• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

Skill Complications: A Combat-Like Approach to Skill Encounters

Pbartender

First Post
FireLance said:
Since the PCs generally don't accumulate failures during the progress phase, at least one of the skill complication's "attacks" (or "tests", as suggested by Frostmarrow) in the complications phase needs to result in failures, or the PCs won't ever lose. :)

Sure, I can see that... The problem I have, at the moment, is that there are fewer failures by half required to fail a challenge, than successes are required to succeed at the challenge.

Since, generally, the DC for the "test" is on par with what the PCs are rolling, the bad guys are going to have a much, much easier time foiling the good guys in challenges... You go from the PCs always succeeding to the PCs always failing, and always failing not because of their own mistakes but because the enemy is negating their successes. From a player point of view, that kind of sucks.

You could feasibly increase the number of failures required. But I don't think that's a good idea.

You could also house rule that players can use a success to negate a failure (you already kind of suggest this in your example). It may seem that using a success to add a success would always be the better choice, putting you closer to victory, but think of it as "social healing"... there are times when its better to delay failure.



Hrmm... To take a cue from regular skill checks, what about Opposed Skill Challenges? Both sides have separate, but opposed skill challenges. The first to attain all their successes is the winner, or the first to attain all failures is the loser. That puts both sides on even ground.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Frostmarrow

First Post
Pbartender: Interesting thoughts. Given that a party consists of five members potentially a party will make five attempts per round against the complication's DC.

If the complication, so to speak, need half the number of failures to foil the party's efforts then the complication need to make not more than two and a half attempts per round.

For simplicity's sake we could say only four characters will participate in any given challenge. The fifth is standing around not using an awkward skill set for the challenge in question. If so, the challenge should present two tests per round.

A test that affects the lot should only be usable every other round. 4 tests over two rounds equals two tests per round. This could be covered with the recharge mechanic. Like so :4:
 
Last edited:

FireLance

Legend
Pbartender said:
Since, generally, the DC for the "test" is on par with what the PCs are rolling, the bad guys are going to have a much, much easier time foiling the good guys in challenges... You go from the PCs always succeeding to the PCs always failing, and always failing not because of their own mistakes but because the enemy is negating their successes. From a player point of view, that kind of sucks.
Actually, in a standard skill complication, the PCs need to score 8 successes before they accumulate 8 failures, and a party of 5 PCs has five chances to score successes during the progress phase against the chance to accumulate two failures during the complications phase. While I haven't done the math in detail, the checks are usually at moderate DCs, and a trained character will usually have a better than 50% chance of succeeding at a moderate skill check (say, 60% with a +2 ability modifier), while even an untrained character would have a 25% chance of success (assuming no ability penalty). A party in which two characters are trained in the relevant skills would score an average of 1.95 successes and 1.22 failures in the respective phases. Chance thus favors the PCs in a standard skill complication. This is not unexpected - a standard skill complication is only based on an elite monster, after all.

A major skill complication requires the PCs to earn 12 successes before they accumulate 6 failures. A party of five with only two skilled characters will thus have a tough time dealing with one and may fail. A party with three skilled characters has better odds, though - it will score an average of 2.3 successes against 1.08 failures. So, if the necessary skills are a reasonably good match for the characters, even a major skill complication is quite winnable.
 

Pbartender

First Post
Frostmarrow said:
Pbartender: Interesting thoughts. Given that a party consists of five members potentially a party will make five attempts per round against the complication's DC.

If the complication, so to speak, need half the number of failures to foil the party's efforts then the complication need to make not more than two and a half attempts per round.

For simplicity's sake we could say only four characters will participate in any given challenge. The fifth is standing around not using an awkward skill set for the challenge in question. If so, the challenge should present two tests per round.

Good point... I was under the mistaken impression that the complications would be getting as many rolls as the party would.

Frostmarrow said:
This could be covered with the recharge mechanic. Like so :4:

That's not a half bad idea... using the recharge mechanic to determine how often a complication gets to "attack".
 

Pbartender

First Post
Okay, FL... I was just confused by your initial rules. I get it now.

But...

FireLance said:
Actually, in a standard skill complication, the PCs need to score 8 successes before they accumulate 8 failures.

~

A major skill complication requires the PCs to earn 12 successes before they accumulate 6 failures.

That seems odd to me.

When I've got a little more time, I'll post an example of what I'm suggesting as a simple alternative.
 

Frostmarrow

First Post
Number of tests per round:

Careening cart: 2.5 tests per round
Negotiate: 1 test per round
Smuggle: 1.83-2.16 tests per rond
Save Drowning Man: 1.17-1.42 tests per round
Escape Jail: 1.33-2.33 tests per round

Row a Boat: 2, one absolute - let's say 2.5 per round

The chances of success is irrelevant if we determine that the complication's DC work both ways. Say a DC 15 complication test PCs at +5 then were on par.
 
Last edited:

Frostmarrow

First Post
The Basic DC should be ½Level+15. Statbonuses and feats should not be factorered in. (Else they won't be bonuses at all). The bonus for being trained should be factored in because a challenge is for profssionals.

A level 1 skill complication should have a DC of 15. Tests offered by the complication should be +5 for a rough 50% chance of foiling player groups. To this one might add bonuses to represent the severity of the situation.

This means a skill complication will be over shortly before the end of the complexity's second number. E.g. A skill complication of 6/3 should be over during player round round 3.

The complications need to start off at roughly 1 free failure at round 1 to make up for the PCs having the initiative by default.

PC1: Players make four checks which yield 2 successes.
SC1: The Complication need to test 4 times 2 failures.
PC2: Players make four checks for 2 successes.
SC1: Complication test twice for 1 failure.
...
 
Last edited:

Frostmarrow

First Post
Phew, the math is getting complicated fast. We need a catch-all formula.

* A standard test yields 0.5 failures. (This is easy enough to recalculate to 0.75. Just add +5).

The following should be used in the same round as a standard test.

* A per encounter test adds up 0.5 divided by half the complexity.
4/2: 0.25
6/3: 0.17
8/4: 0.13

* A severe +5 per encounter test adds up 0.75 divided by half the complexity.
4/2: 0.38
6/3: 0.25
8/4: 0.19

* A free rechargable test adds this at complexities 4-6-8:
:2: 0.46 0.45 0.44
:3: 0.42 0.39 0.37
:4: 0.38 0.33 0.31
:5: 0.34 0.28 0.25
:6: 0.29 0.22 0.19

* A blast test (effects entire group) yields 0.94 successes with four participants per pop. 0.97 if there are five participants. So four or five participants matters not much. Which gives us 0.47, 0.31, or 0.24 if it's an encounter power.

* A rechargeble blast at complexities 4-6-8:
:2: 0.86 0.83 0.82
:3: 0.79 0.73 0.71
:4: 0.71 0.63 0.59
:5: 0.63 0.52 0.47
:6: 0.55 0.42 0.36

* An irresistable test yield, of course, 1 failure

Combine the numbers above for a total of 1-1.5 and you are all set. :)
 
Last edited:

Frostmarrow

First Post
To Ninja a Compound DC:15 8/4
Succeed with 8 skill checks (stealth and thievery, suggested) to gain entry to area 12 unseen, during the dark hours of the night.

attachment.php


Keeping Watch
Standard: Sentries on the walls constantly survey the compound in search of intruders. +5 vs passive stealth of one randomly selected intruder. Counts as 1 failure.

Sudden Moonlight
Encounter: The area is awashed with the pale light of the moon. +5 vs passive stealth of all intruders in the open air. Counts as 1 failure each.

Flock of Perched Birds
Encounter: The birds take to the air by the slightest disturbance. +10 vs nature of one randomly selected intruder. Counts as 1 failure.

Shut Door
Interrupt: A squeky door must be opened. +5 vs thievery of first intruder to pass through. Counts as 1 failure.

Special: Remember in combat all characters are assumed to pay attention in every direction. Combat counts as 4 failures.
Failure: The alarm is raised. Prepare to fight!
 

Attachments

  • compound.GIF
    compound.GIF
    8.2 KB · Views: 169
Last edited:

Frostmarrow

First Post
Research Library DC:20 4/2
To discern the location of the fabled tower of Leng clues must be gathered from a mad wizard's private collection of dusty old tomes. Succeed with 4 skill checks (history and arcana, suggested) to learn it's position.

book.gif


Mad Ramblings
Standard: Margin notes penned by the crazy wizard himself may point the researchers in the wrong direction. +10 vs passive insight of one randomly selected researcher. Counts as 1 failure.

Supernal Script
Encounter: An important clue is only written in supernal, the language of angels and devils. If any one researcher is not proficient in supernal this counts as 1 failure.

Failure:
It's impossible to pinpoint the exact location of the Leng tower from the material at hand. However, it is clear the tower is positioned somewhere in the borderlands.
 

Remove ads

Top