I'd mentioned in a previous post some changes I was thinking to Swords & Wizardry to accommodate my growing sense that the core rules, as written, don't quite jibe with my desires of a referee. As I pondered these changes further, I realized there was another set of mechanics I wanted to change: saving throws.
For reasons I don't quite understand, S&W uses a single saving throw rather than several, as did OD&D and AD&D (and as do OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord). At first, this didn't bother me very much. Indeed, I was starting to feel that the reduction of saves to a single number for each class was actually an improvement over the original mechanics. Having been immersed in Tunnels & Trolls recently, I pondered some interested possibilities that a single saving throw afforded me.
But something about it still nagged at the back of my brain and I fond myself wondering more and more about the advisability of reducing all possible saving throws to a single number. Efficient though it may be, it also eliminated one of the more eccentric mechanical elements of D&D, something that gave each class a lot of distinctiveness. In S&W, as written, clerics are hands-down better than all the other classes when it comes to saves and that just feels wrong. I particularly miss the way that old school fighters had the best saving throws versus breath attacks, which always felt right to me given all the tales of dragon slaying.
So, I'm thinking of re-instituting saving throw categories into my game. As Jeff Rients has nicely shown, however, D&D's saving throw categories have never been exactly consistent. That means, if I want to use categories, I'll have to decide which ones I'll go with and then build the tables for myself. I don't mind this, especially since Jeff has come up with a bunch of unified categories that might work nicely with Dwimmermount's swords-and-sorcery with a dash of science fantasy. I still haven't completely made up my mind yet on the specific categories, but I am rather strongly committed to ditching S&W's single saving throw, which no longer sits well with me. I admit it's purely a question of "feel," but I realize now that I prefer having more than one type of saving throw.