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Saving Throws and Resistances

This article was written by the god Shadowfax, and posted on April 04, 2009.
It was last updated on May 23, 2014.

This article will explain what saving throws are, how to identify saving throws, what spell and magic resistance is, and how these effects can protect you.

What is a saving throw?

A saving throw is a representation of how well-protected you are against a particular type of damage. The term originates from the tabletop version of Dungeons and Dragons, where dice are rolled (thrown) to determine the effectiveness of certain spells and special attacks. In Alter Aeon, the term is a bit of misnomer, since no dice are "thrown". There are seven classes of saving throws, and each has an abbreviated form that is more commonly used:
  • Saving Spell (spellsave)
  • Saving Poison (poisonsave)
  • Saving Breath (breathsave)
  • Saving Fire (firesave)
  • Saving Cold (coldsave or icesave)
  • Saving Zap (zapsave)
  • Saving Normal (normsave)
Using the 'statistics' command, you will see a column with the heading "Resistances", and under this column are each of the saving throw names. If you have the 'elemental lore' skill, a percentage will follow each saving throw class; these percentages indicate how protected your character in each category. (Magic is listed last, this will explained in the Spell Resistance section.) They will all begin at 0% for a new player, but they can be modified through use of spells, skills and equipment.

(If you are new to the game, it is recommended that your learn the 'elemental lore' skill, which can be learned at most low-level spellcaster teachers.)

Sometimes equipment will have a saving throw effect, such as SAVING_FIRE or SAVING_ZAP, that will be listed when it is identified. When referring to the piece of equipment, this is said to be the object's saving throw.

What the Saving Throw Numbers Mean

When statting pieces of equipment for saving throw effects, the higher the number, the more resistance it offers you. Eq with SAVING_COLD 5% will protect a little bit against cold-based attacks and spells. SAVING_COLD 10% will protect you even more. Effects with negative modifiers, such a SAVING_FIRE -10%, will make you more vulnerable to that kind of damage. Each saving throw type is effected separately, for better or for worse.

At 0% you take normal damage.

Saving Throw Categories

Here are some specific rules for each type of saving throw:

Saving Spell

This will help protect you against enemy weapons with magic damage types. It will also protect against damage from pure magic damage spells, such as 'magic missile' and 'prism'.

Additionally, spellsave adds directly to your defensive level against various spells. The saving spell effect is divided by 5 and added to the effective defensive level. An example of this would be your defenses against spells like 'weaken', 'blindness', or 'ice imprison': having SAVING_SPELL 50% gives you an effective bonus of ten levels when defending. A good amount of spellsave can protect you against casters that are much higher level than you are.

In the case of 'dispel magic', the defensive level is the level of your spells, not your own level. If you are affected by a level 25 'sanctuary' spell and have SAVING_SPELL 50%, your sanctuary spell will be as difficult to dispel as if it were level 35. Similarly, if you were to have SAVING_SPELL -25%, it would be as easy to dispel as if it were level 20.

The 'bless' spell will give you spellsave.

Saving Poison

This will not only help you take less damage from poison attacks and spells, it will also slow how quickly you become poisoned. It will help you recover more quickly if you are already poisoned.

The 'slow poison' spell offers you temporary poisonsave, but the cleric spells, 'remove poison' and 'cure poison', and the druid 'draw poison' salve, are far more effective to heal you when you are poisoned.

The 'poison resistance' skill will give you a natural amount of poisonsave, and is a good idea to get if you anticipate encountering poisons regularly.

Saving Breath

This helps you take less damage from air spells and gaseous attacks, such as 'gust of wind' or a dragon's breath attack. The 'armored skin' skill gives you a small amount of breathsave, and the 'dragonbreath defense' skill can protect you specifically against dragonbreath attacks. The spell 'still air' also gives you breathsave.

Saving Fire

This will protect you from fire attacks and spells. Fire is a common element for fighting. The 'ice shield' spell will help protect you against fire by temporarily improving your firesave.

Saving Cold

This saving throw works like firesave except against cold-based attacks and spells. Note that many ice spells actually hurl icy projectiles at the target, thus dealing normal damage in addition to cold damage. The 'fire shield' spell gives you coldsave.

Saving Zap

Zapsave will protect you from electricity spells and weapons with the zap damage type. The 'ground' spell offers you zapsave.

Saving Normal

Normsave reduces the amount of damage you take from non-magical attacks. It can also protect somewhat against spells that evoke solid projectiles, such as 'icebolt', and against acid.

The 'crystal coat' spell offers you additional protection by giving you normsave, as do the 'barkskin' and 'stoneskin' salves. The 'armored skin' skill also will give you normsave. Note that there is no normsave effect for objects: these are the ONLY methods of obtaining normsave.

Spell Resistance

The last line listed in the resistances section of the statistics screen is labeled 'Magic'. This is your total spell resistance. Spell resistance modifies the level of potentially harmful spells before they affect you. Equipment that gives you spell resistance will have a SPELL_RES effect when statted.

When spell resistance is applied to a spell cast at you, the level of the spell is attenuated based on how much spell resistance you have. For example, if a level 100 fireball is cast at you and you have 50 spell resistance, it will affect you as if it were a level 65 fireball. Likewise, a level 10 fireball cast at you would affect you as if it were a level 6 fireball.

Only harmful spells are effected by spell resistance, so it will protect you against enemy spells while allowing you to use curative magic without any trouble. Note that the spell level is dropped before anything else is calculated.

Magic Resistance

Magic Resistance (called 'magicres' or 'mr' for short), and it represents a spell's ability to affect you. Note that there is no way for players to obtain magic resistance except by means of the brew-only 'resistance' spell.

Magic resistance works against a huge number of spells. There are a number of spells it does not work against, but these spells are largely ones with material components. Examples of spells that are immune to magic resistance are 'crystal spear' and 'magic missile', because these spells use physical objects to do damage. Even cleric spells may fail against magic resistance.

For spells that are affected, a percentage (100-sided) die is rolled to see if the spell overcomes the target's magic resistance. If the die result is lower than the target's magic resistance, the spell fails.

One final, yet very important note, is that magic resistance is indiscriminate about which spells are tested: healing and protective spells are resisted just as strongly as your opponent's fireballs or curses. The inability to heal while using magic resistance is a significant handicap.

Damage Calculations

Damage has a bit of a random factor. Magic, fire, cold, zap, breath and poison damage is multiplied by a random number from 0.5-1.5 before saving throws are applied. This random factor is applied to normal, acid or nonorm damage only if the target has normsave.

Damage resulting from most spells without elemental damage is tested against spellsave. Damage resulting from a melee attack is tested against normsave unless it is nornorm. Damage resulting from a dragonbreath attack tests against breathsave.

After this first test, other tests may be made depending on the type of damage of the attack (saving fire for a fire breathing dragon, saving zap for lightning bolts, saving cold for freezing weapons, etc.) Except for a few special circumstances, nearly all attacks in the game are tested against a saving throw. Weapons with multiple elemental damage types (fire/cold/zap) can only do one type at a time while fighting.

Spell Charts

Protection that 'fire shield' offers:

Spell LevelSaving Cold
10 - 2125%
22 - 3330%
34 - 4535%

Protection that 'ground' offers:

Spell LevelSaving Zap
13 - 2425%
25 - 3630%
37 - 4835%

Protection that 'ice shield' offers:

Spell LevelSaving Fire
16 - 2725%
28 - 3930%
40 - 5135%

Protection that 'still air' offers:

Spell levelSaving Breath
23 - 2715%
28 - 3220%
33 - 3725%
38 - 4230%

Protection that 'slow poison' offers:

Spell LevelSaving Poison
13 - 2525%
26 - 3830%
39 - 5035%

Protection that 'crystal coat' offers:

Spell LevelSaving Normal
15 - 235%
24 - 3210%
33 - 4115%

Crystal coat also offers between zero and two saving throw on fire, ice, zap and breath as level increases.

Protection that 'barkskin' and 'stoneskin' offer:

Spell LevelSaving Normal
0 - 295%

Barkskin provides additional protection against blunt and whip damage groups. Stoneskin provides additional protection against edged weapons.

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