Like it’s 1981 all over again, part five

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6 Responses

  1. Dave T. Game says:

    “Here’s my Golden Rule when it comes to designing Skill Challenges: Don’t.”

    Exactly how I feel, but I do see their value for new GMs/ones that need a boost.

    Dave T. Games last blog post..PHB2 Roundtable: Races and Other Topics

  2. Greywulf says:

    @Dave Agreed.

    Mapping out a Skill Challenge is essential for published adventures, especially those designed for new GMs – but that’s starting to put across the impression that you have to for those adventures you create yourself. You don’t :D

    follow @greywulf on twitter

  3. glennm says:

    Hi Greywulf, great series….keep up the good work!

    I’m starting out DM’ing again in 4ed after a long break. The skill challenges are still a bit mystifying for me, and I can see their application more to “story-telling” than map based adventures.

    For example your challenge “to get to the door across the pool – 5 successes before 3 fails.” Why 5 successes? If there are only 4 party members and they all decide to swim across, wouldnt that require just 1 success each?

    Also what happens if they get 3 failures? We can’t just say to the players, “Oh well you failed. You had better go back the way you came!”. I have read that I must improvise a particularly nasty obstacle/complication to reflect their unfortunate circumstances in failing a challenge. What are your thoughts on handling failure in this example?

    ps. You made me buy M&M! Evil Greywolf…Bwaahaha

  4. VegasAndorian says:

    @ glennm I sympathize; evil Greywulf made me buy M&M, the Ultimate Power pdf and soon the Masterminds Manual. Bad man!

    @ Greywulf Your comment on Skill Challenges from published adventures vs. your own adventures is one of the best bits of advice an experienced GM can give a noob: don’t feel obligated to design exactly like a published adventure! When you create and run your own you have wiggle room for winging it. Let a little bit write itself as you play.

    And great blog, it’s a pleasure to read.

  5. Greywulf says:

    @glennm Good questions, all.

    I set the number of successes at 5 just because it “felt right” for how long I wanted them to spend dealing with this room. In my experience, Difficulty 1 Skill Challenges (ie, 4 successes before 3 fails) are great if you want to put a speed bump in the players’ way, but nothing too taxing. Difficulty 2 Challenges (like this one) require a little bit more, and so on.

    If the party members had all decided just to swim across, odds are that the octopus would have gotten at least one of them. They’re not all going to be Trained in the Athletic skill. That’s why I put him in – as a message to make it clear that the most obvious course of action isn’t necessarily the best.

    Failure in this case would have meant that they realise that their current plan isn’t working and have to re-think their strategy. They’re back at the beginning of the Skill Challenge again and will need to come up with another plan. I’ll allow them to re-use their skills, but they’ve got to be in different ways to before. They’ve tried swimming across and that didn’t work. Maybe they could think of another use for Bob’s Athletics skill, try using Diplomacy to charm the octopus, or whatever. As this isn’t a Locked Room challenge, there’s no reason why they couldn’t use resources from elsewhere – maybe find some wooden planks to lay across, or get assistance from the Wizard outside.

    Note to self: write a blogpost about this in more detail.

    follow @greywulf on twitter

  6. DNAmers says:

    Nice post, old chap.

    Yeah, detailed skilled challenges are probably more appreciated by those just coming to grips with the abstract concept of the 4E skill challenge system, or those mayhaps not yet confident in their DM-fu to wing it. However, some detail can still be useful to even the more masterly DM; having the appropriate range of skill DC’s in front of you can be useful for the invariable ‘outside the square’ skill use. But then again, less detail prompts the DM to be more flexible in how they adjudicate a character’s skill choices, as opposed to (subjectively) limiting the options to those presented in the encounter text.

    Am more drawn to your comments on the 4E drowning rules however, and their relative paucity of detail. Sounds like you want to review them, and maybe flesh them out a little.

    And then post them.

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