A lot has been said about Skill Challenges in D&D 4th Edition, some good some bad. I like the concept but as I have said in the past I have had a hard time implementing them to my satisfaction. Honestly, for the most part they have been enjoyable as they have mixed role playing with dice rolling in such a way that, when done correctly, can appeal to two different kinds of gamers. Still, sometimes it is hard to get the descriptions right in such a way to appeal to those who are looking for story in what is often predominantly an adventure game.
I ran a Skill Challenge for my group last night that went fairly well. Again, it suffered in some of the descriptive elements both from myself and the players but sometimes that is simply a case of not knowing exacly how something would work. For example, I know a rogue is suppose to be able to use Thievery to disarm Trap A but as I do not fully understand the mechanisms of Trap A nor do I have any clue how it would actually be disarmed it becomes hard for me (and presumably the player) to describe what is going on.
Still, this Skill Challenge was interesting, players were coming up with things I had not exactly planned for and I was feeling pretty good about that. I also felt the need to change the way a couple of things worked as we were going but that was simply to make the experience more interesting and fun. It seemed that the players enjoyed themselves overall and that is what really counts. So, feel free to comment on the challenge, letting me know how you have done it or giving me suggestions on how better to set one up in the future.
Trapped Under Ground With a Whole Lot of Loot
The players have just defeated a wretched Lich-like Dragon, the body of a once Great Red Dragon that had been corrupted by the strange black ooze they have been encountering. As the dragon falls the walls around them shake, the dark creature’s magic having been responsible for the structure staying sound. Now they have a limited amount of time to grab as much of the dragon’s horde, a horde they were sent to find to fund the armies of High Hill before their enemies attack, as possible and get themselves out to safety. There are 12 “parcels” of treasure that they are trying to transport out but they are deep beneath the earth and can only barely see the exit that lies high above.
Perception – DC 18 – A successful Perception Check will tell the players that there is an old rope and pulley system that could be repaired and used to haul the treasure to the surface and the player will also notice something odd beneath the treasure.
Perception – DC 18 – Once a player has noticed the “something” beneath the treasure that same player or another player can make a perception roll to find the pieces of a ancient device used for teleporting things from beneath the earth to above.
Dungeonering – DC 20 – A Dungeonering Check will tell the players they have 10 rounds to transport as much of the treasure out and get out themselves before the structure collapses.
Diplomacy, Bluff – DC 22 – Intimidate DC 20 – These skills can be used to convince the kobolds that once served the deceased dragon to assist with the transporting of the treasure. Four successes are needed before three failures.
Diplomacy – A Diplomacy Check will give the players one success on this aspect of the skill challenge.
Bluff - A Bluff Check will give the players one success on this aspect of the skill challenge.
Intimidate – While Intimidating the kobolds is easier than being diplomatic or tricky with them it comes at a cost. Once a player has made an Intimidate check against the kobolds whether it is successful or not any further Diplomacy or Bluff checks will fail automatically.
Insight – DC 22 – After the Intimidate Check the player that made it can make a free Insight check. If successful they will know that the kobolds will no longer respond to Diplomacy or Bluff.
Success – If the players succeed they have convinced the kobolds to assist with the removal of the treasure. Each round the players can add one success to any other piece of this skill challenge.
Failure – If the players fail the kobolds decline to help, deciding instead to make a run for it.
The Rope and Pulley System
Athletics, Thievery – DC 23 – Athletics and Thievery can be used to reassemble the rope and pulley system that can then be used to pull the treasure out of the dungeon. It will take six successes before four failures to assemble the rope and pulley.
Athletics, Thievery – Each success on either of these gives one success toward this aspect of the skill challenge.
Nature – DC 20 – A successful Nature roll will count as one success as the roots can be used to strengthen the rope and pulley.
Dungeonering – DC 22 – A successful Dungeonering roll will lower the difficulty all Athletics and Thievery checks by 2, assuming the character that made the check can inform the other players of their understanding of the structure they are in.
Success – Upon completion of the Rope and Pulley System the players can begin to transport the treasure up and out of the cavern.
Athletics – DC 20 – Each successful athletics check made once the system is complete will transport one parcel of treasure or one player out of the cavern.
Failure – Failure indicates that the players have damaged the Rope and Pulley System in their attempt to reassemble it. If the players has gotten at least four successes before four failures they could at least use the rope but with come difficulty.
Athletics – DC 24 – For every two successes made once the players have failed to assemble the Rope and Pulley but had at least four success they are able to transport one parcel of treasure or one player out of the dungeon.
The Ancient Transporter
Arcana – DC 24 – Arcana can be used to reactivate the Ancient Transporter that can then be used to get the treasure out of the dungeon. To activate the transporter players need eight successes before four failures.
Arcana - Each success on an Arcana Check gives one success toward this aspect of the skill challenge.
Athletics – DC 22 – Athletics can be used to clear away the debris that is covering the device. This will add to success to this aspect of the skill challenge but cannot be used to complete the challenge.
History – DC 22 – A History Check can give information to the player regarding this kind of device having been used in the past. player can explain what they know to others can make the Arcana checks easier by 2.
Success – Upon success of this part of the skill challenge players can use the transporter once per round to transport two parcels of loot and/or players out of the dungeon. It takes one action per loot transported but is automatic and takes no roll.
Failure – If this aspect of the skill challenge is failed the time left until the structure collapses is reduced by one.
One thing the players came up with was using Heal to help out the injured kobolds and I allowed this to assist with getting them to help. If things had been more dire I might have also had the kobolds be more effective, since there were more of them, but the players had things well in hand and I saw no reason to modify the challenge at that point.
Again, feel free to comment!