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D&D General Level Independent Challenges

I think there are very very few.

First, That's wrong, there are tons of ways to make challenges that are character level independent. But they almost all are Player challenges, not character challenges (mazes, puzzles, social challenges without DC rolls).

I don't usually like player challenges. And any social challenge that uses skill rolls to determine anything (persuasion, insight, etc) are level based. If they don't have skill/ability rolls, then they are player challenges.
might be trying to convince an NPC
If there are DCs, then is is level dependent. If not, then you are challenging the Players role playing ability.
resolve it as a series of checks
And therefore it is level dependent.
a mini game where each player created a thematic team of animals
Now this, the concept of a mini game, is the only thing I've seen mentioned that actually removes the character abilities from play, and does not require player ability to resolve. So, mini games. Where the players control (without DC rolls) some other entity (cats, npcs, magic chess pieces, constructs, etc) and therefore it is up to the ability of what they control to determine the outcome is the only level independent challenge that I can see that is not a Player challenge.
A delicate glass sphere
Player challenge offset by character level.
stakeholder negotiations
If there are DCs, then level dependent, if not, Player challenge.
any contest you run as purely one of player skill
Yep, and why role play? Why not just have a mental challenge between players? To me, role playing is about surpassing, bypassing, or altering player abilities and playing pretend.

In a level-based system like D&D, why try to bypass one of the primary mechanics of the game?
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Skill Challenges. The definition is getting X successes (however success is defined) before Y failures (ditto.) Chase scenes, ritual interruptions, hostage negotiations, all sorts of stuff becomes a simple and easily-applied framework.
Skills, generally, get better with level; thus skill challenges are not in themselves level-agnostic.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think there are very very few.

First, That's wrong, there are tons of ways to make challenges that are character level independent. But they almost all are Player challenges, not character challenges (mazes, puzzles, social challenges without DC rolls).

I don't usually like player challenges. And any social challenge that uses skill rolls to determine anything (persuasion, insight, etc) are level based. If they don't have skill/ability rolls, then they are player challenges.

If there are DCs, then is is level dependent. If not, then you are challenging the Players role playing ability.
Maybe. As this is a general thread and thus examples from all editions can fit, there's one very basic character mechanic that - at least in pre-WotC editions - doesn't change simply due to level; and that's a character's base stats.

Therefore, a challenge requiring a 1e character to roll under a stat is, at face value, level agnostic. Ignoring gear and items, a 15th-level character with Dex 13 has the same odds of success as a 1st-level character with Dex 13 when the challenge's success/fail state is determined by rolling under Dex.; and there's no reason to assume that 15th-level character's Dex wasn't 13 for its whole career.

As for the player challenge vs character challenge dichotomy: either the game has to directly challenge the players-as-characters sometimes or everything has to be left to numeric abstraction. Numeric abstraction isn't always the best means of resolution, and - as you note - is almost always level-dependent at least in the WotC editions. Which means, challenging the players is IMO fair game.
 


Pedantic

Legend
Skills, generally, get better with level; thus skill challenges are not in themselves level-agnostic.
Skill challenges used a leveled DC system. A DM could assign a hostage negotiation as either a level 4 or level 15 challenge, and generally expect a level 4 or level 15 party to have about the same odds of success, respectively. There is no strict guideline on how to assign a level to a specific challenge, so you can reasonably use the system to handle anything you want to resolve using a skill challenge independently of the PC's level.

I personally don't think this is a good or desirable thing, but the system does work to that end.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
And therefore it is level dependent.
Alternate-universe level dependency, perhaps. As I said, the player opted to have an actual dance off with the DM, rather than rolling, so it was effectively level independent. Though it would have admittedly been level dependent had we opted to roll.
 

I mean, I specifically followed that with noting that the convincing was by doing things to shore up the NPC's support, not making Persuasion checks.

Alternate-universe level dependency, perhaps. As I said, the player opted to have an actual dance off with the DM, rather than rolling, so it was effectively level independent. Though it would have admittedly been level dependent had we opted to roll.
Understood on both of these. Which makes them Player challenges. Since player challenges are irrelevant to what character is being played, to me, they really are not role playing challenges. I mean they are... but they aren't if you know what I mean?

Nothing wrong with challenging the players, It's just the mood I'm in today I guess.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Understood on both of these. Which makes them Player challenges. Since player challenges are irrelevant to what character is being played, to me, they really are not role playing challenges. I mean they are... but they aren't if you know what I mean?

Nothing wrong with challenging the players, It's just the mood I'm in today I guess.
Well, the player could choose to dance however their character would, in which case it would be RP.

That really applies to almost anything in game beyond rolling dice without any description. If we're RPing a conversation with an NPC, I can choose to say what I think would get the NPC to do what I want. Or, assuming they aren't the same thing, I could choose to have my character say whatever I think my character would say. The latter is RP while the former is more what you seem to refer to as a player challenge.

Ultimately, I think both have their place in the game. RP can be a lot of fun, but on a night when we're trying to get stuff done the impractical RP approach can just end up annoying everyone else at the table. I think there's a time and a place for both.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Skills, generally, get better with level; thus skill challenges are not in themselves level-agnostic.
Okay...but the definition is successes, not skill rolls. Meaning a complexity 2 skill challenge requires 6 successful skill rolls before 3 failures (though I prefer slightly modified setups myself.) You're looking deeper than the skill challenge itself; you're looking at the actual DCs. But those can and should be set contextually. "Chase the bad guys across town" is level-agnostic. "Chase the Silver Fox across Duneburg to reclaim the Desert Rose ruby" is a singular specific instance, which will carry actual DCs in it because it is a singular, specific instance.

The skill challenge itself is level agnostic up until the DM sets DCs for it. They may, if they wish, simply set those DCs based off the party's level, but I generally would not recommend that. Instead, set them based on the location, current environmental conditions, opposition strength, etc. This can even mean the DCs might change if the situation changes. Perhaps the Druid, knowing the Rogue is slipping on the rain-slick rooftops, expends some of her mojo to spiritually wrassle with the thunderstorm above (Nature check, difficulty based on how nasty the storm is), and if she succeeds, the storm might recede for a time, or perhaps it recedes only around the party and intensifies near the Grey Fox, impeding their progress and making all future physical-movement stuff easier to pull off (lowered DCs.)

Again. It is the framework which is agnostic. Once you apply it to a given campaign, it must take on specifics. Prior to that, though? The challenge could be applied to any campaign and at effectively any level, because all that matters is successes, not target numbers.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Okay...but the definition is successes, not skill rolls. Meaning a complexity 2 skill challenge requires 6 successful skill rolls before 3 failures (though I prefer slightly modified setups myself.) You're looking deeper than the skill challenge itself; you're looking at the actual DCs. But those can and should be set contextually. "Chase the bad guys across town" is level-agnostic. "Chase the Silver Fox across Duneburg to reclaim the Desert Rose ruby" is a singular specific instance, which will carry actual DCs in it because it is a singular, specific instance.

The skill challenge itself is level agnostic up until the DM sets DCs for it. They may, if they wish, simply set those DCs based off the party's level, but I generally would not recommend that. Instead, set them based on the location, current environmental conditions, opposition strength, etc. This can even mean the DCs might change if the situation changes. Perhaps the Druid, knowing the Rogue is slipping on the rain-slick rooftops, expends some of her mojo to spiritually wrassle with the thunderstorm above (Nature check, difficulty based on how nasty the storm is), and if she succeeds, the storm might recede for a time, or perhaps it recedes only around the party and intensifies near the Grey Fox, impeding their progress and making all future physical-movement stuff easier to pull off (lowered DCs.)

Again. It is the framework which is agnostic. Once you apply it to a given campaign, it must take on specifics. Prior to that, though? The challenge could be applied to any campaign and at effectively any level, because all that matters is successes, not target numbers.
Do the characters' skills improve as they level up? If yes, then anything involving use of those skills (which includes skill challenges) is by definition not level-agnostic. The level of the character makes a material difference to the odds of success or failure.

If the characters' skills were all locked in at 1st level and never changed thereafter then challenges involving skills would indeed be level-agnostic; but I've a sneakin' hunch that 4e don't work that way.

And all of this is before a DC - which for this purpose is irrelevant - ever enters the equation.
 

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