Need help for a skill challenge

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Hi everybody, as i said in the title i need help for a final skill challenge. I don't know if it is the right section to post this thread, so eventually i apologize for the little mistake...

This is the situation: after an intense and long battle, the party (a large group of 7 players) just menaged kill the final boss - a lich - and now they need to destroy his "boosted" phylactery before he spawns back.
- Success: boss is destroyed forever.
- Fail: boss respawns at 20~25% HP. Cannot reattempt to destroy the phylactery until the lich is defeated again (also if you guys have some better idea of just make the phylactery hidden when the boss is in play let me know, cos i'm not really satisfied with this explanation...).


As key skills the skill challenge has:
- Arcana: magically counter the power of the phylactery --> [1 success] or [1 failure]
- Religion+Heal: convert the dark energy of the phylactery in positive through a sort of exorcism --> [1 success +1 HS to each member] or [1 failure + performer loses 1 HS and is stunned until next turn]
- Thievery: PC manage to sabotage the phylactery --> [2 successes] or [1 failure + performer loses 1 HS and is stunned until next turn]
- Athletics (after if 1/2 of successes has been achieved): the magical protection is weakened so the character can attempt to broke up the artifact --> [1 success] or [1 failure]

Other skills give party some advanteges like bonus or failure cancelling...


I'm quite satisfied of the skill challenge i designed so far, just want to add some synergies between the player doing the roll and the rest of the group.
For example i'd like to give the possibility to the party to help out the "arcana skill performer" provided they are instructed by him to do that... I'm not sure how to make that in game... what skill/ability checks do you suggest for "teaching"?

TY for ur replies ;)

SpadaBastarda

 
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Hi everybody, as i said in the title i need help for a final skill challenge. I don't know if it is the right section to post this thread, so eventually i apologize for the little mistake...

This is a fine place to post it. You might also consider posting it at community.wizards.com/skill_challenges_4...

This is the situation: after an intense and long battle, the party (a large group of 7 players) just menaged kill the final boss - a lich - and now they need to destroy his "boosted" phylactery before he spawns back.
- Success: boss is destroyed forever.
- Fail: boss respawns at 20~25% HP. Cannot reattempt to destroy the phylactery until the lich is defeated again (also if you guys have some better idea of just make the phylactery hidden when the boss is in play let me know, cos i'm not really satisfied with this explanation...).

You've got a good success/failure pairing there. Failure doesn't end the adventure, just complicates it. Good.

As key skills the skill challenge has:
- Arcana: magically counter the power of the phylactery --> [1 success] or [1 failure]
- Religion+Heal: convert the dark energy of the phylactery in positive through a sort of exorcism --> [1 success +1 HS to each member] or [1 failure + performer loses 1 HS and is stunned until next turn]
- Thievery: PC manage to sabotage the phylactery --> [2 successes] or [1 failure + performer loses 1 HS and is stunned until next turn]
- Athletics (after if 1/2 of successes has been achieved): the magical protection is weakened so the character can attempt to broke up the artifact --> [1 success] or [1 failure]

All that sounds very good. Be sure to accompany it with good descriptions.

Other skills give party some advanteges like bonus or failure cancelling...

Good, yes. Any skill should be applicable to a skill challenge at least once (or maybe at a Hard DC) as long as the DM is conviced it makes sense.

I'm quite satisfied of the skill challenge i designed so far, just want to add some synergies between the player doing the roll and the rest of the group.
For example i'd like to give the possibility to the party to help out the "arcana skill performer" provided they are instructed by him to do that... I'm not sure how to make that in game... what skill/ability checks do you suggest for "teaching"?

Well, the game already includes the Aid Another option. Anyone can try to aid, but those with good Intelligence or training in Arcana will be most likely to help rather than harm.

One thing you might consider: Require the phylactery to be destroyed during the fight. Most exciting battles in stories have something else going on and I bet it would be interesting for them to have to try to destroy it while the lich is screaming around. Anyone who worked on it would be a prime target, so part of the group would have to hold off the lich, while the others worked. As in your original idea, the lich can't be destroyed until the phylactery is.

This will definitely keep everyone involved, while preventing them from just piling on their best bonus with no associated downside.

Best of luck.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.


One thing you might consider: Require the phylactery to be destroyed during the fight. Most exciting battles in stories have something else going on and I bet it would be interesting for them to have to try to destroy it while the lich is screaming around. Anyone who worked on it would be a prime target, so part of the group would have to hold off the lich, while the others worked. As in your original idea, the lich can't be destroyed until the phylactery is.

This will definitely keep everyone involved, while preventing them from just piling on their best bonus with no associated downside.

Best of luck.


Tnx for your appreciations and your advices. I'm not quite sure  though to add the phylactery SC to the combat, cos there is already a lot to do during that encounter... The point is that the boss is quite invincible (+10 defenses, 10 regeneration, +2d6 damage, +1d4 minion/round) unless 4 "buff generators" (i named them "thanato"(es) in the game) are destroyed (each thanato grants one of those augmentation, party can choose to hit them, but also deal em damage through thievery, arcana or religion checks). Adding the phylactery to the fight is a bit too much (if it's not yet...) imho...

I'm quite satisfied of the skill challenge i designed so far, just want to add some synergies between the player doing the roll and the rest of the group.
For example i'd like to give the possibility to the party to help out the "arcana skill performer" provided they are instructed by him to do that... I'm not sure how to make that in game... what skill/ability checks do you suggest for "teaching"?

Well, the game already includes the Aid Another option. Anyone can try to aid, but those with good Intelligence or training in Arcana will be most likely to help rather than harm.


The problem is to translate the aid in rules...
let's say we have one of the group attempting to roll an arcana check for the SC (suppose he's the only one trained in arcana). The others can help him, but they don't know how (they're not trained... sounds reasonable to me). So the character has few moments to tell em what to do in order to assist him. The check should be a sort of "you have a short time to instruct your comrades how to assist you in what you're doing". On what will you let the character roll? i don't know HOW to perform this "teaching" check: i don't think any skill is suited to represent that, maybe an ability check is better. But which one? Each of INT, WIS and CHA seems reasonable to me in some way... Gosh, I really need some advice...!!!

If the teaching test is performed successfully, the [arcanist] character can instruct the other members to aid him during the ritual (or what arcana does...) allowing them from that moment to aid in the arcana checks (basically a group check to grant +2 to the main arcana check).

SpadaBastarda

 
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Teaching someone who wants to be taught and is smart enough to understand you is basically pure Int. Convincing someone to be willing to learn from you is Cha. Teaching someone who wants to learn, but lacks the basics to grasp the material is more Wis.

But what is easier and makes equal sense is not rolling for being able to teach, but rolling for being able to understand. The aiding characters roll an Arcana check to see if they understand what they're supposed to do and are able to do it, and if they fail the check then they understood something wrong, frustrating the progress (hence the penalty to the roll) 
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There's no "roll" for teaching. Just roleplay it and let people aid who want to aid.

I'm glad to hear you have plenty going on during the combat. That's really the way to go, in my opinion.

As I said, your skill challenge can work, but in my experience having a party go up against a single skill challenge makes for a very "flat" encounter. Unless the challenge goes through ridiculous and complicated machinations, there's nothing to keep everyone involved, and nothing to keep the very best character from just sitting there making skill checks. The potiental penalty for aiding makes that approach risky, but often there's at least one other character who can reliably make the skill check, making the challenge even more trivial.

Now, with good description and narration, such a situation can really come alive, but consider adding some other complication concurrent to this skill challenge. Have the structure start coming down or otherwise becoming uninhabitable, so that those not working on the challenge can be working to protect those who are. Have the destruction of the phylactery require (or at least be made easier with) ingredients from difficult-to-reach locations around the room.

I realize that this is what your "teaching" mechanic was supposed to be - a way to involve everyone in the challenge - but I just think it's going to fall flat. But I could be wrong.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.


I'm quite satisfied of the skill challenge i designed so far, just want to add some synergies between the player doing the roll and the rest of the group.
For example i'd like to give the possibility to the party to help out the "arcana skill performer" provided they are instructed by him to do that... I'm not sure how to make that in game... what skill/ability checks do you suggest for "teaching"?

TY for ur replies ;)



Make part of the ritual to destroy the phylactery to draw a triangle/pentagram/whatever form, put it in the center, the players required to stand on the points chanting, while the main arcanist ("arcana skill performer") makes the main ritual; that way, the players are helping, but may mispell the chanting, causing a failure.

See images of witchcraft/wiccans/conjuring for inspiration.

Teaching someone who wants to be taught and is smart enough to understand you is basically pure Int. Convincing someone to be willing to learn from you is Cha. Teaching someone who wants to learn, but lacks the basics to grasp the material is more Wis.

But what is easier and makes equal sense is not rolling for being able to teach, but rolling for being able to understand. The aiding characters roll an Arcana check to see if they understand what they're supposed to do and are able to do it, and if they fail the check then they understood something wrong, frustrating the progress (hence the penalty to the roll) 


That's right indeed. I'm starting to think to remove this sort of "treshold" check (others cannot aid unless pass teacher check) and just let them aid... the teach/understand process should be inside that together, you're right...!

I'm wondering if let the party know about the various possibility, or let them role it and figure out by themselves what to do... DMGs suggest to tell players the possible skills involved, but i feel kinda i'm "meta-conditioning" the role-play... Do you think it's worth a try to let them do all by themselves? What do you usually do at your game?

TY for you help guys!



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PS:

Any advice about complexity? i thought 4... remember the party is made of 7 ppl. here it is a flow chart of the skill challenge: click to open...
Green arrow means if they success at that check, red arrow instead if they failed. "Threshold" checks is a check any single character can attemp only once to unlock the main check (reported in blue) below to the whole party. "advantege checks" are instead reported in yellow (dashed if once achieved nobody can try again. I'm talking of history in the chart). Other skill that players suggest and that sound reasonable to me grants advantages too (i'll pick one that best suit the situation in my opinion). Also at least one aid for each of the blue checks is available to the rest of the party as group checks (but they're NOT LISTED on the chart for space reasons).
I apologize for any english mistake... =)

SpadaBastarda

 
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I'm wondering if let the party know about the various possibility, or let them role it and figure out by themselves what to do... DMGs suggest to tell players the possible skills involved, but i feel kinda i'm "meta-conditioning" the role-play... Do you think it's worth a try to let them do all by themselves? What do you usually do at your game?

You can tell the PCs the primary skills outright or you can let them figure them out, but there are other ways.

For instance, try to put the skill challenge "on the offensive," so that instead of having to know what the relevant skills are, they have something they need to react to. When they describe how they react, the DM lets them know what skill applies to it. For instance, after the lich dies the phylactery might react in some way. How that reaction is described will prompt the use of particular skills by the PCs. This method can, I've found, help to get players away from trying to leverage their best skill and into doing what makes sense to react to what is happening, including the use of non-primary skills. Remember, any skill can be used as long as it's justified to the DM's satisfaction.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

For instance, try to put the skill challenge "on the offensive," so that instead of having to know what the relevant skills are, they have something they need to react to. When they describe how they react, the DM lets them know what skill applies to it. For instance, after the lich dies the phylactery might react in some way. How that reaction is described will prompt the use of particular skills by the PCs. This method can, I've found, help to get players away from trying to leverage their best skill and into doing what makes sense to react to what is happening, including the use of non-primary skills. Remember, any skill can be used as long as it's justified to the DM's satisfaction.


You mean some kinda "here it appears the lich phylactery. Omg! - you think - It's more powerful then how much you have thinked so far...! His obscure strenght is fatiguing your body and your mind (roll endurance), stealing your life force for regenerate Valazar's body. You have to get rid of it asap, or he'll come back sooner then expected... So what are you gonna do?"

SpadaBastarda

 
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You mean some kinda "here it appears the lich phylactery. Omg! - you think - It's more powerful then how much you have thinked so far...! His obscure strenght is fatiguing your body and your mind (roll endurance), stealing your life force for regenerate Valazar's body. You have to get rid of it asap, or he'll come back sooner then expected... So what are you gonna do?"

Sort of. You don't need to tell them what to roll. I might do it like:

"The phylactery pulses with a necrotic charge. The very air around it become fetid and noxious as grey fluid seeps from the stone beneath it." Etc.

When they step up to destroy it, you play up how they energy of the amulet is stifling and choking them. This has no mechanical effect, but it can act as an default description for any failures they incur, and why they can only make a limited number of failures. That is, if they fail their arcana check, they are being overpowered by the stench and rot of the phylactery and three failures not only means the lich comes back, but that they're temporarily driven away from the amulet until they defeat the lich again.

Now, in doing this, you might cause them to want to make Endurance checks (though in my experience it's hard to get people to realize that's the relevant skill). If they do, what should the result be? It depends how you're imagining it. One way to consider it is that the thievery or arcana aspects of the challenge are only difficult because of the necrotic aura. If someone focuses on enduring the aura, the thievery and arcana are relatively trivial.

Just remember that skill challenges are very abstract, and as long as they have successes remaining you can describe the situation however you want. You might get them to think of more varied ways of tackling the problem, but even if they just keep making arcana checks you're more likely to get good description out of them if you give them good description to react to.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.