Skill Challenge


Skill challenges are a systemic way to handle roleplaying situations that are not covered by the standard rules. These are for large dramatic moments, where failure is a distinct possibility.

Skill challenges will be presented to the player as one or more large scale goals that they are trying to accomplish given the current situation. These challenges may lead into more challenges, reveal new information, or lead into combat encounters.

Each individual goal in the skill challenge should be something with a decent time scale, where it would make sense that every character will have to take part at some point or another.

These sequences are meant to encourage players to think in the world as it is presented. They should reward creativity and give players a new strategic element outside of pure combat.


A skill challenge consists of a series of sub-goals that tie together to form a skill challenge. Each sub-goal is one round of skill checks from the party to make a step of progress toward the overarching purpose of the skill challenge.

For example, if you are trying to Convince the King to send reinforcements, one sub-goal may be earning his trust through conversation, another being to get information out of his chief of staff so you know what to ask for, and a third being to convince the man-at-arms that you are capable of leading troops.

For every Skill Challenge there will be a certain number of sub-goals that can be failed. These sub-goals can be linked together, some only becoming available in certain conditions, or feeding into each other, and some will give each other bonuses or penalties based on the success of failure of other sub-goals.

For a given sub-goal the basic flow is as follows:

The players create a narrative saying what each character is doing, in order, to try to achieve their goal. This is the heart of the Skill Challenge, these little stories. The players will determine what their character is attempting to do, and the order in which they will act. Each character will then make a Skill Check to determine if they succeed at their part of the story.

While the players determine a starting order, it is not fixed in stone, unless the player is part of a skill Combination (see below). If certain skills are failed, or the situation changes, players can react by delaying or moving up their turn in the order to keep the narration moving. Players that are attempting a skill combination need to stay in relative order with each other.

Base DC is 17 + 1/2 lvl base. This gives a character with the skill trained and a decent stat a 50% chance of success.

For a skill check that is particularly appropriate, or that is to make the next player's check easier, reduce the difficulty to 12 + 1/2 level. This makes trained characters able to help an ally on their next check to help the overall odds.

For a skill check that is inappropriate or generally just very very hard, increase the difficulty to 22 + 1/2 level. Even trained characters with decent stats will have less then a 50% chance of success here. These checks should only be made if all other options are exhausted.

The difficulty of a given action should generally not be tied to the specific skill, but rather they action the player is trying to do. Since this is a very narrative system, common sense must be used, and some actions may be deemed impossible, highly improbable, or even directly hostile. The DM should always inform the player of the difficulty of the action they are trying to accomplish.

Once every character has made their skill check, total the successes versus the failures. If there is a net positive, the party wins this subgoal. Many times a failed check will have other consequences as well, loss of healing surges, penalties on future skill challenges, or long term curses are all possibilities.


Any player may choose to use a skill that they are trained in to make the next player's skill check easier. This only works if the first player is using an Appropriate skill, and the second player is not. This represents using a skill combination, and should be explained by the players as such.

Eg: In a social challenge to convince a Guard Captain to give you soldiers, you use a Diplomacy Check to allow your ally to make an Athletics check to show his martial prowess.

Action Points may be spent to take an extra skill check out of order, in reaction to another players result on a skill check. If there is a Warlord in the party, they will grant a bonus equal to their Char or Int, depending on what their class feature is. This can be used to give a particularly skilled character a chance to help the party recover from a failure. You will need to inject a narration of what action you are taking to un-do the damage. Generally, you need to use the same skill your ally failed at or a otherwise particularly appropriate skill. Bluff can almost always be used here.

Any time a character fails a physical skill check (Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance, etc) a defender can spend a Healing Surge to prevent the failure, as they catch the character, take the hit, or carry them through some pain. They can only do this if they have already succeeded on a physical check for this challenge. While this does not give the party a success, it will remove a failure, and possibly defend against any other side-effects of failing that specific check. Anyone may spend a Healing Surge to take the side-effects of failing a skill roll for another player. This does not counteract the failure though.


A Skill Challenge is an encounter like any other. It counts for a milestone, and will grant experience. The effective level of a skill challenge is the level of the players adjusted by the number of sub-goals in the challenge. A standard Skill Challenge has three sub-goals. Two sub-goal challenges are considered one level lower for xp purposes. For every sub-goal beyond 3, increase the effective level of the sub-goal by one.

The experience gained from a Skill Challenge is equal to a balanced encounter of the appropriate level. A lvl 1 Challenge will grant 100xp per character, a lvl 2 will grant 125xp, etc.

Skill Challenges, successfully completed, can also grant loot.

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