Archives of Nethys

Pathfinder RPG (1st Edition) Starfinder RPG Pathfinder RPG (2nd Edition)

All Rules | Downtime Rules

Chapter 8: Tactical Rules / Combat Basics

Saving Throws

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 241
When you are subject to an unusual effect, such as those imposed by some special weapons and magical attacks, in most cases you can attempt a saving throw (often simply called a “save”) to avoid or reduce the effect. When you attempt a saving throw, you roll a d20 and add your base saving throw bonus (determined by your class and level; see Chapter 4) and an associated ability score modifier (see below). You might also have other abilities, feats, or items that further modify your saving throws. If your result equals or exceeds the saving throw Difficulty Class (see below), your saving throw is successful.

Saving Throw Types

The three kinds of saving throws are Fortitude, Reflex, and Will.


Fortitude saving throws measure your ability to stand up to physical punishment or attacks against your vitality and health. Apply your Constitution modifier to your Fortitude saving throws.


Reflex saving throws test your ability to dodge area attacks and unexpected situations. Apply your Dexterity modifier to your Reflex saving throws.


Will saving throws reflect your resistance to mental influence as well as many magical effects. Apply your Wisdom modifier to your Will saving throws.

Saving Throws in Play

This subsection explains how to determine the difficulty of a saving throw, the result of a successful saving throw, and other key elements in play.

Difficulty Class (DC)

A saving throw against an effect has a Difficulty Class (DC) determined by the effect. For most class features, the DC of an effect you create equals 10 + half your class level + your key ability score modifier. For spells, this is 10 + the level of the spell + your key ability score modifier. See page 181 to find the DC for weapon special properties and critical hit effects. The description of an effect from an item normally lists a saving throw DC.

Automatic Failures and Successes

A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on a saving throw is always a failure. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a success.

Forgoing a Saving Throw

You can voluntarily forgo a saving throw and willingly accept the result of an effect or spell. If you have special resistance to magic, you can suppress that resistance to accept the result (though doing so takes a standard action; see page 335).


If you succeed at a saving throw against an effect that has no obvious physical indications, you feel a hostile force or a warning tingle but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. Likewise, if a creature specifically targeted by one of your effects succeeds at its saving throw, you can generally tell that the creature has succeeded. You do not sense when creatures succeed at saves against effects you create that don’t target a single creature.

Saving Throw Terminology

When a spell, an item, or another effect notes that it allows a saving throw, it typically includes the following terminology to describe the result of a successful saving throw. If it does not allow a saving throw, this entry simply says “none.”


This means that the effect has no impact if you succeed at your saving throw.


This means that the effect has a lessened impact if you succeed at your saving throw. Some lesser effect occurs, as defined in the effect’s description.

Half or Half Damage

This means the effect deals half the normal amount of damage if you succeed at your saving throw.


A successful saving throw lets you ignore the effect (this usually applies only to illusion effects).


Effects that deal damage generally affect unattended objects normally but don’t damage held or attended objects unless the effect specifies that they do. Effects that do something other than deal damage affect objects only if their descriptions specifically say so (this is common only with spells) or if they note “(object)” in the description of the effect’s saving throw. An object’s total saving throw bonus for Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saves is equal to the object’s item level (see page 167). An object you’re holding or wearing uses your saving throw bonus if it is better than the object’s own saving throw bonus. Items with an item level of 0 do not receive saving throws when unattended.


Normally only spells note whether they are harmless. Such a spell is usually beneficial, not harmful, but if targeted, you can attempt a saving throw, if you like.