Village Fire Skill Challenge help

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My players are nearing 10th level and I'm going to use the greek myth of the 'Titan wars'. They will come across a Storm Titan called Ranis who is hurling lightning bolts at the village of Delwin, this results in a battle with the party, cross my fingers. But after the battle I'd like to set-up a village fire skill challenge, so the PC's can try and save the town.

I have a few notes already, but I'd like some more suggestions if possible.

What sort of skills can be used and in what manner to put out the fires and save the villagers?
Athletics: I climb on the roof to better be able to put out the fire there.

Acrobatics: I run through falling timbers into a house to get a child out of there.

Diplomacy: I organize the villagers' effort to put out the fire.

Intimidate: I make the villagers more afraid of myself than of the fire so they don't run away and help insted.

Dungeoneering: I know which structures need to be put out first to prevent the fire from spreading. I know how to best apply water to the structure to put out the fire.

History: I know information about several big historic fires and how they could have been prevented and apply that knowledge to the situation at hand.

Insight: I realize where the fire will spread to next.

Nature: I know where the wind will shift too and direct efforts in the right direction to prevent the fire from spreading that way. I know where there are natural water sources around.

Perception: I spot a beginning fire or a person in danger and put it out/warn them in time.

Streewise: I know my way around town and the best way to get from one fire to the next. I know where there are artificial water sources (well ...).

Endurance: I resist smoke inhalation and heat exposure.

Heal: I look after anybody who might have been injured in the fire.

Various Powers might also apply, notably cold-based powers to combat the fire directly.
The single most important thing about a skill challenge is to have an interesting way to fail. If there's no clear failure, or failure would be boring, then a DM's instinct is usually to make sure the PCs succeed, and no one would blame them. Most likely they'll succeed anyway, but if they don't or if for some reason they don't engage in the challenge, you'll want to have an interesting failure in your back pocket.

Failure can be anything: the loss of a certain NPC, the loss of certain items, the loss of a location, negative reactions from townsfolk, less help in the future, raiders see the smoke and attack. Anything. I recommend making it clear what the failure will be, so that the players can decide how careful they might need to be.

Once you have an interesting failure, you can worry much less about all of the other aspects of the skill challenge.

That said:

As shown, almost any skill might apply. I recommend that you keep the actual list of primary skills relatively small. This doesn't mean that only those skills can apply, only that those are the most straightforward ones. Any other skills would be, according to the DMG, considered "secondary skills," whose use is more at the DM's discretion, and might carry a Hard DC or be useable only once. In the list Mysteria provided, Streetwise might be a skill that's only useful once, whereas Heal might have a Hard DC when it comes to actually putting out the fire.

Along those lines, I recommend making the primary skills you do choose be something directly related to putting out the fire. Healing townsfolk is important, but a bit tangential to the primary goal.

What I find helps with this is, instead of imagining what skills can do what, imagine what tasks are important to fighting a fire, and then allotting to those tasks the skills you think are important. For example.

Douse the Flames: Bring and throw water onto the flames (Athletics), or get in close do deal with major trouble spots (Endurance).
Rally the Volunteer Brigade: Encourage and coordinate the townsfolk to the task with barked orders (Intimidate) or by getting them to think you're in charge (Diplomacy, Bluff).

That could be all a skill challenge needs.

A major concern with skill challenges is making sure everyone is involved. Because combat and skill challenges are usually separated, the general approach is often (and unfortunately) to shoe in skills from every class list or character, to make sure everyone can do something. I don't recommend that. Instead, I recommend having more than one thing going on at once. For instance, you could have a fire, and you could have looters trying to take advantage of the fire. Those who feel they can't contribute to the fire (or are afraid of making it worse) can go after the looters. The looters can consist of a skill challenge or a minor combat encounter that ends (one way or another) as soon as the skill challenge does, since the looters won't stick around after the fire is out. The PCs can ignore the looters if they want, but offer some potential advantage if they split up. Perhaps some of the looters can be pressed into fighting the fire when they're whipped and this could count as a success, or a bonus to a skill check.

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

Athletics: I climb on the roof to better be able to put out the fire there.

Acrobatics: I run through falling timbers into a house to get a child out of there.

Diplomacy: I organize the villagers' effort to put out the fire.

Intimidate: I make the villagers more afraid of myself than of the fire so they don't run away and help insted.

Dungeoneering: I know which structures need to be put out first to prevent the fire from spreading. I know how to best apply water to the structure to put out the fire.

History: I know information about several big historic fires and how they could have been prevented and apply that knowledge to the situation at hand.

Insight: I realize where the fire will spread to next.

Nature: I know where the wind will shift too and direct efforts in the right direction to prevent the fire from spreading that way. I know where there are natural water sources around.

Perception: I spot a beginning fire or a person in danger and put it out/warn them in time.

Streewise: I know my way around town and the best way to get from one fire to the next. I know where there are artificial water sources (well ...).

Endurance: I resist smoke inhalation and heat exposure.

Heal: I look after anybody who might have been injured in the fire.

Various Powers might also apply, notably cold-based powers to combat the fire directly.



Ok, I'd not considered Intimidate, Dungeoneering or History. Thanks this will be useful.

Centauri, I've got two phases. Put out the fires and save the villagers. Failure will be harsh, the village burns down and the population all but wipped out. I'm going for what Chris Perkins has suggested, recently. Possible hero failure as a more important consequence, for character and adventure development.
Centauri, I've got two phases. Put out the fires and save the villagers. Failure will be harsh, the village burns down and the population all but wipped out.

Are the two phases concurrent? Can they fail to save the village, but save the population? I guess I can't see saving the village, but losing the population.

I'm going for what Chris Perkins has suggested, recently. Possible hero failure as a more important consequence, for character and adventure development.

I'd be interested in a link to where this is said. So far the potential for skill challenge seems to have been all but universally missed or ignored by Wizards people, even Chris.

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

The two phases are linked, but I see no reason why the village can't burn down but the population be mostly rescued from the fires. Maybe the fires put out, but most of the population is killed or scattered by the titan's attack and never return.

Chris wasn't talking about skill challenges, but here is the link.

www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4...
The two phases are linked, but I see no reason why the village can't burn down but the population be mostly rescued from the fires. Maybe the fires put out, but most of the population is killed or scattered by the titan's attack and never return.

Chris wasn't talking about skill challenges, but here is the link.

www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4...

I had glanced at that article but not really take it in. I'm fascinated to see non-lethal failure making its way into the game.

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

I think it's a very clever RPG tool. I think it's much more fun to apply stress, guilt, dilemma's, temptation and corrupt heroes.
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