Checks, Damage, Saves


Ability Checks

The referee may use a character’s ability scores to determine the character’s chance of succeeding at various challenging tasks.

Rolling an ability check: The player rolls 1d20 and, if the result is less than or equal to the ability, the check succeeds. If the roll is greater than the ability, the check fails.

Modifiers: Bonuses or penalties to the roll may be applied, depending on the difficulty of the task. A modifier of –4 would be a relatively easy ability check, and a +4 would be very difficult.

1s and 20s: An unmodified roll of 1 should be treated as a success and a 20 treated as a failure.

Damage and Healing

All characters and monsters have a hit point total, which represents their ability to avoid death. Many attack forms, including attacks with weapons in combat, subtract hit points from this pool.


A character or monster reduced to 0 hit points or less is killed.

Destruction of Items

If a character is killed by a destructive spell or special attack (e.g. a lightning bolt spell or a dragon’s breath), their equipment is assumed to be destroyed.

Destruction of Magic Items

Magic items in the possession of a character who is killed by a destructive spell or special attack may be allowed a chance to survive, as follows:

  • Save: For each item, a saving throw may be made using the character’s saving throw values.
  • Bonuses: Items that grant a bonus in combat (e.g. magical weapons and armour) may also apply this bonus to the saving throw.


Natural: For each full day of complete rest, a character or monster recovers 1d3 hit points. If the rest is interrupted, the character or monster will not heal that day.

Magical: Healing may also occur through magic, such as potions or spells. This kind of healing is instantaneous. Magical healing and natural healing can be combined.

Saving Throws

All characters and monsters can make saving throws to avoid the full effects of certain magical or special attacks.


There are five saving throw categories, used in the following situations:

  • Death or Poison: When targeted by a death ray or exposed to poison.
  • Wands: When targeted by an effect from a magical wand.
  • Paralysis or Petrification: When targeted by an effect that paralyses or turns to stone.
  • Breath Attacks: When targeted by the breath of a dragon (or other monster with a breath attack).
  • Spells, Rods, or Staves: When targeted by a baneful spell or an effect from a magical rod or staff.

When to Roll a Saving Throw

The appropriate saving throw to make and the effects of a success or failure are indicated in the description of the spell, monster attack, or adventure scenario.

Saving Throw Tables

Characters: Each character class has its own table denoting the saving throw values of characters of each experience level.

Monsters: Most monsters use the saving throw table under Combat Tables. Some monsters’ descriptions may note that they use the table for a specific character class.

Rolling a Saving Throw

When affected by a spell or attack form which requires a saving throw, the player or referee must roll 1d20 and compare the result to the appropriate saving throw value:

  • Greater or equal: A result that is greater than or equal to the saving throw value is a success.
  • Lower: A result of less than the saving throw value is a failure.

Successful Saves

Damaging effects: A successful save against an effect that causes damage means that the damage is halved.

Other effects: A successful saving throw against an effect that does not cause damage means the effect has been entirely avoided or negated.

Saving Throws Versus Poison

Failure: A failed save against poison is usually fatal.

Damage: If a poisonous attack also inflicts damage, the damage is not affected by the success or failure of the saving throw.

Saving Throws in Different Genres

Genre rules books may specify additional situations that require saving throws and which saving throw category should be used. For example, a genre rules book may specify that exposure to radiation requires a save versus spells.