4E What are your favorite Skill Challenges. - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by heretic888 View Post
    The DMG2, by a wide, wide, wide margin.
    actually glad for that, it's on my list of favorite 4e books.

    Inspiration for both the cost adjustment to martial practices and the development of martial techniques.
    Last edited by Garthanos; Saturday, 1st December, 2018 at 07:14 PM.
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  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkbard View Post
    I'm kind of divided on this. On the one hand, I absolutely agree that the Skill Challenge must be dynamic, flexible, malleable; that the fiction (and attendant pressure) must morph to accurately represent the PCs' progress towards their goal. However, on the other hand, I've always tried to adhere to the advice given about SCs (and similar mechanics in other games) to make sure the terms of success and failure are clearly articulated and agreed upon before engaging the mechanics. It therefore becomes a very delicate balancing acts at times to adhere to both of these precepts.

    Ultimately, I don't think it's a bad thing if during the course of a SC it becomes clear that the preset stakes and outcomes need to change to reflect the emergent fiction, so long as all parties agree to said change. Thoughts?
    I like to provide some what to 'up the ante'. So, if you find that you're not being too successful then you can always "change the rules" and try to engage the fiction in a new way. This is one of the reasons I'm not super fond of the concept of 'writing up' skill challenges. I mean, yeah, you want to understand what the general idea is, but I like to focus most on goals and not means. The means are the story, and I don't want to write it ahead of time...

  3. #13
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    To answer @Garthanos original question: I don't know that I have a favorite exactly. The DMG2 has some good advice and RC has a good clear write up. There are a couple other books that touch on the subject tangentially, but nowadays I live with mostly my own advice. I stick to the RC implementation, technically, but I really like being looser most of the time than any of the books suggest.

    However I'll agree with @pemerton that Complexity 1 and 2 challenges are usually PRETTY tightly focused and work well in the original 4e style.

  4. #14
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    Recently had a TPK with the Collapsing Dungeon skill challenge. Not recommended.

  5. #15
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    I've been running skill challenges "by the book" since 4e, using ones in published adventures, trying the different guidelines in DMG2 and Essentials. I've run them in Gamma World and in 5e using the Matt Colville guidelines. And just a disclaimer: I am a 4e apologist and currently running a 4e campaign.
    I don't like skill challenges. I don't think the math works in any iteration. And even worse, they're boring if your character has the "wrong set of skills." In D&D, the majority of combats are designed so every character can do something. Not true with skill challenges. Unless you design them purposefully so every character has skills that work in a big leap of logic.
    And if you don't sit out, you contribute to failure. Think of this. If your party is in a combat and 3-5 attack rolls miss over the course of the fight, no big deal. In a skill challenge (like Colville's all or nothing collapsing dungeon) the consequence is a campaign ending total party kill.
    They don't work and will not see a return to my table.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
    I don't like skill challenges. I don't think the math works in any iteration.
    This is why I like the RC version - it's notion of "advantage" is something of a rules bolt-on, but it helps smooth over some mathematical problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
    they're boring if your character has the "wrong set of skills." In D&D, the majority of combats are designed so every character can do something. Not true with skill challenges. Unless you design them purposefully so every character has skills that work in a big leap of logic.
    But this is very different from my experience. I focus on the right sort of fiction rather than skills. And then let the players make a call about how they want to tackle the fiction. I don't adhere religiously to the DMG notion of "taking turns", but use the narration of the fiction to put pressure on the various PCs so as to prompt declared actions and hence checks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
    Recently had a TPK with the Collapsing Dungeon skill challenge. Not recommended.
    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
    If your party is in a combat and 3-5 attack rolls miss over the course of the fight, no big deal. In a skill challenge (like Colville's all or nothing collapsing dungeon) the consequence is a campaign ending total party kill.
    I don't know anything about this other than your posts in this thread.

    The Soul Abattior example I linked to upthread involved escaping from a collapsing part of the Shadowdark. I don't know what would have happened had the players failed, but not a TPK. I've never run a skill challenge where the stakes are death. In that one, or in the Yan-C-Bin one, it's possible that failure could have led to an unwanted combat - in the first case, a direct encounter with Torog; in the second case, an attack by Yan-C-Bin. But the stakes of combat don't have to be TPK either.
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post

    The Soul Abattior example I linked to upthread involved escaping from a collapsing part of the Shadowdark. I don't know what would have happened had the players failed, but not a TPK.
    The phrase temporarily trapped, lost, injured (insert Garthanos wishing for elaborated affliction rules) and taking a new path entirely comes to mind.... ie all paths lead to something interesting.

    Heck failure can be more interesting. SC guideline - "Plan for failure" subclause make it interesting.

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Garthanos View Post
    Heck failure can be more interesting. SC guideline - "Plan for failure" subclause make it interesting.
    I tend to make it up as I go along!

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I think that upfront stakes when it's something like cross the river or persuade the corpse to talk to you via Speak wtih Dead is fine. But when the challenge is more complex in the fiction - eg a somewhat open-ended negotiation - and is meant to involve many checks (complexity 4 and 5 is probably my "many checks" as opposed to "few check" zone), then I think more capacity for evolution of the stakes is needed. Just as might happen in combat.

    I think without the possibility of development there is the risk of the dreaded "dice rolling exercise" to choose between two pre-determined paths.
    Similarly to your Soul Abattoir and collapsing Shadowfell example where you had not worked out what would happen on a failure? It allows you to avoid the "death" option and to use an alternative. This informs me that setting the stakes is not something enforced at your table, and so it is something the DM (you) might offer if you want the players invested.
    Last edited by Sadras; Monday, 3rd December, 2018 at 01:12 PM.

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    This informs me that setting the stakes is not something enforced at your table, and so it is something the DM (you) might offer if you want the players invested.
    I see it as closer to something Luke Crane talks about in his Adventure Burner - the stakes are implicit in the situation, and thus - as the situation changes - can themselves change.

    This depends on a group who are reasonably familiar with one another's approach to play, so that the players can tell (from experience) when I am increasing or stepping back the pressure; and so that I can tell (again, from experience) what a player is committing to in an action declaration. Of course on the GM side if I'm not sure I can always ask - but my players don't tend to ask back, relying on the fiction as narrated by me, and in light of their familiarity with my approaches, to ascertain what is going on.

    Eg in the Soul Abattoir the players know that what is at stake, in general terms, is destroying the place and redirecting the flow of souls. But the details of the latter couldn't be narrated, and hence detailed stakes (including Vecna's role) couldn't be established, except subseuently to other action declarations, like turning off the machinery in the main shriving room.

    This reflects the fact that each move in a skill challenge is itself a skill check with an initial framing context, a goal, and a resolution one way or another. I don't think it's very easy to set the framing context and goal (and hence detailed stakes) for check 12 if check 1 hasn't happened yet!
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