Skill Challenges

I hate D&D 4e. It seemed to be nothing more than a game designer’s attempt at making a World of Warcraft CCG. The thought of that disgusts me. I fucking hate it and all it stood for.

But even things we hate may have valuable parts we can use to make our gaming experience better, richer, fuller.

Minions, the “Unaligned” Alignment, and Skill Challenges are three things that were valuable contributions 4e gave to the gaming zeitgeist.

Minions may appear in our game. If so, no one should really notice. Unaligned actually made the jump to 5e, so we already have that. And here’s how we’re going to use the mechanic of Skill Challenges to add to our game:

We recognize that Skill Challenges will be a used to generate a goodly pace for non-combat confrontations… chases (as pursuer and pursued), escapes (both trying to and trying to prevent), balls (or any other social function of note), contests of skill and chance… when the party needs to accomplish a goal, but it’s not about fighting.

Skill Challenges will be declared, and thus will live in the arcane realm of the meta-game… Players will help lay out the adventure as the apply their PCs’ skills to the task at hand.

Challenges will have a time increment called a “Step” that tells how long each part of the Skill Challenge takes. These Steps will be from something like a minute or an hour to as long as a week or month maybe if we’re doing something that really takes a long time. One of the things this means is that for every Failure in the Challenge, the heroes will have lost time that may prove significant when the Challenge is over regardless of their overall success or failure.

Challenges will be given a Difficulty level
– Easy (DC 6-9)
– Not Easy (DC 10-13)
– Hard (DC 14-17)
– You’re-Pissin-Me-Off-With-This-Shit-DM (DC 18-22)

Challenges will be given a Complexity level:
– Simple (3 Successful Steps before 3 Failed Steps)
– Not-So-Simple (4 or 5 Successful Steps before 3 Failed Steps)
– Tricky (6 Successful Steps before 3 Failed Steps)
– We-Got-No-Shot (6-8 Successful Steps before 2 Failed Steps)

There will be outcomes based on Success and Failure with the possibility that each Success removes something bad from the outcome while each Failure adds something bad to the outcome.

When a Skill Challenge is declared, I will layout the challenge (eg escape through the town gates with all your gear) the DC Level (eg Not Easy (DC 11)) and the Complexity Level (Tricky because the town watch is on their way to arrest our heroes) along with perhaps 3 or 4 Skills that I feel are appropriate for the Challenge (eg Stealth, Animal Handling, Deception… and Persuasion).

– Only Characters who are Proficient (or have Expertise) in a skill may try to make a Skill Check during the Challenge.
– A Character may attempt a Skill Check only once per Challenge with each relevant Skill.
– If a Player can think up how another Skill (that their PC is Proficient in) could become relevant and thus allowable, we’ll hear how and decide whether it can be used.

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