My take on skill challenges is that series of small skill challenges work better than one large one, so when I looked at the "Walls Come Tumbling Down" challenge in Beyond the Mottled Tower, I think it needs a re-write. The basic premise of the challenge is that an inn is collapsing due to an apparent earthquake and the PC's need to save the Inn's patrons and themselves before the inn collapses.
Now the interesting thing about the challenge is the sequence of events that happen during the collapse of the inn. Here are a few things that are described as part of the collapse:
- A patron is hit on the head by a falling beam.
- A patron is trapped under rubble.
- A terrified patron hides under a table and needs to be convinced to out.
- The floor collapses, trapping PC's and patrons.
- There's a fire.
- The whole building will collapse in 7 rounds.
I'd rather run this as a set of simpler skill challenges - with any round not getting a success toward one of the challenges counting as a failure. The challenges would each have their own reward/drawback - and it's not going to be time.
The four challenges would be:
- Starting on round 1: the drunken patron struck on head; athletics, heal; on success drunk patron is saved; reward: potions
- Starting on round 2: terrified and trapped patrons: athletics, diplomacy, intimidation, insight; on 5 success all villagers are safely out; reward: saved villagers help with fire in this and next encounter
- Starting on round 3: crumbling floor: athletics, acrobatics; on success patrons that have fallen into the basement escape; on 3 successes villagers in hole are saved: reward: saved villagers aid in rescuing villagers and PC stuck in collapsed building
- Starting on round 4: fire: athletics; in 3 successes the fire is out; reward barkeep reveals knowledge.
- Collapse of building - not a skill challenge - rounds 6 and 7 is the last chance to save any patrons trapped inside.
I'll see how the challenge runs this weekend.