Like it’s 1981 all over again, part six

Hairy Bob is being pulled into the murky depths by a giant octopus and Squidgee Yellowpants the Halfling Jester is kneeling on a waterlogged floating bunkbed trying to pull him out. Things are getting hairy for Hairy and I’m getting ready to pass Mahkra the Wizard over to Mike.

“What does Parson Jeffries do?”
“Can I make a Nature check? He might know something about Octopi that can help.”
“Cool, DC15.”
“17! What does he know?”
“That’s up to you. I’ll give Squidgee a +2 on his check and bump it to +4 if I like your idea.”
“…..ummm…… The Parson shouts out ‘That Octopus is left-handed! Twist clockwise and you should break it’s grip'”

Yes folks, we’ve got a left-handed Giant Octopus, and it’s only (much) later do I google that it’s true. That’s another success toward the Skill Challenge meaning we’re at 4 successes to 2 failures. This could go either way. Our Halfling Jester has to make this check to rescue Hairy Bob, pass the Skill Challenge and Save the Day. d20+4 vs d20+5….. and he makes it, by 2.

Hairy Bob is pulled from the Octopus’ grasp and he lays on the bed gasping for breath before they both paddle across to collect Parson Jeffries and head across to the door without further incident.

Genius. I’m so proud of my players.

I’ve said it before: Skill Challenges are the Single Best Innovation in 4e D&D. Yes, they’re poorly explained in the DMG but that water passed under the bridge long ago. They’re NOT a substitute to role-playing, but a darned good tool to help frame the role-playing and introduce a possibility of failure (or at least serious setback) that otherwise wouldn’t be present. I love ’em.

Back on dry land and the party moves on, Hairy Bob leaving a damp trail behind him. He smells like wet dog.

Room 6. It is 10′ square. There is a pie. It tastes good. I grant each character a free healing surge. I am kind.

Ok, not that kind. In the next room they open the door to 12 Goblins filling a 15′ square room. But that’s for Next Time.

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6 Responses

  1. arghhhhh it’s like watching porn previews in Hotel rooms! It stops when things get interesting!

    Seriously though, great example of a Skill Challenege… that’s how it should be done!

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  2. Greywulf says:

    Lol! Didn’t you know – the key to good writing is to always end on a

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  3. PrecociousApprentice says:

    In 1987 when I first started playing D&D, this is about how my best games went. Utterly rediculous and super fun. My usual games weren’t nearly as good. You have captured exactly what I think of when I think “old school”. This is perfect. I am not sure that everyone would agree with me, but I think the reality is that probably most old school games were run exactly like this.

    I think that the old school/new school flame war has settled down. I am glad. This series and the recent posts at the Core Mechanic and Tales of the Rambling Bumblers have been the best and most enlightening posts about the subject to date. Thanks.

    This series seems to reiterate that old school is a play style, and is only tied in the loosest of ways to rules or edition. Congrats, you are punking the edition wars. ;)

  4. yoyorobbo says:

    12 Goblins filling a 15? square room.
    WTF are that many *anythings* doing in that small of a room?

    Why, that leaves barely enough room for their…

    Spears, people! I was gonna say “spears”…jeesh! ;^]

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  5. Can I just say that it drives me to distraction that folks are calling the skill challenge system an innovation? I was doing “skill challenges” with WoD a freaking decade ago.

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  6. Thasmodious says:

    I’m loving these, fun to read. And I agree with you completely on skill challenges being the best innovation of 4e. I just love em. I do structure em often, but often I don’t either. Just depends. That’s what I like so much about them, the flexibility. You can do anything with them. The key, imo, is to divorce your thinking from the structure of the rules and focus on the intent (which is to make fun skill based encounters. It’s the same for combat encounters. There are a million ways to go about it, use whatever works. I agree they weren’t explained that well in the DMG, which is a shame, but it’s a hard thing to explain well in limited space. They would have been better served to devote several more pages to challenges, I think.

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