save vs spell is bad


#rpg #magic

I'm getting tired of RPG spells which have saving throws.

Fine, if the spell creates an effect which then has to be dealt with, there might be saves against that effect. Summon a swarm of wasps, they're wasps, you'd get the benefit of whatever rule might protect you from being stung by wasps. A non-specific earthquake, you could protect yourself against falling debris or jump away from chasms opening.

But those spells work automatically to do what they mean to. If you cast the wasp spell properly it absolutely summons wasps. So if you cast a spell called "Finger of Death" that should just kill whoever you aim it at. There's no "save" - that's what the spell does, lays the finger of Death on someone. What kind of a shit spell doesn't do what it says when you cast it? "Sleep", that puts people to sleep, it's not a milky drink that might make you doze off, it's magic.

If you know you're facing a wizard who can summon the finger of Death, you could try to find a charm to protect you, gain the favour of the god of Life, or otherwise prepare to resist it. But why should a random roll be involved, outside of a narrative game where you get a chance to retcon yourself as having done the smart thing? Metaphors aside, if you looked into the eyes of Medusa you turned to stone. Perseus didn't assume he would get a save and then complain to the GM if he failed it, or rather Athena didn't; she gave him a mirrored shield to use.

It doesn't feel very magical if it doesn't make clear changes to the rules of the world.



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