official revision to skill challenge system

Pseudopsyche

Visitor
WotC just published new errata for the core books: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/updates . The DMG errata revises the skill challenge system. In short, the DCs have been changed so that moderate is about 10 + 1/2 level. (Target DCs are the same for skills and mere ability checks now.) The different levels of skill challenge complexity only change the number of successes required to beat the challenge; three strikes and you're out for every level of complexity. All references to setting an initiative order have been removed, and the DMG now recommends that you limit aid another to one or two helpers per check.

(In case no one else has posted this information yet.)

So, how does the math work out?
 

JGulick

Visitor
Somewhat improved. I mean, the basic math (general shape and pattern) is now sound, but the drop-off between chance of success for a small step in DC is quite drastic. Maybe workable, with the new lower suggested DCs so it's now far more common to live in the 60%+ chance of success on each roll world, but it moves in VERY sharp steps.

Here's a table, including some unofficial Complexity levels, showing the chance of success if everyone's chance of success on every die roll is the same.

Code:
Complex	0	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10
Success	2	4	6	8	10	12	14	16	18	20	22
Fail	3	3	3	3	3	3	3	3	3	3	3
5%	1.402%	0.009%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%
10%	5.230%	0.127%	0.002%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%
15%	10.952%	0.589%	0.024%	0.001%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%
20%	18.080%	1.696%	0.123%	0.008%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%
25%	26.172%	3.760%	0.423%	0.042%	0.004%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%
30%	34.830%	7.047%	1.129%	0.159%	0.021%	0.003%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%
35%	43.702%	11.742%	2.532%	0.482%	0.085%	0.014%	0.002%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%	0.000%
40%	52.480%	17.920%	4.981%	1.229%	0.281%	0.061%	0.013%	0.003%	0.001%	0.000%	0.000%
45%	60.902%	25.526%	8.846%	2.739%	0.788%	0.215%	0.056%	0.014%	0.004%	0.001%	0.000%
50%	68.750%	34.375%	14.453%	5.469%	1.929%	0.647%	0.209%	0.066%	0.020%	0.006%	0.002%
55%	75.852%	44.152%	22.013%	9.956%	4.214%	1.701%	0.662%	0.251%	0.093%	0.034%	0.012%
60%	82.080%	54.432%	31.539%	16.729%	8.344%	3.979%	1.834%	0.823%	0.361%	0.156%	0.066%
65%	87.352%	64.709%	42.781%	26.161%	15.129%	8.393%	4.509%	2.362%	1.212%	0.611%	0.304%
70%	91.630%	74.431%	55.177%	38.278%	25.282%	16.084%	9.936%	5.995%	3.548%	2.067%	1.187%
75%	94.922%	83.057%	67.854%	52.559%	39.068%	28.113%	19.711%	13.531%	9.126%	6.065%	3.980%
80%	97.280%	90.112%	79.692%	67.780%	55.835%	44.805%	35.184%	27.134%	20.608%	15.449%	11.452%
85%	98.802%	95.266%	89.479%	82.020%	73.582%	64.791%	56.138%	47.966%	40.490%	33.818%	27.983%
90%	99.630%	98.415%	96.191%	92.981%	88.913%	84.164%	78.925%	73.380%	67.693%	62.004%	56.427%
95%	99.952%	99.777%	99.421%	98.850%	98.043%	96.995%	95.706%	94.187%	92.452%	90.518%	88.406%
 
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The difficulty increase is actually +2 per 3 levels, which is somewhat closer to the real curve (without spending any feats or powers, going from 1-30 gets you +16 on a skill linked to a secondary stat, +19 on a skill linked to a primary), though skill enhancement items are a rather obvious application (some are already in the PHB), and if they follow the same curve as other enhancement items, will push the bonus up to +25 by level 30, and power bonuses can easily push it all the way to +30. Given that, it would probably be better to say:
Easy: 5 + level/2 (doable by just about any character)
Average: 10 + level * 2/3 (doable by a competent non-specialist)
Hard: 15 + level (requires a specialist).
 
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Khime

Visitor
I'm new to the whole 'combat challenges are (still?) broken' discussion, but has anyone run the numbers to see how often players succeed/fail at combat challenges of similar level/difficulty, and compared that with the skill challenge success rate? Or are there too many variables?
 
Combat challenges aren't very variable -- one that's 3 levels too low (-2 DC) is a walkover, one that's 3 levels too high (+2 DC) is very hard, one that's 6 levels too high (+4 DC) is a party wipe. However, a PC party is unlikely to have a lot of variance in its ability to beat a combat challenge, whereas skill bonuses can vary enormously (at level 2, anywhere from +0 with an 8 stat to +20 with 20 stat, trained skill, skill focus, racial skill bonus, and a +4 Power bonus from some utility power).
 

JGulick

Visitor
I'm new to the whole 'combat challenges are (still?) broken' discussion, but has anyone run the numbers to see how often players succeed/fail at combat challenges of similar level/difficulty, and compared that with the skill challenge success rate? Or are there too many variables?
Vastly too many.

Plus, combat challenges have a much more robust range from total success (monsters bested with no use of anything but At-Will and Encounter powers) to partial success (bested, but several healing surges, daily powers, action points, and/or limited use magic items expended) to partial failure (lost but expended only a limited amount of resources) to total failure (TPK or Retreat with near-total expenditure of resources). As things currently stand, non-combat challenges are much more binary (with some discussions of enhanced partial *success* and a few Daily powers you can burn to enhance them, but only a few).
 

MarkB

Legend
I'm new to the whole 'combat challenges are (still?) broken' discussion, but has anyone run the numbers to see how often players succeed/fail at combat challenges of similar level/difficulty, and compared that with the skill challenge success rate? Or are there too many variables?
That depends upon your definition of "fail". For a combat challenge, it could be anything from "use more healing surges than expected" right up to "TPK".
 
A lot of the problems with skill challenges don't have anything to do with the DCs; they have to do with the actual mechanic being somewhat dull.

What makes combat mechanically interesting (as opposed to interesting from a roleplaying standpoint) is the existence of relevant choices (do I try to get around the soldiers and beat on the artillery over there, or do I slug it out with this soldier who's already bloodied and might be easy to finish off). For the most part, skill challenges aren't like that; instead, it's "pick a skill and use it to beat on the target". Adding multiple distinct objectives to a skill challenge which interact in complicated ways might make them more interesting, though it would also make them far more difficult to design.
 
What I find more interesting is that WOTC didn't just alter the skill challenge DCs, they altered all skill check DCs if I'm reading this right. I'm cool with that, as I found the DCs a bit high for all skill checks.
 

Amy Kou'ai

Visitor
What I find more interesting is that WOTC didn't just alter the skill challenge DCs, they altered all skill check DCs if I'm reading this right. I'm cool with that, as I found the DCs a bit high for all skill checks.
I find it interesting that they lowered all skill check DCs but apparently didn't change any DCs for the sample traps and hazards.
 
What I find more interesting is that WOTC didn't just alter the skill challenge DCs, they altered all skill check DCs if I'm reading this right. I'm cool with that, as I found the DCs a bit high for all skill checks.
They did lower the skill DCs, but they lowered them too much. They dropped the footnote from DMG and slashed 5 off the DCs. The net effect for skill checks is 10 off the DCs, at low levels (higher levels are about the same as they used to be).

IMO, that's much too easy. Now that I've looked it more, I like the progression better, but they need to bump the DCs up by 5 more.
 

JesterOC

Explorer
I find it interesting that they lowered all skill check DCs but apparently didn't change any DCs for the sample traps and hazards.
I guess they want the mosnter knowledge checks to be hard also. Good thing or they would have to change every entry in the monster manual.


JesterOC
 

ac_noj

Visitor
To expand on what JGulick did, here's a look at level 1. Remember that under the new system up to two players can use Aid Another to assist a third player with a higher skill, so a level 1 you're getting up to +16 to your skill check.

Code:
Skill                 
Easy  -1    0    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16
1     83%  90%  95%  98% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
2     68%  80%  89%  96%  99% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
3     53%  68%  82%  93%  99% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
4     39%  56%  74%  89%  98% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
5     28%  45%  65%  84%  97% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
 
Moderate                  
1     34%  44%  54%  65%  74%  83%  90%  95%  98% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
2     14%  22%  32%  43%  55%  68%  80%  89%  96%  99% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
3      5%  10%  17%  26%  38%  53%  68%  82%  93%  99% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
4      2%   4%   8%  15%  25%  39%  56%  74%  89%  98% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
5      1%   2%   4%   8%  16%  28%  45%  65%  84%  97% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
 
Hard                  
1      4%   7%  12%  18%  26%  34%  44%  54%  65%  74%  83%  90%  95%  98% 100% 100% 100% 100%
2      0%   1%   3%   5%   9%  14%  22%  32%  43%  55%  68%  80%  89%  96%  99% 100% 100% 100%
3      0%   0%   0%   1%   3%   5%  10%  17%  26%  38%  53%  68%  82%  93%  99% 100% 100% 100%
4      0%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2%   4%   8%  15%  25%  39%  56%  74%  89%  98% 100% 100% 100%
5      0%   0%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2%   4%   8%  16%  28%  45%  65%  84%  97% 100% 100% 100%
 

Scud.NZ

Visitor
It good to see that player feedback has some effect.

However, I think the comments of Jester and Amy reveal something quite important. The system was stuffed from the beginning. Did they playtest this game at all? How the hell did they not notice?

The skills checks and challenges are such an integral part of the game, yes, they would have to change an awful lot of the products that are currently available and presumably couldn't change the products that are due to come out in the next few months without a huge fuss.
 
The playtesters found ways around it? Most gamers aren't willing (or necessarily able) to do the math that Stalker did with the skill challenge system to demonstrate its problems. Most likely, a combination of aid another, ad hoccing with good skills, convincing the DM to use his best friend, etc. were used to make the challenges workable in their original context. Most gamers that I know, at any rate, would be more likely to make these sorts of adjustments to how they play then call the whole system broken.
 

ac_noj

Visitor
Looking at the numbers, you've got fairly flat regions at the extremes where skills slowly scale and steep regions in the middle. Also the higher the complexity the steeper the scaling. All up a single point difference in the DC can make for a 20% difference in the party's chance of success, which is way too much.

Also, the moderate challenges are too easy, at least for my party. My group of 4 has an average high score (the highest score anyone has for a particular skill) of 8. So with Aid Another they're 100% likely to succeed on moderate challenges.
For Hard challenges their chance drops to 56%.

Since Hard DC is +2 levels, I might make up a new 'Tough' DC for +1 level and use that. Moderate DC+2 should do the trick.
 

Xorn

Visitor
Is it just me, or by those numbers is the new system horribly swingy?

I mean, say you have an average check of +8 at level 2. 97% to complete a complexity 5 challenge. A "hard" challenge (meaning you bump up the moderate DC to 12) would be like 65%...

But if you have an average untrained check of say... +3 (level 2 remember) and slid the average of trained versus untrained towards trained, let's go with +6 being the average check... a 28% percent chance!?

All I can say is if you aren't trained in a skill, don't you dare Fing participate.

I've looked at this for all of an hour and I can't comprehend how they thought this was an improvement. Can someone please tell me what I'm not seeing?
 
It is slightly frustrating we are back to the 'everyone sit on their hands/roll stupid aid another actions while the face guy does all the talking.' model of doing things. I thought the idea was not to be there.
 

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