[RPG] the difference between Ability Checks and Saving Throws


Mechanically, they both seem to be d20 rolls with an added ability modifier to overcome some type of challenge. Why call it a "saving throw" and not just present it as a passive ability check?

The reason I'm confused is that I'm coming from 4th edition, and they were completely different mechanics in that game. The use of two terms to describe what is basically the same thing seems confusing to me here.

Best Answer

They are different for 2 reasons

  • Many spells buff ability checks but are not meant to buff saving throws. Because saving throws are mechanically distinct it is easy to simply call-out ability checks without having to say "but not checks to resist spells, traps, or other attacks."
  • Saving throws have proficiency bonus added for specific throws based on those granted from your starting class.