Redesigning Burning Sky Skill Challenges
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  1. #1

    Scout (Lvl 6)

    Join Date
    May 2009
    CT, USA

    Redesigning Burning Sky Skill Challenges

    I will be using this thread to post my redesigned WotBS skill challenges. The skill challenges are my least favorite part of WotBS, but the fault for that lies squarely with WotC, whose own DMG and initial burst of adventures fared quite poorly with these. As my guide, I am using the new rules outlined in the DMG2, which themselves are largely based on my other source, Mike Mearls' "Ruling Skill Challenges" column in Dungeon. Lastly, the wisdom accumulated by myself and other DMs I've spoken with also comes into play here.

    Finally, I would love for people to critique and outright change whole sections of these. I am by no means any good at this, so I'm hoping people will tell me what works and what doesn't, or, better yet, do the work for me and redesign some challenges themselves or rewrite sections of mine (or the entire thing!)

    I'm going to try to do one a week but who knows how that will go. EnWorld, if you like these, feel free to contact me, I would love to talk to you about improving future challenges!

    THIS WEEK: EXPLORING THE WHITE RIVER (WotBS #2: The Indomitable Fire Forest of Innenotdar)

    Notes: Yes, some of you might notice traces of "Traveling the Rushing River" from DMG2 in this skill challenge. That's the base I started from and then changed it quite a bit to match the forest. For those who have already read the section on the river in the adventure, I left some of the text unchanged, but I suggest you read my version. Never-the-less, the most important information is that I have disallowed traveling the river by foot. Doing so would make the challenge useless. I suggest you very strongly discourage the players from doing so, via large amounts of fire damage. Just make clear that the banks are covered with burning tree bits and such. The upshot of all this is you MUST remember to tell your players about boats by the bridge-fort when you describe the location!

    Exploring the White River

    The White River is 30 to 90 feet wide and about eight feet lower than normal, making paddling difficult. The riverbanks are approximately 10 feet wide, and covered with burning brush and tree branches swept away from the forest. Occassionally a tree branch or errant leaf lands amidst the river, causing a loud hiss and spout of steam. Thus, the PCs must use the broken-down old boats by the bridge-fort to make the trek. One boat can fit four, and there are three boats in various state of disrepair. If a PC wishes to immediately patch the boat, refer to the Thievery skill in the "Entire Challenge" section below for DC and what this means to the challenge.

    The river flows from the northeast and heads southwest. A DC 12 Dungeoneering or Nature check with the maps gives good estimates of the distances between the mouth of the river, the fort-bridge, and the seela village.

    It is twelve miles from the bridge-fort to the Mouth of the White River, and eight miles downstream to the seela village. It takes eight hours to complete the upriver journey. A downriver trip can be done in six hours. The southwestern journey from the bridge-fort is a little faster; travel times are two-thirds those of the journey northeast (upriver from the seela village takes five hours, downriver about four hours).

    Traveling to the mouth of the White River is a complexity 5 skill challenge and a trip to the seela village is a complexity 3 challenge. Once a round trip has been completed for a section, feel free to simplify subsequent travel.

    Every success by the heroes moves them one mile towards their destination. The distance between stages is marked. This is not an exact measure, and thus you may find the need to adjust or completely omit certain stages. For example, the downriver rapids section may take longer than 4 successes, if many players fall off their boat. Feel free to shorten the subsequent stage.

    Each failure stops their forward progress and adds 1d610 minutes to the trip. If the whole skill challenge fails, the heroes lose a healing surge each due to the strain of the trip. The skill challenge stops when the journey’s full distance is met. Regardless of the first skill challenge’s success or failure, award the XP at the end as if the skill challenge had been initially successful.

    If the heroes travel to see Nelle and return, they will have performed two complexity 5, level 6 skill challenges. Likewise, a trip to the seela village and back requires two complexity 3, level 6 skill challenges. Both round trips therefore yield a total of (21,250) + (2750) = 4,000 XP.

    The skill challenge outlines a number of sections of the river. They are numbered One through Eight, starting from the mouth. Thus, going from the bridge-fort to the mouth of the White River will engage sections Five though One, and One through Five when returning. Continuing on to the seela villa will engage the PCs in sections Six through Eight, and Eight through Six on the return to the bridge-fort.

    Entire Challenge

    These skills can be used at any point during the challenge, unless otherwise noted.
    Primary Skills: Athletics, History, Nature, Thievery, Dungeoneering.
    Nature (DC 12): The character helps navigate the twisting, branching sections of the river.
    Athletics (DC 12): A character tries to paddle the group forward. The riverbed varies in depth throughout the stages, thus this DC is sometimes modified within a particular stage.
    History (DC 17): The character recalls a map of this section of the river, which helps the PCs navigate.
    Thievery or Dungeoneering (DC 12): A character works to repair the damage done to the boat and oars. This success has an effect on various stages of the challenge. It can only be completed once and awards the party a single success in the challenge.
    Secondary Skills: Endurance.
    Endurance (DC 12): The character stays alert despite the rigors of the journey. This doesn't give any successes, but the character can reroll one failed skill check later in the challenge. A character can only use this skill in this way once per challenge.

    Section One: Mouth of the White River (2 miles)

    This is the first section of the river as it enters the forest.
    Downriver: If a character gains two successes with the History skill, the character remembers that rapids lie ahead, and each character gains a +2 bonus to Acrobatics or Athletic checks to avoid falling off the raft at the start of Section Two.
    Primary Skills: History, Nature
    Nature (DC 7): It's easier to navigate here, where the waters are wide and calm. Use this DC instead of the one in the "Entire Challenge" section.
    Athletics (DC 7): It's also easier to paddle here, where the river is closer to the source and hence slightly wider and deeper. Use this DC instead of the one in the "Entire Challenge" section.
    Upriver: On the PCs first trip up, Indomitability becomes worried the PCs wish to escape the forest. This is especially true if they have made a pact with him, but even if they rejected his offer, he still believes they are his best hope of freedom and won't pass up the opportunity to harass them before they leave (as he sees it). In case the offer was rejected, the dialog below may need to be adjusted. On subsequent upriver trips, use the downriver info.
    When the PCs enter this stage, read:
    Just as you enter the final leg of your journey, flames obscure your view. Your boat is encircled with a circle of fire. A familiar set of bright red eyes, angled into an expression of fury, peers at you from within the flames. The voice once again enters your minds: "Fools! Do you believe you can escape the forest without my permission? Do not seek to escape me!"
    Primary Skills: Diplomacy, Intimidate, Bluff.
    Diplomacy (DC 12): The PC tries to convince Indomitability that they must travel to the mouth to fulfill their contract with him, or if there is no contract, that they do not mean to leave (this is a Bluff check if it isn't true). Indomitability is wary because he feels he is on the ropes, so this actually does not work as well as a straight bluff.
    Intimidate (DC 17): Indomitability is tough to intimidate, but he would find it hard to argue with a well worded reminder that he hasn't done anything to PCs yet.
    Bluff (DC 7): The PCs lie about the purpose of their trip to the mouth, and assure Indomitability that they will return. Indomitability has been trapped a long time and there is not much he can do to truly prevent the PCs escape, and he, uncharacteristically, believes them easily (or, at least, can't argue).
    Secondary Skills: Insight.
    Insight (DC 12): A character hears the desperate tone in Indomitability's voice and they know it's much easier to bluff him than try and intimidate him. This skill does not grant any successes or failures for the challenge.

    Section Two: Rapids (4 miles)

    Soon after the PCs leave the mouth, they run into the rapids, where the water tumbles downwards, making for a treacherous trip down and a strenuous trip up.
    Downriver: When the PCs reach this area, read:
    All around you, the water begins to churn, becoming white with foam. You couldn't even see the rapids until they were right upon you. As waves of rough water crash against the jagged rocks all around you, the voices of the forest raises in tragic song for a brief moment, as if the trees themselves lull you to a watery grave.
    When the characters enter this area, each makes an Acrobatics or Athletics check (DC 17, or DC 22 if the raft hasn't been repaired). A character who fails this check falls in the water. This check doesn't give any successes or failures, but sets up the skills for this part of the challenge.
    Primary Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance.
    Acrobatics (DC 12): A character on the raft can make Acrobatics checks to keep the raft on course and stay balanced. This skill can be used to gain 2 successes in this challenge.
    Athletics (DC 17): A character who has fallen into the water can swim to get back on the raft or get through the rapids safely. Each character who has fallen in the water can gain up to 1 success in the challenge this way.
    Endurance (DC 17): Any character can attempt this skill to weather the rapids, and each can gain up to 1 success doing so.
    Secondary Skills: Athletics.
    Athletics (DC 7): A character on the raft can choose to help a character in the water making an Athletics or Endurance check by reaching into the water. That character gets a +5 bonus on their check. This skill does not grant any successes or failures for the challenge.
    Upriver: When the PCs reach this area, read:
    The upriver journey so far has been relatively easy but suddenly the current is against you and the boat begins to slow.
    Primary Skills: Athletics, Insight, Nature.
    Athletics (DC 17): Paddling here is extremely hard. When a character attempts to paddle, they must succeed at a DC 17 Endurance check from the secondary skills list in addition. To obtain a success, the character must pass both checks.
    Insight or Nature (DC 12): A character identifies these as rapids going against them. If a characters expresses this knowledge based on the information given without making a check, award a success. The party can only ever gain one success this way, since it becomes obvious on the first downriver trip.
    Secondary Skills: Endurance, Heal.
    Endurance (DC 17): See description of Athletics primary skill above.
    Heal (DC 7): A character can use their healing abilities to steady a rower, giving them a +2 bonus to both the athletics and endurance check. This skill does not grant any successes or failures for the challenge.

    Section Three: Respite (2 miles)

    This is the most relaxing portion of the journey. However, characters can use to either recover from the rapids if they're traveling downriver or prepare for them if they are headed upriver.
    Downriver: When the characters arrive here, read:
    The river subsides just as suddenly as it became dangerous. The water is calm, allowing for a respite.
    Upriver: When the characters arrive at this stage, read:
    The river straightens and becomes peaceful. The sound of the water subsides, the almost peaceful hum of the fires coming to fore.
    Primary Skills: Use the generic skills in the "Entire Challenge" section.
    Secondary Skills: Endurance, Heal.
    Endurance or Heal (DC 17): The characters can use this opportunity to rest up. Success on this check can erase failures. Use your discretion if this makes the challenge to easy. However, failure on this skill does not grant a failure in the challenge.

    Section Four: Winding River (2 miles)

    The river winds dangerously as it approaches the village and bridge-fort.
    As the PCs approach this area, read:
    The river begins to twist like a snake, and your boat begins to sway dangerously as it follows the winding current.
    Primary Skills: Acrobatics, Perception.
    Acrobatics (DC 12): A character leans in a direction that stabilizes the boat.
    Perception (DC 7): A character observes the boat's path and allows the party to predict the curve of the river, allowing for a smooth trip.
    Secondary Skills: As in "Entire Challenge."

    Section Five: Bridge-Fort North (2 miles)

    This section of the river has the burnt remainders of piers formerly used by the village, and the characters must navigate around them.
    As the PCs enter this section, read:
    The river is slow and steady here as the fort and various burnt piers and other artifacts of former life here float just beneath the steamy waters.
    Primary Skills: Dungeoneering, Nature, Perception.
    Dungeoneering (DC 12): A character's ability to observe the engineering of structures allows them to predict the dangerous areas of the river, where bits of pier might be lurking to snag their boat.
    Nature (DC 17): It is harder to navigate here, where progress is often halted by unnatural obstacles.
    Perception (DC 7): A character watches the water carefully to watch for obstacles.
    Secondary Skills: As in "Entire Challenge".

    Section Six: Bridge-Fort South (2 miles)

    Similar to the fifth section, this part of the river requires the characters to navigate around the man-made obstacles like the bridge-fort itself, which blocks half the river, and old pillars which were being constructed forty years ago for the raising of a dam. Use the skills presented in Section Five to navigate these.

    Section Seven: Fallen Tree (2 miles)

    It is rare that trees fall since the nature of the fire means all natural things with Indomitability's essence are protected from death. However, this particular tree was subject to experiments by the forest natives some years ago and managed to land in a position to block the river. Not being an issue for the Seela, who fly over it, no one has been around to clear the obstacle.
    When the PCs enter this area, read:
    As the river takes a turn, a enormous tree trunk comes into view, lying across both banks. The water is thick with ash where the burning trunk's shadow falls.
    Primary Skills: Arcana, Athletics, Stealth.
    Arcana (DC 12): If a character tries to blast the trunk with arcane power, use this skill check instead of an attack roll. A successful check means the character aimed the spell at the correct part of the trunk, which splits easily, being brittle. If a character tries to use a Divine power, you may substitute a Religion check in a similar manner, at your discretion.
    Athletics (DC 17): A character uses a Martial or Primal power or simply cut, chop, or break through the tree in some way. Use this skill check instead of an attack roll. This is harder than aiming a spell of some sort at the trunk, but the tree is brittle enough to give way.
    Stealth (DC 12): A character uses his ability to stay still and lay in the boat so as to slide under the trunk.
    Secondary Skills: Perception.
    Perception (DC 7): A character identifies the bottom of the trunk as just being at boat level, meaning the boat will safely make it under but nothing above the rim. A successful check also tells the character that jumping the trunk would be extremely difficult considering the height of the tree and it's fiery state. This check does not grant successes or failures, but a success grants all PCs a +2 bonus on other checks made in this stage.

    Section Eight: Shallows (4 miles)

    When PCs enter this area, read:
    The river becomes more of a stream here, and it is clear that much of the water here has evaporated over the years. The scratching of sand on the bottom of your boat is almost constant.
    Primary Skills: Athletics, Nature, Perception.
    Athletics (DC 17): It is particularily hard to paddle here.
    Nature (DC 17): Navigation in this section is hard, considering it hardly resembles a river.
    Perception (DC 7): A watchful character can guide the boat past sandbars and into deeper waters, when possible.
    Secondary Skills: Insight.
    Insight (DC 12): A successful check allows a character to come to the realization that walking this section may be substantially easier than boating, if the party wishes to sacrifice time. Use of this skill grants no successes or failures.
    Special: If characters simply get out of the boat and walk this section, increase the time of the trip by two hours, but automatically give them 3 successes or less, if they need less to finish the challenge.

    Hope you enjoyed it!
    Last edited by EugeneZ; Friday, 9th October, 2009 at 04:28 AM. Reason: clarity, errata ;)

  2. #2

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Great thread EugeneZ!!!!

    Suggestion: Keep the first post as an Index and put each SC as an independent post.
    I'm planning on posting my changed SCs here as well.

    In particular I was going to change the White River SC as well, thanks for sharing it with us

  3. #3

    Scout (Lvl 6)

    Join Date
    May 2009
    CT, USA
    Thanks, sfedi. And it's a deal, I'll use the first post as an index and will post any revised challenges posted in their chronological order in the adventure, for easy reference. Can't wait to see other people's rewrites!

  4. #4

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Finding the Mushrooms

    Here's one Skill Challenge I'm changing: Finding the Mushrooms.

    Finding the Mushrooms
    This Skill Challenge challenges the PCs to find the mushrooms before they are attacked.

    Success: PCs find all the mushrooms and flint they need, the loot of the encounter and earn an Action Point. They also have the option to run away avoiding combat or stay and fight with significant advantage.
    Failure: PCs must stay and fight to get all of the reagents and the loot.

    • Party consist of 5 characters of Level 4
    • They must get a variety of mushrooms (4 total) and some flint (2 total) from the vein (this is a slight change from the original SC)
    • They will also get 3 parcels of loot and the badge.
    • PCs don't know what's beyond the mist tunnel.
    • Since the alarm has been deactivated and the PCs bring loght sources into the cave, the Fungals know about their presence. The PCs know they have been detected.
    • Members of the party are trained on at least one or more of the skills involved in the skill challenge.

    Math behind the Skill Challenge
    This SC assumes that there will be 2 x number of characters items to solve: parcels to find and identify, flint to collect, fungi to collect, etc.
    Each one will require 2 steps to solve: find and collect/identify.
    Each step will have an aproximate chance to solve of 50% (that's why the DC is set at 20).
    Thus, with all 5 characters searching and collecting the "expected" time that this challenge will take is 8 rounds.
    But maybe not all characters will want to search&collect, some will want to be on lookout.
    In that case, to preserve the party chances of success, for each PC on watch there should be a 20% chance per turn that they will delay the Myconid incursion for 1 round.
    Note: the "expected time" means that half the time the challenge will be completed under this number and half the time above.

    Skill Challenge Setup
    The SC is best represented with several tokens and cards, to show what are the PCs options and to clearly show the PCs progress through the challenge.

    Setup different zones in the table:

    * Lookout Activities (place the Get Information and Delay Enemy activities)
    * Time Until Attack (add 8 tokens, representing 8 rounds until attack)
    * Delay Attack Pool (this pool starts with no tokens)
    * Search & Collect Activities (only place the Search for Reagents activity)
    * Complete Activities (no tokens here either)

    How to run the Skill Challenge
    The Skill Challenge is run in rounds, each one lasts about 1 minute, or whatever you deem appropiate.
    Encounter powers can only be used once during the course of the Skill Challenge.
    When PCs enter into the cave they'll probably be very cautious.
    Most of them will be split between On Lookout and Searching Reagents (see below).

    Round sequence:

    * All characters assign themselves to an activity that is available
    * Characters On Lookout perform the action corresponding to their activity and apply the result
    * Remove a token from the Time Until Attack Pool. If none is available, the SC ends in failure
    * Characters Searching perform the action corresponding to their activity and apply the result

    When the Skill Challenge ends (whether Successfully or not):

    * All characters automatically benefit from a Short Rest
    * Gain the effects of Failure or Success of the Skill Challenge (as appropiate)

    If the Skill Challenge was a Failure:
    * Place characters on the map according to their last activity
    * Roll initiative

    If the Skill Challenge was a Success:

    PCs have the option to get out of the cavern or stay and fight.
    In the last case, they decide where they are placed on the map when initiative is rolled.


    Skills for obtaining reagents: Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, Dungeoneering, Heal, Nature, Perception, Thievery

    Skills for guarding against incoming Fungal forces: Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight, Intimidate, Stealth

    How to read an activity entry
    Activity: The name of the activity
    Place: Where on the map is the activity is taking place. Only important if Initiative is rolled.
    Action: The action that must be performed by the character
    Result: Description of the success, failure, or consequence of the action taken by the character

    Searching for reagents activities

    Activity: Search for Reagents
    Place: Anywhere on the lower cave where mushrooms are or near the back walls of the cavern
    Action: Dungeoneering, Nature or Perception check DC 20
    Result: Determine randomly one of the following:
    - One Collect Flint becomes available (2 total)
    - One Collect Fungi becomes available (4 total)
    - Finds item (1 parcel) (2 total), Identify Item becomes available
    - Finds gold (1 parcel) (1 total) and can store it
    - Finds Badge of the Solei Palancis (1 total), Identify Badge becomes available

    Activity: Collect Fungi
    Place: Anywhere on the lower cave where mushrooms are
    Action: Dungeoneering, Heal, Nature or Thievery check DC 20
    Result: Collect 1 unit of Fungus

    Activity: Collect Flint
    Place: Near the back walls of the cavern
    - Climb to collect - Athletics DC 20 (if check result is less than 12, fall for 2d10 damage)
    - Balance on a ledge to collect - Acrobatics DC 20 (if check result is less than 12, fall for 2d10 damage)
    - Install Climber's Kit (1 round) and use the installed kit to climb and collect (another round)
    Result: Collect 1 unit of Flint

    Activity: Identify Item
    Place: Anywhere the player chooses except near the Misty Cavern
    Action: Arcana check DC 20
    Result: Reveal the items properties and wear or store it

    Activity: Identify Badge
    Place: Anywhere the player chooses except near the Misty Cavern
    Action: As Sidebar on page 11
    Result: As Sidebar on page 11 and wear or store it

    On Lookout activities

    Activity: Delay Enemy
    Place: Lower/Misty Cavern entrance
    Action: Bluff, Intimidate or Diplomacy DC 20
    Result: Add 1 token to the Delay Pool

    Activity: Understand Enemy
    Place: Lower/Misty Cavern entrance
    Action: Insight DC 20
    Result: If succesfull, add 1 token to the next successfull Delay Enemy activity check

    Activity: Scout Ahead
    Place: Lower/Misty Cavern, 5 squares from entrance
    Action: Stealth DC 15
    Result: If succesfull, you can:
    - make an appropiate check to identify the creatures
    - you can provide enough information for others to make the same check at -5
    - you can allow a current ally Delaying Enemy to reroll a failed check

    Delay Pool
    For every 2.5 tokens the party earns, the Fungals attack is delayed one more round (add one token to the Time Until Attack Pool).

    Tips for running this SC:
    - When finding the different reagents and loot, make sure the last one they get is a reagent. This will ensure that by the time they get all the reagents they need, they will get all the available loot on the encounter
    - Since identifying items is pretty optional, smart players will delay their identifying until they get all reagents. This gives them a significant edge on the challenge. To compensate this and keep it fair, I recommend leaving 1 or 2 activities for identifying, but the other 9 or 8 should be collecting reagents
    Last edited by sfedi; Friday, 18th December, 2009 at 04:41 AM. Reason: Added a tip for running SC after some playtest

  5. #5

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Ok, I've finished doing this Skill Challenge.

    And I've edited the previous post to show it in it's final version.

    The SC has become a mini game.

    Although the explanation is lengthy, the SC is pretty straightforward to run, at least in my own playtesting.
    I will run it with my group on Monday, and I'll give you feedback on how it went.

    I'm sure that my post will not be clear in several parts, although I did my best to be as clear as I could.
    Please ask me whatever you don't understand, or give me suggestions to make the explanation more clear.


  6. #6

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Well, I'll run it today (Monday session was moved).

    But I have a bonus, I've detailed more the On Lookout activities, to make them more interesting and to reflect that Insight and Stealth are Secondary Skills (modifying the post above).

    Having made this SC, I realized that the underlying mechanics apply to any situation where part of the group must accomplish something as fast as possible, and another part of them must buy them more time.

  7. #7

    Scout (Lvl 6)

    Join Date
    May 2009
    CT, USA
    Awesome -- I'm glad someone took this up, since I haven't had any good ideas for redesigns since the river one. The Mushroom one was in bad need of a redesign, this look great! It's too bad I already ran it (I didn't really focus on the mushrooms, but I probably would have if this skill challenge existed).

    I've been trying to think of ways to redesign the encounter with the dwarves in Scouring... I really didn't like the hokey-ness of fixing the lifts and catching the theives being skill challenges. It felt like the sort of thing PCs would want to actively pursue and it just seemed... an odd way of getting the dwarves' favor. I was thinking of turning it into a 24-hour skill challenge involving dinner, night, and breakfast the next morning, or something.

    Or at the very least combine the two existing skill challenges into one, and put the focus on diplomacy with the new king. Meh.

  8. #8

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Yes, those Skill Challenges could benefit from a little "facelifting", I'm going to run them to a group in a month, so maybe I'll redo them, and publish them here.

  9. #9

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Skill Challenge: Save the Children

    Skill Challenge: Save the Children

    This challenge works much like the original, with three stages of rescue.

    Success: The party successfully recover the children and Begnira, before dying, blesses them so they can rest on the grove without suffering the effects of the fire forest or encounters with forest creatures. They can even get some good attitude from seela when they discover the heroes's deeds.
    Failure: As the adventure says, or Begnira and the children die, even surviving children eventually get lost or die. Party don't gain the benefit of the grove.


    * This SC assumes a level 4 party of 5 members. For every member above or below this, add or subtract one child that must be rescued.
    * The party hasn't taken a short rest from the previous encounter (the vine trap)
    * There are at least two members with social skills (Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate) and two members with physical skills (Athletics, Endurance)
    * After the party deals with the vines, they rush to the border of the fissure, leaving the vines behind. Once there the SC begins.
    * Begnira is in the pond observing and hearing all the PCs do and talk (you can emphasize this by having her speak to them through the trees).
    * The children are inside a burning bush each, and they are burning slowly to death. Even if they get out, they are still on fire. These children are so burned that even if the flames are put out, their bark is still red hot and burn them anyway. Thus, covering them with a blanquet, or earth is not enough for them to stop burning. Even throwing them water is not enough, it should be a LOT of water needed. Thus, the only option is to submerge them on the pond

    Math behind the Skill Challenge

    As the original SC, this SC is divided in three stages.
    But unlike the original SC, the second step has two branches, in parallel.

    Reaching the children
    Expected time: 2 rounds
    Calm the children & Form a Bridge
    Expected time: 6 rounds each branch
    Return to safety

    As usual, "expected time" means that 50% of the time they should go above this time and half the time, below this time.
    Some expected times are based on the assumption that they will have roughly a 50% chance of succeeding in each skill check, like Calming the Children, which requires two checks per children. And there are two children that must be convinced.
    Other expected times are based on the assumption that PCs will make some sacrifices (take damage, spend healing surges, etc) to perform certain maneuvers in one round.

    Now that we have the total expected time, we can really set the difficulty of the challenge, by asigning how many rounds the burning children take to die. In this case is as simple as adding up all the expected times, so that the party has a 50% of success (smart players or players with high bonuses will have a higher chance of success)

    Skill Challenge Setup

    It's important for the players to know where they are and how the Skill Challenge progresses so I recommend the following:

    A "map" representing the important zones this SC will take place in:

    - Pond
    - Grove/Gazebo
    - Field B
    - Field A
    - Fissure
    - Burning Bushes

    Place the PCs minis on Field A, besides de Fissure.

    Another diagram representing the progress of different aspects of the challenge:

    - Burn-o-meter: [TO BE COMPLETED] total rounds before the children die, make blank circles or boxes for each child. You will check each one as the SC progresses.

    - how are the children animically (Panicked, Fearful, Listening, Calmed, Intimidated) Place a token on each Animic State for each child (3 total) that is in that state. All children start Panicked.

    - a blank paper in which to keep track of the PCs Exhaustion Points (3 + Con bonus). These points will represent the fatigue the PCs reach as they take on physical activities during this challenge.

    How to run the Skill Challenge

    Make the players act in any order they like.
    Each player can decide on what to do after the other players resolved their actions.
    After all players are done, tick one mark on each children in the Burn-o-meter.
    If more than half of the children are dead, the SC ends in failure.
    If this has been the second round of the challenge, Begnira shouts to the PCs to use the vines in the grove to help the children climb in and out of the Fissure

    Exhaustion Points

    Each PC begins the SC with 3 + Con bonus Exhaustion Points.
    Some activities the PCs perform are exahusting, these are marked with a (*).
    When performing this activity, the PC must spend an Exhaustion Point.
    If he doesn't have one, he can make an Endurance check DC 18.
    If he succeeds, he performs the activity normally.
    If he fails, he has two options: take twice as long to perform the activity or spend a Healing Surge and perform it normally.

    What the PCs can do

    Although PCs can do whatever they like in any order, their options are listed according to the task they are trying to accomplish.

    Reaching the children

    Jump the Fissure (*) (either from Field A or Burning Bushes)
    Athletics DC 20
    Success: You cross the fissure to the other side (move 2 zones)
    Failure: You move into the fissure

    Jump down the Fissure (special) (either from Field A or Burning Bushes)
    Acrobatics DC 20
    Success: You move into the fissure
    Failure: You move into the fissure and spend an Exhaustion Point

    Climb out the Fissure (*)
    No check
    Move your PC to a zone adjacent to the Fissure

    Help climbing (special) (*)
    No check
    You spend your turn helping other PC climbing up.
    The helped PC is moved to your zone (he doesn't spend the turn doing so)
    Note: If you are exhausted, you and the helped PC spend your turns doing this activity

    Calming the children

    Now the PCs need to make the children get out of the burning bushes. First they must overcome the panic of the children and make them listen to them, then they must convince them to get out.
    Whenever more than half the children are Listening, Calmed or Intimidated, then the rest of the children automatically go to that state

    Making a child Fearful
    Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate DC 20
    Success: One child changes his attitude from Panicked to Fearful
    Failure: Nothing happens, you can try again next round

    Making a child listen
    Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate DC 20
    Success: One child changes his attitude from Fearful to Listening
    Failure: Nothing happens, you can try again next round

    Calming a child
    Bluff or Diplomacy DC 20
    Success: One child changes his attitude from Listening to Calmed
    Failure: Nothing happens, you can try again next round

    Intimidating a child
    Intimidate DC 15
    Success: One child changes his attitude from Listening to Intimidated
    Failure: Nothing happens, you can try again next round

    Once all the children are Calmed or Intimidated the PCs can proceed to return them to safety

    Getting the vines and installing them

    PCs must get the vines on the Grove and use them as ropes for the burning children.
    They need two, one for climbing up and another for climbing down.
    They can't use ropes for this because they would burn from the fire/heat from the children.

    No check
    You move one zone

    Run (*)
    No check
    You move 2 zones

    One PC drags one vine (*)
    No check
    You move 1 zone
    Special: If you are dragging the vine down the Fissure, you can treat this as "Jump down the Fissure" (see Reaching the children, above)

    Two PCs drag one vine
    No check
    You move 1 zone

    Install the vine to get out the Fissure (from Fissure to Field A)
    PC must be on Field A, with vine
    No check

    Install the vine to get down the Fissure (*) (from Burning Bushes to Fissure)
    One PC must be at the bottom of the Fissure and another on the other side (in Burning Bushes)
    No check
    Both PCs spend their turns securing the vine

    Returning the children to safety

    This step is highly dependent on whether there are vines to help cross the fissure and whether the children are calmed or intimidated.
    One probem the PCs face is that they burn if they grab or carry the children.
    If they do, however, they can bypass these activities and can just move (as in previous steps: move, run, etc. See Reaching the children) but they take 4d6 fire damage each round they grab or carry the child.

    Moving kids through the Fissure without vines

    Moving a Calmed child

    Moving an Intimidated child

    Moving kids through the Fissure with vines installed

    Moving a Calmed child

    Moving an Intimidated child
    Attached Files Attached Files  

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by sfedi View Post
    Skill Challenge: Save the Children

    sfedi, did you ever finish this challenge? I'm likely to run it next week and I'd love to see what you ended up with and also any actual play reports you might have.

    I'm also planning to run a modified version of your Mushrooms skill challenge--great work!

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