What does Save Failed mean in Baldur’s Gate 3? – Answered

But I didn't even hit F5!

When adventuring around the world of Baldur’s Gate 3, you may notice a constant message popping up in the corner of your screen: “Save Failed”. Don’t fret, your save file isn’t corrupt and you don’t need to worry about losing your progress in the game. This is just another layer of the classic RPG format happening before your eyes. If you’d like to know more, continue reading to learn what Save Failed means in Baldur’s Gate 3.

Baldur’s Gate 3 – Save Failed Message Explained

In Baldur’s Gate 3, the ‘Save Failed’ message means one or more of your characters just failed a Passive Ability Check. These passive checks can happen both in and out of dialogue and are calculated automatically by the in-game system. Essentially, a passive ability check was just issued to one of your characters due to something happening around them, and they failed the test. Passive Ability Checks are calculated by several different factors, so let’s go into how that’s done below.

How are Passive Ability Checks Calculated in Baldur’s Gate 3?

Many passive actions in Baldur’s Gate 3, such as detecting traps, discovering secrets, or recognizing deception, are all determined by their Difficulty Class (DC). Difficulty Classes are broken down into the following levels:

  • Very Easy: 5
  • Easy: 10
  • Medium: 15
  • Hard: 20
  • Very Hard: 25
  • Nearly Impossible: 30

When Baldur’s Gate 3 needs to determine your passive ability check score, it uses the following formula:

10 + ability modifier + proficiency bonus (if applicable) + any additional bonuses

  • The Ability Modifier is based on a separate calculation from an Ability Score table, which is essentially (Level of Stat – 10) / 2. In other words, if you have a Strength score of 18, your Strength ability modifier would be +4, because (18 – 10) / 2 = 4.
  • The Proficiency Bonus is applied if your character is proficient in the stat being tested, which is determined by your character’s Race, Background, Class, and Features/Feats.
  • Additional Bonuses may be applied if the character is wearing special gear and/or has any spells cast that could affect their ability check score.

While this may seem complicated at first glance, all of this is calculated and determined automatically and naturally throughout the game. Let’s look at a real example to better understand how it works.

An example of Save Failed: Perception in Action

Screenshot by Prima Games

In the image above, my character was pickpocketed while having a conversation with an NPC. At that exact moment, a Perception check was issued, and my character failed.

Let’s pretend that the Perception check had a Difficulty Class (DC) of 15. Let’s also pretend that my character’s raw Wisdom stat was 15. Taking in the calculations we learned above, that means my character’s Passive Perception Score would equal 14:

10 + 2 (ability modifier) + 2 (proficiency bonus) = 14

Because my character’s Passive Perception Score was only 14, they failed the passive check, resulting in Save Failed: Perception being displayed, and the pickpocket going unnoticed. Had I passed the Perception check, my character would have noticed the pickpocket and a different set of outcomes would arise from the situation.

Related: How to Fix Can’t Save Issue in Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3)

Passive Ability Checks happen all the time in Baldur’s Gate 3 and make for a truly unique experience for every player. If you’re ever exploring an area and notice part of the environment glowing, like a crack in the wall, it’s because one or more of your characters just passed a Passive Ability Check. These checks can uncover secrets out in the world, hidden passages, and special dialogue options you wouldn’t normally have access to.

Luckily, Passive Ability Checks aren’t determined by a dice roll, but many things in Baldur’s Gate 3 are. To learn how dice notation works, check out our guide on what +1d4 means in Baldur’s Gate 3, and stick with Prima Games for more tips and tricks.

About the Author

Matt Vatankhah

Before joining Prima Games in 2022, Matt had a pretty boring office job. He's had a passion for video games for all of his life and really loves Final Fantasy, retro FPS, and roguelike games. He will absolutely stomp you in Tetris.