A saving throw is a roll (or "throw") of dice by a player to determine whether their character can avoid harmful or negative effects of another character's action. This may include avoiding damage or conditions that would be inflicted by attacks, magic spells, poison or other environmental obstacles. A successful saving throw typically either negates or reduces the effectiveness of what is being saved against.

Saving throws have been a feature of role-playing games since the creation of the hobby with the publication of original Dungeons & Dragons by TSR. Dungeons & Dragons uses a d20 for saving throws, but other games may use different dice or even alternative randomisers, such as drawing cards, simple contests of luck, or use of random tables.

Saving throws are used to represent the character's ability to avoid or resist the threat, such as by dodging a trap, or being able to resist the effects of a poison. For this reason, they are often modified by appropriate character statistics,[1] for instance attributes such as Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom or Luck. Sometimes the throw represents the chance of penetrating the armor being worn by the character. Magical equipment or spells can also modify saving throw values, and some games may allow the GM to grant a bonus on saving throws to players who come up with creative ways for their characters to protect themselves.

The difficulty of a saving throw may be a fixed target number specified by the rules of a game (for example, saves against death in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition generally use a fixed target of 10), or may be determined by the type of threat being saved against. For instance, spellcasters in D&D 5th edition each have a derived statistic (based on their attributes, skills and level) that determines the difficulty of saving throws made to resist their magic spells.


  1. (2012). Dungeons and dragons and philosophy: 225. Open Court Pub. ISBN 0812697960

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