4E Skill Utilities and Their Impact on Play
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    Skill Utilities and Their Impact on Play

    Alright, should get some mileage out of this. Lets take a look at the effectiveness and application of the various Skill Utility Powers (Skill Powers, Theme Powers, Race Powers, Class Powers, Paragon Path Powers) on the following aspects of play:

    1) Skill Challenges
    2) Combat Stunting
    3) Combat Application

    Post on the level 6 Fighter Utility Strong Focus from other thread sblocked below:

    Spoiler:
    Strong Focus
    Encounter Martial
    Minor Action Personal
    Effect: Until the end of your next turn, you gain a power bonus to Athletics checks and Strength ability checks equal to your Wisdom modifier.
    1) 4e is a scene-based game. The (pretty much) exclusive locus of action is the encounter (combat or non-combat). The above is an Encounter power. That means it is available every scene for the Fighter who has it.

    2) Its only keyword is Martial. That means this ability is born out by the Fighter's willpower, training, and dedication to honing physical prowess. That keyword says something about the character whose acumen/career is governed by it.

    3) In the fiction, the effect line's mechanics means that in the crucible of conflict, the Fighter's physical capabilities will not flag due to being bulwarked by an uncommon steely will.

    4) Further, note that this descriptor is basically fully open. Application isn't narrowed by a more specific fictional trigger (such as when climbing an obstacle or making an impossible leap). Consequently, this means that once every scene at the player's discretion, the Fighter is augmented with a +2 or +3 (depending on build) to an Athletics check.

    5) Further, note the action economy; Minor Action. This would be the equivalent of Bonus Action in 5e.

    6) Finally, consider that the vast majority of DCs at level 6 will be Medium, or DC 15.

    All of the above work to provide the player of the Fighter what is called Author Stance capability. So here are the likely uses in 4e at level 6:

    a) Noncombat scene resolution (the Skill Challenge). The group is scaling a treacherous cliff face. Two scenarios.

    a1) It is a Complexity 1 SC (requiring only 4 Medium successes before 3 failures). Say I present the situation such that there are Perytons that nest up in these mountains (avian predators who would love a vulnerable snack, thus telegraphing the likely prospect for a sticky situation on a micro-failure). The face is crumbling significantly and nearly sheer in one section, and much more hospitable in another (the effort to navigate a narrow, but sure-footed, ridge that spirals up to a landing that is a short hand-climb from the top). However, the former is clearly the most expeditious route. I offer the PCs the prospect of a Group Athletics Check at the hard DC (23) for 3 successes (versus 2 successes if they go the other route - Medium DC Acrobatics). Decision-point for the players. The Fighter has a +14 Athletics check (+2 from Background/Race/Theme +3 level +4 Str +5 trained). Harnessing his steely will (Strong Focus Encounter Power) will grant him a further +3, bringing the necessary roll from a 9 to a 6. Now a 70 % chance to anchor the Hard Athletics check, meaning that only 1 of the other 3 characters need to achieve DC 23 to ensure they're halfway through their climb (1/2 group needs to reach the DC for success in a Group Check)! He leads the way, showing the best hand and footholds. The group follows and they're making tremendous gains...but (after which I would change the situation with some sort of complication as the scene is still in the balance).

    a2) Consider that same situation, but they went the easy route. Now they're on the landing. The Dwarven Cleric says he feels the stone calling to him. He thinks there is a passage somewhere nearby that will grant them less risky ascent to the plateau's summit (removing the exposure to Peryton attack!). Alright, let's find out. He rolls his Dungeoneering + 9 (untrained, but racial + level + Wisdom). Gets a 5 or less. Failure!

    Well, he finds purchase from the exposed ascent up the cliff face! A large crack in the face is nearly obscured by boulders. The Dwarf peers in. The sound of leathery wings unfolding. The thunderous roar of a lion. They've stumbled on a Manticore's lair! The beast begins its charge from the dark out to the landing!

    The Fighter declares that he is sprinting up to the field of boulders in front of the den. He is going to throw everything he has into rolling it into the mouth of the lair to prevent the Manticore from attacking them on the narrow landing, so far from the ground. Very genre appropriate. I give them the option of upping the stakes a bit with another Hard DC for 2 success rather than 1. That would mean cementing the results of the scene as victory if he is successful (thus rendering the piddly hand climb to the top a triviality...we would just transition to the top afterward). The pumped Fighter player says let's do this! His Ranger buddy declares huzzah, he'll help as well! (1 Secondary Skill @ the Easy DC, 11 in this case, allowed in a C1 SC to augment a Primary Check). He runs up and throws his back into it after the Fighter leads the way. He succeeds and grants the Fighter a +2. The Fighter steels his will and summons his aptitude for exploiting leverage born on the back of endless training and focus (uses his Encounter Power Strong Focus). +19 total. Only needs a 4 or better to "win" the scene.

    b) Combat Stunting. Its Indiana Jones. You're on a long, rickety rope bridge (Difficult Terrain every few squares) which spans a chasm. Enemies are coming from both sides. The Fighter wants to sway the bridge to knock his enemies prone or perhaps knock them off. He wants to try to knock them off (which would be a Slide 2 in this case). Alright, I tell him if he can pass the High DC, I'll let him have the Slide 2. Mechanically if you "Force Movement a target into Hindering Terrain (such as off a rope bridge into a deadly fall), the targets gets a Saving Throw (10+ on a d20) to be prone in the square next to the square where he would fall instead. The Fighter tells his allies to "HOLD ON" (they wrap the ropes around their arms and squat, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom style!).

    Swaying Rope Bridge - At-will Terrain
    Check: Athletics check (high DC) to sway the bridge.
    Success: The bridge sways.
    Target: Each enemy standing on the bridge.
    Attack: Level + 3 vs. Reflex
    Hit: Slide the target 2 squares. If the target is already prone, it falls off the bridge.


    c) Various Combat Move Action Declarations such as Countermeasures (Skill Checks) to avoid Hazard effects (rushing floodwaters, quick-sand, etc), Escape a Grapple, Climb or Jump an Obstacle (etc).



    I hope that makes clear how 4e's play principles ("say yes or roll the dice", "go to the action", "change the situation dynamically/fail forward"), resolution mechanics, and PC build architecture (the "tactical abilities"that have been alluded to) synergize to signal archetype, open up decision-point space for players in combat and noncombat scene resolution, and embolden players to actually make manifest within the fiction (by way of player author authorship) that signaled archetype.




    Level 2 Skill Power:

    Secrets of the City
    At-Will
    Free Action Personal
    Trigger: You would make an Arcana, History, Intelligence, or Religion check in a settlement in which youve already succeeded on a Streetwise check
    Effect: You make a Streetwise check in place of the Arcana, History, Intelligence, or Religion check.
    General:

    1) The above is an At-Will power. That means it is available every scene (more than once) for the PC who has it.

    2) It has no keywords so source is entirely neutral. This could be a robust ledger of secrets, a series of contacts, or merely the uncanny ability to pick up bits of information through observation + social grease and the equally uncanny ability to retain it.

    3) In the fiction, the trigger and effect line's mechanics mean that once you've sunk your teeth into a social setting, your savvy swells so profoundly that all manner of mysticism, from rote to forbidden/dangerous knowledge, and ancient lore is at your command.

    4) Further, note that this descriptor is basically fully open. It isn't narrowed by a more specific fictional trigger (such as when things have just gone wrong; perhaps a failed check). Consequently, this means that once every urban/settlement scene, at the player's discretion, the PC's breadth of action declarations is opened up considerably. Application requires a prior Streetwise check, but most noncombat resolution in social environs opens itself up to player moves that call upon the skill.

    5) Action Economy is a Free Action, as is the case with all sub Skill x for Skill y. When you consider that most augments (and this is surely an augment) are minor actions, that is no small thing for combat stunting.

    6) Finally, consider that the vast majority of DCs at level 2 will be Medium, or DC 13. A Sorcerer/Bard/Cha-lock/Chaladin player committing a Utility spot to this will likely have +12ish Streetwise. That means, by mere fiat, they are positively advancing urban/settlement scenes (likely twice) via moves that leverage this skill/Utility. Rogues, Fighters, Warlords (any others where Cha is a legit secondary attribute) will enjoy a +9ish, so they merely need to roll a 4 or above.

    All of the above works together to provide the Secrets of the City player both a broadening of available moves and legitimate Author Stance capability in an urban/settlement scene (likely twice). So here are the likely uses in 4e at level 2:

    a) Noncombat scene resolution (the Skill Challenge). One of the PCs receives a missive from his sister. Her husband is a merchant. For the last several months he has been shaken down by a rogue faction of the Wizard conglomerate that runs the city where they reside. One day last week, out of frustration, he refused to pay the protection money. A few days ago she found him murdered in his shop. The authorities will do nothing. So the PCs aims are to locate the members of this cabal, exact revenge/mete out justice, and make things right for the PC's sister and her fatherless children. Complexity 5 SC @ L +1 (12 success, 5 secondary skills, 6 advantages, 8 moderate, 4 hard DCs). Lets go with our Fighter again and give him +10 Streetwise (Background + Trained + Cha mod 2 + level). Two scenarios. In both scenarios, the Fighter has earned some insight into the faction's infrastructure and membership by way of a Streetwise @ medium DC (needing only a 3 to hit that). Maybe via a banker who keeps track of the Residuum transactions. Perhaps via an alchemist who refines materials for Rituals. Regardless, he has created 1 success toward the challenge, changed the fiction positively, and met the prereq for Secrets of the City.

    a1) We're late into the conflict (let us say 9 success and 2 failures). The PCs have just accrued their second failure in the challenge (perhaps they uncovered a Vecna influence amongst the governing Wizards and thusly tried, and failed, to gain the backing of the city's High Priest of Ioun). When they return back to the PC's sister's home, they discover that a very discrete magical sensor is in the porch rafters. The bad guys have been watching the house and clearly know the PCs' identities! But maybe this is an actual opportunity! The PC Wizard wants to try "reversing the stream" momentarily. Get a glimpse into the origin of the divination so they can locate the rogue Wizard Faction's hidden base of operations; high DC of 21. The Wizard PC has a +13 Arcana. The Fighter has learned the complex arcane passwords to bypass the classic Wizard Wards of this city. Through that knowledge, he helps the Wizard with his efforts. Streetwise as Arcana +9. Secondary Skill @ Easy DC is 9. Automatically passes so the Wizard gets a +2. Now the Wizard PC only needs a 6 or better to pass the high DC.

    a2) Consider that same situation as above. However, I decide to change the situation dramatically, going for broke on the prior accrued failure by launching an immediate and severe reprisal from the Wizard cabal (L+3 encounter which would be one of the High DCs for the SC). The PC Fighter's sister and her children are a very high potential for collateral damage here, which would basically defeat the entire point of things (I'd make them Princess-build Minions with some stuff to potentially protect them and have the PCs play them). Their deaths would yield the final failure in the SC. However, the Fighter knows the infrastructure of this city like the back of his hand. Thinking quickly, he ushers their slight forms down a storm drain and into the protection of the sewer! Streetwise as History +9 vs Medium DC 13. Only needs a 4 for a Primary Skill success.

    b) Combat Stunting. Arcana and has less use than Athletics (the primary stunting check), but it definitely has plenty of use both in terrain powers that are an established component of the battlefield and for spellcaster PCs who want to interact with the battlefield or perhaps subtly modify an At-Will.

    So this is a city governed by Wizards. There are bound to be glyphs/obelisks/nodes of power. I would definitely include stuff like that in the encounter L+3 I'm talking about directly above. So maybe there is an Obelisk of Attraction, constructed as a means against invaders or uprisings. Whoever gets their first (good guys or bad guys) can enact the Obelisk's power. The PC Wizard rolls low initiative while the Fighter goes fairly early! However, if there are Advantages left in the SC, I'd let the PC Fighter use it (surely citing the dire nature of the situation and/or his newfound familiarity with the Wizard Conglomerate's means) to knock the high DC down to medium for the below stunt.

    Obelisk of Attraction
    Limited-Use Terrain - Arcane, Charm
    Standard Action - Close Burst 10
    Check: Arcana check (high DC) to activate the Obelisk
    Success: The Obelisk attacks.
    Target: Each enemy in the burst.
    Attack: Level +3 vs. Will
    Hit: The target is pulled 5 squares toward the Obelisk and suffers Obelisk's Attraction (save ends); The target cannot move into squares that would place it further away from the Obelisk.
    c) The Combat Application is fairly narrow and situation. You're talking about Action Declarations (typically Standard Actions) where the PC is using a Countermeasures (Skill Checks) to avoid Hazard or Trap effects. So you're talking about Religion to sanctify a cursed/corrupted altar or Arcana to drain the power from an eldritch machine or seal a portal to the Far Realm that is spewing out enemies/mutating mists (etc). Something like the Arcana one might come in play in the above combat if the bad guys opened a portal to their tower to allow more bad guys to spill in.




    Alright. That is enough from me. I'll probably do the level 6 Athletics Skill Power Mighty Sprint (clearly my group's favorite) next. Unless someone wants to go ahead and evaluate it before me!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    I'll probably do the level 6 Athletics Skill Power Mighty Sprint (clearly my group's favorite) next. Unless someone wants to go ahead and evaluate it before me!
    It's teleport for a fighter!
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    This thread is already cementing my resolve to give all 4e characters 2 extra skill utility powers, and ask that they not be primarily about combat prowess.

    Also, I would say that The knowledge skills as monster knowledge gives this power some added combat utillity.
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    @MwaO, quite a skilled optimizer, has begun a guide rating Skill Powers from an optimization perspective that should prove an ideal complement to this thread! http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthr...&prefixid=wotc
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    It's teleport for a fighter!
    Ha. Quite so! However, I decided to pump fake and go another direction. I already did an Athletics one so I'm going with a Dungeoneering one!

    Quote Originally Posted by doctorbadwolf View Post
    This thread is already cementing my resolve to give all 4e characters 2 extra skill utility powers, and ask that they not be primarily about combat prowess.

    Also, I would say that The knowledge skills as monster knowledge gives this power some added combat utillity.
    Good to hear. My games feature lots and lots of Skill Challenges (probably 3 for every 2 combats) so the value of potent/broadly applicable Skill Utilities goes up tremendously. Further still, my game sees quite a bit of stunting and a lot of Hazards (Countermeasures) so their value goes up even more!

    Quote Originally Posted by darkbard View Post
    @MwaO, quite a skilled optimizer, has begun a guide rating Skill Powers from an optimization perspective that should prove an ideal complement to this thread! http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthr...&prefixid=wotc
    Awesome. It will be a great resource for current and developing players to be sure!




    So then. No Mighty Sprint on this one. Going with another level 6 Skill Power:

    Dungeoneers Guidance
    Encounter
    Immediate Interrupt Personal
    Trigger: An ally you can see and who can hear you makes an Acrobatics, Athletics, Dungeoneering, Nature, or Perception check and dislikes the result.
    Effect: Make a Dungeoneering check. The triggering ally can use the result of your check in place of his or her own result.
    General:

    1) The above is an Encounter power. That means it is available every scene for the PC who has it.

    2) It has no keywords so source is entirely neutral. There is a lot of overlap in the disciplines of mountaineering, general wilderness survival, and dungeoneering. In the fiction, that means you know a lot of stuff as a learned dungeoneer, and you can apply it in a myriad of situations to both yourself and your charges.

    3) Further, note that this descriptor is basically fully open. It isn't narrowed by locale (you don't need to be in a subterranean complex or the Underdark to deploy) like Secrets of the City. Consequently, this means that the PC's breadth of opportunities to turn a bad situation into a good one is significant. Further still, that is 5 skills you can sub, several of which are extremely common (both solo Primary Checks and Group Checks) from a deployed per scene perspective. You're extremely likely to get an opportunity to deploy this in noncombat resolution (assuming one player move goes poorly).

    4) Action Economy is at Interrupt speed, and turns a failure into a likely success. That is extremely significant in all three of SCs, stunting, and combat, but significantly so in SCs. In basketball, this would be the equivalent of a player missing a wide open layup on one end and it being transitioned to a 3 pointer on the other end; the classic "5 point swing."

    5) Finally, the vast majority of DCs at level 6 will be Medium, or DC 15. Our Fighter grabbing this (coupled with a multiclass Ranger or Warden for Dungeoneering +) as level 6 Utility (or with a feat) will likely have +12ish Dungeeoneering. That means, on a lowly roll of 3 or better, they are positively advancing (failure into success) a wide variety of scenes via turning around a failed Acrobatics, Athletics, Dungeoneering, Nature, Perception. An Avenger or Druid would do it by sheer fiat (+15ish skill).

    All of the above work to provide the Dungeoneer's Guidance player an extremely broadly applicable failure turned into success move. A significant turning of the tide. And here, we actually provide the player with nearly automatic Director Stance capability (affecting the world outside of your own PC habitation), legitimately automatic for a primary Wisdom class (or with further investment from a secondary Wisdom class to pump it up to +14).

    a) Noncombat scene resolution (the Skill Challenge). The PCs are deep in highland country, above the treeline. The glare of the sun on the glacial wasteland is blinding. The wind whips wildly as a blizzard flanks them ominously. They have to get to the hobgoblin trading outpost before they are overtaken. Complexity 2 SC @ Level (6 success, 2 secondary skills, 5 moderate, 1 hard DCs). Two scenarios.

    a1) The Druid is trailblazing ahead of the dogsled that the Ranger and Fighter man. The Fighter handles the dogs while the Ranger serves as lookout. A disturbing cracking? A subtle shifting of the snow that they're about to head straight into? Or just a trick of the light and the moaning wind? I'm going to go ahead and make this my Hard DC (23) of the challenge. The player of the ever-watchful Ranger says he's looking for tell-tale signs of hazards. Maybe his Nature is +12 and he rolls less than an 11. The Fighter, while driving the sled, fortuitously shouts to the Ranger "keep an eye out for snowbridges covering a crevasse!" The Fighter player deploys Dungeoneer's Guidance and we get a reroll at the same +12 to see if we can get that 11 or better. Suddenly the Ranger's eyes are drawn to the hazard and he shouts it out...a hard turn left and they barely avert disaster! Mathematically, this turns the group's prospects for success from 50% to slightly better than 75%.

    a2) Consider that same situation as above except the Ranger passes the Nature check so Dungeoneer's Guidance is still in the Fighter's pocket. They stop for a moment to marvel at the snow and thin ice giving way into the hidden glacial crevasse. The sound is deafening as it echoes across the expansive wilderness. From nowhere the winds pick-up violently threatening to throw them from their perch on the sled and into the dark below. Strange. The steady movement of the air has been unbroken for several hours. The storm has not overcome them. Something moves in the open wound of the frozen earth. An angry draconic roar. Blizzard Dragon!

    The PCs need to make a Group Athletics Check to avoid being swept into the den of the beast. I give them the opportunity to make this at the hard DC for 2 success (they're at 4 out of 6) to cement a win for the scene. Inexplicably, they both fail. The Fighter PC is about to go over the edge with the Ranger fast behind (but still sliding on the ice toward the rift). He says he quickly pulls a pick from his belt, tosses it to the Ranger while grabbing a hold of the Ranger's leg. Hopefully, the Ranger can slam it into the ice before they both are swept down into the dragon's lair. 11 or better on his roll and the scene is won (we'll transition to the Hobgoblin outpost (unless the PCs want to confront the dragon).

    b) Combat Stunting. Athletics is the head honcho skill when it comes to stunting. However, both Dungeoneering and Nature (for terrain stunts) have been widely, widely used in my games. Let us just say we're down in that crevasse. A Young Blizzard Dragon and its Yeti servitors engage the PCs on an icy floor strewn with rough edged, frozen boulders (Hindering Terrain @ 3 damage per tier and a -2 penalty to attack rolls (save ends)). The glacial ceiling is littered with huge meltwater icicles that would fall and put a hurt on those underneath. Dungeoneering stunting opportunity for the Ranger! Maybe he isn't trained, but he has a +8 (level, Wis, background, theme, or racial). Gets less than 7. As the Ranger is tenaciously firing a volley of arrows into the ceiling in attempt to collapse it, the Fighter catches on subtly pulls at the bottom of his bow to slightly change the trajectory so the weak spot is actually hit! For an Interrupt and a roll of 3 or better, we've got a few proned Yeti's (and maybe a dragon) who are in DT and have taken 12ish damage. The Ranger gives a sheepish look while the Fighter winks at him.

    Huge Ceiling Icicle - Limited-Use Terrain
    Standard Action - Ranged Burst 1
    Check: Dungeoneering (medium DC) to decipher the structural integrity
    Success: The icicle falls
    Target: Each creature in the burst.
    Attack: Level +3 vs. Fortitude
    Hit: 2d6+5 damage and the target is knocked prone.
    Miss: Half damage.
    Effect: The ground becomes difficult terrain.
    c) The general Combat Application is fairly straight-forward. You're talking about spending an Interrupt for allies to escape grapples on failed checks (sub Fighter's Dungeoneering for Acro/Ath) and for when an ally fails an applicable Countermeasure (Skill Checks) to avoid Hazard or Trap effects. Lots and lots of opportunity here with those 5 skills governing an extremely large array of Countermeasures to natural Hazards and mechanized Traps.
    Last edited by Manbearcat; Monday, 27th February, 2017 at 05:27 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    So then. No Mighty Sprint on this one. Going with another level 6 Skill Power: Dungeoneer's Guidance
    Practically begging for the East Rift Background: Benefit: You gain Deep Speech as an additional language, you add Dungeoneering to your class skill list, and you gain a +2 bonus to Dungeoneering checks.
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    On 4e and Skill Powers, in my home game I brought back "skill points" of old, sort of. In my system you gain two skill points (martials get an extra 1-2) at levels 2/6/10/12 etc that you can invest into any of your trained skills. This investment "unlocked' various Skill Powers based on the rank of the skill. These points also gave an additional +1 to the skill. Players could also invest two points to gain training in another skill instead of ranking up an already trained skill. It worked well, made Skill Powers more accessible and sort of helped non-ritual casters in the "Exploration" area of the game.

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    Alright, going to try to do the next one of these tonight or tomorrow. Someone pick one of the below (Class, Race, Theme, Path):

    Crucial Advice - Ranger 2
    You are wise in all things. The sooner your friends realize this, the safer and better off theyll be.
    Encounter Martial
    Immediate Reaction Ranged 5
    Trigger: An ally within range that you can see or hear makes a skill check using a skill in which youre trained
    Effect: Grant the ally the ability to reroll the skill check, with a power bonus equal to your Wisdom modifier.
    Persuasive Words - Half-Elf 16
    You summon up your personal reserves and put everything into understanding the situation and getting the results you need.
    Daily
    Minor Action Personal
    Effect: For 5 minutes or until the end of the encounter, you gain a +5 power bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight, and Intimidate checks.
    Inquisitive Shadowing - Inquisitive 2
    You can follow your target right up to its doorstep without it ever noticing you.
    Encounter
    Free Action Personal
    Trigger: You make a Perception or Stealth check opposed by another creature and dislike the result.
    Effect: Reroll the Perception or Stealth check and use either result.
    Soaring Falcon - Sky Hunter 12
    You can take the form of a swift bird of prey to soar above your foes.
    Daily Primal
    Free Action Personal
    Prerequisite: You must have the wild shape power.
    Effect: Until the end of the encounter, you can use wild shape to assume the form of a Tiny falcon. In this form, you gain a fly speed equal to your speed. You also gain a +5 bonus to Perception checks and a +4 bonus to AC against opportunity attacks. You cant attack, pick up anything, or manipulate objects.
    Until this power ends, you can use wild shape to change among this form, another beast form, and your humanoid form.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    Alright, going to try to do the next one of these tonight or tomorrow. Someone pick one of the below (Class, Race, Theme, Path):
    Soaring Falcon has me picturing Taliesin ofcourse that is the purpose of the Tuatha Theme
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    Alright, Soaring Falcon it is!

    Soaring Falcon - Sky Hunter 12
    You can take the form of a swift bird of prey to soar above your foes.
    Daily Primal
    Free Action Personal
    Prerequisite: You must have the wild shape power.
    Effect: Until the end of the encounter, you can use wild shape to assume the form of a Tiny falcon. In this form, you gain a fly speed equal to your speed. You also gain a +5 bonus to Perception checks and a +4 bonus to AC against opportunity attacks. You cant attack, pick up anything, or manipulate objects.
    Until this power ends, you can use wild shape to change among this form, another beast form, and your humanoid form.
    Going to change the format a little bit:

    Power Source/Keywords: Primal Power Source so you're drawing on the spirits of nature that pervade the world (my favorite power source!).

    Refresh: Daily. So this should (a) pack some punch and (b) have a breadth of application. Scene based flight (at level 12), don't lose shape availability if you Wild Shape out of it, large bonus vs OA, +5 untyped bonus to Perception (so it stacks with the level 16 PB bonus for +10 total). Pretty dang good in terms of both (a) and (b).

    Archetype Enablement: The Primal Beast is one of the most ancient of the Elder Spirits and the most feared. A predator from the dawn era, it hunted Gods and Primordials alike. It has no love for mortals. Being a Sky Hunter means that you are a savage, unforgiving predator always on the wing. Aberrations, the vassals of Gods and Primordials, and those mortals who would befoul the natural order of the hunt (such as herding livestock) will hear your diving screech too late...as your talons tear their eyes from the sockets.

    So...yeah, this Utility Power does the trick!

    Noncombat scene resolution (the Skill Challenge):

    A reckless human taps into alien power he cannot control. The fabric of reality rips around his lair, tucked away in remote, inhospitable mountains. Where it does, creatures of unspeakable origin pour into this world, subverting the natural order. He must be stopped and his "Unfathomables" put down. DCs @ level 12 = 14, 20, 28. Complexity 2 SC @ Level (6 success, 2 secondary skills, 5 moderate, 1 hard DCs). Two contributions for the Sky Hunter here.

    a1) Intent on scouting out potential hostiles and the best course up the mountain for the group, the Druid changes into a falcon. In my game this is handled straight-forwardly. Mechanically, this is 2 auto-successes. In terms of changing the fiction, I would handle this one of two ways; (i) I would describe 2-3 options for travel up the mountain replete with time component, topography, and potential obstacles/hostiles or (ii) I would describe 1 or 2 and ask the player to describe a 3rd option. The players then mull their course.

    a2) The group has picked their course. As time is of the essence (otherworldly monstrosities are pouring into this world from the Far Realm, rending the sanity from the settlers beneath, turning them into zombie hordes), the straightest, track up the mountain was chosen. A scree-covered, fully exposed, 60 degree slope that threatens a treacherous fall onto razor rock with every step.

    The Druid mans the skies to alert the group of any hostiles, and maybe attempt to head them off himself, as they make their ascent. The level 12 Druid would probably have a +21ish Perception without Soaring Falcon, which would mean she auto-passes the Medium DC. However, if I'm deploying one of my single Hard DC for this, that means that the Druid can now pass it with a meager roll of 2.

    a1 + a2 = basically 3 auto-successes (out of 6 necessary) and the 1 hard DC tackled.

    Combat Stunting:

    And we get to our first dud with stunting. I would say my tables Check Prerequisite % for Combat Stunting probably breaks out to something like:

    Acrobatics 5 %
    Arcana 20 %
    Athletics 30 %
    Bluff < 5 %
    Dungeoneering 5 %
    History 5 %
    Nature 20 %
    Religion 5 %
    Streetwise 5 %
    Thievery < 5 %

    As you can see, Perception is not on that list.

    However...while the Perception doesn't have much use, the Flight certainly does! Maybe a micro-failure yields a nested combat with a whole gang of Minions and a few Swarms. How about flying to the top of a ridge overlooking the band of Aberrations that are about to turn into a problem for you climbing allies? Turn into a human and call upon the primal spirits of the wind to loose the small boulders there to cascade an avalanche down upon them! Maybe you slide the swarms into Razor Rock Hindering Terrain for good measure!

    Avalanche! - Limited-Use Terrain
    Standard Action - Ranged Burst 2
    Check: Nature (high DC) with Chill Wind
    Success: The scree and boulders cascade down the slope
    Target: Each creature in the burst.
    Attack: Level +3 vs. Fortitude
    Hit: 2d10 +3 damage and you slide the target 3 squares or knock it prone.
    Miss: Slide the target 3 squares.
    Effect: The ground becomes difficult terrain.
    Combat Application:

    Quite a bit of utility/intangilbles:

    * At-will Flight for the encounter. Just due to this, you can bypass blocking (and other) terrain/hazards/traps, access Y-axis protected Artillery/Controllers/Leaders, get out of bad spots and reorient yourself somewhere where melee can't get you.
    * +4 AC vs OAs.
    * Retain access to your other forms without losing this one.
    * Buffed PP if we need to check Surprise (in my games this is basically just to determine surprise when a failure in an SC triggers an ambush). And if you have Uncanny Instincts Skill Power (the Druid in my last game did! The utility of that power was force-multiplied by the fact that the game featured only 3 PCs...and corresponding Encounter Budgets), you and a buddy automatically get a 36 Initiative once per day (you go first)!
    * The healthy majority of obscured/hidden Hazards/Traps are detected by Perception (and possibly another skill).
    XP Garthanos gave XP for this post

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