Okay, first for the announcement. I was looking over my posts just now and I saw that I started blogging my way through the Monster Manual in September last year. That's unacceptable to me, so I'm forcing myself to start up the Ultimate Sandbox again. Expect the posts to start rolling in soon enough.
And now for the game mechanic stuff. Now a lot of the design decisions in later iterations of D&D have come about as a way to make the game less deadly. Or less unfair, depending upon your perspective. Chief amongst the changes the game has undergone is the nerfing of save or die effects. I'm personally ambivalent about the subject; in principle I like that the save or die stuff is there to keep the players on their toes, but I've also seen some characters killed in pretty crappy and unsatisfying circumstances.
There's a simple way to alleviate save or die effects. It only works if you're using the optional death's door rule of death at -10 hit points, but to be honest I never see games being run with out it. Anyway, this is how it goes: if your character is hit with a save or die effect, roll 1d10 and subtract the result from 0. Voila, that's how many hit points your character has left. You might die outright, but it's less likely. I don't think I'd use it in a regular game of D&D, but in something more story-based like the Dragonlance campaign I might put it into practice. It seems like a good rule to me for preserving story flow, for DMs who like that sort of thing (which I do on occasion).