I have been running a White Box campaign lately, going strong on our ninth session tonight...that's pretty good for me - don't laugh. One of the things that used to bug me was the Single Saving Throw mechanic. It seemed odd to me, having mostly grown up with AD&D, to reduce all these down to a single die. Over time though, my viewpoint on this has changed, and so too has my use of the Saving Throw mechanic.
I know I did not come up with this, I've probably seen it somewhere before. A quick Google search gave me this link Tenkar's thoughts on saving throw mechanics (hey, I'm inherently a lazy guy.) So I know it has been done before, but I thought I would formalize it by writing it down. I have been using the Saving Throw for task resolution in my game and I think it has been working fairly well.
The tl;dr version:
We use the character's Saving Throw, then I apply a modifier based on the general situation. Takes a microsecond for me.
Note: For actions where success or failure are unimportant, success is the most likely outcome, or I as the GM find either outcome boring I will simply allow the character to perform the action without a roll.
For all other instances, I use the following table (mostly, but I freewheel things often):
- Any modifiers for an ability that seems to fit the situation are added to the roll. Thus a high Strength would help someone trying to flip a table a bad guy is standing upon. A high Dexterity would help in walking a tight rope. Or a high Wisdom might allow a character a better chance to decipher a hastily note written.
- I also take into account if the character class would be helpful. A thief would know sneaky stuff, a mage magical type stuff, clerics know godly stuff. Now, you might say this is redundant because the saving throw is class based, but I give them a little more oomph if the task is something that would be familiar for any one of that class.
Then I apply a very liberal task modifier using the below as a guideline. This is a spur of the moment thing and I take in account many factors (environment, haste, lighting, familiarity, etc). I am fairly fluid on these, so don't be betting the farm on my picking one:
-5 A very difficult task, one the character has never done or has no knowledge of
-3 A hard task but one that has a slimmer of possibility
-1 Difficult, but certainly possible
+1 Fairly easy
+3 Done many times before
And that is about it. Nothing too fancy and it takes me a fraction of a second at the table so it does not slow the game down.
* Please note that I still require Thieves to use their Thievery resolution as displayed on page 19, despite the picture above on this post. I just used it to tease one player in my game.