Every once in a while I see someone posting that fighters in D&D (or in D&D Next) should automatically hit and do huge amounts of damage so they can keep up with wizards in damage output ignoring the fact they the fighter can use his damage attack over and over all day while a wizard can only do his huge amount of damage attack a few times a day at most. I also occasionally see people saying fighters should automatically hit because missing is boring and means they’ve wasted a turn. This just strikes me as very silly, although I’m sure some people feel this way.
For some weird reason we were discussing these type of comments during my Sunday game last Sunday. It’s probably not a big surprise to discover that neither view got much sympathy from my players. However, during a break a few minutes later, one of my players brought the topic up again. He suggested that perhaps all attacks should be assumed to hit (just as the vast majority of spells hit without an attack roll), and the target of the attack should roll a “avoid taking damage” saving throw (again, just like being attacked with a spell).
In other words, no one would roll to attack. Instead, characters and monsters would roll a “physical defense saving throw” to avoid the damaging effects of a physical attack. This would make the rules less complex by using one method — rolling a saving throw — to avoid or lessen the effects of an attack. It would not matter whether that attack was a fireball or a two-handed sword, the same “making a saving throw” method would be used to find out that happened to the target, although what the target saved against would vary with the type if attack.
This is an interesting idea. How interesting depends on how one actually chooses to handle the physical defense saving throws. If you handle them TSR saving throw style, the AC, level, and class of the defender would be the primary determiner as to whether the character takes damage as TSR D&D does not adjust saving throws for the level of the attacker. This would be a simple and fast system, players save vs a fairly fixed number based on their AC, class, and level that they can just glance at on their character and roll. The only modifiers would be for things like being attacked by a magic weapon. If WOTC-style saving throws were used, figuring the saving throws needed would be more complex as the level of the attacker would need to be taken into account.
I’m not sure I’d actually want to play a game using saving throws to defend instead of attack rolls to determine if the target is hit. However, I’m interested in reader opinions on this idea. If enough people are find the idea interesting, I will try to come up with optional rules for Microlite74 and Microlite81 that implement a version of this system which people interested in the idea can play with.