Attack Roll or Saving Throw (Jan 29, 2013)
Keep to the Code (Jan 2, 2013)

You know, I read an article some time back that was decrying Fifth Edition’s use of “bounded accuracy,” and another article that discussed the problem wasn’t so much that 5e was using “bounded accuracy” as it was WotC was claiming they were “returning” to a concept that hadn’t previously existed – it was a new concept.

Now I’m not going to talk about 5e, but I am going to talk about bounded accuracy versus scaling accuracy. This is related to my thinking on saving throws, and mixing things up for players and monsters. Third Edition has some cool, sort of unintentional effects that I previously brought up when I discussed saving throws.

One of those things is “touch attacks.” Characters who can make touch attacks can target an enemy’s weak point and often have a much greater chance of hitting – meaning that spellcasters are generally more effective at fighting heavily-armored opponents for the reason that they aren’t trying to hit a weak spot, just land a hit.

I’ll give you an example: big warrior in full plate goes up against a rapier-wielding rogue. The rogue is trying to stab through a thin bit, or find an unarmored part. That’s probably hard to do. A lightning mage on the other hand, only has to gesture in the direction of the armored warrior, and we know how “metal attracts electricity.”

Now we have a problem. How do we maintain different defense bonuses without making the game unnecessarily complicated? Well, for starters we could make one of the defenses standard – basically the same for every creature, no matter what the circumstances. “Touch attacks” are kind of like that, since they ignore armor.

Third Edition also has the “flat-footed” defense, which is your character’s defense when he or she is surprised by an attack. This is kind of like the other half of “touch,” since it incorporates different bonuses and so forth. I don’t know that I’d use both of them – or use them and saving throws, but… what about “defense” and “saves?”

Let’s say for instance, that everyone has a single defense which they use against attacks. This score increases as the creature or character advances in level. They also have a saving throw which they might have conditional bonuses to, but never changes. You don’t save to remove, but rather to prevent effects.

I’m of the mind that rolling dice to remove conditions kind of sucks. Also, it’s a pain in the butt to remember to roll a save no matter when it happens, let alone remember to apply conditions. Let the attacker remember when they’ve applied a condition, and let the defender remove them without relying on good luck to make it happen.

So, saves become a character’s “evasion” or “surprise” defense, and it doesn’t change unless they receive a condition bonus (like against poison or lightning, or against death or magic). It’s rolled once to prevent an effect – which is granted to a defender in lieu of an attack roll. The attacker “allows” the defender a save.

In exchange for giving up the dice they get to roll as attacker, a character gets an even chance (50-50) at hitting the defender with an effect, regardless of level or bonus. Conditional modifiers may apply, but that’s it. Attack bonuses still rise with level, but saves remain the same. What do you think? Doable?