Skill Challenges (Example)

This is an example of a skill challenge I wrote up with a friend a few days ago. It is fourth edition D&D, the party is about 8th level, and at the beginning of the challenge, they are low on resources and fleeing from a pair of hags and two powerful displacer beasts. This is built on the no failures model where a failed check makes things harder or adds a complication instead of stopping the party from achieving their goals.

Skill Challenge: escape and regroup.
Phase One Breaking Contact with the bad guys
A “You have made good time leaving the hags’ lair, and you think that you might be able to take a short breather. You find a small glen a little off the path where you can rest, hopefully unobserved.

Hearing the pursuit at a distance. Perception Moderate DC

Success: Off in the distance you hear the sound of a great cat calling out a trail. It is unfortunately similar to the howls of the displacer beasts you were running from. Happily it sounds far enough away that you may still be able to lose it. (Go to A2)

Failure: You lean against the tree trunks, your whole world consumed by the sound of heavy breathing as you and your companions catch your breaths. You get the noise under control only to hear the crunch of a heavy branch breaking not too far away. You peer around the sheltering trees and you see, not 100 feet off, the displacer beasts and one of their hag masters. She sees you looking and she freezes for a moment before she screeches out a warning into the woods. (At this point the pcs should run) (Go to B)

A2 False Trails Nature Hard DC
You have enough lead time to try to lay a false trail and slow down the pursuing enemies.

Success You split the party, with the better climbers taking to the tree tops for a few hundred yards and the rest breaking a false trail. You end it in a creek that you exit with the aid of your more arborial companions.You continue along the main path, and shortly thereafter you hear your enemies following the false trail (The extra time allows the party to negate one failure now or any time in this phase or the next ) (Go to B)

Failure Unfortunately you don’t find a great place to lay a false trail, and the one you do set out only confuses your enemies for a few moments. You don’t lose any ground, but neither do you gain any. (Go to B)

B Gaining some ground Athletics DC Easy (group check The check is passed if half the party succeeds and failed if less than half succeed)

Success: You run full out along a stretch of the trail that is still in reasonably good condition. It allows you to make good time without leaving an extensive trail for your enemies to follow. After half an hour, you no longer hear the sounds of close pursuit, though you doubt that they gave up so easily. Unfortunately you lose the main trail in your flight. (The party gains a +5 bonus on the next check) (Goto C)

Failure Try as you might, you just can’t seem to open the distance between you and your pursuers. Unfortunately you lose the main trail in your flight.

C Breaking trail Nature Medium or Perception Hard “There is a deep ravine ahead. It cuts across your path and though you won’t be sure until you reach it, you suspect that it is too deep and wide to cross easily,”

You have managed to refind and follow the old trail to the ravine. Unfortunately it is more than a hundred feet wide and nearly 40 feet deep. Fortunately for you, you have managed to find an old decaying rope bridge to cross it. (Go to D)

You come to the ravine and it is definately too deep and too wide to cross. You never did refind the trail, but now you see where it intersects the creek, a quarter mile away. You make out a rope bridge in the distance. It would appear that your pursuers have managed to find some reinforcements, because a smaller displacer beast is prowling the edge of the ravine between you and the crossing (Fight scene. If the party finishes it within 10 rounds, they areable to cross with no problem.) (Go to D)

D The Bridge Acrobatics Medium or Athletics Hard “The bridge is worse than you thought it was. One of you is going to have to cross it alone in order to stabalize the structure in the face of the damage that weather and neglect have done it.

Success You have a few misstarts, but you quickly cross the bridge and secure your end of the safety line to a nearby tree. The remainder of the party crosses more easily with the addition of safe hand holds. Once the last of the party crosses the bridge, you rush back across and remove your guide line. A third crossing and you manage to cut the bridge’s rotting ropes just as your enemies reach the other side. The Hags scream in frustration and the displacer beasts roar (Go to E)

You slip and nearly fall twice during the crossing, but you finally make it to the other side. The adrenaline rush from your near misses makes it hard to secure the rope on your side, but you get it done and none too soon. The last party member is 3/4ths of the way across when the displacer beasts arrive. They both spring out onto the ropes, seemingly unbothered by the precarious footing. (last member) gets across and the rest of the party desperately cuts the ropes. One of the displacer beasts leaps across as the bridge starts to collapse, while the other is forced to leap back to the far side (Combat then Go to E)

E You are not sure how long it will be until your pursuers find another way across, but it seems likely that you will have plenty of time to find a safe place to rest and recover. (nature dc medium)

Success About three miles into the woods, you find a gargantuan downed tree that dell into a small dell. The clearing it created in its fall is overgrown with a dense thicket of young trees, making it a good place to hide and the giant trunk gives you a defensive position in case the do find you. (go to E2)

Failure You find a shallow limestone cave in a stream bank. It is sheltered and provides you with an adequate defensive position should your pursuers find you. (Goto F)

E2 The Shrine The fallen tree seems to have landed on some sort of shrine or obelisk. It is glowing with an inconstant faint blue aura. (Arcana Hard)

Success The monolith seems to have been the focus of a major spell of abjuration. You examine it closely, unable to figure out what it was originally. Your examination shifts it accidentally and the main body comes in contact with one of the broken shards. There is a bright flash and the blue glo rapidly expands past the edge of your sight. The stones themselves lay dead and inert on the ground. (The energies of the obelisk spread throughout the forest and linger for a few days. Magical creatures are irritated and distracted by it, allowing the party a better chance in a fight against them (free suprise round against hags and displacer beasts if they fight them in the next day. (goto F)

Failure, you make a mistake while examining the obelisk and its energy discharges safely into the ground. Whatever it was, it is lost now. Goto F

F Finding the bad guys:
Now that you are well rested, it is time for the hunters to become the hunted. (Nature Medium)

Success You backtrack your opponents. They seem to have spread out for the search and gathered some reinforcements. As well as the hags and the remaining dopplegangers, they seem to have a small force of (twig blights?) backing them up. The good news is that you can call the shots and either set up an ambush or try to attack them in smaller groups.

Failure You don’t find their trail, but just as you are getting ready to give up, you run almost directly into them. They have found reinforcements, so along the way they have come to number 2 hags X displacer beasts (1 or 2) and a small group of twig blights.

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