Skill Challenges, Y/N? Something else? What did you like/dislike about them?

Even Mike Mearls and Rich Baker admit skill challenges weren't in a state that satisfied them. Do you want D&DN to take another shot at it?

Do you want to discard them entirely? Do you have your own radical ideas? 
i despise skill challenges. it tried to add too much structure to rp imo. ive seen endless variants on it, run and played in countless games with them by dozens of dms, and i have ended at the conclusion that they suck imo

the one thing i like about them is they give xp. in 1e, you got xp from gold so it helped you level faster, or not at a snails pace. the only thing skill challenges were good for imo was leveling faster.
I think they are fine as a guideline - it's good to let new DMs know that after your group does so many things they should get a RP xp bonus.

I don't like letting groups know they are starting one, I think init for them was a bad idea.

To me the skill challenges are something the DM should have in the back of their mind when they are running the game, and the players should be none the wiser, until the end of the session and the DM says "Ok, i award you all 125 xp for roleplaying"

And I use the term "skill" losely, becasue I think it should be more than just "skills" - use of class abilities, good roleplaying for the players (those who want to - I dislike too much forced RP or not giving so-so RPers outs), and even just paying the damn Sage to scry where something might be. 
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while they eventually wrote some neat ones, (shadow fell book had some nice examples) overall I don't like them.  Let skill checks be skill checks.

As far as xp goes I'd rather award session/story xp anyway.  "I need my players at level x by such and such, and fast enough to make them happy"
IMHO encouraging roleplaying with random rewards is not so useful, being the choice DM-driven and not Rule-driven: every DM is a different world, every DM has a different degree of judgement.


I personally award my players using a concept taken from FATE-engined games like The Shadow of Yesterday and known as Key.

Basically the Key is a good substitute for alignment, awarding the character with XP when he specifically performs something related to the Key (which can be a flaw, a vow or something different).


So far it's still working, with no problems or arguing at all.
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I think that skill challenges are a really good idea with a poor execution. While I'm no game designer I think the structure needed to be much looser from the start. I also think that different types of structures for different types of challenges could be appropriate as opposed to one skill challenge mechanic being a one size fits all type of solution.
I would like to see skill challenges done this way :


A group of cultists has opened a portal to summon a demon through. The demon is partially materialized and can attack, but can't yet move. The players can attack the demon freely, but only do half damage while the demon is still partially materialized.

The DM says banishing the demon and closing the portal is a skill challenge. The players must be adjacent to the portal. Only one check can be made per round. Once the skill challenge starts, skipping a check with a Challange Skill for three rounds in a row counts as a failed check.



Challange Skills: Arcana, Religion (these are the skills you must succeed at to close the portal)

Support Skills: History, Thievery, Dungeoneering (Succeeding at any one of these grants a +4 bonus to the next Arcana or Religion check)


 
First skill check success:  The demon can not cast spells or summon minions, but it can still make melee attacks.  

Second skill check success:  The Demon is forced back through the portal for the moment. It can no longer attack or be attacked. It will come back, though, if the skill challenge fails.

Third Skill Check success: The portal is sealed and the danger has passed.

Three Failures: failure have no penalty, but if the players fail, by rolling low or by skipping to many checks) the demon comes fully through the portal. Now, forcing it through the portal is not possible, and the players must kill the demon.     



This is a rough sketch but you get the idea. Each subsequent check grants some benifit and affects the story. It isnt a simple " make 8 skill rolls, if you dont get 15 on two thirds of them you all lose a healing surge."    
Like the idea; never been too fond of the execution.

The combat equivalent would be winning a fight because you made X successful attack rolls, or losing it because you missed three times. Instead, combat has a goal (put the other side into a state where they're no longer challenging you) and obstacles (the opposing combatants).

Instead, skill challenges should be set up the same way. A goal, obstacles that must be overcome before achieving the goal, and a failure point (where the goal is no longer a possibility). The PCs use their skills against the goals, and the DM determines whether they succeed. You could also add conditions to the mix; effects that aren't an obstacle in themselves but can make obstacles easier or harder to dismiss (e.g. due to a previous failure, the duke thinks the PCs are idiots; while they can still win the challenge, they have a -2 to Diplomacy and Intimidate rolls)
One thing I did with skill challenges, is I ran them in ROUNDS. You have a number of rounds to achieve your goal, you may not know that number. Failures are punished, but if you have one player not even trying then you're quite possibly going to run out of time.
I think skill challenges were a great idea. They are an option for those that want them, but nothing necessitates their use for those that do not like them.

They do need to have solid DCs right from the start instead of two rounds of errata. They should also have a much better presentation. Show how to run them. Show examples of both pretty standard ones as well as ones that use the basic structure as a starting point but break the mold in one way or another. Examples of that would be the challenge Mearls posted a while back that used the basic structure but it was all combat with no actual skill checks. Another one would be a chase challenge that someone posted where you use a "ladder" that both the pursuer and quarry can move up and down according to the check results. When they both end up in the same space, the quarry is caught and if either moves off either end of the "ladder" the quarry has escaped. Another good example of a use for a skill challenge would be an assassination mission (since not every target need be an equal level adversary worthy of a combat encounter).
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Skill challanges seem to have been used instead of role-playing situations, which is bad.


They might be good for certain situations like opening a complex lock that is important to the story, not just any old lock, but perhaps it should be implemented in a new fun way.  
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Skill challanges seem to have been used instead of role-playing situations, which is bad.


Can you give an example of that? Have you seen this or are you just speculating? There's nothing that prevents you from roleplaying during a skill challenge. That's how I run them and that's even how they are presented in the DMG.
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The underlying idea is fine, but the formal presentation as a skill challenge is the problem.

DMs must be made to understand that it is a BAD thing to announce a skill challenge.  They also need to understand that it is absolutely imperative to DESCRIBE the actions and consequences of skill checks.  If you are not ready to offer such descriptions, you are not ready to include skill challenges in your game.

Ideally, players should never know a skill challenge ever happened.  Yes, include an XP reward at the end of the session, but don't announce it.  The primary reward (from a player perspective) for winning a skill challenge is that you achieved the in-game goal.
If your position is that the official rules don't matter, or that house rules can fix everything, please don't bother posting in forums about the official rules. To do so is a waste of everyone's time.
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