Abstract Skill Resolution (Apath)

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Unofficial rules compendium

Methods for resolving skill-based tasks that take place off-camera.

Project Resolution

This method is suitable when an individual or small group attempts a difficult and complex task, and timing is not critical.

  1. Difficulty Select a task difficulty. Something like 10 + the highest relevant skill among the opposition makes sense. If the task is particularly audacious, the DM may set a minimum skill based on the stunts involved. DCs should be hard, next to impossible.
  2. Skills Select a number of skills that are applicable to the task; generally the more complex and difficult the task, the more skills would be relevant. The GM and player works this out together, so the player can influence which skills are relevant by picking appropriate tactics.
    1. Each character can choose to not check a certain skill, but this decisions must be made before any dice are rolled.
    2. Spells/powers/items can be used to substitute for skill rolls, and allows you to roll Concentration + spell level in lieu of a skill roll, when the power in question is judged relevant.
  3. Test each selected skill against the DC. Each character checks separately. As long as ANY skill is a success, the overall task succeeds.
    1. Each failed check indicates some complication - ranging from a delay, to a loss of equipment, gp (bribes), hp, or other resource. Perhaps a favor owned, unwanted romantic interest, or other plot complication.
    2. The DM hands out minor rewards for successful rolls beyond the first one - and make them depend on what skill skill check you passed. Perception gleans important information, Diplomacy gives you contacts, Sleight of hand could give loot, and any skill could negate a failure.

This way, you are almost guaranteed to succeed with complex plans involving many skills, but you also suffer complications that can serve as later adventure hooks. The player gets a temporary spotlight, while the whole task takes but a few minutes to play out.

Sudden Death Skill Challenge System

In this system, a skill challenge consists of only a few steps, but each step is difficult. The idea is to reward success rather than penalize failure. The overall chance of success is about the same as in combat of a similar level - that is you are almost assured of success, but there is some excitement on the way there. The penalty on repetitive skill use forces characters to diversify.

Skills to Use: The skill challenge should have a few recommended skills that can be used, but if a player comes with a good explanation of how they use a different skill this should be allowed. It is also possible to use other values, such as attack rolls, where appropriate.

Skills and DCs: Something like 10 + the highest relevant skill among the opposition makes sense. If the task is particularly audacious, the DM may set a minimum skill based on the stunts involved. Select a number of skills that are applicable to the task; generally the more complex and difficult the task, the more skills would be relevant. All skills have the same difficulty, with a +/-2 skill modifier based on DM judgment and how the player narrates the action.

Complexity A skill challenge has a complexity ranging from one to ten. This is the number of rounds in the skill challenge. If the PCs can keep the challenge running this number of rounds, they succeed.

Rules

  • Standard Action: Making a roll in a skill challenge is a standard action. Sometimes you might need to move into proper position as a separate action.
  • Accumulate Only Successes: To succeed at the skill challenge, the team needs a number of successes equal to the complexity of the task. Failures are not accumulated; see below for how skill challenges fail.
  • One Success Per Round: A group can only score one success at a skill challenge each round. There is thus a minimum time to complete the skill challenge of 1 round per point of complexity.
  • Initiative: The skill challenge has an initiative count just like a creature does but does not roll for initiative. It generally comes last in the round. If the actions of a creature started the skill challenge, its' initiative count is right before the instigator's (as if it has just completed its action).
  • How to Fail: The skill challenge takes no actions on its turn, instead it fails if no success has been scored when the skill challenge's initiative comes up.
  • Desperate Effort: Just before the skill challenge is about to fail, characters can take an immediate action to make additional skill rolls on the challenge, hopefully scoring a success. Each character can only succeed at one desperate effort in each skill challenge.
  • Repetitive use of Skills: A character that has already scored a success with a particular skill in this skill challenge will find it harder to gain further progress, suffering a +5 DC modifier, cumulative with several successes. This is to prevent boring and repetitive use of skills, yet let specialized characters have the option of using their favorite skills again, if at a penalty. This does not impair your ability to Aid Others in this skill challenge.
  • Aid Other: An attempt to succeed that fails but beats DC 10 counts as an attempt to aid other, giving a cumulative +2 to later attempts to complete the task. This bonus resets each time a success is scored. You can perform the aid other action in a round where someone else has already scored a success; the bonus then applies to the next round.
  • Complications There should be some additional complication involved in the skill challenge. Maybe it attacks each round, or there is an ongoing combat. This is especially true if the skill challenge is of a level where the DC of the skill roll does not increase compared to lower levels.

Special Cases

  • A "round" is an abstract measure of time in a skill challenge. Some skill challenges take place during combat, using normal combat rounds. Others have rounds that are minutes, hours, or even years in length for momentous tasks. Short interruptions are acceptable in skill challenges with rounds of minutes or more.
  • Spells/powers/items can be used to substitute for skill rolls, and allows you to roll Concentration + spell level in lieu of a skill roll, when the ability in question is relevant.

External Links

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