Tag Archives: skill challenges

Never split the party—except when it adds fun

Everyone who plays role-playing games learns the Dungeons & Dragons adage never split the party. In the hobby’s early days, when dungeon masters were referees and players chose difficulty by dungeon level, never splitting the party always made good strategy. … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

D&D next re-empowers DMs; players stay empowered

How much should the outcomes of the characters’ actions be decided by the game master instead of the rules? Before role-playing games, the rules of a game specified every action players could take, and then decided the outcome of each … Continue reading

Posted in D&D fifth edition, Role-playing game design | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Group scenes and mass confusion

In Dungeons & Dragons, the dungeon master assumes the role of every non-player character. As a DM, when I must portray two NPCs at once, I often see the players grow confused about who is talking. Certainly if I were … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The next skill challenge

(This concludes a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) How would a game activity like the skill challenge appear in D&D Next? First of all, D&D Next no longer attempts to center game play around the encounter as … Continue reading

Posted in D&D fifth edition | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Example: Finding the hidden chambers from Halaster’s Last Apprentice

(Part 6 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The first D&D Encounters season, Halaster’s Last Apprentice, included a skill challenge that works perfectly within the original conception of the skill challenge rules. “You make a perilous … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, D&D fourth edition | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Spinning a narrative around a skill challenge

(Part 5 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The Dungeon Master’s Guide 2’s example skill challenge shows the Dungeon Master responding to each success or failure in the traditional DM role─by telling the players what happens in the … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, D&D fourth edition | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 remakes the skill challenge

(Part 4 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) Just a year after fourth edition’s debut, the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 upended the original skill challenge. The new material makes just one specific revision to the original rules: … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, D&D fourth edition, Role-playing game design | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Speed factor, weapon armor class adjustments, and skill challenges

(Part 3 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons included lots of rules that no one uses: weapon speed factor, weapon armor class adjustments. A little of that tradition lived … Continue reading

Posted in D&D fourth edition, Role-playing game design | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The skill challenge: good intentions, half baked

(Part 2 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The forth edition rules make the encounter the central activity of the Dungeons & Dragons game. The Dungeon Master’s Guide says, “Encounters are the exciting part of … Continue reading

Posted in D&D fourth edition, Role-playing game design | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Evolution of the skill challenge

When Dungeons & Dragons fourth edition came out, I found a lot to like, and one thing I hated: the skill challenge mechanic—not the underlying idea of giving non-combat activities center stage, but the rules framework of the original skill challenge. As … Continue reading

Posted in D&D fourth edition, Role-playing game design, Role-playing game history | Tagged | 6 Comments