The following “Skill Challenges of War” was written by Michael Brewer, Jonathan Jacobs, and Quinn Murphy, and I’m reposting it here since the original online posts appear to have been taken offline. It’s fully of interesting ideas, even if not using D&D 4th edition skill challenges…
POWERS OF WAR
Players can expend powers to get bonuses to a skill check. When expending powers, have the players describe how the power is being used. No bonus is gaints for expending At-Will powers. A +1 bonus is gained for expending an encounter power. If a player expends a daily power, he receives a +3 bonus to his skill check.
BLOOD FROM STONE
Facing overwhelming odds, the players gamble with their lives to hold back the tide of enemy forces. The party can elect for a member of the group to take damage equal to their healing surge value in exchange for a +2 bonus on an individual skill check by any other member of the group. This action can be taken more than once for the same skill check, and can occur after the die is cast but before the skill check is resolved.
DIPLOMATIC MISSION RECONNAISSANCE
You have been sent on a diplomatic mission to secure assurances against aid to your enemy and possibly forge a treaty in alliance between your nations. However, your superiors do not trust this nation to keep its word and you have been given special instructions to gather “additional” information.
The PCs must discover the true intentions of the nation they are visiting under the guise of diplomats. This will include uncovering troop movements, assignments, and intercepting any communication between this nation and your enemy. This skill challenge is left fairly open so that the Dungeon Master can dictate where the nation’s interests lie.
Setup: You must uncover as much information about your host’s true intentions before you are discovered.
Level: Equal to the level of the party.
Complexity: 1 (requires 4 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Bluff, History, Stealth, Thievery.
Bluff (Moderate DCs): You use your charm and diplomat status to open up the lips of a few officials revealing recent visitors of state as well as current troop locations.
History (Easy DCs): You brushed up on this nation’s history before the mission and you are aware of that this nation needs to import several key natural resources. You can easily check the source of these materials at the market to see if your enemy is currently trading with this nation.
Stealth (Moderate DCs): You sneak into the courts at night to discover if anyone is having clandestine meetings with enemy officials and to eavesdrop on important members of state.
Thievery (Hard DCs): You break into the military headquarters to find documents that may inform you about training, movements, and future operations. Failing this approach ends the skill challenge and the nation becomes hostile if it was not already so.
Success: The PCs have uncovered enough information to ascertain the general intentions of the nation; they receive a major advantage in the next skill challenge that involves this nation and the war effort.
Failure: The PCs failed to gather enough information to determine the nation’s intentions.
RALLY THE TROOPS
The troops hang their heads low and shuffle about the bivouac. The low murmur of muttered complaints and the dejected talk of defeat and worse resonate through the camp. You must reinvigorate the morale of your troops if anyone hopes to survive the next battle.
The unit attached to the PCs is suffering from low morale due to [insert reason appropriate to your campaign here: poor food, defeat/retreat, weather, time, etc.]. The players need to rally their troops if they hope to be successful during the impending [insert event appropriate to your campaign here: assault, siege, march, charge, etc.].
Setup: You must squash the fear and depression that have overcome the troops by inspiring them with hope and confidence.
Level: The PCs’ level +1.
Complexity: 2 (requires 6 success before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight, Religion.
Bluff (Hard DCs): You try to relieve the troops of their concerns by obscuring the truth about the size, skill, and tactics of the opposing forces and embellishing your own strengths. While lying about the truth of the matter may jumpstart the troops’ spirits, you also risk demoralizing them even more if they see through your scheming. A failure closes off this approach and increases the DCs of other checks to hard for the duration of the challenge.
Diplomacy (Moderate DCs): You make an inspiring speech about how your cause, emphasizing your troops’ strengths, remarking on past heroic deeds, and giving hope. You speak about unity and brotherhood and try to get the troops motivated.
Insight (Moderate DCs): You try to discover what worries your troops the most, the biggest dissenters (and silence them), and what will be the best motivation for your forces. This approach may only be attempted once. A success on this approach not only counts as a success but also confers a +2 bonus to the next check. A failure on this approach not only counts as a failure but also confers a -2 penalty to the next check.
Religion (Moderate DCs): You have the chaplain perform a ceremony to bless the troops on their future endeavors. The troops either take heart the gods are with them or on a failure are convinced that the gods have turned their backs on them.
Success: The PCs have managed to boost the spirits of their troops and they are much more motivated to take on the next event in the war/battle. This success will mean the PCs have a minor advantage in the next skill challenge that includes these troops.
Failure: The PCs have failed to rally the troops so they are not motivated to continue. This means the PCs will have a minor disadvantage in the next skill challenge that involves these troops.
This skill challenge offers a little more complexity and variations. I would recommend this both as a story element but also as an option to give players before milestone skill challenges of war to improve their chances.
AND THE BODY WILL DIE
The enemy commander is in sight. If you can get to him, you can slay the enemy by taking its heart. The only thing that stands in your way is his troops and his elite bodyguards. It is an ancient doctrine of war that if you kill the head…
Setup: Reach the Enemy Commander before three failures are acquired. This skill challenge makes use of the Powers of War feature (see Table 2 in chapter 2).
Level: The PCs’ level +4.
Complexity: 5 (10 successes before three failures)
Primary Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Endurance, History, Intimidate, Perception. Special: Clever Tactics, Full-On Assault.
Bluff (hard DC): You use clever battlefield trickery to put the enemy in difficult positions. +2 to your next skill check. You can achieve a maximum of one success with this skill.
Diplomacy (hard DC): You inspire your own troops so that they will fight with increased fervor. You can achieve a maximum of two successes with this skill.
Endurance (hard DC): Hard fought battles are won by those still standing. You will not be the first to fall. You can achieve a maximum of one success with this skill.
History (moderate DC): Your knowledge of tactics can be put to use right now. You can achieve a maximum of one success with this skill.
Intimidate (hard DC): As the battle rages, you make your challenge known to the commander. You also make it known that you have no time for his minions. You can achieve a maximum of one success with this skill.
Perception (hard DC): You survey the field and adjust to new realities on the ever-unfolding field of battle. You can achieve a maximum of one success with this skill.
Clever Tactics (Intelligence+4 versus (troop will+4): Your troops fight with bravery and wit, flanking and countering your foe’s every move. If you fail this check, everyone in your party loses two healing surges.
Full-On Assault (Basic melee attack vs. (troop AC+2)): You and your troops fight valiantly to push forward. If you fail this check, your party loses two healing surges.
Success: You reach the enemy commander and prepare to do battle with him.
Failure: The party is still stuck in the thick of battle. The enemy commander continues to wreak havoc on the battlefields with his strategies and abilities
FLUSH OUT A SPY
No matter what sly, clever, or inventive tactics and strategies you employ, the enemy seems to know every move. You are convinced that one of your officers is a spy for the enemy and you need to flush him out before you plan your next offensive.
The PCs must employ counter intelligence, extract information from prisoners, and use their instincts to uncover the spy in their midst to ensure their next battle does not meet with failure.
Setup: You must ferret out a spy in your ranks that is leaking intelligence to the enemy before you devise your next move.
Level: The PCs’ level +1.
Complexity: 3 (requires 8 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Bluff, Insight, Intimidate, Streetwise.
Bluff (Hard DCs): You set up a Canary Trap by feeding different versions of sensitive information to your officers to see which version is leaked to the enemy. A failure on this approach earns a cumulative -5 penalty on future attempts of this approach as the spy becomes more wary of your methods.
Insight (Hard DCs): You converse with your officers and troops to discover who may have something that may be used as leverage over them (friends, family, or possessions), who may not believe in the cause, and other general indications of reasons for spying.
Intimidate (Moderate DCs): Your forces managed to capture an enemy courier crossing the frontlines. You use some persuasion techniques to extract details about your spy. This approach may only be attempted once.
Streetwise (Moderate DCs): You ask “sympathetic” criminal organizations if they have acquired any information about who the spy may be. Each attempt at this approach yields a cumulative -2 penalty as contact with such organizations becomes more difficult.
Success: The PCs have found the operative and have secured a minor advantage for the next battle. If the PCs were successful using the canary trap (Bluff), then instead they have a major advantage.
Failure: The PCs still do not know who the spy is or how they are getting their information. The PCs have a major disadvantage in their next battle against the enemy.
BREAK THE SIEGE
The enemy sits beyond the walls of the city, slowly choking it to death by denying supplies. Soon disease will take root, rotting the city from within. The task falls upon your shoulders to break the siege and obtain fresh supplies before hunger and plague weakens your forces, leaving the city defenseless against the inevitable assault.
The PCs must secure a supply line into the besieged city before hunger, plague, and fear wreaks havocs upon it. If the PCs fail in their task, the enemy may not even need to fight to take the city and the PCs may not be in any condition to prevent it.
Setup: You must use all your resources to break the siege and obtain supplies before famine and pestilence take their toll. This skill challenge makes use of the Powers of War and Blood from Stone features (see entries in chapter 2).
Level: The PCs’ level +2.
Complexity: 5 (requires 12 successes before 4 failures).
Primary Skills: Arcana, Dungeoneering, Heal, Nature, Stealth, Streetwise.
Arcana (Hard DCs): You meet with the clerics, sorcerers, and wizards of the city to discuss methods of procuring supplies via arcane device. Possibilities conjuration, teleportation, polymorphing, and perhaps even summon extra-planar entities. Each attempt at this approach needs to look at a different arcane method and accrues a cumulative -1 penalty as ideas get harder to come by.
Dungeoneering (Hard DCs): You look to subterranean pathways to re-establish the supply trains. A failure means you cannot attempt this approach again because you have encountered something worse than the conventional enemy outside your walls and must secure any entrances leading to the sewers or the underdark.
Heal (Moderate DCs): You keep an eye out for citizens infected with disease to quarantine and treat them. This approach is mandatory and must be attempted three times. The PCs could attempt to persuade (using Diplomacy or Intimidate) local religious orders to perform these checks as well.
Nature (Moderate DCs): You look into growing and gathering fruits, vegetables, and nuts in or from the city parks, palace courtyards, and private gardens. The PCs may only attempt this approach once.
Stealth (Hard DCs): You attempt to sneak supplies into the city under the cover of darkness, inclement weather, or by posing as the enemy. A failure with this approach means the PCs were discovered and lose 1 healing surge worth of hit points in the resulting combat.
Streetwise (Moderate DCs): You canvas the city looking for surplus from citizens, businesses, and organizations (criminal or otherwise). Each attempt at this approach results in a cumulative -3 penalty as it surplus becomes scarcer and even more difficult to ferret out.
Success: The PCs managed to fend off disease, hunger, and the enemy until reinforcement arrived and together routed the enemy. This skill challenge could very well be used as an “end game” for the war or as a pre-curser to the final, epic confrontation. If the latter is true, success on this skill challenge represents a major advantage for the next battle.
Failure: The PCs failed to obtain enough resources to survive the siege. Starvation has set in and the victims of disease can be found burning in great piles about the city. Fires, either deliberately set or spread from funeral pyres, continue to burn in several districts. The PCs lose half their maximum number of healing surges in damage as they starve or suffer from disease (leaving them with at least 1 hit point and 0 healing surges). They also have a major disadvantage in the next skill challenge of the war.
HOLDING THE LINE
The position you and your company hold has significant strategic importance. You must hold your position while facing overwhelming odds until additional reinforcements arrive.
The PCs are responsible for holding the line or maintaining control of a specific location on an active battlefield. Although they may be in command of a small company of soldiers, they are likely to be significantly outnumbered by the enemy and have decided to hunker down to defend their location, if need be, with their lives. In addition, the players are encouraged to use the supplemental skills Powers of War and Blood from Stone to mitigate the skill challenge.
Setup: You must defend your position long enough for reinforcements to arrive. This skill challenge makes use of the Powers of War and Blood from Stone features (see entries in chapter 2).
Level: The PCs’ level +1.
Complexity: 3 (8 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Athletic, Bluff, Endurance, Heal, Intimidate, Perception. Special: Defensive Stations.
Athletics (Hard DC): The hurry yourself and the defending company into ideal defensive positions before the enemy makes their first attempt at breaking the line. Success provides a +2 bonus on the next skill check and serves as a success for the overall skill challenge. The enemy cannot, however, be fooled this way more than once.
Bluff (Hard DC): You feign defeat and bait the enemy to advance carelessly on your position. Once they move in, you spring the trap and your company launches a well executed surprise counterattack that drives the enemy out from your location and hampers their future efforts. A success counts as two successes for the overall skill challenge. A failure counts towards the overall skill challenge and costs each player a healing surge in addition.
Endurance (Moderate DC): Overcoming exhaustion, you press back against the surging enemy forces and stand your ground. You cannot use this skill in this way more than once for this skill challenge.
Heal (Moderate DC): You manage to heal the wounded in your company during an unexpected lull in the battle. A success restores one healing surge to each member of the party and counts towards the overall skill challenge. A failure counts towards the overall skill challenge and prevents its use again as the enemy sees that you are down and vulnerable.
Intimidate (Hard DC): You rally your spirits and put on a strong show of force. Even while facing overwhelming odds, you manage to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy. They retreat for a time, while they regroup and prepare for the next attack. A failure prevents this skill from being used in this way again.
Perception (Moderate DC): Your keen senses find way to best use your terrain and environment for defense. Using this skill does not count as a success or failure for the challenge, but instead provides a +2 bonus or –2 penalty to the next character’s skill check.
Defensive Stations (Basic melee attack vs. Moderate DC): You and your troops fight valiantly and hold their ground.
Success: Reinforcements arrive or you have successfully driven back the enemy. The location you were defending is now secure and does not run any immediate risk of falling into enemy hands.
Failure: The enemy has overrun you and your company. You fail to hold your defensive position and must retreat to a safer location.
A FORCEFUL SEIZURE
The players have been tasked to capture an item of great significance for the war effort. The only problem is that it’s in the enemy camp.
Setup: Capture the item by infiltrating the enemy camp before accumulating three failures.
Complexity: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures).
Level: The PCs’ level +1.
Primary Skills: Athletics, Arcana, Bluff, Endurance, History, Insight, Intimidate, Perception, Stealth. Special: Full-On Assault, Outmaneuver.
Arcana (moderate DC): You can sense the item’s presence, and direct your companions to it. You can achieve a maximum of one success with this skill.
Athletics (hard DC): You must move as quickly as you can to capture the item. You can achieve a maximum of two successes with this skill.
Bluff (moderate DC): You create a distraction to get the enemy looking for something else, somewhere else. You receive a +2 to your next Outmaneuver check. You can achieve a maximum of two successes with this skill.
Endurance (hard DC): Sometimes you must outlast your foe. Patience will give you the opportunity you need. You receive a +2 to your next Stealth check. You can achieve a maximum of two successes with this skill.
Insight (moderate DC): The troops are most likely distracted by other matters, and you plan to use that to your advantage. You receive a +2 to your next Bluff or Stealth check. Use of this skill does not count towards success or failure accumulation. This skill can only be attempted twice.
Intimidate (hard DC): You convince a guard that you are too important to impede. You receive a +2 to your next Bluff check. You can achieve a maximum of one success with this skill and a success counts as two successes.
History (moderate DC): Your knowledge of the area allows your plans to be more effective. You can achieve a maximum of one success with this skill.
Perception (moderate DC): You take a moment to survey the area before taking your next move. +2 to your next Athletics or Full-On Assault check. Use of this skill does not count towards success or failure accumulation. This skill can only be attempted twice.
Stealth (hard DC+4): Like ghosts, you slip past your enemy towards your goal. If you fail this check, a Full-On Assault check must be made immediately after. A success with this skill counts as two successes.
Full-On Assault (Basic melee attack vs. (troop AC+2)): You decide to take the enemy full on, charging in. If you fail this check, everyone in the party loses two healing surges. A success with this skill counts as two successes.
Outmaneuver (Intelligence+4 vs. (troop will)): You move past the enemy before they can regroup. If you fail this check, the entire party loses two healing surges. A success with this skill counts as two successes.
Success: You find the item and escape.
Failure: You are unable to procure the item, and are captured by the enemy.
QUICK, BEFORE THEY REPORT TH THE EMENY!
In this skill challenges, the PC’s forces have just found enemy scouts. If the scouts are not caught, they will report back to the enemy with dire consequences. The scouts must be stopped at all costs. While there are multiple scouts in the skill challenge, you can easily break the challenge up a long the length of a campaign or use more or less scouts in one challenge. Hope you enjoy!
Setup: You are aware of enemy scouts around you base. You must find and capture them before they report to the enemy.
Complexity: Variable (success will depend on successful scout searches before acquiring three failures).
Level: The PCs’ level +1 for each scout above three.
There are three scouts for the players to capture. Each Pursuit consists of two stages, “The Search” and “The Chase”. The Search succeeds as long as the players make at least one successful check, but The Chase fails if there are any failures. When the players reach three total failures, the skill challenge ends — the players have gotten so out of sorts that the scouts easily can escape.
The GM can extend or shorten this counter by having more or less scouts to be found. You can also run the skill challenge across multiple encounters, having the PCs hunt scouts at different parts of the adventure.
The enemy scouts are cunning, but you are resolute as you stalk carefully.
Goal: Gain at least one success out of two skill checks. If no successes are gained, this scout has gotten away before you find him. If only one success is gained, the party suffers a -2 to skill checks during “The Chase”.
Primary Skills: Athletics, Bluff, Insight, Nature, Perception, Stealth.
Athletics (hard DC): You move quickly from place to place, hoping to outpace the scout and force him to make an error.
Bluff (moderate DC): You feign cluelessness to appeal to the scout’s arrogance, so that he may reveal himself.
Insight (hard DC): Where would you hide if you were the enemy? Over behind that rock, probably.
Nature (moderate DC): Your knowledge of the terrain will be a key factor in finding the scout.
Perception (moderate DC): Your sharp eyes miss nothing as you scan the surrounding environ for the scout.
Stealth (moderate DC): As sly as the scout is, you are even sneakier.
Now that you have spotted the enemy, you must capture him.
Goal: Acquire two successes before one failure. The first failure allows the enemy scout to get away.
Primary Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance, Intimidate, Perception.
Athletics (moderate DC): With determination and fervor, you run after the enemy.
Acrobatics (moderate DC): You gain ground quickly as you tumble through areas the scout can or will not.
Endurance (moderate DC): The scout can’t run forever, but you can. You’ll be right on him when he slows.
Perception (hard DC): You can tell from here the path that the scout will take, and will attempt to cut him off.
Intimidate (moderate DC): You shout a bold threat that gives the scout pause.
Partial Success: You have caught some of the scouts, but others have returned safely to their home. You’re not sure what it is the enemy now knows.
Success: All scouts have been caught, so your force’s secrets are safe, for now.
Failure: The enemy has all the information it needs to dismantle your forces. It is time to come up with new plans and to prepare for the worst.
AMBUSH THE SUPPLY TRAIN
A major offensive is expected in the morning. Your commander has ordered you to find, and possibly ambush, the supply caravan for the enemy forces before nightfall. You assemble your company and get to work immediately.
The PCs, and an assumed company of soldiers under their command, have been tasked with finding and hopefully destroying an important supply route for the enemy army. They have less than one-day to complete this task, and cannot expect reinforcements to arrive to assist them. Once found, a subsequent Skill Challenge of War or a combat encounter may follow to determine if the supply train is destroyed, captured, or if it reaches the enemy forces.
Setup: You must find the enemy supply train before night falls and the supplies reach the main body of the enemy army.
Level: The PCs’ level +1.
Complexity: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Diplomacy, History, Insight, Perception, Nature, Stealth.
Diplomacy (Hard DC): Seeking information from local war refugees, you manage to get lucky and find one that knows the location of the enemy supply caravan’s previous overnight camp. This information aids you and your company in finding the caravan. A success provides a +2 bonus on any Perception or Insight check made to find caravan’s current location as it moves towards its destination, in addition to being counted as a success for the challenge. If this is attempted more than once, word spreads to enemy spies who feed the PCs misinformation and it counts as an automatic failure.
History (Hard DC): You look to your previous experience fighting this enemy, or seek advice from seasoned members of your company. A success indicates you can reasonably predict a few limited routes that the enemy might take through the region, giving their training and outfitting.
Insight (Moderate DC): Your keen knowledge of the enemy mind gives you a solid hunch on how the supply train would make its approach to the enemy army’s main body.
Perception (Moderate DC): Mounted scouts from your company (or possibly the PCs) are sent out to search for the caravan. If the caravan has already been found, then this skill could be used to find an appropriate location ahead of its path to lay an ambush.
Nature (Hard DC): You believe your knowledge of the terrain of this region may provide an advantage in stopping the supply train from succeeding. A success provides a +2 bonus to your next skill check; while a failure proves detrimental with -2 penalty. This use of Nature can only be attempted once for this challenge.
Stealth (Hard DC): Once the supply caravan is found, you decide to lay a trap ahead of its current position and lay in waiting for it to arrive. A success is counted twice for the overall skill challenge, whereas a failure indicates the supply train’s forward scouts discovered your trap and change course. It thus counts as a failure, and you receive a -2 penalty on your next skill check to lay an ambush.
Success: The PCs managed to locate the supply train in time to set up an appropriate ambush. The Skill Challenge should be followed by a level +1 combat encounter. If no failures occurred during this challenge, then the PCs should be given a +3 bonus to their initiative rolls and the enemy should be considered completely surprised for one full round at the start of combat.
Failure: The PCs were either not able find the supply train, and the enemy was reinforced prior to the major offensive the following day. The DM may decide on a war modifier penalty for future Skill Challenges of War that depended on the success of this challenge.
FORCING A SURRENDER
You vastly outnumber the enemy, but they have managed to build an effective defensive perimeter and are not going to surrender easily. Your choices are to completely annihilate them at a potential great cost to your own soldiers’ lives, or force them to surrender through by other means.
The PCs and their company have managed to corner the enemy, although the final stretch of victory escapes their grasp. The enemy has holed up in defensive location that has proved nearly impossible to force them out of. The PCs must decide to either make one last and bloody push towards victory, or suddenly change tactics and possibly get the enemy to lay down their arms.
Setup: You must get the enemy to abdicate their position either by destroying them or forcing surrender.
Level: The PCs’ level +1.
Complexity: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight, Intimidate, Stealth.
Bluff (Hard DC): The PCs and their forces feign a withdrawal from the area in the hopes of drawing the enemy out into the open. A success indicates the enemy sends a scouting party out to assess the situation. If the PCs choose to continue baiting them, then this opens up a Stealth check to remain undetected and possibly bring forth the entire enemy force from their positions. Alternatively, if the scouting party is attacked and destroyed, this counts as a second automatic success for the challenge and provides a +2 bonus to the next skill check. A failed Bluff check indicates the enemy senses your ruse and continues to defend their position. A failure also places a -2 penalty on any future attempts at using Bluff in this way.
Diplomacy (Moderate DC): After heavy losses on both sides, the PCs decide to parlay with the enemy to attempt a reasonable discourse. A failure using this method indicates the enemy is either willing to fight to the death, or that they do not trust the PCs enough to lay down their arms. A success not only counts towards the challenge, but also opens up Insight to be used for additional successes.
Insight (Moderate DC): The PCs skill with negotiations proves an advantage and they manage to gain some key insight into the enemy’s motivations or goals. A success does not count towards the challenge, but allows the next use of Diplomacy to count as either two successes or no failures (on a failed Diplomacy check).
Intimidate (Hard DC): The PCs and their company make a terrifying show of force just beyond the reaches of the enemy’s most skilled archers. Knowing the end is coming; his weakens the hearts of the enemy and forces some to desert their positions. A success indicates that some of the enemy soldiers desert their positions and flee the area (to be later captured by the allied forces). A failed attempt only hardens their hearts pushes them to fight to the death.
Stealth (Hard DC): The PCs send in an assassin to kill the commanders of the enemy troops. A success indicates the mission was a success and one of the mid-level commanders has been killed. A failure indicates that the assassin was found and captured; placing a -2 penalty on further attempts to use Stealth and prevents any further effective use of intimidation to get them to surrender.
Success: The PCs are victorious and either force or negotiate a surrender of the enemy forces, which are all taken into custody.
Failure: The PCs fail to get the enemy to lay down their arms and must destroy them through attrition. Their overwhelming forces guarantee a victory, but at great cost. Each PC will use all their daily powers and encounter powers during the battle, and the next Skill Challenge of War will suffer from a -2 penalty on any skill check that relies on force strength for successes.
ROUTING THE ENEMY
Your forces match those of the enemy. The two forces stand ready, facing the other and waiting for their commanders to give the order. The cost of lives must come, but only by standing together and scattering the enemy forces will you be victorious.
The PCs and their company face an enemy force of equal size and an immediate battle is unavoidable. The costs of a prolonged battle will be very high to both sides, thus hampering future war efforts win or lose. Thus, the strategy that must be undertaken is one where the PCs lead their company into the fray and strike at the hearts of the enemy. Only a killing blow to their morale will deliver the fear they need to drive them away in fear. Failure to do so results in a stalemate, with heavy losses on both sides of the conflict.
Setup: You must force an equally match enemy force to flee before you suffer too many losses to your own company. This skill challenge makes use of the Powers of War and Blood from Stone features (see entries in chapter 2).
Level: The PCs’ level +1.
Complexity: 3 (8 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Athletics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Endurance, Insight, Intimidate, Perception.
Athletics (Hard DC): You and your company surge forward and meet the enemy before they have time to fully prepare for your charge. As your troops clash with the enemy, you order a quick withdraw, only to repeat the charge a moment later. This harrying by your forces confuses and weakens the enemy ranks, while suffer only minor loses. Using Athletics in this way cannot be attempted until it is opened up through the use of Diplomacy or Intimidate to motivate your troops. A success indicates the enemy is one step closer to fleeing the battlefield, as they cannot keep up with your rapidly changing tactics. A failure indicates the enemy has matched your badgering by consolidating their forces and digging to defend themselves.
Bluff (Hard DC): Just before surging into combat, you company splits up and baits the enemy into thinking you are fleeing the battlefield. Once baited to follow, you turn back on your heels and charge straight into their charge. A success indicates the enemy believes you are fleeing the battlefield, follows and falls right into your trap. A failure indicates that either your soldiers were not able to fool the other side or they caught you before you were able to organize a counterstrike.
Diplomacy (Moderate DC): You trumpet the virtue of your cause and invigorate your forces to mount a blow that strikes at the heart of the enemy. Success does not count towards the overall success of the challenge, but does open up the use of Athletics and Endurance as well as provide a +2 bonus to the next skill check for this challenge. The use of Diplomacy can only be used once in this way during the skill challenge.
Endurance (Hard DC): You lead your company forward like an iron juggernaut able to handle whatever the enemy throws at you. Your company forms a pointed phalanx, with the PCs at the lead as you trample down the front lines of the enemy forces. A success indicates that the PCs and their company have broken and scattered the first lines of enemy forces, opening up their second string warriors and ranged combatants for battle. A failure indicates the enemy has stopped your phalanx in it tracks and forces you into a grisly clash of sword and shield that leaves many wounded or dead.
Insight (Moderate DC): Your keen senses reveal that the enemy is readying for a quick assault on your position, hoping to strike before you have time to fully ready yourselves. A success proves to drive back the enemy into the open, and weakens their spirits. A failure forces you to abandon your position temporarily while you regroup and find a new angle of attack.
Intimidate (Hard DC): You command your entire company to lay down their lives in the name of your cause, and remind them that to die by the sword is better than to die by the arrow. You lead the charge into battle, and your soldiers follow suit. This does not count towards the overall success or failure of the challenge, but a success serves to open up the use of Athletics or Endurance for a daring attack on the enemy.
Perception (Hard DC): You notice the enemy command unit has positioned themselves in a weakly defended position. You command your forces to assault this location immediately. A success drives the enemy commanders further back from the front lines, weakening their influence over their troops. A failure indicates that the opposing force stops you short from your strike, and the enemy commanders move to a better defended location on the battlefield.
Success: After driving the enemy back several times, weakening their forces, and possibly their commanders, they eventually leave their positions and flee the battlefield. You suffer minor loses, but you forces benefit from a large boost in their morale.
Failure: After several attempts to drive the enemy out; you ultimately fail and both sides suffer heavy losses in the process. Another approach is going to have to be taken for success.