This post belongs to a series on letting the party rule a kingdom in Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition. The main post can be found here.
So, here we are again, and this time we're going to deal with the passing of time and using of Skills. As you know from the second chapter, each Kingdom has certain skills that it can use. Each kingdom is good at different things and as a ruler, your party can put all that knowledge and expertise to very good use.
However, any kingdom can only supply a limited number of expert sages and great diplomats at a given time. I've mentioned turns before, and I'll talk a bit more about them now.
The passing of time in this kingdom system is measured in ATU. It stands for Arbitrary Time Unit and was chosen very specifically because we don't want to make the time passing in the kingdom more important then the time passing for the players.
As many people already know; vehicles in a movie travel at the speed of plot and kingdoms in a Dungeons and Dragons game are no different.
So the ATU merely serves as a way to deal with kingdom and party resources and isn't an actual time measurement. One ATU could take a year, while the next only takes a week, but that doesn't really matter. What matters is what you can do within an ATU, and what resources you have available.
When an ATU ends, all skill uses are reset. Then, the current production is added to the stores (or removed from it, if negative) After that, players are allowed to change the production of resources within the city for the next turn.
It generally makes sense to spend all the Skill uses as leftovers are simply lost, but sometimes there's just nothing to spend them on.
Also, players are only allowed to personally tackle one Challenge per ATU. They can have side adventures (as many as the DM allows) but when they deal with a Challenge they have to pass the ATU before the next one.
Players can give orders to the kingdom at any time as long as they have a way to relay their orders (like being in the palace, or sending a messenger, or using telepathy, or whatever they can do to get their order across to someone important)
Making skill checks
As I said, the number of experts and sages a kingdom can put to use is limited. In fact, it's limited to one half the level of the city in uses per ATU. That means that during any given ATU, a level 8 city can make 4 skill checks, while a level 19 city could make 9 skill checks.
In addition to these checks, during each ATU, a player can also make a single skill check that benefits the kingdom. In addition, he can make as many skill checks as he damn well pleases during any adventures he has, but these can't be used to command the kingdom.
This means that making a check to surpress or defeat a Challenge counts against this limit, as does the upgrading of Buildings, trading with neighbours, increasing the size of the kingdom and raising armies. But more on that later.
For now it is merely important to keep in mind that the number of checks you have available are limited.
Also, we spoke of the Notable Persons before. Each of these can be used once per ATU, but it's not an extra skill check. You can send a Notable Person along whenever you use a skill that the Notable Person has. The Notable Person grants a +5 bonus to that skill check.
So for example, when you want to supress a challenge like a plague descending on your crops, you could make a regular Heal check with the kingdom's bonus, or you could send Davarius the Druid to surpress it, and get a +5 bonus.
As long as you're not using them to defeat a Challenge there's no real risk in using Notable Persons, so try to put them to use as much as you can. If you give them no orders, their talents will just go to waste for that ATU.
Using skill checks for your own gain
As the ruler of a kingdom, you are in no way required to use all of your skill checks for the good of the kingdom. You can also use them yourself during adventures you have.
Whenever you are on an adventure, you can call in help from your kingdom whenever it would make sense to do so, and let the kingdom roll a skill check for you.
For example; you could let one of your diplomats write you a letter to persuade a king you are dealing with, order for a surgeon to help you deal with a wounded victim or get a guide to help you traverse a dangerous mountain slope.
These checks generally take some more time then a regular skill check would and are mostly useful during skill challenges, although you might sometimes be able to sneak one into combat if you make sure you have quick lines. A sending stone connected directly to your main library could be a great way to get some quick boosted Knowledge checks, for example.
When you are on a Challenge, you can also call in the help of a Notable Person during the mission. If the Notable Person succeeds at his check, then this will reduce the Size of the Challenge by one (and the adventure should change accordingly) but if the check fails, the Notable Person will be place in great peril by the DM and might die (although as a party of heroes you should at least get a chance to save them)
Both types of checks count against the kingdoms' Skill limit per ATU, so spend these checks wisely.
With this out of the way; lets find out how we can use these skills to expand our kingdom!