How do I do a Skill Challenge??

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I have been running my first campaign for the last few months out of the  Reavers of Harkenwold and I have come to a spot where we have to do a skill challenge...I have read through my DMing Guide and am still having problems understanding what it is and how I go about doing it...We are continuing with our campaign tomorrow night so I need to understand this  tonight so I can get everything ready...
I have been running my first campaign for the last few months out of the  Reavers of Harkenwold and I have come to a spot where we have to do a skill challenge...I have read through my DMing Guide and am still having problems understanding what it is and how I go about doing it...We are continuing with our campaign tomorrow night so I need to understand this  tonight so I can get everything ready...

When a skill check is called for, tell the player they need to make it and have them roll the d20. Then they'll add all their necessary modifiers to the roll. If they match or surpass the DC for the challenge, then they succeed at whatever task they were trying to do.

For example:

Player A and B come to a locked door.

Player B is a rogue that decides to pick the lock.

This requires him to make a pick lock skill check. Which he has ranks in.

You tell him to make the check. Player B rolls a 13 and has a +4 bonus to picking locks thanks to his ranks in the skill and a an attribute bonus from Intelligence. This gives him a total of 17. The DC for the skill challenge is 15. This means he successfully picks the lock and the door is now unlocked and they can proceed.

In the event he fails by 5 or less, he can try again. But if he say fails by more than 5 on the roll, he could damage the lock, preventing him from being able to pick it again.

This then either allows them to take a different approach to the door (perhaps a solution by Player A) or having them bash it in. Or perhaps just finding another way around or leaving it altogether.

If you're wondering about when to initiate a skill check, it usually occurs whenever the player wants to do something that requires the check. As DM, it's probably best that you read up on the various skills in the book and become familiar with what each one does so you can tell when a skill check would be appropriate. Also, use your best judgment. If something comes up that could probably be reasonably related to a skill, feel free to have them make a skill check using the appropriate skill.

Each skill can have a wide variety of success and failure conditions outside the example I gave. Some could be that they can only try once, period.

Also, in the event of the door example I gave, if there's a monster on the other side, feel free to have that monster make a listen check (if they can hear stuff) to see if he notices someone messing around with the door. In that case, I usually just have the monster roll his listen check against the pick lock check. If it's higher than the player's roll, he hears them. But I would only do that, if it's supposed to be a surprise. Otherwise, tell the players to make a move silent check or something along those lines.

Skill challenges are mostly only difficult in trying to recognize when you should make them and knowing if the skill check at hand could potentially set off skill checks in other players or NPCs/monsters.

Also, natural 20s on the die roll are generally considered automatic success on part of the one making the roll. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I know how to do skill checks but my issue is that the book I am using as a guide for this campaign is a little vauge on how to go about the skill challenge....I am not sure how to get my adventerers to the goal or even how to make sure they understand the challenge ahead...
There are a lot of threads about this, and a lot of different ways to go about it. Check out this thread here:

community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
The main bit of advice is, don't announce it is a skill challenge. Try to have the skill checks be a regular part of the game, the narrative. Failure only adds complications, it doesn't stop the story and PCs from moving forward.

Also, don't be a slave to the recommended skills. If a player wants to use something not covered, have them explain how and give them the roll. Choosing difficulty ratings is usually the toughest part for the DM, the rest can just happen organically.

Keep a piece of paper near you and make checks for successes, x's for failures, and try to have the players describe as much as possible as they go.

I love skill challenges.

Look at the scene and think about how you'd run it if there were no skill challenges. After all, the things skill challenges help with were part of the game for decades, they just had some issues that skill challenges attempted (successfully, I feel) to address.

One important thing to remember about skill challenges is that, unlike a typical combat, it doesn't matter if the PCs succeed. This is so important, that even if you don't tell them they're in a skill challenge (which they will figure out anyway, so don't worry about that) make it perfectly clear what failure looks like. They won't get the XP, but they won't die, and the adventure continues. If you can, try to spice up failure.

Another important thing is to describe, describe, describe. Skill challenges mechanics do not, themselves, inject much flavor into a scene. That was never their intent, though they do offer ideas for how to make certain skills relevant that might not otherwise seem so. It's up to the people at the table to really flavor up the scene with description and NPC personalities.

Not every action taken during a skill challenge needs to be rolled for, and not every roll during a skill challenge has to have an effect on the skill challenge. If an action wouldn't be interesting in both success or failure, then just narrate the outcome the interesting way. Do this in general, but also during skill challenges. If the action has interesting success and failure modes, then roll for it, but even then it might not make sense to apply toward success or failure.

The complexity of a skill challenge is given by the ratio of successes to failures. There's a starting number of these, but that ratio changes during play. A Complexity 1 challenge (4/3) with two failures (4/1) is as "complex" as a Complexity 5 challenge (12/3). So, when failures happen, you have a license - if not a mandate - to describe the scene as becoming more complicated as a result of the failures, and less complicated as the result of successes.

Put the skill challenge on the offensive. Ropes can fray, NPCs can corner certain NPCs, a roof tile can give way. In other words, don't just have the challenge react to the players, make them react to the challenge. Don't force anyone to make a check who doesn't want to, but describe things in such a way that it makes sense for a particular PC to make a check, even if it's non-optimal.

Finally, be prepared for them to blast straight through the challenge without any failures.

Good luck.

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

I made a post on how to run skill challenges in the method that I implement them. I think the way they are described and presented by WotC... well, it sucks, though they get an honorable mention for coming up with a pacing and framing mechanic for shared storytelling. I've been having very good success in my own games with it. You can find that post here. Even if you don't use the exact elements that I prefer (relative success, assets, setbacks, specific consequences and complications, etc.), the part on how to use the skill challenge to engage your players in shared storytelling should have some insights. One caveat - my system is best for 6 or 8 success skill challnges. Higher than that and the math gets funky. To be honest, 10 and 12 success skill challenges tend to drag anyway, so I don't use them.

Also, keep an eye out for a post from Onikani soon which will be a guide on running skill challenges.

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I know how to do skill checks but my issue is that the book I am using as a guide for this campaign is a little vauge on how to go about the skill challenge....I am not sure how to get my adventerers to the goal or even how to make sure they understand the challenge ahead...



That seems like a completely different problem.

Usually, I just place various skill challenges in the adventure and the players will find them through natural exploration or make their own through decisions and in-game actions. If you have to guide them to the point, then there may be a completely different issue that needs to be addressed.

Also, it's acceptable if they do not ever discover a skill challenge, a diplomacy check, for instance. There should be little need to make them discover a challenge.

As for understanding the challenge, that is likely in how you describe it.

What exactly is the skill challenge they have come to or will be facing? 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
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