3 years ago ::
Mar 06, 2010 - 10:23AM
Jul 21, 2004
For a recent game, I ran the following two skill challenges simultaneously.
A little background: In the previous session, the players had completed Dungeon Delve 11, which I used as an introduction to King of the Trollhaunt Warrens. This delve involves a skill challenge in the last encounter to close off a portal to the Abyss, at which they succeeded. They expressed curiosity about the portal and implied that they wanted to investigate it. I decided to build on that and had the portal malfunction and pull in both the wizard and the bard. The others decided to follow, but if they hadn't I would have enabled the bard and wizard to communicate through the portal and request their aid.
The portal let them out in an observatory at the bottom of a tower in the Astral Sea. I say "bottom" because the tower was built on the underside of a large chunk of rock, with the tip of the tower "lower" than the base. Furthermore, something had caused the chunk of rock to rotate, imparting a great deal of centrifugal force on those in the observatory - and very little force on those in or near it's basement.
Through the dome of the observatory, the PCs could see a brilliant starfield, and a black splotch. The former owner of the tower became aware of their arrival and talked to them through a communication device, advising them to get to the basement if they wanted the means to leave the tower and to utilize devices set about the observatory to collect data on the phenomenon in the sky.
Thus the skill challenges. Please let me know what you think.
Arrange an Escape
Complexity: 3 (8 successes before 3 failures)
Victory: The PCs acquire the necessary ritual and components, and return to the observatory to make their escape back to their point of origin.
Defeat: The tower breaks apart and an old contingency spell sends them back - but they plummet into the wreckage of a burned out house.
(Note: no real treasure to be had, or downside for failure. This was mostly about roleplaying the challenge.)
Note on Skills: Skills generally provide one success or one failure.
Acrobatics: DC 16: Maneuver around the low- and zero-gravity sections of the tower. DC 18: Maneuver around the high-gravity sections of the tower.
Athletics: DC 16: Maneuver around the high-gravity sections of the tower. DC 16: Maneuver around the low-gravity sections of the tower.
Endurance: DC 16: Overcome the pain, nausea and disorientation caused by the extremes of force within the tower.
Acquire the Data
Complexity: 1 (4 successes before 3 failures)
Victory: Measurements and readings are taken of the mysterious phenomenon and the object that emerges from it. The party gains a +2 bonus to knowledge checks about the Far Realm.
Defeat: Some data are collected, but the object senses the activity and investigates. The party gains a +1 bonus to knowledge checks about the Far Realm, but takes a -1 penalty to checks made in Arrange an Escape, due to the object's proximity.
Arcana: DC 16. Repair and operate the instrumentation. Cannot be attempted further after a failure.
Dungeoneering: DC 16. Operate the instrumentation, and locate important aspects of the appearance and behavior of the phenomenon and object. Cannot be attempted further after a failure.
Perception: DC 16. Locate important aspects of the appearance and behavior of the phenomenon and object. No success or failure, but grants a +2 bonus to the next Dungeoneering or Arcana checks, or re-enables the use of those skills.
Thievery: DC 16. Repair the instrumentation.
The players succeeded with flying colors. They garnered only a single failure in Acquire the Data when the bard attempted to use Stealth (or perhaps it was Thievery) to use the instruments without attracting the attention of the object. That was a Hard check, per the advice in the DMG. I didn't look at anyone's skill modifiers, but the way they were rolling makes me suspect they could not have failed either challenge.
And I'm fine with that. They'll be getting a good chunk of experience for these, but it's no less than what they deserve for their excellent roleplaying during the challenges. And that's what I think skill challenges are really for: to provide a system to give players level-appropriate amounts of experience for roleplaying.
[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy