and Wisdom sometimes give saving throw bonuses. A high Wisdom
protects against illusions, charms, and other mental attacks. Dexterity, if high
enough, can give a character a slightly higher chance of avoiding the effects of
fireballs, lightning bolts, crushing boulders, and other attacks where
nimbleness may be a help. (See Tables 2 and 5.)
Magical items like cloaks and rings of protection give bonuses to a character's saving throw
(these are listed in the item descriptions in the DMG).
Magical armor allows a saving throw bonus only when the save is made necessary by something
physical, whether normal or magical; magical armor never gives a saving throw
bonus against gas (which it cannot block), poison (which operates internally),
and spells that are mental in nature or that cause no physical damage.
For example, magical armor would not help a character's saving throw against
the sting of a giant scorpion, the choking effects of a stinking cloud spell, or the transformation effect of a polymorph others spell. Magical armor does extend its protective power to saving throws
against acid sprays or splashes, disintegration, magical and normal fires, spells
that cause damage, and falls (if any saving throw is allowed in this case). Other
situations must be handled on a case-by-case basis by the DM.
Specific spells and magical items have effects, both good and ill, on a character's saving throws. Often, spells
force the victim to save with a penalty, which makes even the most innocuous
spell quite dangerous. (Specific information can be found in the spell
descriptions, for spells, or in the DMG's Magical Items section, for magical items.)
Minor poisons of verminous creatures such as giant centipedes, while dangerous, are weak and
unlikely to bring about death in a healthy man. To recreate this effect in the
game, a saving throw bonus is allowed for anyone affected by these poisons.
The DM has this information.
Unpredictable situations are sure to crop up. When this happens, the DM must determine whether saving
throw modifiers are appropriate. As a guideline, modifiers for situations should
range from -4 to +4. An evil cleric attacked in his shrine could very well
have a +3 bonus to all his saving throws and a -3 penalty applied to those of his
enemies. The powerful evil of the place could warrant the modifier.
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