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Tuesday, 10th March, 2009, 06:52 PM #71
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Thursday, 12th March, 2009, 10:52 AM #72
Scout (Lvl 6)
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Wednesday, 1st April, 2009, 12:59 AM #73
Scales of War Skill Challenges
I've actually started on converting the Scales of War skill challenges over to Obsidian. I've only finished converting Rescue at Rivenroar so far, but it wasn't too hard, just takes a bit of ingenuity.
The rest of this post contains **SPOILERS** for Scales of War 1: Rescue at Rivenroar.
Our first skill challenges come in a trio. They're all level 1, and they come as follows:
The Summons: Level 1, Complexity 2 (6 successes before 3 failures), 200 XP, social.
Interrogating Morrik: Level 1, Complexity 2 (6 successes before 3 failures), 200 XP, social.
Tracking the Goblins: Level 1, Complexity 3 (8 successes before 3 failures), 300 XP, mental.
Now, assuming every roll produces either a success or a failure (not the case, just an approximation), succeeding at all 3 skill challenges takes the PCs 20-26 rolls. I aimed to keep it around this total, so that it would have about the same weight in the adventure. Here's what I did in Obsidian, assuming 5 PCs:
Section 1: The Summons (Social)
Level 1, Two SegmentsPrimary Skill: DiplomacyDC 16
Victory (6+): 150 XP: As Success is described in the module, but ôwhatever aid the good people of Brindol can musterö means a bit more. In particular, Troyas will see to it that the PCs are well equipped when they set out, bringing them rations, strong travel cloaks and waterskins, and some brief and scattered notes from various townsfolk on local plants, trails and wildlife. These give the PCs +1 on Endurance, Nature and Perception skill checks in Section 3.Partial Victory (5): 100 XP: As Success is described in the module.Failure (4 or less): As described in the module.Section 2: Interrogating Morrik (Social)
Level 1, Two Segments
Primary Skill: Intimidate
DC 16Victory (6+): 150 XP: As Success is described in the module; the PCs receive the information, the historical information, and the good map, which changes the outcomes of Section 3.
Partial Victory (5): 100 XP: As Success is described in the module, but without the historical information. The PCs still receive the good map.
Failure (4 or less): As Success is described in the module: no historical information, and the PCs receive the bad map.
Section 3: Tracking the Goblins (Mental)
Level 1, Two Segments
Primary Skill: Perception
Good map: Take what's written.
Bad map: Go down a step.
Victory (6+): 400 XP: The PCs arrive at Rivenroar.
Partial Victory (5): 300 XP: The PCs fight the kruthiks, and then find their way to Rivenroar.
Failure (4 or less): The PCs fight the kruthiks, and then must do another segment of this skill challenge. If they can bring their success total to 6, they get to Rivenroar. Otherwise, they accidentally double back into the kruthik area and fight the cave bear (who is munching on kruthiks). The PCs are then able to get to Rivenroar.
Worse Failure (with Bad Map): The PCs have the kruthik encounter followed by the cave bear encounter.
The XP totals for the 3 skill challenges as a whole total to the same as in the original adventure, but I shifted more XP to the final section because even if the PCs fail there, it just means a combat, aka chance for XP. Some of the problems from the module persist: In terms of gaining XP, it's better for the PCs to fail the last two skill challenges abysmally than to succeed at them. I think I should set it up so that all roads lead to the same XP total, but I'm not sure how to do that. Maybe put all 700 XP hinging on the last section, only giving 100 XP for a partial victory (the kruthik encounter is worth 600), and eliminating the cave bear altogether. In that case, the good map could just provide +1 on all skill checks in the final encounter, though with the benefit from Section 1, this adds up to +2 (a 20% change in victory chances, if I recall?)
Another problem is that each skill has different mechanical effects under the Core system. I don't think the module should force using certain skills the way it does, even at low DCs, but picking a skill can be a much more tactical choice. So, keeping in mind that no one should be afraid to make their own skill checks, here are some ideas for applying this to the third section:
Note: All successful checks still count as a success. Also, remove the bonus for using a Primary Skill.
Perception: You get a free aid another roll to any other PC's check, if you can justify it. EG, I spotted an easier path through those rocks, so +2 to Endurance, Joe.
Nature: If at the end of the skill challenge, you have had less than 2 successes with Nature, you walked right through a stretch of poison thorns. Every character must make an Endurance check, DC 10, or lose one healing surge.
Don't penalize failure. Instead, penalize not-succeeding.
Sunday, 19th April, 2009, 04:58 AM #74
I used the system for the first time last night, and plan to keep doing so, but I ran into a situation where I was unsure as to the intent of the system.
The skill challenge was an interrogation. The PCs had a cleric of Bane tied up and hanging upside down high up in a tree, while they were at his level on a rope bridge between treehouses. The paladin and rogue tried to scare him into talking as well as reason with him, so it was simple enough to call for Initimidate and Diplomacy checks. The wizard, on the other hand, wanted to know what he knew about Bane (Religion), to see if anything could help with the interrogation. Later, after the rogue cut a gash into the cleric's leg as a method of persuasion, the wizard chose to see if the injury was life-threatening (Heal).
I ruled that the wizard's actions counted for the challenge and could provide successes. But what's the intent of the system with regards to such actions that don't directly affect the outcome. I understand that information gained from a knowledge check can help succeed at a challenge, but should the knowledge check itself also count as a success, or should it be done outside the segment framework?
Also, while the 3 PCs decided to participate in the interrogation, what if only one had wanted to, while the others watched? While I suppose they'd be easy to figure out, I notice there aren't any success/failure numbers for a one-person skill challenge. Why is that?
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Sunday, 19th April, 2009, 04:43 PM #75
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
I generally leave it up to the player to come up with why a given skill should count towards a success.
In the case of Religion, it makes sense if done prior to the Intimidate as the knowledge learned can shape what tactic is used to scare the NPC into talking.
In the case of Heal determining if the wound was lethal, I don't see how that could tie in as part of persuading the NPC to talk. I would not have counted that skill use as a success unless the player came up with an entertaining reason why making sure the guy wasn't going to die soon would be a convincing reason to talk...
As to having PC's stay out of the challenge. One premise of the system is to let everyone play without penalty. But if they don't want to join, don't force it.
I run single PC skill challenges as a 'compex skill check' instead of using obsidion. But techincally you could just go with 2 successes in 3 checks as a single PC challenge.
Sunday, 19th April, 2009, 09:33 PM #76
Lama (Lvl 13)
I would have taken the entire thing from a step further back, where the interrogation was just a small part of a broader challenge. Whatever it was that they were trying to find out from the interrogation would probably be what I made the overall goal.
When you try to have a skill challenge for a very narrow set of circumstances, you run into a handful of problems. "Interrogate the captive" can be pretty much ruled by a single roll, and there's a chance that not everyone will want to be involved. If you instead make the challenge something like "figure out when and where the cult of Bane holds their secret meetings in the city of Tolin" it gives your players a better chance of coming up with a place where they can fit in.
Beyond that, skills shouldn't really come into play, or be counted towards "winning" the encounter if it isn't furthering the group towards their goal.
Checking to see if the cleric was hurt should only count if the cleric's health directly affected some later part in the challenge. If, for example, things were leaning towards forcing the cleric to sneak the party into an evil mass under the noses of the cult leader and his champions, then having the cleric beaten up and limping or maybe even dead might make things tough. If the plan is to kill the cleric as soon as they beat whatever information
Sunday, 19th April, 2009, 10:04 PM #77
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
I could see a crafty player using heal in this situation, but I would probably only allow 1 use of it for the whole group. Uses I would accept include (but not limited to):
* I use heal to see how badly he is injured and if he can withstand another tongue pull, wrist slashing, etc. Assuming that the next move is to inflict more pain, this directly contributes to the goal
*I use heal to try and figure out the most painful way to hurt him without making him go unconscious or kill him.
I like the Obsidian system because you can limit the "always try to use highest skill or aid another" flaw but still reward clever player skill for using "non-obvious" skills they have a high score in. In the above example, the wizard player that isn't as clever can always use intimidate untrained, and in obsidian trying is better than not trying and skipping your turn.
I really like that the system is weighted toward character skill, but also includes a dash of player skill which I wouldn't want to vanish completely.
Sunday, 19th April, 2009, 10:18 PM #78
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
This is my biggest gripe about many published skill challenges (besides the mechanics but that is taken care of by Obsidian) -- the penalty for failure is often an appropriate level fight that earns you more experience than beating the skill challenge! Bad design. Combat vs. no-combat is often a poor choice for the outcome of a skill challenge. Here's some suggestions:
*Benefits/penalties to an upcoming fight as a result of the skill challenge is ok.
* Ignoring the suggested XP amounts and just make the skill challenge equal more XP than the fight avoided is also ok I think
* Giving no XP for fights that result from a failed skill challenge might be ok too, but would require a different XP paradigm agreed to by players and DM
Monday, 20th April, 2009, 06:19 PM #79
Superhero (Lvl 15)
If your sneaking through a camp and the player says that he makes a history check to contemplate the kings of old...that doesn't do anything to help the challenge and wouldn't be a check. If he says that he contemplates the plight of King Solos the Swift...who was forced to sneak through his own back countryside to escape rebels that had taken over his castle....now we're talking!
Is your game having issues with Grind? Check out Stalker0's Guide to Anti-Grind
Do you want a skill challenge system that is less mechanical and encourages more roleplaying? Try my Obsidian Skill Challenge System
Like the core 4e system, but prefer a more balanced system with additional options? Try my Alternate Core Skill Challenge System
Tuesday, 21st April, 2009, 07:29 AM #80
Stalker0, last Sunday a DM used your system in one of his games, and I loved it! The high point of the game was my dwarven Paladin using Bluff... a skill he'd never attempt under the old system, but I described it so well I had the entire group laughing, and the DM gave me a +2 bonus to the roll. It was a lot of fun.
I'm strongly considering adopting it for my own games, but one thing I wanted to ask: how to deal with sequential challenges. RAW skill challenges encourage you to roll for initiative, I think, but that feels too rigid. But a willy-nilly, "everybody go as soon as you think of something" system feels too lose. For things like intense diplomatic negotations, a certain give-and-take is important. Instead of saying, "Okay, everyone tell me what your character is going to do in this situation," I want to say, "Okay, Player1, what do you do? Okay, the orc chieftain responds like this. Player2, what do you do? Okay, the orc chieftain doesn't like that. Player3, how will you fix this?"
How would you suggest handling something like that, using your system? Let the players decide amongst themselves?