D&D 5e: The complete guide to Saving Throws

In Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, “saving throws” are rolls you make to protect your character from something bad. Here’s a simple explanation to help you understand saving throws.

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In this article, you will learn:

  1. What are saving throws?
  2. How to figure out what saving throw to use
  3. Examples of saving throws

Ability Checks are rolls you make when you want to do something. Saving Throws is the opposite. You make a saving throw when something is done to your character.

You don’t choose to make a saving throw. It’s forced on you because your character is in danger.

To make a saving throw, roll a 20-sided die (d20) and add your Ability Score modifier and maybe your Proficiency Bonus. The higher the total, the better chance you have of succeeding.

Setting the Difficulty

The Difficulty Class (DC) is a number that shows how hard it is to succeed at a saving throw. Higher DCs are harder to beat. Here are some examples of DCs:

  • DC 5 = Very Easy
  • DC 10 = Easy
  • DC 15 = Medium
  • DC 20 = Hard
  • DC 25 = Very Hard
  • DC 30 = Nearly Impossible

Try being consistent in your use of difficulties and not scale the difficulty for easy tasks as the characters level up. Instead, don’t roll. Narrate what is happening.

Saving Throw Modifier

To figure out your saving throw modifier, use this formula:

Saving Throw Modifier = Ability Score Modifier + Proficiency Bonus (if proficient)

How to gain Saving Throw Proficiencies?

In Dungeons & Dragons, you get saving throw proficiency from:

  1. Your class: Each class has proficiency in two saving throws.
  2. Class features: Some classes get more Saving Throw proficiencies as they level up.
  3. Multiclassing: If you have levels in more than one class, you might get extra saving throw proficiencies.
  4. Feats: Some special abilities, called feats, can give you saving throw proficiency.
  5. Magic items: Certain magical items can grant you saving throw proficiency.

Types of Saving Throws

There are six ability-based saving throws and a special saving throw when your character is dying.

Each one is used in different situations to protect your character from harm.

Strength saving throws

Strength Saving Throw is a check that determines how well a character can oppose a force that would physically move or bind them.

Examples of Strength Saving Throws:

  • A magical gust of wind created by an enemy spellcaster threatens to push your character off a narrow ledge.
  • As your character moves through a dense forest, aggressive vines suddenly come to life and attempt to entangle them.

Dexterity saving throws

Use Dexterity Saving Throws is your ability to avoid a spell such as a lightning bolt or fireball, dodge a falling pillar, or dive out of the way of a charging horse.

Examples of Dexterity Saving Throws:

  • A hidden trap releases a barrage of arrows toward your character.
  • An enemy sorcerer hurls a fireball spell toward your character, creating a massive explosion of flames.
  • As your character passes through a mountain pass, an avalanche sends rocks tumbling down toward them.

Constitution saving throws

Constitution Saving Throws determine your ability to fight physical fatigue or pain, or other physical effects.

Examples of Constitution Saving Throws:

  • Your character has been traveling through a harsh desert for several days with limited water and rest.
  • While exploring a dark forest, your character is attacked by a werewolf and bitten.

Intelligence saving throws

Intelligence Saving Throw determines a character’s ability to disbelieve certain illusions and resist mental assaults that can be refuted with logic, sharp memory, or both.

Examples of Intelligence Saving Throws:

  • Your character is targeted by a psionic creature that tries to implant false memories.
  • Your character encounters an area affected by a powerful illusion spell that makes it difficult to discern the true landscape. The rules require an Intelligence (Investigation) ability check, but I think it works better with a saving throw.

Wisdom saving throws

A Wisdom saving throw is looking at an illusion and noticing inconsistencies, intuitively knowing someone’s true motives, or perceiving a hidden agenda.

  • An enemy sorcerer casts a “hold person” spell on your character, trying to paralyze them. Roll a Wisdom saving throw to break free from the magical paralysis and regain control of your body.

Charisma saving throws

Charisma Saving Throw is a check that determines how well a character can withstand effects, such as possession, that would subsume their personality or hurl them to another plane of existence.

  • A powerful vampire tries to take control of your character’s mind, forcing them to do its bidding. Roll a Charisma saving throw to resist the vampire’s dominating influence and maintain your character’s free will.

Death Saves

A death-saving throw is a special type that doesn’t depend on ability scores or proficiency bonuses.

The player rolls a 20-sided die (d20) without adding modifiers to make a death-saving throw. If the result is 10 or higher, it counts as a success. If the result is below 10, it counts as a failure.

The character must accumulate either three successes or three failures. If they get three successes, they stabilize and no longer need to make death-saving throws. They remain unconscious but are no longer at risk of dying from their injuries. If they accumulate three failures, their character dies.

A roll of 1 counts as two failures, while a roll of 20 counts as a success and immediately restores 1 hit point to the character, allowing them to regain consciousness and rejoin the action.

A roll of 20 is considered a critical success, and you immediately gain 1 hp and reading consciousness.

D&D 5e Saving throws FAQ

How do you calculate saving throws?

Saving throws are calculated by adding your ability modifier (relevant to the save) to your proficiency bonus (if you’re proficient in the save).

How to do a saving throw?

Roll a 20-sided die (also known as a d20) and add your ability modifier and proficiency bonus (if applicable) to make a saving throw. Compare the total to the DC (difficulty class) set by the DM.

How do you calculate your saving throws?

To calculate your saving throw, add your ability modifier (relevant to the save) and proficiency bonus (if you’re proficient in the save) to your d20 roll.

What is the best saving throw?

There is no “best” saving throw, as each is important in different situations. However, Constitution and Dexterity save tend to come up more often than others.

How do you calculate DC for saving throws?

The DC for a saving throw is set by the Dungeon Master (DM), based on the difficulty of the situation. It can be affected by various factors, such as the spell being cast or the environment.

How do saving throws against spells work?

Saving throws against spells works by rolling a d20 and adding your ability modifier and proficiency bonus (if applicable). The spellcaster sets the DC, and if the total of your roll is equal to or higher than the DC, you succeed and take half damage (if applicable). If you fail, you take full damage or suffer the full effect of the spell.