Put Skills to the Test with These 7 Challenge ScenariosWritten by Janna - Published on June 18, 2009
Picture by 1way2rock
Okay, I confess: As a kick-in-the-door-style gamer, sometimes I get a little bored when there’s no combat during a game session. But I know role-play is a beloved part of D&D, one that I really enjoy sometimes (as long as it furthers plot or PC development, and especially if it’s punctuated with a good smackdown at the end). My own DM has made some recent adjustments to our game, incorporating more role-play to suit the actors among us, while keeping enough action to occupy the combat twinks.
Challenges are a fun way to make your party members think outside the axe. They’re challenging enough to be interesting, and you can frame them with some entertaining role-play or combat encounters. Here are 7 challenge scenarios to get you started.
The Community Event
This could be a town festival, a traveling carnival, a temple celebration, or any occasion where tests of strength and skill would be appropriate. Fighters can engage in tests of strength. Rangers and rogues might enjoy knife-throwing and archery competitions. Anyone of any class can use their Perception to observe a shell game. You could put the party’s Endurance to the test with a drinking competition, or Acrobatics for log-rolling and other precarious events. (For a really good time, try drunken log-rolling!)
The New Town
It pays to be prepared! When the party ventures into new territory, make them roll the dice. You can use History checks to reveal significant historical facts about the place. Successful Religion checks can divulge the popular religions in the area, plus known rivalries and upcoming festivals. PCs who make their Arcana check can know the town’s attitude toward magic, as well as any magical landmarks in the town. Of course, Streetwise could come into play if the party wants to fish for more details.
The PCs have been hired to hunt down a terrible monster. They’ll need to make Nature checks to track it down (and, possibly, to know the monster’s lore). If it’s a magical or undead creature, Arcana or Religion checks could reveal vital details. If the creature likes to set traps, Thievery, Athletics and Acrobatics are necessary. Once inside the lair, Dungeoneering would be helpful. Of course, if the party wants to sneak up on the creature, they’ll need to make their Stealth checks.
A Sticky Situation
Perhaps the party has been accused of a crime. Maybe they’re trying to get themselves out of jail. Whatever the situation, they need to do some fast talking. Have them make Bluff and Diplomacy checks to convince others of their innocence. If you’ve got some good role-players in your group, make them act out the scene, then assign modifiers for especially clever (or cheesy) spiels.
Don’t forget to show your rogues some love! Sneak Attack bonuses are awesome, but rogues can do a lot more than shove pointy things into soft places. Challenge yours to a covert mission that requires them to ferret out information (Streetwise), tail a target (Stealth), disable traps and swipe a valuable object (Thievery), and even pass themselves off as someone else (Bluff).
Some horrific natural event (a tornado, earthquake, etc) has devastated a town. Many citizens are injured or sickened due to their exposure. The party can use Heal to aid the townsfolk. If the event is still occurring, have the party make Endurance checks to avoid injuries and illness of their own. If the sky is literally falling (meteors), the party could use Acrobatics to avoid injury, and Athletics to dig survivors out from the debris.
The party has taken someone prisoner. It’s time for the PCs to play Good Cop, Bad Cop! They could try to sweet-talk the information out of the prisoner (Diplomacy), scare it out of them (Intimidate), or threaten the prisoner with straight-up lies (Bluff). For characters with a dark side, Athletics might come into play. They’ll need to use Insight to determine if the prisoner is lying.
What’s your favorite kind of challenge? Have your players used their skills in surprisingly creative ways?