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Skill Challenge [Dec. 18th, 2010|12:03 pm]
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition

dnd4e

[nviiibrown]
I'm not so great at building skill challenges, and I haven't read any updates on challenge theory since DMG, so I'll ask for a little help.

The party has decided they want to have "stopping a riot" under their belts as we begin our game at level 1, and I'm trying to figure out how best to accomplish that. I don't want ot spend too much time doing this encounter, but I want to satisfy their need to play it out rather than assume it done as I suggested.

Any advice or suggestions?

The riot is taking place in lower Fallcrest if that helps any.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-12-18 06:28 pm (UTC)
Do the players have any familiarity with Skill Challenge? In my experience, the hardest part of doing SCs is getting the players to switch from "reactive" to "active" storytelling. D&D (in my experience) is usually played where the DM gives the players a specific situation or challenge, and the players use their abilities to overcome that challenge--combat is a great example of this. But the best-run SCs tend to require players to both create the situation and the solution, taking an active part in the authorship of the story. So the players say "here is what is happening, and here is my character does about it."

But as I said, that's often awkward for a lot of D&D groups, or at least all the ones I've been in. My solution is to come up with specific "obstacles" (usually 3-5)--you can think of these as non-combat encounters. And then let the PCs figure out how to overcome that obstacle. If they succeed, they that leads them to the next obstacle, and if they fail, then that failure leads to the next obstacle. And that's how you put together the story of the Skill Challenge.

As for updates--make sure you use the updated DCs, so that the numbers work out (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/drdd/2010September; the link also has descriptions of when to use each difficulty). Also, don't do the crap of "here are the 3 skills you can use"--just let the PCs use any skill they want and feel is appropriate (as long as they can justify it), and set the DC as you see fit (the same way you'd set a skill DC in any other edition).
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[User Picture]From: nviiibrown
2010-12-18 06:31 pm (UTC)
I have done that crap often in the past. The group is largely newbs to 4e, which is my primary challenge. My hope is to keep it simple enough that I can just hop into the story I mean to be running.
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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-12-18 06:34 pm (UTC)
You can also just do a "stop a riot encounter" and ignore all the Skill Challenge stuff. It doesn't do anything any half-competent DM hasn't been doing for the past 20 years :p You want an adventure that involves stopping a riot, just run it how you would in 3.5. It'll still work in 4e.
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[User Picture]From: nviiibrown
2010-12-18 06:39 pm (UTC)
It's certainly nothing I've done in the past 20 years. I've had PCs navigate through a riot before, and battle mobs of guys before, but never quite stop one.

The writing between the lines is that I don't really want to run this encounter, but my players seem eager for it. I want it to be quick, painless, and not to have map it out. In my estimation, a simple skill challenge might be best.
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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-12-18 06:49 pm (UTC)
Maybe just ask for a skill check for each person explaining how they're stopping the riot, and then if there are more successes (hitting whatever the moderate DC is at that level--12 at level 1) than failures, say they succeed. If not, then they fail. It means that all the work is on your players (they have to come up with what happens, you just get to react). It shouldn't take more than half an hour even for a big group, and you have to do absolutely no prep :)
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[User Picture]From: nviiibrown
2010-12-18 06:54 pm (UTC)
This is brilliant. You are my savior. It's another pbp game, so y'know, expediency is everything, or else it'll be March before I get to encounter 1.
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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-12-18 06:59 pm (UTC)
Good luck :)
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[User Picture]From: dacuteturtle
2010-12-18 10:27 pm (UTC)
I did exactly that for my first 4e game.

I let them use any skill as long as they could justify it. Really, once you think about it, it's a very straightforward skill challenge as it is entirely social. Just make the crowd react with each roll appropriate to the action. Interactivity is the key.
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[User Picture]From: jkivela
2010-12-19 04:38 pm (UTC)
I've really liked the skill challenge advice and exploration of skill usage here: http://at-will.omnivangelist.net/
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[User Picture]From: nviiibrown
2010-12-19 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I've been listening to Quinn Murphy guest on teh Tome Show for a while, I should actually try reading his blog.
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[User Picture]From: jkivela
2010-12-19 06:28 pm (UTC)
I've printed out his articles on extended skill use to hand out to my players.
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From: kogepost
2011-04-15 03:09 pm (UTC)
Great writing! I want you to follow up to this topic!?!

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