Home Forums General Game Design Saving throws Reply To: Saving throws

Howard Whitehouse

Saving throws went out of fashion for a long while. They actually date back to the 60s Golden Age of Bath and Featherstone etc, but faded in the uber-charty 70s, and then the Warhammer version, which is the worst possible version of the mechanism. I took various forms of saving throw up again from the 90s onwards, and use them regularly under different guises.

They serve two purposes. First of all, they keep both players involved. I roll to hit you, then you roll to protect against that. I shoot at you and hit. I could roll again to see the result and just tell you how I have victimised you, but instead you make the roll. In ‘Mad Dogs with Guns’ my gangster shoots your gangster, and you roll. On a ‘1’ you laugh at me, a 2-3 you duck back, and only on a 4+ are you wounded. Just don’t roll a ‘6’.

You explain the saving roll however seems appropriate – the gangster dodges back, the heavy armour absorbs the strike, the open order formation means that shots pass through.

Secondly using a hit-save mechanisms means you can divide up the various modifiers that might apply. In my current project, a deliberately Shiny Toy Soldier game called ‘A Gentleman’s War’ the key concerns for shooting  are range, formation and cover. The shooters roll to hit based on range (4-6 point blank, 5-6 short, 6 long). If there are any hits, the target’s owner rolls a saving roll per hit based on the unit’s formation and any cover that applies.

So, yes, I’m a fan 🙂


I do all my own stunts.