My first skill challenge.

I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to have my party navigating a conversation with a king, duke, or dragon. I didn’t want the pace of the adventure to come to a halt. Since the party had been on a whirl wind romp, running from multiple factions both good an evil, I didn’t want them to stop dead in their tracks to have a run of the mill parley. So I thought about how I could build suspense and consequence in each failure, and reward and relief with each success. I think I did a great job of doing so, but my group showed me that some times it just never works the way you want it to.

The setup began with the party walking into a very small town at night. There are a few lanterns lit but the streets were very quiet and viability was low. Upon inspecting their surroundings it looked as if some sort of celebration had taken place, and no one was willing to clean it up. Perception Check 15-19 would show debris which might look out of place but not alarming. A check of 20-24 would have shown more disturbing details, small spatters of blood, and that the debris were scraps of clothing. A check of 25 and up would have made it clear that there had been a large struggle, and though there were surely deaths, the bodies had been removed.

The group did not fare well in their initial perception check so they did not realize anything was amiss until they reached the town square. There they found obvious signs of battle, though still no bodies. As they reached the center of the square a scream came from what looked like a tavern. The party rushed to aid whom ever was in danger, one member made a successful perception check and noticed there was a cold thick fog moving in, not from a specific direction but from all sides of the town.

As the party crashed through the door of the tavern they found it to be full of Zombies, and skulk zombies. The scream had come from one of the skulk zombies and not from some on in trouble. Realizing their mistake the group quickly backed out of the tavern to gain more room to fight, and at this point the trap was sprung. A hoard of zombies piled into the streets, over roofs, and out through windows. The party was surrounded.

Clearing the zombies out took a good deal of time, but the party was able to do it with only minimal damage. They had however expended most of their encounter powers and all of their available healing. At the conclusion of the battle, and before they could rest they noticed more heavy fog coming in from all sides. It became obvious to the group they had to hide or at least take refuge in one of the buildings. Looking over the area the tavern had the thickest doors and fewest windows, so it was an obvious choice.

Once inside the tavern the skill challenge started, but it was not announced. In the room there were multiple objects they could use to help them.

Table – could be propped against a door or window to give a +5 bonus to a strength check to hold them closed.

Barrels – could be stacked against doors or windows to give a +3 bonus.

In the store room –

Nails –  could be found with a perception check of 15 or higher, and used with dungeoneering check to nail the door closed, this would add +5 to the dungeoneering check to hold the doors closed.

Security bars – could also be found with a perception of 15 or higher, and installed with a dungeoneering check of 20 or higher. If the bars were installed no more check would need to be made to hold zombies from entering in through the windows.

An arcana check of 15 or higher would have told the party that the lock on the door was magical and could be activated with a check of 20 or higher. This would have prevented the zombies from entering for 1 round.Failure would cause the lock to cease to function altogether. The lock is destroyed by force after 1 round of it being successfully activated.

A religion check of 15 or higher would have made the player aware that some of the water in the store room was holy water. A religion check of 20 or higher would have allowed any divine character to bless the door for 1 round, keeping the zombies out for 1 round.  All available holy water would be used up in this attempt even in failure.

The skill checks.

As the group barricaded them selves in the room the zombie horde began bashing at the door, and breaking the windows.Each round the party was able to keep the zombies out they would be allowed to spend a healing surge. After the third round they would recover their encounter powers, and after the fifth round they would recover their daily powers. Failure to keep the zombies out would allow 1d6 zombie minions into the room through random entrances, the door and windows. Once the zombies were defeated they could seal them off and try the checks again.

To keep the doors and windows closed via strength it was a simple Athletics vs. strength, the player vs the zombie. Players rolled a D20 and added their athletics to the roll plus any bonuses from items they found in the tavern. Then the zombies would roll a D20 and add their strength bonus. If you have a have a strength based member holding the door I would use the Solo Zombies bonus, if not use the Skulk.

if they had barricaded the doors or nailed them shut they would receive proper bonuses to the checks.

If the arcane actions or the divine actions had been taken the party was granted 1 success for each.

Three failures resulted in a Solo Zombie smashing the door to bits and initiating combat.

Sadly my group only found the nails, and paid no attention to any of the other things I had set out for them. They did how ever go right to the ale and begin drinking. Using only the strength checks to hold the zombies out they were able to get their health back to full but did not regain their encounter powers. This did not mean the next fight was lost, just harder, allowing for failure to not mean death or defeat but more challenge.

So what do you think? If you like it feel free to use it in your own game, or parts of it. I’m pretty proud of my first attempt at a skill challenge. The DCs can be adjusted to meet any group, and you can add streetwise to figure out how to install the window bars if you want to broaden the skills used. I would also say Thievery could be used on the lock again at a DC 20 check.

Any and all feedback is welcome.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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