I have been trying to get a handle on Skill Challenges, although they are not officially in D&D 5e. I listened to the Critical Hit podcast for several years, and loved the way Rodrigo handled his Skill Challenges. I searched around the internet and found several quotes and ideas I blatantly copied and pasted into a private document. Then I decided to share them with my gaming group (if anyone ever gets around to reading this blog.)
My apologies to those whose work I copied. I wish I could give you all credit.
Skill challenges carry the narrative of the story forward in a manner that includes the players in the telling. Through participation in skill challenges players can work with the DM to craft the story. While the DM holds the power of the overall direction of the story by creating the challenge, players control the tiny details by how they react to the situation and what skills they use to overcome the obstacles presented. It’s a great collaborative system that ends up being a win-win.
Here is the essence of my rules.
- I will give you a scenario, and tell you each to pick a different Skill and describe how you are using it. *No duplicates.
- Everyone rolls, and majority determines Success or Fail.
*No Duplicates. No two people can use the same Skill or Feat in the same Turn. Nor can you use the same one you just used in the last Turn.
One of the rules I read considered Assisting another to grant them Advantage. I may add that later, but for now, I am not sure how to incorporate it. I want everyone to actively participate, rather than just tagging along with someone else.
Trinary logic. There are three possible outcomes: Pass, Pass-with-complication, or Pass-with-benefits. “Yes,” “Yes and,” or “Yes But.” Never “No.”
Plan for Failure: what if they fail at this? Is there a different overall outcome?
- Add complications. (Guards are alerted)
- Use up resources. (Health potions, healing surges, spell slots)
- Condition Effects (Exhausted or something)
Accomplish the feat, but it takes longer.
- Daytime now
- More guards
- Harder to sneak
- Some monsters are stronger
- Have to carry torches
- Days or weeks later
- Contact already sold his information; price has gone up
- Target has been tortured, now has to be healed or carried
- Caravan has left; you have to catch up
Failure shouldn't derail the plot. Failure shouldn’t be a penalty, but lead to a plot branch.