For a little more background: the PCs have discovered that an unknown actor is paying Tyr's "Dragon's levy" of a thousand slaves this year, after King Tithian openly defied the Dragon and refused to pay. They infiltrated the ragtag column of mercenaries and Night Runner elves escorting the slaves deep into the Altaruk mountain range. At an opportune moment, they broke away from the column and melted into the surrounding hills, joining up with a slave tribe made up of escapees from former levies (see the Dragon magazine article on the "Altar Skulkers"). Now, with the slave tribe as allies, they spend the night harasing the column as it slowly marches up to the Dragon's Altar, attempting to kill slavers and free slaves. (They've heard that if they can get the count of slaves below a thousand, the Dragon will make up the missing slaves from the slavers, which pleases them very much).
I felt the DCs seemed a little low, but it worked out well anyway, especially because they were trying to exceed the DCs significantly and rack up points toward the ultimate goal.
Harrying the Column Skill Challenge
Setup: This challenge will end when we reach 12 successes or 6 failures, whichever comes first. Unlike most challenges, we will be keeping track of the points you exceed your DCs on each roll. (Failures will simply be tracked as “one failure”). The end result of the challenge will be determined based on the totaled points.
Level: 6 (DCs 7/12/17)
Complexity: 5 (12 successes, 6 failures)
* -2 to all checks for characters without Low-Light Vision if the challenge occurs at night
* +2 to checks for characters wearing red clay cloaks.
* +10 to a single roll if an appropriate Daily power is expended
* Free additional roll if an Action Point is spent
Primary Skills: Athletics, Intimidate, Nature, Ranged Basic Attack, Stealth
Athletics (DC12): You use your muscle to push rocks onto the column; alternatively, you scramble over rocks and gaps to put yourself into a good position to attack.
Intimidate (DC12): Manipulating shadows, using noises, pushing rocks, hurling weapons; you’re able to frighten the mercenaries, who shrink close to each other and look around wildly.
Nature (DC7): Knowing the likely nooks and crannies and terrain of the mountain, you’re able to move smoothly into position and set up deadfalls, boulders, sliding terrain, and other nuisances. This skill can be used to gain no more than three successes during this challenge.
Ranged Basic Attack (DC12): You launch a series of attacks using ranged weapons or spells on the column, killing or wounding a number of mercenaries. This skill can be used to gain no more than six successes during this challenge.
Stealth (DC7): You sneak close enough to launch an attack against the mercenaries. This skill can be checked (success or failure) no more than six times during this challenge.
Secondary Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, History
Bluff (DC14): You convince some slaves it would be safer if they ran; alternatively, you convince the mercenaries that they are facing a greater threat than they really are. This skill can be used only once (for each style) during this challenge.
Diplomacy (DC14): You convince some slaves to bolt. This skill can be used only twice during this challenge.
History (DC17): You recall a piece of the history of the payment of the Dragon’s Levy and use it to your advantage (for example, that wounded mercenaries were worse than dead ones, because they slowed the column; that spurring the mercenaries into killing too many slaves could invoke the wrath of the Dragon on them or their city-states). +3 to all checks until the end of your next turn.
Success or Failure: Total the accumulated “points” that exceeded the DCs. If the characters gained 12 successes before 6 failures, add 20 to the total. If the characters accumulated 6 failures before 12 successes, subtract 20 from the total. For every 5 points accumulated, 1 mercenary was killed and 1 slave was able to escape. If the PCs accumulated 0 or fewer points, they are reduced to Bloodied by return fire, falls, and exhaustion.