Saving Throw Matrices


Saving Throws

I. For Characters and Human Types
II. For Monsters
III. For Magical and Non-Magical Items
Saving Throws
Magic Armor and Saving Throws
Combat Tables

Character Class Experience Level Paralyzation, 
Poison, or 
Death Magic
or Polymorph *
Rod, Staff 
or Wand
Breath Weapon ** Spell ***
Clericsa 1-3 10 13 14 16 15
- 4-6 9 12 13 15 14
- 7-9 7 10 11 13 12
- 10-12 6 9 10 12 11
- 13-15 5 8 9 11 10
- 16-18 4 7 8 10 9
- 19+ 2 5 6 8 7
Fightersb 0 16 17 18 20 19
- 1-2 14 15 16 17 17
- 3-4 13 14 15 16 16
- 5-6 11 12 13 13 14
- 7-8 10 11 12 12 13
- 9-10 8 9 10 9 11
- 11-12 7 8 9 8 10
- 13-14 5 6 7 5 8
- 15-16 4 5 6 4 7
- 17+ 3 4 5 4 6
Magic-Usersc 1-5 14 13 11 15 12
- 6-10 13 11 9 13 10
- 11-15 11 9 7 11 8
- 16-20 10 7 5 9 6
- 21+ 8 5 3 7 4
Thievesd 1-4 13 12 14 16 15
- 5-8 12 11 12 15 13
- 9-12 11 10 10 14 11
- 13-16 10 9 8 13 9
- 17-20 9 8 6 12 7
- 21+ 8 7 4 11 5

* Excluding polymorph wand attacks.
** Excluding those which cause petrification or polymorph.
*** Excluding those for which another saving throw type is specified,
such as death, petrification, polymorph, etc.

a    Includes Druids.
b    Includes Paladins, Rangers, and 0 level types.
c    Includes Illusionists.
d    Includes Assassins and Monks.

N.B.: A roll of 1 is always failure, regordless of magical protections, spells, or any other reasons which indicate to the contrary.

A. All monsters use the matrix for characters.

B. HD equate to Experience level,
with additional pluses in hit points moving the creature upwards by one hit die.
Further die levels are added for each increment of four additional points.
    Therefore, for the purpose of determining saving throw levels,
        1 + 1 through 1 + 4 HD becomes 2,
        1 + 5 through 1 + 8 becomes 3,
        2 + 1 through 2 + 4 also becomes 3,
        2 + 5 through 2 + 8 becomes 4, etc.

C. Most monsters SAVE as fighters, except:
    1. Those with abilities of other character classes gain the benefit of the most favorable saving throw score,
        i.e. be it cleric or magic-user || thief.
    2. Those with no real offensive fighting capabilities save according to their area of ability -- cleric, magic-user, thief, etc.

D. Non-intelligent creatures save at an Experience Level equal to one-half their hit dice,
rounded upwards,
except with regard to poison or death magic.


                                                                                      Attack Form & Number
Item Description 1. acid 2. cr. blow 3. nor. blow 4. dis 5. fall 6. fireball 7. mag fire 8. nor fire 9. frost 10. ltng 11. elec
A. Bone or ivory 11 16 10 20 6 17 9 3 2 8 1
B. Ceramic 4 18 12 19 11 5 3 2 4 2 1
C. Cloth 12 6 3 20 2 20 16 13 1 18 1
D. Crystal or Vial 6 19 14 20 13 10 6 3 7 15 5
E. Glass 5 20 15 20 14 11 7 4 6 17 1
F. Leather or Book 10 4 2 20 1 13 6 4 3 13 1
G. Liquid * 15 0 0 20 0 15 14 13 12 18 15
H. Metal, hard 7 6 2 17 2 6 2 1 1a 11 1
I. Metal, soft or Jewelry ** 13 14 9 19 4 18 13 5 1 16 1
J. Mirror *** 12 20 15 20 13 14 9 5 6 18 1
K. Parchment or Paper 16 11 6 20 0 25 21 18 2 20 1
L. Stone, small or Gem 3 17 7 18 4 7 3 2 1 14 2
M. Wood or Rope, thin 9 13 6 20 2 15 11 9 1 10 1
N. Wood or Rope, thick 8 10 3 19 1 11 7 5 1 12 1

* Potions, magical oils, poisons, acids while container remains intact.

** Includes pearls of any sort.

*** Silvered glass. Treat silver mirror as "Metal, soft," steel as "Metal, hard."

a If exposed to extreme cold then struck against a very hard surface with force, the save is -10 on die!

Attack Forms
1. Acid
2. Blow, Crushing
3. Blow, Normal
4. Disintegration
5. Fall
6. Fireball (or breath)
7. Fire, Magical
8. Fire, Normal (oil)
9. Frost, Magical
10. Lightning Bolt
11. Electrical Discharge/Current

1.^^. Acid: This assumes a considerable volume of strong acid (black dragon or giant slug spittle) or immersion for a period which would affect the item.

2.^^. Blow, Crushing:

This assumes that the item is struck by a weighty falling object
or a blow from an ogre's || giant's weapon, for example.
Another example would be a (ceramic) flask of oil or a (crystal or glass) vial of holy water
    hurled against a hard surface ar dropped from a height.
A piece of cloth can be ripped or tarn by a crushing blow.

3.^^. Blow, Normal: This assumes an attack by a normal-strength opponent or only fairly heavy object which strikes the object.
This also applies to a (ceramic) flask of oil or a (crystal || glass) vial of holy water hurled against a tough,
    but slightly yielding, surface.

4.^^. Disintegration: This is the magical effect.

5.^^. Fall: This assumes the item falls about 5' and comes into contact with a hard (stone-like) surface.
A softer surface (wood-like) gives a + 1 on the saving throw,
    and a fleshy-soft surface gives +5.
For each 5' over the first 5' the item falls,
    subtract -1 from the die roll to save.

6.^^. Fireball: This is the magical fireball, meteor swarm, (red) dragon breath, etc.

7.^^. Fire, Magical: This is the magical wall of fire, fire storm, flame strike, etc.

8.^^. Fire, Normal: This assumes a hot fire such as produced by a blazing wood fire, flaming oil, and the like.
The item in question would have to be exposed to the fire for an amount of time sufficient to have an effect,
i.e. paper or parchment for but 1 melee round, cloth for 2, bone or ivory for 3, etc.

9.^^. Frost, Magical: This is the magical frost or cold such as a white dragon breathes or spells such as cone of cold || ice storm.

10.^^. Lightning Bolt: This is magical attack from lightning called from the sky, blue dragon breath, etc.

11.^^. Electrical Discharge/Current: The "shock" of an electric eel, magical items, traps, etc.

Magical Items: Magical items gain +2 on all rolls plus +1 for each plus they have above + 1,
    i.e. + 1 = +2 on saving throw, +2 = +3 on saving throw.
Furthermore, the magic item gains +5 on saving throws against attack forms in its own mode,
    i.e. blow vs. shield,
    fireball vs. ring of fire resistance or fireball wand.

Non-Magical Items: Those items which do not exactly conform to item descriptions above can be interpolated.
[>>] It is assumed that the item in question is actually exposed to the form of attack,
    i.e. the blow falls on the item,
    the fall is such as to not cushion the item,
    the fire actually contacts the item, etc.
As with magical items, non-magical items gain +5 versus attacks in their own mode.

<thin wood is defined as wood that is 1/2" or less thick: Dungeon 1, page 62>

Aranion wrote:
Hi, Gary!

Sorry to bother you with a question from AD&D. This has cropped up on the 1E forum, and while a common sense answer seems evident, getting your take directly would be most appreciated (not that your take is somehow opposed to common sense!).

On page 80 of the DMG, you list the saving throw matrix for magical and nonmagical items.
A number of these have 1s and 0s listed; for instance, the saving throw for liquid vs crushing blow is 0.
The easist explanation for this is that, well, duh! - liquids as a general rule can't be hurt by a crushing blow.

However, that doesn't explain the items with a "1" listing.
Since you have to roll the given number or below, what was the purpose of giving some items a 1 rating and others a 0, since they work the same for all intents and purposes?
Why not just put n/a for those items?

Any thoughts you can share about this would be most appreciated. Thanks for the time and patience, and most of all for the game that fires the imagination and brings friends together for creative, intelligent fun.

Short answer:

The 0s and 1s assume that there can be modification of saving throws that penalize the die roll.
Some attack might have a penalty of 5, for example, so one could actually fail a roll with a 0 or 1 save.


The term saving throw is common enough, coming to us from miniature
wargames and D&D. It represents the chance for the figure concerned to
avoid (or at least partially avoid) the cruel results of fate. In AD&D it is the
same. By means of skill, luck, magical protections, quirks of fate and the
aid of supernatural powers, the character making his or her saving throw
takes none or only part of the indicated results - [fireball] damage, poisoning,
being turned to stone, or whatever. The various saving throws are
shown on the appropriate tables -- for characters, monsters, and items as
well. When someone or something fails to roll the number shown, or
better, whatever is coming comes in full. To better understand the concept
of the saving throw, the following is offered:

As has been often pointed out, AD&D is a game wherein participants
create personae and operate them in the milieu created and designed, in
whole or in part, by the DM and shared by all, including the
DM, in imagination and enthusiasm. The central theme of this game is the
interaction of these personae, whether those of the players or those of the
DM, with the milieu, including that part represented by the characters and
creatures personified by the DM. This interaction results in adventures and
deeds of daring. The heroic fantasy which results is a blend of the dramatic
and the comic, the foolish and the brave, stirring excitement and grinding
boredom. It is a game in which the continuing epic is the most meaningful
portion. It becomes an entity in which at least some of the characters seem
to be able to survive for an indefinite time, and characters who have
shorter spans of existence are linked one to the other by blood or purpose.
These personae put up with the frustrations, the setbacks, and the
tragedies because they aim for and can reasonably expect to achieve
adventure, challenge, wealth, glory and more. If player characters are not
of the same stamp as Conan, they also appreciate that they are in effect
writing their own adventures and creating their own legends, not merely
reliving those of someone else's creation.

Yet because the PC is all-important, he or she must always --
or nearly always - have a chance, no matter how small, a chance of
somehow escaping what otherwise would be inevitable destruction. Many
will not be able to do so, but the escapes of those who do are what the
fabric of the game is created upon. These adventures become the twicetold
tales && lejends of the campaign. The fame (or infamy) of certain
characters gives lustre to the campaign and enjoyment to player and DM
alike as the parts grow and are entwined to become a fantastic history of a
never-was world where all of us would wish to live if we could.

Someone once sharply criticized the concept of the saving throw as
ridiculous. Could a man chained to a rock, they asked, save himself from
the blast of a red dragon's breath? Why not?, I replied. If you accept firebreathing
dragons, why doubt the chance to reduce the damage sustained
from such a creature's attack? Imagine that the figure, at the last moment,
of course, manages to drop beneath the licking flames, or finds a crevice
in which to shield his or her body, or succeeds in finding a way to be free
of the fetters. Why not? The mechanics of combat or the details of the
injury caused by some horrible weapon are not the key to heroic fantasy
and adventure games. It is the character, how he or she becomes involved
in the combat, how he or she somehow escapes -- or fails to escape -- the
mortal threat which is important to the enjoyment and longevity of the

If some further rationale is needed to explain saves versus magic,
hece is one way of looking at it. Magical power is energy from another
plane channeled through this one by the use of certain prescribed
formulae. The magic obeys (or disobeys) the magic-user because he or
she controls and constrains it by a combination of the formulae and willpower.
As magic-users advance in level, their willpower increases through
practice, and so does their control. Inherently magical creatures exercise
such control instinctively.

A character under magical attack is in a stress situation, and his or her own
will force reacts instinctively to protect the character by slightly altering the
effects of the magical assault. This protection takes a slightly different form
for each class of character. Magic-users understand spells, even on an unconscious
level, and are able to slightly tamper with one so as to render it
ineffective. Fighters withstand them through sheer defiance, while clerics
create a small island of faith. Thieves find they are able to avoid a spell's
full effects by quickness . . .

So a character manages to avoid the full blast of the fireball, or averts his
or her gaze from the basilisk or medusa, or the poisonous stinger of the
giant scorpion misses or fails somehow to inject its venom. Whatever the
rationale, the character is saved to go on. Of course, some saves result in
the death of the character anyway, as partial damage causes him or her to
meet death. But at least the character had some hope, and he or she
fought until the very end. Stories will be told of it at the inn, and songs
sung of the battle when warriors gather around the campfire. Almost,
almost he managed to reach the bend in the passage where the fell breath
of the blue dragon Razisiz could not reach, but at the last moment his toe
struck a protrusion, and as he stumbled the dragon slew him!

Saving Throw Modifiers:
DM Stipulations: You may assign modifiers to any saving throws as you
see fit, always keeping in mind game balance.

Rule Stipulations: Some attack forms will always give an adjustment to
saving throws because of the creature considered, e.g., a large spider's
poison attack is always at a plus on the saving throw dice. Some attack
forms always receive adjustments against certain creatures also. Check
facts regarding the characters and/or monsters concerned.

Magical Devices and Protections: Various magic items (rings, armor,
shields, etc.) allow saving throw dice modifications. In general, these
modifiers are cumulative, unless otherwise stated. Some spells will also
cause such modifications. It is necessary to familiarize yourself with all
such information by having a working knowledge of both MONSTER MANUAL
and PLAYERS HANDBOOK, as well as this volume.

Circumstantial Adjustments: Such adjustments are quite similar to DM stipulations.
That is, if a character is standing in a pool of water holding a sword in his steel-gauntleted hand when the [blue dragon] breathes at him,
you just might wish to slightly alter his chances of saving.
In like manner, you might wish to give this same character one-half or NO damage from a red dragon's <l> breath in the same circumstances.
(In this same fashion you may feel no constraint with respect to allotting pluses to damage so meted out to players,
adjusting the score of each die upwards or downwards as you see fit because of prevailing circumstances.)

Certain Failure: As shown on the table, a 1 is ALWAYS a failure, regardless
of magical modifiers to the contrary. However, as DM you may adjust such
failures according to prevailing circumstances, although any adjudication
which negates failure on a roll of 1 is not recommended at all. Another
rule you may wish to consider is allowing a save (where applicable) on a
natural 20, regardless of penalties.

Item Saving Throws:
These saving throws are self-explanatory in general. It is a case of either
saving or failing. Potions and liquids which do not make their saving
throws should be noted secretly by you -- unless the player concerned has
his or her character check to determine if the fluid was harmed. Such
failure will not otherwise be notable without examination and testing.

<Items with a creature which makes its save are considered as unaffected. - fireball>

Artifacts & Relics: Because of the very nature of these items, you may
desire to disallow any destruction or harm to these items by common
normal or magical means. This rule may apply to some, all, or none as you
deem best in the circumstances of your campaign. You might, for
example, decide that all such items have an additional + 3 on their saving
throw dice, and that certain obviously potent items are subject to harm
only from other artifacts and relics or attacks by gods or similarly powerful

Poison Saving Throws For Characters:
For those who wonder why poison does either killing damage (usually) or
no harm whatsoever, recall the justification for character hit points. That is,
damage is not octually sustained -at least in proportion to the number of
hit points marked off in most cases. The so called damage i s the expenditure
of favor from deities, luck, skill, and perhaps a scratch, and thus the
saving throw. If that mere scratch managed to be venomous, then DEATH.
If no such wound was delivered, then NO DAMAGE FROM THE POISON. In
cases where some partial damage is indicated, this reflects poisons either
placed so that they are ingested or used so as to ensure that some small
portion does get in the wound or skin of the opponent.

Poison Saving Throws For Monsters:
There are exceptions to the death (or damage) rule for poison. Any
creature with a thick layer of fat (where blood vessels and nerves are
virtually non-existent) will be totally immune to poison from creatures
which are not able to penetrate this fat layer when injecting their poison.
All swine, wereboars included, will be in this protected class. Similarly,
very large creatures poisoned by very small ones are not likely to be
affected. Even the poison of the deadly coral snake would not be likely to
harm an apatosaurus. Giants would simply smash giant centipedes without
fear of their poison -- which would cause a swelling and rash,
perhaps, at worst. Whenever a situation arises where poison IS involved,
consider both of these cases in reaching a decision.

The magical properties of the various sorts of magic armor will sometimes,
but not always, add bonuses to saving throw dice rolls made by wearers.
All cases cannot be dealt with, for there will undoubtedly be many special
circumstances which occur. There are guidelines, however, which will
generally serve. Saving throws will NOT be aided by magic armor against:

  • GAS



    * petrification, polymorph, magic jar, charm.

    Saving throw rolls WILL receive an armor bonus against:

  • FALLING DAMAGE <ExTSR noted that this was omitted from the index to the DMG>



    * Exception: Metallic armor will NOT add to saving throws versus electrical attacks,
    although nonmetallic armor will do so.

    Of course, where no saving throw is permitted, magic armor does not then
    give such an option unless otherwise stated.

    Circumstantial Adjustments: Such adjustments are quite similar to DM stipulations.
    That is, if a character is standing in a pool of water holding a sword in his steel-gauntleted hand when the [blue dragon] breathes at him,
    you just might wish to slightly alter his chances of saving.
    In like manner, you might wish to give this same character one-half or NO damage from a red dragon's <l> breath in the same circumstances.
    (In this same fashion you may feel no constraint with respect to allotting pluses to damage so meted out to players,
    adjusting the score of each die upwards or downwards as you see fit because of prevailing circumstances.)

    In your games or in your original thoughts behind the rules, is it possible for a PC to forego making a saving throw. Especially when spells are used by his allies. For example, both enlarge and levitate call for a save to negate the effects, but both of these spells can also usefully be used intraparty for combat advantage. I know that a lot of spells specify that an unwilling recipient must make a save; should this be extrapolated to all spells?

    Indeed, the rule should be extrapolated to allow a willing recipient to be effected by a spell sans any saving throw.
    the save for one unwiling represents their active attejmkpts to avoid being affected.

    As another wrinkle: what if a PC did not know that a potentially friendly spell is coming. Say an MU sees somehting bearing down on her fighter friend and tries to levitate that fighter out of harm's way. Should the fighter be forced to make a save since he does not know the origin of the magic?

    There's a whole other issue about whether magic resistance can be intentionally lowered, but we'll stick to this for now.

    Thanks a lot.


    I would say that the PC unaware of the origination of a spell aimed at him would have a saving throw apply, as that individual would not be willing it to work on him.


    Because these creatures love water and wetness and are always damp,
    they are not as vulnerable to fire as their feathery forms would indicate.
    Saving throws vs. fire are made at +1 and damage is at -1 per die.
        - eblis, MM2

    rabindranath72 wrote:
    ...I was referring to AD&D saving throw categories. Sorry if it is the wrong forum 


    Actually. I am not fond of the new Saving Throw method, as it rather weakens the archetypes and the class-base of the system.


    orgcandman wrote:
    3) Why weren't any combat rules, saves, to-hit, etc.. included in the player's handbook?


    3) Players should be concentrating on enacting the role of their in-game persona.
    not looking at charts and tables to study probabilities.
    The game form is about that, not combat simulation 


    The AD&D combat system came from OD&D, and OD&D came from the original Chainmail medieval military miniatures rules.
    The armor protection system in the latter rules was progressively higher the better the armor, so the current D20 approach is not a new concept.

    For the rest, I do believe that using THAC0 was as complicated as the to hit system in D20, so it is more a matter of personal preference that not in my thinking.
    I can use either method, but I rather like t6he old one better, as I do the old saving throw tables.