Skill Challenges #15: Seven Days in the Desert, Part I

Skill Challenges #15: Seven Days in the Desert, Part I

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The desert presents many dangers to those who travel through it.  It burns travellers under the sun, freezes them under the moon; it wrings journeyers dry and warps the mind with illusion.  Over time, the sands of the desert can break the will of the hardiest soul;  many have perished under the burning sun, begging for death’s release.

So it is that you find yourself travelling through the desert  You must protect your body and your will to reach your destination without harm.

Throughout the challenge each player accumulates survival points for successes. Each failure accumulates “sand” for the failing player.

Survival represents the steps the character has taken to inure him/herself from the dangers of the environment.  Sand represents the dangers of the desert as they seek to overwhelm a character.  The balance between these two values is used at the very last part of the SC, and can be used to gain a boon or a disease.

Players will automatically accrue a point of sand every other day, starting with the first day. Track the total of survival and sand each player gathers over the course of the challenge.

Each day, each player can choose an approach (you’ll want to let players know what each approach is) and then use one of the associated skills for that approached. If the player chooses not to use an associated skill, increase the difficulty of the challenge by two. The intent here is that a player will choose a basic strategy and then describe how they use a skill to implement that approach. Players can devise their own approaches different from those listed here; this will of course require GM adjudication to determine the results.

Day1: Blistering Heat

The desert oppresses you with its heat, the sun high overhead and demanding.

Each player acquires 1 sand.
Each player chooses one approach to the Blistering heat.

Survival Tactics(Moderate): The desert is cruel, but not clever; you use knowledge and your wits to deal with the harsh desert heat. Skills: Nature, Heal, history, Perception. Success: gain 1 survival. Failure: gain 1 sand.

Dogged Determination (Hard): The flesh is always weak; Your willpower will drive you through the desert by itself. Skills: Endurance, athletics, religion, intimidate.  Success: gain 1d4 survival . Failure: gain 1d4 sand.

Child of the Desert ( automatic): You embrace the desert and all of its challenges. It is unclear whether this can help or hurt you in the end. Gain 1 survival, 1 sand and gain a +2 on your next skill check.

Day 2: Dessication

Dealing with the heat is one thing. The true test of the desert is keeping enough water inside of you. everything conspires to steal your precious water. Even your skin betrays you, ofering it up to the sands and maybe the vultures that circle overhead.

Each player chooses one approach to Dessication:

Water Hunting (hard): You search for underground reserves or plants that hold water. Hopefully the search is not fruitless. Skills: Nature, Perception, History, Dungeoneering. Success: gain 1d4 survival. Failure: player chooses 1: gain 1d4 or lose 1d4 healing surges until the journey ends.

Reserved movement(moderate): It is better to limit one’s movement, conserving what water there is until more can be found. Skills: Endurance, Heal, Stealth. Success: gain 1 survival. Failure: player loses two healing surges until the journey ends.

Day 3: Burning Cold

You are beginning to learn that the nights are the true threat of the desert. The freezing nights can slay the unwary as easily as the heat of the day, which you keep in mind as the cold settles in your bones.

Each player acquires 1 sand.

Each player chooses one approach to the Burning Cold.

Seek Warmth (Hard): You can “rough it” but prefer to increase your odds by finding aids to survival. Skills: Perception, Insight, Nature, Heal. Success:  gain 1 survival.  lose 1 healing surge until journey’s end to gain 1 extra survival.  Failure: gain 1 sand.

Endure the Night (Hard): Again you rely on your own toughness to make it through the desert’s challenge. Skills: Endurance, Athletics, Heal.  Success: gain 1d4 survival.  Failure: either gain weakness on the first round of a combat encounter until the journey ends or gain 1d4+1 sand.

Call to the Spirits of the Desert (Moderate): In desperation you call out to the spirits of the desert.  How will they answer?  Skills: Religion, Arcana, Diplomacy. Success: gain 1d6 survival and gain 1d4 sand. Failure: gain 1d4 survival and 1d6 sand. Special: If you have more survival than sand, regain 1 healing surge or gain a +1 on skill checks during the journey.  If you have more sand than survival, lose 1 healing surge for the remainder of the journey.

The desert burns your body and your mind. What illusions does the desert present to you? Find out in part II of Seven Days in the Desert.

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