Given the absence of any ‘raise dead’ or ‘resurrection’ spells in most ‘swords and sorcery’ settings, Game Masters may want to make ‘save or die’ effects (from poisons, traps, magic, and so forth) more rare than they are in a standard S&W or D&D game. Moreover, instead of causing instant death, many poisons might do constitution damage (automatically depleting all of the character’s remaining hit points), the amount determined by the strength of the poison in question (from 1d4 to 1d20). Thus such poisons would cause either unconsciousness (unless the character makes his/her saving throw), a -2 penalty to all actions (until the lost constitution points are healed), or death (if the damage roll is high enough).
Alternatively, poisons might cause temporary paralysis, loss of strength or dexterity points (to be recovered through rest, as per constitution points), and so forth.
Game Masters of ‘swords and sorcery’ games should be creative in coming up with non-lethal, or at least not automatically lethal, alternatives for ‘save or die’ effects.