I’ve used attribute saves (roll 1d20 and roll under a selected attribute) in D&D to handle actions that aren’t covered by the rules but that I feel need some type of random element is needed since 1976 or so. It’s simple but it has some issues that I’ve never liked: it gives too much reward to high attributes (and too much penalty to low attributes) and it does not take into account the player’s level.
As I’m starting a new OD&D campaign, I decided to give rethink this procedure. Here’s what I’ve come up with. Comments are not just welcome, but desired.
Attribute Saves: When the DM calls for a save versus an attribute, the player rolls 3d6 and adds the following die modifiers:
1) the bonus for the attribute (from the attribute tables in the game)
2) if the DM says the task falls under the characters class or background, the player adds a bonus based on his character’s level (1-3, +1; 4-8, +2; 9-15, +3; 16-24, +4; 25+, +5).
3) any situational modifiers assigned by the DM.
If the result is
8 11 or higher, the character succeeds at whatever is being attempted. [Updated: Thanks to Daniel for noticing the 8 should have been an 11.]
This system greatly reduces the bonus or penalty from high or low attributes and takes the character’s class level into account if he is trying something that falls within the boundaries of his class. This should take care of my main issues with attribute saves. Using 3d6 instead of 1d20 means that rolls are more likely to be near average instead of all results being equally likely — which seems to make sense given the way I use attribute saves in my games. It is also easy to explain and use. What do you think of the system?
Note: I don’t use attribute rolls as skill rolls. Players can’t say “I’ll make an INT save to try X.” They have to tell the DM (me) what they are trying to do and if I think a die roll is needed, I will tell them the save they’d need to make to succeed.