Scenario: You sleep and dream. You see people and places that you know. The rest of your party is here as well, but they seem to not be part of your dreams. What is going on? The dream seems fine at first, but it slowly begins to twist and bend. Finally it breaks around the edges, and you are floating amidst dream-ether. You can wish all you want to wake, but it will take more than prayer and desire to make that happen. To wake out of this nightmare, you must navigate the terrain of your own anxieties and fears.
Complexity: 5 (12 successes before three failures)
Encounter Level: PC level + 3
Goal: Escape from the realm of dreams before accumulating three failures. Failure means that the players awake much later than they normally would (DMs, I will leave this to your nefarious schemes!) or awakening in a depleted state. Success at this skill challenge could also lead to a further adventure in the dream realm, as could failure.
The skill challenge has two phases. The first, “I Am My Cage”, has each PC stuck in their own personal nightmare. The second “Flight of Fantasy”, has the PCs floating through the dream realm, fending off the creatures summoned by the keepers and searching for a way back to the waking realm.
I Am My Cage (Phase one)
The players have caught sight of each other, but before they can meet the miasma of colors surrounding them solidifies into quasi-real scenery.
Each player has his dreams twisted into surreal nightmares by Dreamhaunts. The Dreamhaunts will manifest as the following sequences.
During each sequence, there will be a few questions to help set the scene, a description of the scene, and the particular challenge it entails. Succeeding at a scene counts as two successes for the overall success. Each PC’s failure counts as a half failure (round half failures down). If two PCs fail at their tests for example, it counts as one failure for the overall challenge.
My Beautiful Enemy
Ask the player:
- Who does your character love the most?
- Who is your character’s greatest enemy?
Before you is someone you love deeply. As you approach them, your enemy appears next to them and slaughters them before you can react. You approach them and they disappear, only to reappear at your left. You run towards this scene and the scenario plays itself out again. Can you endure this pain? Can you prevent it from happening over and over again?
Goal: Stop the slaughter of a loved one by your enemy. Two successes before two failures.
- Athletics (moderate DC, maximum of one success): You’re simply not running fast enough. Filled with both love and hate, you surge ahead.
- Arcana (moderate DC, maximum of one success): This is not a matter of simply crossing a physical space. You will yourself forward, and cut away the space in your mind. +2 to your next Athletics check.
- Insight (hard DC+4, counts as two successes): Struggling with your own emotions, you realize that this scene is not real. Someone wants to break your spirit, but they will have to try harder than that.
- Intimidate (moderate DC): ‘Fight me!’ you scream to your enemy. He pauses and grins at you.
- Ranged Attack (AC PC level + 16, maximum of two succcesses): You cover the distance with a well-placed arrow, putting your enemy down.
- Melee Attack (AC PC level +16, can only be attempted if a successful Arcana or Athletic check has been made): After closing a distance, you can save the one you love.
Success: The scene dissolves, and you begin to look for the other members of your party.
Failure: Eventually the maddening imagery stops, but you are left exhausted from the ordeal. Your character is weakened until his next extended rest.
Ask the player:
- What is your character’s best skill?
You are in the midst of using your skill in a critical moment. You are using the skill, but your hands fumble, your mind is fuzzed. You are destined to fail when you use this skill and you have no idea what you can do about it.
Goal: Succeed at the task in hand. two successes before two failures.
- Character’s best skill (hard DC + 8, counts as two successes): You clear your mind of all distractions and focus at the task at hand. You succeed despite the obstacles placed in your path.
- Insight (moderate DC, does not count towards success): There could another way to accomplish your goals… +2 on the ‘any two skills combined’ check.
- any two skills combined ( moderate DC for each skill.): the player can describe any two skills that could be used in place of his best skill in this situation. Roll for each skill against the DC. Desperation is the mother of ingenuity.
- Success: Revitalized by your success, you gain new confidence into your skill. +2 on rolls with the skill until you leave the dream realms.
- Failure: You are questioning your own competence greatly. -2 on rolls with your best skill used for this challenge until you leave the dream realm.
Ask the player:
- How does your character feel about death?
- How does your character think he will die?
Death has come for you. You are at the opening scene of your own death, just as you always imagined it.
Goal: Stop your own death! Two successes before two failures.
- Religion (moderate DC): A prayer to your god is answered.
- Arcana (moderate DC): The edges of this dream become unravelled. You begin to peer around the edges and see it for what it truly is.
- Insight (moderate DC): The best way to face death is to confront your own mortality.
- Special: Depending on what the scene will be, many other skills can apply here. Everything from Acrobatics to Heal could be of use to players.
Success: Conquering your own death bolsters your health and mind. +1 to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will until you leave the dream realm.
Failure: It was not your actual death, but it felt like it. -1 to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will until you leave the dream realm.
The Chaos Gale
Ask the player:
- What possession does you character most value?
Your most prized possession is crumbling into bits, before your very eyes.
Goal: Save your item from being destroyed. Two successes before two failures
- Arcana ( moderate DC ) : Your own desire will destroy what you care for most.
- Insight ( easy DC ) : You must detach yourself from the item in order to save it.
- Perception (easy DC): You notice that the more you agonize over the loss, the faster it crumbles.
- Athletics (moderate DC): You hold it together with sheer strength.
Success: You feel a stronger connection with your possession then ever. +1 to your next roll involving that item.
Failure: The loss of connection with your possession is draining. Lose a healing surge.
The Slaughtering Lad
Ask the player:
- What is the worst thing your character has ever done?
What does the character fear he is capable of doing?
You are staring at a shadow clone of yourself in the midst of the worst deed you have ever committed, or performing the worst act he considers himelf capable of. Middway through, your shadow stops and motions you join in.
Goal: Don’t give in to your dark impulses! Two successes before two failures.
- Kill the shadow (automatic success at challenge, lose two healing surges): Not only will you not join in, you will actively prevent your shadow from doing this, even if it means destroying yourself.
- Join the shadow (automatic failure at challenge): It’s not a shadow, it’s a mirror showing you who you really are.
- Insight (moderate DC, maximum of two successes): You compare yourself with your shadow and analyze why this cannot truly be you.
- Arcana (hard DC, maximum of two successes): You focus your will and magically correct your actions. Your shadow still moves, but it is starting to act according to your will.
- Endurance(hard DC, maximum of two successes): You close your eyes and shut the scene out. Through sheer determination, you attempt to banish this nightmare from your mind and your sight.
- Religion (moderate DC, maximum of one success): You connect with your god to reconcile your past and future deeds.
- Diplomacy (moderate DC, maximum of two successes): You talk to this version of yourself, explaining to it why this is not what it should do.
- Athletic (hard DC, maximum of one success): You grapple your shadow to the ground, in hopes of making it listen to reason.
- Intimidate (moderate DC, maximum of one success): You will threaten and unnerve your shadow until it bends to your will.
Success: You know that whatever you have done or may do, you can be better. You have control. +2 on your next saving throw.
Failure: What you experienced seeps into the fabric of your being. -2 to Will defense until your next extended rest.
Flight of Fantasy (Phase Two)
Reunited, the players regroup and share their experiences. There is not much time to recollect or reminisce however. The Dreamscape is erupting around them.
Goal: The PCs are caught in the swirling maelstrom of nightmares and dreams, and must find their way out. Acquire the rest of your success before three failures.
Shape the Storm
On the first Arcana success, the PCs become aware that they can shape the objects and entities pursuing them in the storm using their mind. If a player chooses to shape the storm, he/she must make an Intelligence check (hard DC+4). Other PCs may use Aid Another for this check. Success on this check counts for two successes. Failure on this check deals (Encounter Level x 5) psychic damage to the PC who is attempting to shape the storm, and any PC who aided takes half that damage.
- Arcana (hard DC, maximum of two successes):
1: The stuff of dreams is dangerous, but also malleable. Maybe you can use that to your advantage. Must succeed at this in order to “Shape the Storm”
2: You begin to shape the raw elements of dream to your advantage. +2 Will when shaping the storm for the rest of the challenge.
- Athletics (moderate DC, maximum of two successes): You are able to navigate the chaos relying on sheer athletic abilities. you become used to these new physics very quickly.
- Acrobatics (moderate DC, maximum of two successes): In any world, you are too quick and too nimble to be easily caught.
- Perception (hard DC, maximum of two successes): You peer through chaos and can see in the distance a way out of this predicament into the waking world.
- Stealth (hard DC, maximum of one success): For a time, you find shelter in the storm.
- Endurance (moderate DC, maximum of two successes): While others are threatened to be torn apart, you survive.
Success: The players escape the dream realms and awaken.
Failure: The players find themselves trapped in the dream realms.
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