Sunday, 10 February 2013

Linking Combat and Skill Challenge

Dominic Matte
For a session I ran recently, I wanted to have a chase scene where the party needs to stop a spy who's gathered information on them. Long story short, a trap was set for the party at the bar by the military police, and once the agent realized he'd been spotted, he ran for the fort, starting a bar fight to cover his escape. 

I ran the encounter as a combat followed by a skill challenge, with the challenge's victory conditions determined by the result of the combat.

The fight was a fairly standard bar brawl. The players were in the back of the room away from the two exits, and there were about a dozen guys to get through, who would fight the characters closest to them.

The trick is that the number of failures permitted by the skill challenge is directly determined by how long it takes the party to escape the bar and get on the trail of the spy. The number of failures allowed is 5 minus the number of rounds the party uses to get out of the tavern. During Thursday's session, the party managed to get to the street in 2 rounds - Kalgar the dragonborn paladin used a wizard-enhanced leap to jump clear over half the fighters and ran for the door, while Tong the monk punched through the wall to create an exit for himself and Alvyn the wizard. A 2-round escape meant that the skill challenge required 6 successes before 3 failures (5 - 2 = 3).

If you run something like this, you should tell the players what's happening before they start the bar fight (or whatever). Make it clear that the goal is to escape, and not to KO everyone in the tavern. 

My players seemed to enjoy it. Putting a time constraint on the bar fight added suspense for the chase. I thought this was a fun scenario that blended combat tactics and skills.

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