In the recent episode of The Tome Show, my DM (aka Sarah Darkmagic) built a skill challenge for us with the help of Mike from SlyFlourish. Here is her take on episode. I can’t vouch for the whole podcast as this is the first episode I listened to, but it was quite good so I’ve subscribed…. The Tome Show seems focused on DM’ing (the last couple of episodes have been about skill challenges). The discussion was particularly awesome for me and my group as we got to directly benefit from all these DMs collaborating on our adventure.
On the show they built an information-gathering skill challenge, which Tracy enhanced with a random rumor table to get things started. In designing the challenge they came up with several different ways for us to get to an NPC and then get the needed information out of him. What we didn’t realize when playing it out was: since we got a lot of information up front, we sorta combined them all into a single scenario in our minds, which was not the intent, but the DM went with it anyway. The challenge for us as a group is that because we are mostly high-Charisma characters so we usually crawl over each other to make the Diplomacy/Bluff checks. The way the challenge was designed, with multiple stages and avenues of exploration, allowed us to work together and split up the roles, instead of our usual conflict. For example, my character forged a note (Bluff) using advice from the rogue (Insight), and then handed the note off to the bard who gave it to a third party to deliver (Diplomacy).
This illustrates that a well crafted skill challenge and teamwork can get most of the people at a gaming involved. Unfortunately it did not work out well for the swordmage (see comments on the rumor table post). He felt left out of the challenge because we decided on that course of action which did not need his character’s assistance. The lesson learned, I think, is to make sure everyone gets a chance to participate in the challenge and brainstorm as a group on what actions a character can take, in light of the overall plan.
Also in the same episode, Quinn from At Will, discussed running skill challenges. I had the opportunity to play in one of his games, and I’ll be paying it forward next week when I DM for him in a homebrewed Arabian Nights game. I’m going to have a bit more of my DMing forays over the next weeks, but I’m going to try to keep my player focus with those posts. In particular, I followed my own advice and I crafted a backstory adventure for my regular character that I was supposed to run tonight, but I had to cancel because of work 😦