Yeah, but I still think there's a point that is missing from this discussion, which is that a 4e SC IS AN ENCOUNTER, it has a definite start, end, goals, and costs associated, and the GM is pretty much obligated to treat it as such. That encourages the advancement of the player's goals (or not, if they lose) in a fairly discrete and understandable way. Far too often in 5e games I've run into this sort of icky slippery thing where nobody is quite sure what has been accomplished, and all of a sudden the GM is throwing consequences at you that undo a lot of progress, or simply seems to never really get the point that some goal should be adequately reached by now. This is pretty common, and not just with less capable GMs (though obviously if you are, say, a new GM it is even more likely).With what has been presented to me they are pretty much the same thing. The only "differences" are:
1. tracking a number of success and failures until some "goal" resolution is met.
2. asking each PC what they are doing to contribute to achieving that number of successes.
Instead of #1, each success or failure affects the next step in the scenario until the scene is resolved. Since each PC can be contributing at the same time, this is not necessarily "linear" as people might think.
Instead of #2, the resolution is not binary as varying degrees of success is certainly possible.
In either case, you are making a series of skill checks, each of which can affect the scenario in information gained, interactions, etc.
Now, adding a pre-generated "structure" and options (if a PC does this and succeeds, it is one more success towards their final result) I can see (as I commented above) being helpful to novice or struggling DMs, but otherwise I would agree with this:
Anyway, again thanks to all for outlining the differences. Of course, depending on the scenario, it could be a "solo" skill "challenge" (if indeed, such a thing exists?) or involve multiple party members. But, then again, combat can also be solo (a scout encountering resistance) or involve more PCs (typical combat).
I have found in combat certain players, PCs, and classes will contribute more; and in the other pillars certain players, PCs, and classes will contribute more. I don't expect a balance between the three pillars and players, PCs, or classes, as everyone plays their PC differently.
With the SC case, we won the SC, we got what was entailed in success. It is now clearly ours and we are going to keep it, unless we put it to stake for some reason. It can be a much cleaner method. Its also, when properly articulated, a fairly straightforward thing to implement.
And yes, there are certainly 'solo SCs' there's really very little issue with making them scale from 1 to 5+ PCs.