You may have noticed that I avoid a lot of “save ends” effects in my class designs. There are uh, “reasons” for that, which are difficult to explain. Let me open the discussion with a question: what is the value of a save-ends effect?

To begin answering that question, we need to look at what save-ends effects do. Standard conditions, such as blinded, dazed, or slowed, can persist until the target has made a saving throw to end it, but this isn’t all they’re for — nor does it (if I remember correctly) represent the majority of save-ends effects.

Instead, many save-ends effects are long-winded effects tucked away in odd encounter and daily powers spread across classes from the Player’s Handbooks. I couldn’t tell you what most of them do, they go beyond the standard conditions.

How often have you encountered the “deafened” condition in your games? And for that matter, how often have you encountered the “blinded” condition?

In nearly six thousand attack powers in the D&DI Compendium, less than forty reference the deafened condition. Maybe one-hundred sixty or so reference the blinded condition — and most of them are found with the cleric or warlock.

I did a search for damage types, too. This is what I found:

“Attack powers by damage type”
D&D Compendium

177 Force damage
289 Fire damage
191 Cold damage
168 Lightning damage
53 Acid damage
446 Radiant damage
270 Thunder damage
234 Necrotic damage
111 Poison damage
573 Psychic damage

And here’s what a search by conditions turned up:

“Attack powers by condition”
D&D Compendium

426 Ongoing damage
502 Prone
395 Slowed
339 Immobilized
36 Grabbed
84 Restrained
9 Petrified
143 Blinded
37 Deafened
131 Weakened
530 Dazed
135 Stunned

…Taken from the 5,995 attack powers listed in the D&D Compendium.

When I wonder if maybe a leader should be able to grant saving throws, I have to wonder if there’s really a good reason to — or you know, some way to automatically remove an ongoing condition or effect. The effects themselves just don’t seem as reliable as maybe they should be? A fifty-fifty chance is pretty random.

I just can’t think of a good way to make conditions and save-ends effects more prevalent without also cheapening them. Honestly, I think everyone should be able to recognize the most of the conditions without the need to look open a book.

Maybe what needs to change is the “automatic” nature of saving throws. “Save ends” is an easy enough thing to leave in, but what if a character isn’t necessarily entitled to automatic saving throws? What if they have to be initiated somehow? I don’t know.