“Choose a Skill Challenge” part 2: Travel the Road

 In the first part of this post, I proposed the idea of “choose a skill challenge.”  Instead of presenting your players with the choice of “skill challenge or combat,” (when a choice is presented at all), I suggested that it is just as legitimate to give them a choice between two different skill challenges.  This technique works best when presenting a problem with two conditions required for success.  In this way, you can design each skill challenge to assure success of only one of the objectives.  In other words, if the PCs need to complete A and B to be successful, you would design skill challenge 1 to assure success of A, but risk failure of B.  Skill challenge 2 would do the opposite.

Of course, everyone likes a concrete example.

The characters find themselves at POINT A with AN URGET NEED to get to POINT B both quickly and undetected.  They are now faced with a choice: they could aviod roads and travel overland.  This plan is sure to avoid detection, but overland travel is slow, and there’s no guarantee the characters will arrive at their destination on time.  Taking the roads would assure you of a timely arrival, but every stranger you meet along the way could be in the employ of your enemy, or willing to whisper word of your travels to the highest bidder.

We already looked at the “overland” skill challenge that avoids the roads (and assures the PCs aren’t detected).  We will now design a skill challenge for PCs who choose to travel the road instead.  They are sure to arrive at their destination on time, but need to contend with the possibility of being detected.

 Taking the High Road

You decide to travel to your destination via roads, staying in towns and villages when possible.  You rely on your superior social skills to disguise your mission from people you encounter and simply avoid other travelers when possible.

  •  Bluff (group):  You have a plausible cover story to tell other travelers you happen to encounter.  You effectively disguise yourselves so that you blend into a crowd.
      • Streetwise (secondary; +2 to everyone’s Bluff check, -2 to everyone’s Bluff check for failure) You know enough about local customs, language, and dress to help the party craft effective disguises, cover stories, and responses to questions.
      • Diplomacy (secondary; +2 to your Bluff check only) When asked a direct question, you are able to seem like you’re saying something without really saying anything.
  • Theivery: (Only one check allowed): You are able to forge believable travel papers, or steal legitimate ones from other travelers you encounter.
  • Stealth:  You scout ahead of or behind the party for approaching travelers.  You are able to hide the party off the road until they pass.
      • Perception: (secondary; +2 to your stealth check) You spot patrols and other travelers from far enough away that you can decide whether or not to avoid them before they see you.     
  • Insight:  You discern whether people you encounter would be sympathetic to your mission or whether they would be willing to give out information about you.  You can tell whether they might be willing to turn you in for a reward.  You advise the party to interact with sympathetic travelers only.
  • Streetwise: You gather information before you leave about the best times to travel that in order to avoid other travellers.
  • Any Knowledge Skill (group check; hard DC): If the party fails a bluff check, the party can negate the failure by choosing a knowledge skill, and succeeding at a hard DC.  Each member of the party can choose different knowledge skills.  As with any group check, at least half the party needs to succeed. “You quickly divert the conversation to a subject you’re knowledgable about; your audience is so enthralled that they forget about the questionable answer you gave earlier.”

So there you have it.  A fully fleshed out skill challenge choice.  Hopefully, I’ve sparked some ideas, and I’d love to hear some of them.  Do you have a good scenario that would benefit from a skill challenge choice?  Leave it in the comments!

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