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Grokking Saving Throws

I'm trying to wrap my head around this whole slightly annoyingly arbitrary-differentiated system of saving throws. Presumably it's important for all party members to have as low saves vs spells as possible, since there are a lot of AoE spells that'll end up getting tossed your way. What about death and breath checks? I remember many nasty critters in BG1 would inflict stuff on frontliners that way, but are those still important for back row guys? (Do the categories' importance shift as you progress from level 1 to 40?) Are petri/poly and wand/whatever basically irrelevant?

Also, w.r.t. spells: Many spell descriptions specify "save vs spell" effects; some just refer to a "save" of an unspecified type, which I assume is vs spell; and some refer to a different type of save (say, death).
(1.): In the latter case, that's in lieu of saving vs spell, right? I.e., you only ever do one save, and (for spells) it's usu. vs spell?
(2.), assuming I understand (1.) correctly: What determines whether there's a check for Magic Resistance? I assume that, for a single-target attack-flagged spell, MR gives the target an extra potential "out", but am sort of unclear as to how it interacts with AoE spells (or AoE spells that targeted the thing with MR).

Thanks in advance for any insight!


  • Jaheiras_WitnessJaheiras_Witness Member Posts: 416
    Virtually all (or definitely all) spells’ saving throw is vs spell, even if the type of effect would fit another saving throw such as death.

    The save vs death and vs spell are the important ones, you want all characters to have as good a save as possible in these categories. The others are tested rarely, they are still important but not as crucial as death and spell.

    MR nearly always applies unless the spell says it doesn’t (e.g. Imprisonment) or if it is a debuffing spell (Breach, Spell Thrust et al). It also doesn’t apply to blue (defensive) or white (utility/buff) spells.

    Also note there is a difference between magic resistance and some monsters which are simply immune to spells up to a certain level (such as liches and rakshasa).

  • AstroBryGuyAstroBryGuy Member Posts: 3,214
    edited August 1
    The savings throws are supposed to be checked in order of importance, using the first save that is appropriate, with save vs. spells being the "catch all" when no other save applies.

    1) Paralyzation, Poison, or Death Magic
    2) Rod, Staff, or Wand
    3) Petrification or Polymorph
    4) Breath Weapon
    5) Spell

    So, if an effect is poison, it should use a Paralyzation/Poison/Death save. A fireball from a wand should use the wand save. Of course, there are a few exceptions (wands of paralyzation use a Wand save, green dragon breath uses a Breath save). There are also arguments over which save should apply to some spells, e.g. Hold Person (some say Paralyzation, some say Spells).

    EDIT: FYI - BG uses save vs. spells for Hold Person.

  • Jaheiras_WitnessJaheiras_Witness Member Posts: 416
    There’s a difference between “should” (per PnP rules) and “does” in BG. Finger of Death should use save vs death, but it actually uses save vs spell. I’m pretty sure every spell just uses save vs spell even when it should a different type.

  • VinnyBVinnyB Member Posts: 8

    The save vs death and vs spell are the important ones, you want all characters to have as good a save as possible in these categories.

    What non-melee-range stuff makes you save vs death? Is there anyone you'd consider giving the Claw of Kazgaroth (+3 bonus to spell saves but -4 penalty to death saves)?

    To make sure I'm understanding the mechanics correctly: Is it the case that bonuses taking you down to 1 are always useful, but further bonuses are decreasingly useful (i.e., only useful insofar as there are penalties they're lessening)?

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 3,493
    I think there are a few spells that use other saving throws - Wail of the Banshee for instance. In the vanilla games spells and death saves were by far the most important. They're still the most important in the EE games, but other saves are more relevant than they were. For instance breath saves are not only relevant against dragons, but quite a few natural effects as well (the fear aura emitted by some demons and undead is an easy one to overlook).

    You're right that a saving throw of 1 is always successful if there are no penalties. However, there are an awful lot of spells and effects with penalties, so it's definitely helpful getting negative saves (particularly if you're playing no-reload). Chaos spells (save -4) are pretty common and in BG2 you'll see things like symbol spells (also -4).

    Penalties of more than -4 are much rarer, but they do exist - for instance the succubus has a -8 penalty when trying to charm male characters. There's also the problem that some casters (including liches) get the -2 specialist mage bonus when casting spells from their specialism.

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 9,883
    The succubus save penalty is -10, at least in Ascension.

  • FylFyl Member Posts: 62

    The succubus save penalty is -10, at least in Ascension.

    She's a Specialist Succubus

  • ArthasArthas Member Posts: 387
    Which class has the best saving throws?

    When you dual class, do you take the best of both worlds?

  • BorekBorek Member Posts: 387
    Arthas said:

    Which class has the best saving throws?

    When you dual class, do you take the best of both worlds?

    When you 1st dual class your saving throws will change to match your new class, only when you level past the previous classes level with the new one will your 1st classes saves be used, and only ones that are better. So basically it does pick the best of both worlds, but only when you have reached +1 level higher than the 1st class with the 2nd class.

  • Jaheiras_WitnessJaheiras_Witness Member Posts: 416
    edited August 8
    In terms of which class has best saving throws, it varies by level and some classes advance faster than others. Then there are also racial modifiers to consider.

    Paladins & Monks have best saving throws overall due to additional class bonuses but they cannot dual and have to be human, so do not gain racial modifiers.

    For the main classes, warriors have best saving throws overall (3/5/4/4/6 by level 17) although their saving throws at low levels are quite bad (but they advance fastest, improving every 2 levels).

    Priests or Wizards are next best (2/6/5/8/7 by level 19 for priest, 8/3/5/6/4 by level 21 for wizard). Bearing in mind the first and last saves are the most important (death and spell), priests have a big edge vs death and wizards have the edge vs spell.

    Rogues are a distant worst, 8/4/7/11/5 by level 21. The save vs spell is not bad, same as warrior, but they are as bad as wizards vs death and also have an inexplicable (and illogical) bad save vs breath.

    So a multiclass fighter-mage or cleric-mage will end up with best saves overall at high level.

    Dwarves and Halflings get additional bonus (depending on CON, up to +5) on saves vs death, wand and spell, so these guys will always have great saves almost irrespective of class. Gnomes get the same bonus but only vs wand and spell, not death.

    Ultimate best? Dwarf Fighter-Cleric ends up at -3/0/4/4/1, which just about edges Gnome Cleric-Illusionist at 2/-2/5/6/-1.

  • VinnyBVinnyB Member Posts: 8
    edited August 9
    I've found it easier to parse Death/Spell saves as follows (just looking at their peak values, ~lvl 17-21):
    • Warriors and Priests--the chunky classes--are good at death saves (and less good at spell saves)
      • 3/6 for Warriors (Fighters/Rangers/Barbarians/Paladins/Monks*), except that Paladins (1/4) and Monks (1/5) are particularly resilient
      • 2/7 for Priests (Clerics/Druids/Shamans)
    • Rogues and Wizards--the tricksy classes--are good at spell saves (and less good at death saves)
      • 8/5 for Rogues (Thieves/Bards)
      • 8/4 for Wizards (Mages/Sorcerers)
    (Monks are functionally warriors despite technically being modified priests)

    Since hybrid characters get to use the better save value for each category, chunky-tricksy hybrids end up with slightly better saves than double-chunks (e.g. Anomen/Jaheira) or double-tricks (e.g. Imoen/Nalia/Aerie/Jan)... though Paladins(/Monks) still beat all(/most) combo-classes.
    Edit: ...except that Paladins can't be shorties...
    (BG2 apparently has no chunky-tricksy hybrid companions!)

    In terms of equipment that boosts just one of the two saves, I guess death-save-boosters (Cloak of Displacement, Lavender Ioun Stone, etc) are more aimed at your tricksters, and spell-save-boosters (well, just the one +2 necklace AFAIK, not counting Jaheira's +5 harper pin) are better for your chunksters.

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