Wednesday, July 8, 2009

DnD: Perilous Procession #1 - Earn Your Keep

This marks the start of a collection of skill challenges that take place on a caravan, traveling from one destination to another. This first challenge, Earn Your Keep, I had originally intended to post later in the series, but I decided that since failure in one or more of the other skill challenges might result in this challenge being presented, it should be presented first.

I will say that my inspiration for doing this comes from Gamefiend of At-Will and Skillforge fame. I make no claims of being a Skill Challenge Expert/Adept/Sage/Guru/Whathaveyou myself. Any constructive feedback is welcome (especially concerning DC's) .

So, without further ado . . .

Perilous Procession #1 - Earn Your Keep

The PC's have not endeared themselves to the caravan leader or the people under his authority. Perhaps they've lead the caravan astray, disrupted their schedule, possibly even endangered lives - whatever the reason, their continued presence has now been called into serious consideration. The group must now make a convincing case for themselves to the caravan leader for staying on or be left behind.

Encounter Level
PC Level + 1

2 (6 successes before 3 failures)

Primary Skills
  • Diplomacy (Moderate DC)
    Obviously we have overstepped our bounds. Perhaps we could renegotiate our services or participation in this endeavor to a position that is more agreeable to you?

  • Religion (Easy DC)
    I can see you are a follower of [deity] - don't the tenets of your faith include charity and forgiveness?
    • May only be used once

  • Insight (Moderate DC)
    It's obvious you don't like us, and you have every right to feel that way. But surely there is some way we might improve your opinion of us?

  • Perception (Moderate DC)
    If we leave you will be short-handed, at the very least you could use a few extra hands and sturdy backs. We can do that at the very least.

  • Intimidate (Automatic Failure)
    You do this and you'll regret it!
    • -2 to all subsequent checks, unlocks Critical Failure option

  • Bluff (Hard DC)
    I heard there were wondering bands of Orcs in this region. You'll need every sword you can get to pass through safely!
    • After first failure, subsequent uses of this skill auto-fail for that PC, -2 for other PCs to use; unlocks Critical Failure option
  • Success - The caravan is willing to keep you on

  • Failure - The PC's are kicked off the caravan

  • Critical Failure (3 failures before 3 successes; only if Bluff and/or Intimidate are used) - The caravan becomes hostile towards the PC's


  1. Your complexity is off. For 6 before 3, that's complexity 2. For complexity 1, it's 4 before 3.

    Something I've found useful in SC design is to create subscenes that allow the characters to interact with the environment and the NPCs.

    Also, look at your focus-- do you really want the group to potentially lose their employment, or is the caravan a vehicle to get them to another part of the adventure? If so, then consider *never* losing the association with the caravan, but success provides better pay, more food, better operating conditions and failure indicates junk jobs, dismal pay, perhaps even rivals or enemies within the caravan.

    Then you've built out a challenge that brings more to the story than whether or not the group is picking up some coin.


  2. Fixed. Thanks for catching that!

    I wouldn't *hope* that the PC's lose this challenge, but I think it's a more serious and realistic element to the game than losing Health Surges - which doesn't make any sense to me. Indeed, this challenge, in my mind, need only become a concern AFTER the party has failed several others before it.

    My philosophy is built along the lines of what is spelled out in the DMG (page 74):

    "If the characters fail the challenge, the story still has to move forward, but in a different direction and possibly by a longer, more dangerous route. You can think of it like a room in a dungeon. If the characters can’t defeat the dragon in that room, they don’t get the experience for killing it or the treasure it guards, and they can’t go through the door on the opposite side of the room. They might still be able to get to the chamber behind the door, but by taking a different and more arduous path. In the same way, failure in a skill challenge should send the characters down a different route in the adventure, but not derail them entirely."

    Thanks for reading!