Merchants in ruffled silk bark over each other while mothers cluck after their children. Guardsmen walk two abreast in worn mail, leaning into each stall in search of improprieties. The market smells of bread, sweat, the forge, and perfumes all at once.
You push your way shoulder-first through the packed cobblestone streets, your minds and mouths a touch weary from haggling. It’s been a successful venture, and it’s time to make your way back to the inn. The crowd parts suddenly in front of you, and a man crashes into one of your party. Both tumble to the ground, but the entanglement is brief. The man leaps up, bows his apology, and continues to run. As your party member dusts himself off, he realizes that he is a bit lighter than before.
And here you thought you were only to be robbed by the merchants!
The thief leaves a wake of staggering people as he makes his retreat. Act quickly or say farewell to the item he stole.
Synopsis: The PCs must chase a cutpurse through the streets and over the roofs of the city in order to recover their possessions. This requires street savvy as well as physical skill to keep up with the thief and spot their belongings.
Goal: Make your way to the thief through the crowded winding streets of the city before he can get away, retrieving your stolen items in the process.
Complexity: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures).
Determine exactly what the thief stole. This is an art in and of itself –you don’t want to steal something that the PC really needs, like his trusty sword, or magic wand. At the same time, you want the item to have enough value that the PCs will give chase. Non-essential magic items or simple gold-purse snatching should be enough that the PCs will give chase without being punished too harshly if they fail the skill challenge.
The crowded streets make it easy for the party to lose the thief. The throngs of market-going citizens also make it hard to communicate or keep track of each other. Players may not use Aid Another for this skill challenge unless they have some creative way of circumventing this chaotic aspect of the encounter. Otherwise, let their pleas be lost in the crowd. (A clever paladin, for example, could successfully use “One Heart, One Mind” to telepathically communicate with his comrades. A warlock could send an ambassador imp to carry his observations to a companion.)
Acrobatics (DC 15, maximum one success, counts as two successes): You can go through the crowd — or you can go over it. A deft maneuver sends you over a cart, onto a roof, then tumbling into an alley, closing the distance greatly in one acrobatic series.
Perception (DC 15, does not count for success or failure): This knave believes he can escape your keen vision? How unfortunate for him. Regardless of his belief system, you are able to track his movements. +2 to the next check.
Success: You corner the thief and convince him that what is in his possession would be much better off in yours.
Failure: The thief and your item are lost to you. Tie all belongings to your person next time you’re at this market.
Failure in this skill challenge could lead to the party having the stolen item placed at the scene of a crime. They might also see the item in the employ of one of their enemies…
- Skill Challenges #6: Move the Crowd
- Skill Challenges #4: The Better Part of Valor
- Skill Challenge #8: The Noble Assassin