January 2, 2009

The Skill Challenges of War - Part 11: Find and Ambush the Supply Train

The Skill Challenges of War is an ongoing series here at The Core Mechanic written by me, and two excellent guest bloggers: MadBrew and Gamefiend. Please check out the previous posts in the series and let us know what you think or if you are planning on using any of these skill challenges in your game. Previous articles in the Skill Challenges of War series are under the label WAR.

A major offensive is expected in the morning. Your commander has ordered you to find, and possibly ambush, the supply caravan for the enemy forces before nightfall. You assemble your company and get to work immediately.
The PCs, and an assumed company of soldiers under their command, have been tasked with finding and hopefully destroying an important supply route for the enemy army. They have less than one-day to complete this task, and can not expect reinforcements to arrive to assist them. Once found, a subsequent Skill Challenge of War or a combat encounter may follow to determine if the supply train is destroyed, captured, or if it reaches the enemy forces.

SETUP: You must find the enemy supply train before night falls and the supplies reach the main body of the enemy army.

LEVEL: The PCs’ level +1.

COMPLEXITY: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures).

PRIMARY SKILLS: Diplomacy, History, Insight, Perception, Nature, Stealth.

Diplomacy (Hard DC): Seeking information from local war refugees, you manage to get lucky and find one that knows the location of the enemy supply caravan’s previous overnight camp. This information aids you and your company in finding the caravan. A success provides a +2 bonus on any Perception or Insight check made to find caravan’s current location as it moves towards its destination, in addition to being counted as a success for the challenge. If this is attempted more than once, word spreads to enemy spies who feed the PCs misinformation and it counts as a automatic failure.

History (Hard DC): You look to your previous experience fighting this enemy, or seek advice from seasoned members of your company. A success indicates you can reasonably predict a few limited routes that the enemy might take through the region, giving their training and outfitting.

Insight (Moderate DC): Your keen knowledge of the enemy mind gives you a solid hunch on how the supply train would make its approach to the enemy army’s main body.

Perception (Moderate DC): Mounted scouts from your company (or possibly the PCs) are sent out to search for the caravan. If the caravan has already been found, then this skill could be used to find an appropriate location ahead of its path to lay an ambush.

Nature (Hard DC): You believe your knowledge of the terrain of this region may provide an advantage in stopping the supply train from succeeding. A success provides a +2 bonus to your next skill check; while a failure proves detrimental with -2 penalty. This use of Nature can only be attempted once for this challenge.

Stealth (Hard DC): Once the supply caravan is found, you decide to lay a trap ahead of its current position and lay in waiting for it to arrive. A success is counted twice for the overall skill challenge, whereas a failure indicates the supply train’s forward scouts discovered your trap and change course. It thus counts as a failure, and you receive a -2 penalty on your next skill check to lay an ambush.

SUCCESS: The PCs managed to locate the supply train in time to set up an appropriate ambush. The Skill Challenge should be followed by a level +1 combat encounter. If no failures occurred during this challenge, then the PCs should be given a +3 bonus to their initiative rolls and the enemy should be considered completely surprised for one full round at the start of combat.

FAILURE: The PCs were either not able find the supply train, and the enemy was reinforced prior to the major offensive the following day. The DM may decide on a war modifier penalty for future Skill Challenges of War that depended on the success of this challenge.

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