View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:09 pm



Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Skillet Points 
Author Message

Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:16 pm
Posts: 2855
Location: Crystal Lake, IL
Post Skillet Points
So over on CM they are having a discussion on Skill Challenges in 4e D&D. It is one of those things that I kinda like and kinda hate. Just when I think there is something there to work with, it runs smack dab into my style of play somehow...

One of the things that is constantly mentioned is how, like Combat, Skill Challenges give players a chance to fail at small pieces but succeed in larger goals. Think missing the goblins a bunch of times but, in the end, killing the raiding party of goblins before you die.

This made me think of what allows you to do that in Combat - Hit Points. Then I thought they should be Skill Hit Points. Then I shortened it to Skillet Points.

So what would this look like? Do games do this? I know all the way back in early Judges Guild stuff I can find rules for repartee and such. I can see having it based on class and level - so perhaps thieves get skillet points in traps and locks while magic-users get skillet points in reading and demonology. But then what?

_________________
The rules are my slave, not my master. - Old Geezer

I'm reaching out for something, touching nothing's all I ever do.

If you're interested in GaryCon


Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:23 pm
Profile E-mail

Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:28 pm
Posts: 1065
Post Re: Skillet Points
IMO, the ablative point abstraction is a poor fit for skill resolution. I think a saving throw, or a skill check, and or some RP and some DM fiat.
I like the concept of skill challenges just fine, the actuality not so much.


Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:43 pm
Profile E-mail

Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:56 am
Posts: 183
Post Re: Skillet Points
I think an implementation that gets as complex as combat would just be far too complicated to develop. Personally, I think that the structure of a challenge right now works fine. It's pretty straightforward and easy to modify into almost anything you want. The biggest problem with skill challenges, if you ask me, is WotC adventure-writing: I've not read a single fucking adventure that's had a good skill challenge in it.

Every skill challenge that I've run and been happy with has been either blatantly stolen from Piratecat, or I've riffed around with people online on how to make them a bit more interesting. All of them call for a lot of DM fiat and player creativity to make them more than just an exercise in dice-rolling.

I like skill challenges, simply because I have a simple framework to build off of when adjudicating non-combat stuff.

I need to revisit this post when I'm not falling asleep at my keyboard. Poke me if I disappear, will you?


Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:54 am
Profile E-mail

Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:43 am
Posts: 240
Post Re: Skillet Points
The "three failures" part of a skill challenge are essentially it's hit points.

The main way I do skill challenges now is the long term version: a skill challenge might involve searching or exploring an entire dungeon level for a certain thing- the current adventure I'm running has 4 levels (and some keyed surface areas, so almost like a 5th level). Each level requires finding a "touchstone" to open the next level. Different rooms or encounters might be points in the challenge. And if I end up with unused successes by the time the group locates the touchstone, those are reduced down to a sub-skill challenge to unlock the touchstone itself.

The trick is- you don't run it all at once. And you have both success and failure results in mind (or you are able to improvise). In this case- success is opening the next level down. Failure has to be interesting- a good rule of thumb is to make it as interesting or more interesting than success. This usually means an encounter or complication.

Another example: In my Underdark campaign, the group had just infiltrated an enemy drow manse and stole an important ritual component. On the way back- they had split up, with the swiftest and stealthiest making their own way back to their base, and leaving the group of 4 to make their own way back on a more conventional route.

Dice rolls went badly and even though they (1 success) avoided detection on the way out of the drow area, they ended up lost in a Faezress (disorienting anti-magic) area (2 failures wandering around in the maze). Finally, the fey pact warlock located a way through an area ruled by some fey, which was going fine until they had to edge their way along a shallow ledge, one by one. One of the rogues and the priestess ended up falling (which collectively constituted their third fail- group checks require more than half of the party to succeed at a check).

Which kicked off the "fail result"... which happened to be an encounter.

So what I had was the 2 falling adventurers end up bouncing down a mushroom strewn ravine to an area where there were some hidden tombs- leaving them prone and stunned (aka "knocked out") and losing a surge. At this point, we hadn't gotten the battle map out, and I don't have a map of the entire Great Bhaerynden region of the underdark of course, so I improvised the map.

The other rogue and they fey warlock made their way down the ravine by a safer route and just about the time they got to the edge of the battle map, I had the stunned characters wake up, still prone, and then the actual encounter- a hostile ghost NPC (using stats of a mourning haunt- level 3 solo lurker) and a pair of undead harpy skeletons (higher level minions).

The reason I am going into this detail is because that's the fail result of a skill challenge- two PCs started that encounter prone and (lost a surge each for the fall) right in front of the monster, while the other two PCs are on the far edge of the map.

If the PCs had succeeded on the skill challenge, I might have still used the exact same tomb encounter, but instead of falling into it- they could have found the area, and perhaps avoided it, or stealthed into the area, or approached the ghost more as an NPC than a villain.

In the end, they managed to kill the harpy skeletons and they fled the ghost, but not before finding out more details about her. I also gave quest cards out for later: "Enmity of Queen Faenril"- with multiple possibilities: kill Queen Faenril- 125 xp. Turn Queen Faenril from an enemy into an ally- 250 xp.


Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:45 am
Profile E-mail

Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:56 am
Posts: 183
Post Re: Skillet Points
Now that I'm not trying to form coherent thoughts while falling asleep at the keyboard, and there's been another reply, I'll try again:


I agree with pseckler that the general format of the challenge already gives it enough "hit points" in whatever failure mechanic that you decide to use.  In my Collapse campaign (that'd be the title of the one we ran last year, Jim), I ran a number of different kinds of skill challenges, including the standard 3 strikes and you're out ones, as well as a few alternate systems--namely the last chase that you guys were on, through the streets of Fallcrest.  (You basically added the results of the skill checks together, and won the challenge by getting a a large target number (200 or so, I think is what I set it at) and there were various complications at other target numbers)


The problem is not the structure of skill challenges, it's how people are trying to use them in game. If WotC can put out more good examples of them, I'd be thrilled.  There's a few great non-standard ones in the DMG2, and Piratecat does some absolutely awesome stuff with them (I'll look up some examples when I'm not at work), but in so many of their official examples, the challenges are just dull, weird little things.


Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:41 am
Profile E-mail

Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:20 pm
Posts: 71
Post Re: Skillet Points
Hope the idea pans out.


Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:05 pm
Profile E-mail

Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:56 am
Posts: 183
Post Re: Skillet Points
The pun police are coming for you, opimus, and they will not be kind. I almost groaned out loud after that one.


Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:44 pm
Profile E-mail

Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:16 pm
Posts: 2855
Location: Crystal Lake, IL
Post Re: Skillet Points
I had completely forgotten about the total points one where we had to get to 200. Thanks for reminding me, Trev!

Trevalon Moonleirion wrote:
The problem is not the structure of skill challenges, it's how people are trying to use them in game. If WotC can put out more good examples of them, I'd be thrilled.  There's a few great non-standard ones in the DMG2, and Piratecat does some absolutely awesome stuff with them (I'll look up some examples when I'm not at work), but in so many of their official examples, the challenges are just dull, weird little things.

I tend to agree in the broadest sense - that is, I think there's something there, in the structure that gets lost somewhere. For example:
pseckler wrote:
The main way I do skill challenges now is the long term version...

...The trick is- you don't run it all at once. And you have both success and failure results in mind (or you are able to improvise)....Failure has to be interesting- a good rule of thumb is to make it as interesting or more interesting than success. This usually means an encounter or complication...

...The reason I am going into this detail is because that's the fail result of a skill challenge- two PCs started that encounter prone and (lost a surge each for the fall) right in front of the monster, while the other two PCs are on the far edge of the map.

If the PCs had succeeded on the skill challenge, I might have still used the exact same tomb encounter, but instead of falling into it- they could have found the area, and perhaps avoided it, or stealthed into the area, or approached the ghost more as an NPC than a villain.

This sounds like a...more interesting...use of the structure. I suspect more than a couple of old school folks might see it as being familiar or renaming what they did for years. But sometimes it can be beneficial for others to have it laid out in a system.

But I don't recall it being described this way. Was this an example I missed somewhere along the way? And I'd be willing to bet there are other interesting ways to use the abstracted structure even in other editions/games.

_________________
The rules are my slave, not my master. - Old Geezer

I'm reaching out for something, touching nothing's all I ever do.

If you're interested in GaryCon


Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:57 pm
Profile E-mail

Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:16 pm
Posts: 2855
Location: Crystal Lake, IL
Post Re: Skillet Points
opimus wrote:
Hope the idea pans out.

It fries me when you're this saucy, opimus.

Trevalon Moonleirion wrote:
The pun police are coming for you, opimus, and they will not be kind.

...out of the frying pan, into the fire...

_________________
The rules are my slave, not my master. - Old Geezer

I'm reaching out for something, touching nothing's all I ever do.

If you're interested in GaryCon


Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:01 pm
Profile E-mail

Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:56 am
Posts: 183
Post Re: Skillet Points
One of the examples in the DMG2 was very, very abstracted--a complex skill challenge for navigating a draconian city under the nose of the forces loyal to the slavers who run the city. Great book that's worth a flip through at least once, by the way.

Since I mentioned it before, here are some of the awesome things that I've seen people do with skill challenges:

Defend a position while a spellcaster learns a magical ritual:
http://www.enworld.org/forum/4e-discuss ... s-plz.html

Fun courtesy of Piratecat (I lost the original link, so here's the relevant quote):
Quote:
In that 4e one-shot ("The Caprian Foreign Legion Goes to Tea") I tried two skill challenge variants. The first involved the PCs desperately trying not to be buried alive in shifting sand. I used a 4 success/3 failure model at very hard DCs, but against limited skills (athletics, acrobatics, nature, dungeoneering, + more if the players could rationalize it.) Thing is, everyone had their own challenge. They could help one another if they chose, though; by sacrificing up to a -8 on their check, they could give half of those points to someone else. Thus as an example, the agile fighter once took -8 to give the gnome bard +4 on their check, pushing the bard out of the way of a collapsing dune (a success) but causing the fighter to be partially buried (a failure.) This went really well, but a separate challenge for everyone meant that I had to move things fast. I went around the table each round, and noted down successes or failures on the heroes' initiative cards. The group worked together to help the people who had multiple failures, and described their actions really cinematically and entertainingly. If it had been more than a 4/3 challenge, though, it would have gone on for too long.
The other skill challenge was a chase against the bad guy. The PCs were on 3 flying carpets (2 people per carpet), and the bad guy was on one. The bad guy had a head start. I handled this by having the driver of each carpet make an acrobatics or arcana check as a full round action to steer the carpet at high speed; the second rider could roll an assist or make a ranged attack, and if the driver wanted to attack their movement results were halved. I recorded these skill check numbers for each carpet. The bad guy was going to be able to do something awful if he reached a total of 200 before the PCs caught up. He had a 50 pt head start, so the PCs were taking risky shortcuts to try and get additional bonuses on their rolls. Example: At the start of the chase carpet #1 rolls an acrobatics skill check of 31, +2 for an assist, = 33. Carpet #2 rolls an 18, and the second rider casts a spell at the enemy. Carpet #3 rolls a 26 but wants both PCs on it to attack as a standard action instead of steer, so they get a 26/2=13. The bad guy rolls a 25 for his check, and he had a 50 point head start, so he's at 75. They better catch up before he hits 200!
I liked how this felt. It provided a method for chasing someone without using a tactical grid, gave real value to the PCs' choices (I might increase the "aid another" bonus next time so the 2nd PC's choice matters more), and let everyone try cinematic stunts like leaping from one carpet to another. A win all around.


Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:07 pm
Profile E-mail
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 11 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware.