Much like Dave Arneson and Swords & Wizardry, I have become a fan of the single saving throw progression. People have charted the AD&D saves and there's a pattern to them that roughly goes from 15 to 7. Some classes are better, some are worse. When someone pointed out that the Rod/Staves/Wands saves for all classes is 1 better than their spells saves, it clicked. We might as well remove the column from the chart and convert it to a bonus. Why not do that with all of the saves?
Let's start at 15 for everyone at 1st level, and drop by one each level until the target is 5. I suppose there's math to make this work as an ascending bonus, but let's get the math right first. Next up, modifiers:
- Poison: Dwarves get a bonus, perhaps based on Constitution like in AD&D. For now let's make it +3.
- Death Magic: This includes negative energy attacks. Clerics get +3 due to their link with the higher and lower planes.
- Petrification, Polymorph: This is pretty much the same for everyone in AD&D, so no class bonus. Perhaps Constitution as a tip of the hat to System Shock checks.
- Rod, Staff, Wand: We'll say all magical items effects give you +1 to the save. Maybe we note this with some of the items (Wand of Fireballs), but not others (a bonus to saves versus the Staff of the Magi - I think not!)
- Breath Weapons: Breath Weapons are nasty. In AD&D, this is the hardest save at 1st level and the hardest at 17+ for most classes. We'll include this as necessary on the specific monster. Is a hell hound attack as hard to avoid as an ancient red dragon?
- Spells: +3 for Magic-Users, +3 for Dwarves, +2 for Hobbits... err Halflings.
Modifiers for Special Cases:
- Charm and Illusion effects: Give the Wisdom attribute bonus (for TSR, I've standardized this like BEX D&D)
- Dodge-able effects: This is a DM's call as to when it applies. Perhaps give Thieves a +2 on save for dodge-able effects (lightning bolts, wands, etc). Perhaps give everyone their Dexterity Adjustment. Like the Defensive Adjustment in AD&D, this works better when it's not applied across the board.
What else should be included?