Skill Challenge for Barbarian Tribe Initiation Rite

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Hi, I need to come up with a skill challenge for an initiation rite into a barbarian tribe. Example:

Endurance Dc15 - Stay some time in ice water in the middle of winter

Do you have any similar ideas?

This is what you want. It comes from LURU1-5, written by Ian Hambly, (c) Wizards of the Coast.

Initiation Rights

Encounter 3: Initiation Rites
Skill Challenge Level 8 / 10,
Complexity 1 (350 / 500 XP)
Important NPCs:
Sky Lord Canute Brightspear, male human barbarian

The trip from the meeting place to a nearby camp, takes
about 1 hour of walking.

Reaching the top of a small ridge, you see laid out before
you a large encampment of cloth huts. The camp is filled
with hundreds of people, no doubt the Uthgardt Sky
Pony Tribe. In the center of the encampment sits an
enormous stone, inscribed upon are numerous carvings
that are indistinguishable at this distance. The
chieftain’s son leads you down to meet his people. There
are many signs of preparation for a feast.
Appearing through the throng, a large warrior
greets Thalgrim with a bone-crunching hug. Standing
back, he drags his eyes to survey you all. “With Uthgar’s
and Tempus’s name, I, Sky Lord Canute Brightspear,
welcome you to the Sky Pony’s lands; may your spear
prove as strong as your arm and fly as true as the
winged horses of the Nether Mountains.”

Once Thalgrim introduced the PCs and explained the
situation to his father, the chieftain gives the PCs a
calculating look. It is clear that he approves his son's
actions, but that he is unsure the PCs are up to the task.
If there is any character amongst the group that look like
a weak city dwellers or arcane casters, he shows his
contempt, mentioning that not all have to join the tribe
to gain the tribes help. Obvious wilderness dwellers and
followers of Tempus on the other hand gain his obvious
approval, and he tries to actively push them into
accepting the invitation.
Skill Challenge: Initiation Rites
Goal: The PCs attempt to individually pass the initiation
Complexity: 1 (4 successes before 3 failures)
Primary Skills: Varies.
Other Skills/Abilities: Any skill or ability that is not
listed here, and the judge thinks it is applicable; a DC 19
/ 20 check is needed.
Victory: The PC obtains an initiation title depending
upon which initiation they performed. A bonus item is
earned if at least one PC passes.
Defeat: The PC does not obtain an initiation title. They
do not gain the chance to receive the benefit of an
extended rest.

• The PCs engage in an individual skill challenge
to try to become accepted into the Uthgardt Sky
Pony Tribe by partaking in the initiation rites
that allows them to cross Sky Pony lands.
• A PC does not have to participate in any of the
initiation rites; if they do not participate, they do
not earn the story award LURU08 Sky Pony
• In the skill challenge, the PC makes a series of
skill checks, choosing between three different
initiations, trying to achieve four successes
before three failures.
• The Uthgar barbarians worship Tempus, god of
battle, and they respect strength, endurance
and skill in arms. They realize arcane powers
are useful, but distrust wielders of such forces,
fearing that these powers control their wielders.
They dislike orcs, but at the same time greatly
respect their strength and ability to fight. They
feel strong contempt for drow and gnolls, but
since they believe in the individual they are
willing to be proven wrong, although these
suffer a -2 penalty on any checks during the
skill challenge. They do not care much about
race or class otherwise.
• The PCs are stripped of everything and placed
into Sky Pony ceremonial leathers; no magic
items are allowed, only racial traits.
• Due to the initiation rites process, no healing
surges may be replenished until after the skill
• The Sky Pony Tribe is very honorable about
their initiation rites and disrespectable PCs are
asked to remove themselves from the initiation
• The initiation rites can either be Sky Rider, Fire
Walker or Horse Mother/Father of the Sky
Pony Tribe. See below for what each test entails.
The barbarians gladly explain the nature of
each test to the PCs.
Part 1: Sky Lord Challenge
Scene 1 deals with the initial encounter the PCs have
with the Sky Lord of the Sky Pony Tribe. The PCs must
convince the Sky Lord to let them partake of the
initiation rites.
LURU1-5 Beyond the Wild Frontier Page 12

The Sky Lord takes a seat on a nearby stump and glares
at you while rubbing his beard in a thinking manner.
“So Thalgrim tells me that you think you have what it
takes to partake in the initiation rites? Why should I let
outsiders partake and cross our land?”

Unlike the other parts, the group as a whole can
participate in this part. Even PCs who do not want to
participate can speak for their friends. 1 success is
enough to get all PCs to participate. Failed checks lead
to irritation with Canute, but until 3 failures are scored,
he tries to hide it. Once 3 failures are scored, he angrily
dismisses the PCs. Otherwise he whispers something to
the man in charge of each individual rite, making it
harder for the PCs to succeed by being less forgiving for
mistakes (as per the mechanics they can score fewer
failures in the initiation test since they already got 1 or
more failures in this part).
Sky Lord Canute Brightspear is a wise and cautious
leader of his people. He remains calm throughout the
questioning, trying to ascertain the motives of the
individual characters and their use to the tribe. At first
he allows the PCs to take the initiative. Once the PCs
convinced him to allow them to take the initiation tests,
he keeps interviewing the remaining PCs. At this point
those PCS can attempt to convince the chieftain of their
individual worth without the risk of failure. Each PC
that rolls a success in this phase of this scene gains a +2
bonus on all checks during the challenge as Canute asks
those performing the rites to take it somewhat easier to
the PCs.

Arcana DC –/– (0 success)
The Uthgar barbarians disdain and fear arcane
powers. They certainly do not understand it well enough
for PCs to impress Canute through the application of
this skill. Any PC broaching this topic is cut off quickly,
but does not earn 1 failure unless the PC keeps insisting
on its use.

Athletics, basic melee or ranged attack, Endurance,
Heal or Stealth DC 19/20 (0 success)
The Sky Pony tribe is much more accepting of
people that are going to add valuable skills to the tribe.
Once accepted, these skills can be used to garner
Canute's favor and the +2 bonus that comes with it. It
also gives a +2 bonus on any check made to get
approval. Failure has no impact on the challenge, except
perhaps the laughter of on-lookers.

Bluff or Diplomacy DC 13/14 (1 success)
Smooth words and good arguments always work.

History, Insight or Streetwise DC 19/20 (0 success;
1 check each)
While these checks do not help garner success or
failure, it does give insight in tribal culture, Canute's
personality and showing proper respect to those in
power. A success gives a +2 bonus on a check made to
convince Canute to allow a PC to enter (PCs can choose
when to apply the bonus) or remove 1 failure. Failure
results in misremembering something important,
resulting in a -2 penalty on the next check that does
count towards the skill challenge.

Intimidate DC 13/14 (1 success)
Direct threats do not help persuade Canute to allow
the PCs to participate. He has little to fear from the PCs
in the middle of his tribe. If the skill is used instead to
impress the barbarians with their prowess or for a more
generic intimidate (the PCs are needed to dispose of the
common enemy the orcs) then it works.

Nature or Religion DC 19/20 (1 success)
PCs who show their skill in survival and religious
matters during the conversation garner his approval.
They also use that knowledge to convince Canute they
have a right to join the initiation rites If they fail the
check, they show lack of skill, which in itself is not bad,
but they were the ones trying to use it to impress the
Part 2: Initiation Rites
Scene 2, 3, and 4, deals with the initiation rites that each
PC can partake in.

You are led to the center of the encampment where
dozens of small fires are being prepared. Three cleared
areas attract your attention; the first area holds a felled
tree, standing on its end, adorned with many small
plants and sprigs; the second area is occupied by a long
low pit being filled with a smoldering dark earth; the
last area contains a corral, near a large stone, with
several decidedly feeble looking horses.

Each PC performs an initiation rite, individually, of their
choice. The skill checks must be performed in the
sequence given. Due to the initiation rites being
performed individually, no PC may aid another PC
(unless done secretly, but failure results in both PCs
failing the challenge and the group as a whole loosing a
lot of respect unless the other PCs can convince the
tribe of their innocence). If the PCs fail at a test, they
cannot pick another until they earn the right for a new
attempt (which is not part of this adventure).
LURU1-5 Beyond the Wild Frontier Page 13

Rite 1: Sky Rider Initiation

You join a gaggle of young teen Uthgardt warriors.
Around 40 feet away stands a felled tree log, standing
on its end, adorned with many small plants and sprigs.
Two warriors flank the tree at a distance of 20 feet,
spread equally around the log, casually spinning a brace
of handaxes. At the edge of the circle sits an old man
whose naked upper body is adorned with tribal
markings and paintings.

The goal of the challenge is to climb up the 20 feet tall
tree as fast as possible, and remain standing on the top
while the two warriors throw their handaxes in an
attempt to knock the initiate from the lofty perch. For
the test to succeed each warrior must throw at least 1
The old man is the judge of the challenge. He uses a
handful of loose sand trickling through his fist to
measure time. The man grabs an amount of sand based
on the impression they made in the Scene 1 so that they
have more or less chance to succeed as per the normal
rules of a skill challenge.
Note that the PC is expected to remove their armor
and shield.

Athletics DC 13/14 (1 success)
Climbing the tree trunk requires an Athletics check.
If the PC fails the check the character takes falling
damage as normal (2d10 minus the effects of Acrobatics
if applicable). The PC can try to climb up again, but each
failure costs time, reducing the chance of succeeding at
the test. If 3 failures are scored while climbing the tree
the test is over. Otherwise, being allowed to fail less in
the remainder of the challenge simulates the loss of

Athletics DC 13/14 (1 success; 2 maximum)
The PC makes himself an easy target for the
handaxes. Regardless of success or failure, the PC loses
1 healing surge when being hit by a handaxe. If the
check fails the first time while on top, the PC loses his
balance but remains standing. If the other warrior still
has a handaxe, it is immediately thrown to take
advantage of off-balance character. A PC only falls when
the PC has scored enough failures to fail the challenge
(taking falling damage as normal).

Acrobatics DC 13/14 (1 success; 2 maximum)
The PC dodges the thrown handaxes. A healing
surge is lost for each check failed. In addition, if the
check fails the first time while on top the PC looses his
balance, but remains standing. If the other warrior still
has an axe, it is immediately thrown to take advantage of
off-balance character. A PC only falls when the PC has
scored enough failures to fail the challenge (taking
falling damage as normal).

Bluff DC 13/14 (1 success; 2 maximum)
The PC pantomimes his actions to throw off the
warriors. A healing surge is lost for each check failed. In
addition, if the check fails the first time while on top the
PC loses his balance, but remains standing. If the other
warrior still has a handaxe, it is immediately thrown to
take advantage of off-balance character. A PC only falls
when the PC has scored enough failures to fail the
challenge (taking falling damage as normal).

Rite 2: Fire Walker Initiation

Before you is a twenty-foot long, three-foot wide trench
filled with smoldering dark soil. The intent of the test is
clear: to walk over the smoldering dark soil.

While marching over the soil, the barbarians chant the
Fire Mantra of the Sky Pony Tribe (give Player Handout
1 to interested players).
Any PC with any racial fire resistance trait
automatically succeeds at this initiation.

Heal DC 13/14 (0 successes)
The PC is aware of a technique to offset burning the
soles of their feet. A successful check grants a +2 bonus;
whereas, a failed check grants a –2 penalty to the
Endurance check.

Arcana or Religion DC 13/14 (0 successes; 1
The PC tries to remember the Fire Mantra of the
Sky Pony Tribe. A successful check grants a +2 bonus;
whereas, a failed check grants a –2 penalty to the
Endurance checks.

Endurance DC 13/14 (1 success)
The PC needs to withstand the heat from the
smoldering dark soil. The PC makes Endurance checks
until the challenge is a success or a failure. A healing
surge is lost for each check failed.

Rite 3: Horse Mother/Father Initiation

You are escorted to a corral next to the One Stone. In
the corral stand several foals covered in sweat, edgy and
on the verge of panic. One of the tribeswomen, Maera
Nightsong-on-River, instructs you of what is expected.
“The main priority of a Horse Mother/Father is to look
after the numerous horses the tribe holds in trust from
LURU1-5 Beyond the Wild Frontier Page 14
Uthgar. Take charge of your foals and discover any

The nature of the check is to find out what is wrong with
the foal and heal its ailment. The PC first needs to calm
the foal, and then to examine it.

Nature DC 13/14 (1 success)
The PC tries to calm the sick horse so they can
examine it properly. The PC can try it several times, but
the foal becomes increasingly more edgy until Maera
finally calls an end to it when 3 failures are scored.

Heal DC 13/14 (1 success)
The PC uses their knowledge of diseases and
injuries to diagnose and recommend a cure for the
horse’s ailments.

Heal DC 18/19 (2 success)
The PCs shows an impressive knowledge on
healing, scoring 2 successes instead of 1.

Part 3: One Stone Initiation

Any PC who succeeds at their initiation rites returns to 
the Sky Lord and the tribe to acknowledge the passing
of the initiation rites and to request permission to obtain 
the title they have fought for. After the public ritual, the 
PCs have to take part in a short solemn private ritual 
with the tribal shamans in which they gain their first 
tribal tattoo and are told important tribal lore (Player 
Handout 2).

After the private rite, the PCs can choose to take
part in the celebrations, more extended rituals, wait
quietly for the morning or leave immediately (see
Ending the Encounter).
Part 4: Celebrations
With the easiest task behind them, the PCs are on to
their greatest challenge; pleasing the tribe. Now that
they have impressed the Sky Lord and passed the
initiation rites, they have an opportunity to impress the
rest of the tribe during the initiation celebrations.
This scene is mainly for roleplaying purposes, but
you can allow the PCs to remove failures and earn new
successes of the previous checks through particularly
impressive actions. If this turns the challenge into a
success, the PCs do not earn the Story Award, but all
other benefits of a victory are gained. The most
impressive PC is given the Sky Pony Tribe title:
“Yizahkol - The Feasting Entertainer”. Have the player
write this down for future reference.
Ending the Encounter
If any one PC succeeds at their individual initiation, the
PCs are presented with a +2 watchful spirit totem (low-
level version only) or a +3 watchful spirit totem (high-level
version only) at the end of the initiation rites. All those
succeeding in their initiation rites receive the story
award LURU08 Sky Pony Initiation.
The PCs now have the following four choices.
• Commune with the Sky Pony Spirits: If the PC
passed their individual initiation rite, they are
invited to a quiet area away from the feasting
where the PC communes with the Sky Pony
spirits. The PC gains the benefits of an extended
rest and is imbued with the Uthgardt Spirits.
(+4 initiative bonus till the end of the
• Party: At the main fire pit, any PC is invited to
party with the other tribe members. The PC
does not gain the benefits of an extended rest
and a healing surge is lost from drinking too
much Uthgardt gulletfire.
• Waiting: You have decided to wait for the rest
of your party members as they commune or
party. The PC does not gain or lose anything.
• Continue: After the initiation rites, the PCs
believe that it is time to continue on and not to
commune or party. The PCs do not gain or lose

When the PCs decide to continue, Thalgrim escorts the
PCs; proceed to Encounter 4.
Experience Points
The characters receive 70 / 100 experience points each
for successfully completing the skill challenge.
If any one PC succeeds at their initiation rite, the PCs
are presented with a +2 watchful spirit totem (low-level
version only) or +3 watchful spirit totem (high-level
version only).

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