4e Skill Challenge playtest

Graf

Explorer
Tira would accept blasting his privates off as an alternative...
"To think he tricked me into attacking Riardon like that..."
 

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Saishu_Heiki

First Post
"It was quite the extraordinary performance, he even mimicked Riardon's facial tic. I thought I was the only one who noticed that..."

Skamos looks towards the town gates ahead, his mouth drawing to a thin, tight line.

"But we may soon get a chance to repay the score..."
 

jelmore

First Post
Kathra's cheeks burned at the memory of waking up to find her comrades-in-arms leaning over her. The last she remembered was finding Riardon standing over Corrin's unconscious body; when she turned to call the others, she heard a scuffle, a sharp pain to the back of her head, and then darkness.

When Erias explained that a skin dancer had assumed the guise of the ranger and was tricking the party into splitting up to make them easier to defeat -- Corrin was on the mend but Riardon was in far dire straits -- Kathra was fuming inside; partly for falling for the ruse and partly for letting her comrades down.

She didn't have the tendency for sadistic imagery that Tira had; instead, she looked forward to salving her injured pride with the satisfying crunch of her warhammer as it ended the abomination's life.

Kathra scowled at the town gates. Now, all they had to do was find a shapeshifter in a town of complete strangers...
 

Graf

Explorer
Saishu_Heiki said:
"It was quite the extraordinary performance, he even mimicked Riardon's facial tic. I thought I was the only one who noticed that..."
Tira harumphs. She hadn't meant to speak out loud.
Instead of responding she purses her lips and scowls blackly.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Very nice!

Let's get into the rules. This is what I'm thinking about going with; any suggestions for changes are very much welcomed. If everything's cool, try and let me know too, okay?

1. The DM declares the goal of the skill challenge to the group for open negotiation. The group discusses if the goal is acceptable. The DM has final authority over what the goal is going to be. He decides what the DC for the skill challenge is, and how many successes are needed before a set number of failures for overall success in the skill challenge.

2. The DM sets up the initial opening scene with a masterful display of prose. ;) Then he asks for initiative checks.

3. Players, in initiative order, role-play the actions their characters are taking. Players can choose to delay their turn, like the normal Delay action from 3.5.
  • The active player states, out-of-character, the skill they are going to roll.
  • The DM can object to the skill if he feels it doesn't match up with the role-played description. He gives the player another chance to pick another skill or change his character's action. If the player is stuck, he can decide to Delay.
  • Once the skill has been approved, the player makes a skill check.

4. The DM determines if the task (the described action + skill check) is Easy, Normal, or Hard. He then compares the result of the skill check to a set DC and determines failure or success.
Success:
  • Easy and Normal - a success is added to the tally.
  • Hard - a success is added, and another skill check gets a +2 bonus to the roll.
Failure:
  • Easy - two failures are added to the tally.
  • Normal and Hard - one failure is added to the tally.
The DM reveals failure or success for the task. Someone narrates what success at that task means in the game world. Doesn't have to be the DM, or even the player who rolled the skill check. The DM has final authority over what is narrated.
Success or failure is added to the tally, and if the success or failure threshold for the overall skill challenge has been reached, the DM reveals this. Someone narrates the outcome of the skill challenge, with the DM having final authority:
  • A full success (no failures) means the stated goal comes to pass.
  • A partial success (some failures) means that the stated goal comes to pass, but there is some sort of complication; or, the stated goal is only partially completed.
  • A partial failure (some successes) means that the stated goal does not come to pass, but there is some sort of concession.
  • A full failure (no successes) means that the goal does not come to pass, and there is no concession.

Any thoughts?
 
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jelmore

First Post
LostSoul said:
Very nice!

Let's get into the rules. This is what I'm thinking about going with; any suggestions for changes are very much welcomed. If everything's cool, try and let me know too, okay?

[snip]

Any thoughts?

OOC: That sounds good to me. Are we heading into the skill challenge right now, or are will we get some kind of cue that the challenge is starting?
 


Graf

Explorer
I admit that I've read the wotc article so that may be coloring my response.
Having said that

1. I think we should skip rolling intitiative. It doesn't make much sense in this context, isn't supported by anything from the wotc rules exerpts (that I know of) and inititative is physical intitative anyway. You're speed drawing a sword doesn't seem like it would really have any bearing on your actual speed. Certain actions will just take different amounts of time anyway.
2. I don't think that "easy" checks should involve two failures. If they're easy then missing the check is penalty enough (given that we have to get a finite number of successes in a limited time). I'm pretty sure that a +2 for a hard check isn't comisserate with two failures anyway.

I appreciate what you're aiming for with the clearly stated results section I think.
The wotc page seems to focus on the idea that even failure doesn't "end" the game, so I think that even if we fail then we should still author an ending of some sort (even if it's a significant setback).
 

Saishu_Heiki

First Post
I will use Olive Drab for my OOC!

I used Initiative in my demos more to ensure that everyone had a chance to act then to actually represent the speed of people's reactions. Everyone here should be capable of not jumping on other's actions, so I think it is completely optional here.

It looks like Easy checks are possibly only available after a different check has been made, but that could be an aberration based on the one skill challenge they showed. Also, two failures for failing an Easy check makes the challenge really swingy, so I am not a big fan of that.

Other than that, I am ready to get going!
 

Storminator

First Post
OOC color! I'm good with the stated rules. I think the double failures for Easy is a good idea. It prevents people from going outside their shtick unless it really matters. Initiative I could care less about. How are we doing dice rolling? Are we grown up enough to roll our own dice and just post the results (my preference), or do we need an online roller?

PS
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Graf said:
1. I think we should skip rolling intitiative.

We can cut initiative. I do want to make sure that every player getrs a chance to act once per round.

Graf said:
2. I don't think that "easy" checks should involve two failures. If they're easy then missing the check is penalty enough (given that we have to get a finite number of successes in a limited time). I'm pretty sure that a +2 for a hard check isn't comisserate with two failures anyway.

My thought - from what I've read - was that Easy checks were worse to fail. You'd rather try to get an Easy check, but if you roll a one it's bad. So it's still a gamble that way. I don't know if the math works out at all, though.

Are you saying that we shouldn't differentiate between success or failure - only the DC is different? If the DC is hidden from the players, that's cool with me.

Graf said:
I appreciate what you're aiming for with the clearly stated results section I think.
The wotc page seems to focus on the idea that even failure doesn't "end" the game, so I think that even if we fail then we should still author an ending of some sort (even if it's a significant setback).

I think he's talking about times where failure = the game ends. An example of this is when you need to get a specific clue to tell you where the evil cult gathering to end the world is, and without it the PCs just wander around with nothing to do. Another example is a wilderness trek to get to a dungeon. You can't fail and not get to the dungeon if the whole night's adventure was in the dungeon!

What you do in these cases is change the goal slightly. "Do you get the clue in time to be prepared, or are you rushing?" "Do you make it through the Blood Fens without incident, or are you attacked by monsters, cut, poisoned, and diseased?"

That really isn't the sort of skill challenge we're doing here, though, so we're okay. I have no idea what failure will mean right now, but I will try to make failure escalate the conflict instead of the opposite.
 
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LostSoul

Adventurer
Storminator said:
How are we doing dice rolling? Are we grown up enough to roll our own dice and just post the results (my preference), or do we need an online roller?

PS

I was thinking everyone would roll on their own and just post the results.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Here I'm going to post the skill challenge in the format that was suggested by the excerpt. This is "secret DM stuff", so it will be sblocked. I'm doing this for other viewers, and for the players after we finish.

[sblock]Setup: For the PCs to corner Shalminsar and stab him in the face, they need to track him down and get the jump on him.

Level: 1. I'm going to set the DC at 15, 11 for Easy, and 19 for Hard.

Complexity: 3 (requires 8 successes before 4 failures). This sounds good. Complexity seems to be a pacing mechanic as well as a difficulty thing. Since this is all we're doing, this one skill challenge, I'd like it to last a little longer than 6/4.

Primary Skills: I have no idea. I really don't want to know, either. I'm making a concious decision to not come up with any primary skills. This will let the players surprise me and guide play in whatever way they want.

I'm also not going to say "This skill results in an auto-failure" beforehand. I don't know at this time. I'd much rather base "auto-failure" on role-play.


Success: The PCs corner down Shalminisar and we go straight into combat. I imagine at this time that "better" success will mean they catch him with his pants down.

Failure: The PCs don't track him down - he gets away again. Other than that, I have no idea. The skills the PCs use and the role-play provided by the players will colour failure.[/sblock]
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Another rules issue I meant to put in:

Powers. I'm thinking right now that players can choose to use a power instead of a skill in order to get a success. The mechanics will be the same as skill checks in cases where the power calls for a roll. When a power doesn't call for a roll, I guess I will have to use my judgement to decide if it's a success or a failure (fiat).

I'm also going to allow only one use of per-encounter powers for the entire skill challenge, no matter how much rest the PC gets in between.
 

jelmore

First Post

Now that I've had a chance to read the article...

I agree that rolling for initiative doesn't necessarily make sense. We could just go around the virtual table in turn.

The way the skill challenge example was written, it's proposed as a potential obstacle to our eventual goal. In our hypothetical scenario, it seems like skill challenges would be part of meeting the objective, not the objective itself.

For example, a skill challenge would consist of trying to identify which town resident the skinwalker has duplicated. Success means we have a name and (possibly) a face; failure means we need to either try other means of locating the shapeshifter, or worse, the shapeshifter has figured out we're on the trail and will either assume another form or flee the town.

Another skill check could take the form of trying to convince the local sheriff that the local village elder/priest/blacksmith is a shapeshifter and needs to be arrested, or attempting to break into the mayor's estate to apprehend the skinwalker without raising attention. Success means we're one step closer to catching the monster; failure means we get the local constables on our case.

I don't mind calling out the skill check I want to make, but if I want to free-form it, the DM can decide what skill check applies. I'm OK with rolling my own dice, but I can use an online dice roller; I'm in this for the learning experience and don't feel the need to be a munchkin.
 

Graf

Explorer
[sblock=This post is all OOC]
Sorry. I'm testing out Firefox Beta and I can't seem to select anything... little bug there.

LostSoul said:
My thought - from what I've read - was that Easy checks were worse to fail. You'd rather try to get an Easy check, but if you roll a one it's bad. So it's still a gamble that way. I don't know if the math works out at all, though.

Are you saying that we shouldn't differentiate between success or failure - only the DC is different? If the DC is hidden from the players, that's cool with me.
I certainly didn't intend to say that success is the same as failure.

With regard to easy/hard.... to my mind if something is easy then it's easy. If it's hard then it's hard. Making something sort of easy but not really because there is a two tiered conflict resolution system that punishes you for failure strikes me as weird.

It seems to me that the "easy" checks either need to be "unlocked" (which I like because it lets you set up a momentum sort of thing) or are for "unattractive skills".
I"ve played, am now playing 3.5 characters with ranks of knowledge in things like history and nobility. While I love doing it it's a really really suboptimal choice. As the only one with rogue levels I'm denying my party access to other important skills (the character has 7 ranks in knowledge and no disable device... obviously a "good party member" wouldn't do that).
The thing with this mechanic, as I see it, is that it tries to reward you for taking skills like history by giving you an "easy" success.

Think about it: Easy is really just a lower DC.
So if you're a perceptive character you can probably hit a high insight check; but if you're a fighter who's trained in history? An "easy" DC may still be pretty challenging for you.

I wouldn't on top of having had that poor fighter "waste" a feat to get a new trained skill, try to brutalize them for trying to use that skill by saying "sure, you can make the roll Mr. Int 9, but if you mess up you've eaten up half of the 4 failures your group can get".
It just doesn't seem like a fun mechanic to me.

And, I haven't seen anything that suggests that WotC is pushing that "failing an Easy check deserves an extra lump of coal".

To my mind the system shouldn't punish failure to the point that that only sane choice from a probability standpoint is to play conservatively.

LostSoul said:
I will try to make failure escalate the conflict instead of the opposite.
Very cool.

jelmore said:
I agree that rolling for initiative doesn't necessarily make sense. We could just go around the virtual table in turn.

Generally speaking in PbP (as everybody knows) people post "when they can".

And certain actions will take less time than others.
If someone wants to use intimidate to bully the local priest 'cause they think they're hiding someone and someone else wants to spend a few hours at the local inn picking up rumors, one is just going to happen more quickly than the other.

I think that if we create an initiative system and try to bolt it onto the skill challenge mechanic it'll get weird. And I think that it'll get even weirder online because people can't usually post consistently.

I am not, btw, and do not mean to be, excessively obnoxious or aggressive. I'm just trying to wrap my head around a new system and I do it by pushing hard and "taking a side" on an issue and arguing about it.
I fully concede that it may be that initiative and/or hidden DCs and/or penalties for failing "easy" checks may be the best.
I just see arguments against those that I wanted to bring up and think about collectively.[/sblock]
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
jelmore said:
The way the skill challenge example was written, it's proposed as a potential obstacle to our eventual goal. In our hypothetical scenario, it seems like skill challenges would be part of meeting the objective, not the objective itself.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Is there a problem with how we've set up our skill challenge so far?

jelmore said:
I don't mind calling out the skill check I want to make, but if I want to free-form it, the DM can decide what skill check applies. I'm OK with rolling my own dice, but I can use an online dice roller; I'm in this for the learning experience and don't feel the need to be a munchkin.

Either way will work; if you want to use an online dice roller, go for it, and if not, just post your rolls.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Hey Graf;

I have been swayed by your arguments and will change that rule post to reflect it.

Changes are:
  • No need for init, though each person will act before someone goes twice
  • Failure and Success are the same through Easy/Medium/Hard DCs
 


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