January 9, 2009

The Skill Challenges of War - Part 13: Routing the Enemy

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.

Your forces match those of the enemy. The two forces stand ready, facing the other and waiting for their commanders to give the order. The cost of lives must come, but only by standing together and scattering the enemy forces will you be victorious.
The PCs and their company face an enemy force of equal size and an immediate battle is unavoidable. The costs of a prolonged battle will be very high to both sides, thus hampering future war efforts win or lose. Thus, the strategy that must be undertaken is one where the PCs lead their company into the fray and strike at the hearts of the enemy. Only a killing blow to their morale will deliver the fear they need to drive them away in fear. Failure to do so results in a stalemate, with heavy losses on both sides of the conflict.

Powers of War
Players can expend powers to get bonuses to a skill check. When expending powers, have the players describe how the power is being used. For each type of power used, the following bonuses are gained:
• At-Will: +0 to skill check
• Encounter: +1 to skill check.
• Daily: +3 to skill check.

Blood from Stone
Facing overwhelming odds, the players gamble with their lives hold back the tide of enemy forces. The party can elect for a member of the group to take damage equal to their healing surge value in exchange for a +2 bonus on an individual skill check by any other member of the group. This action can be taken more than once for the same skill check, and can occur after the die is cast but before the skill check is resolved.

SETUP: You must force an equally match enemy force to flee before you suffer too many loses to your own company.

LEVEL: The PCs’ level +1.

COMPLEXITY: 3 (8 successes before 3 failures).

PRIMARY SKILLS: Athletics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Endurance, Insight, Intimidate, Perception.

Athletics (Hard DC): You and your company surge forward and meet the enemy before they have time to fully prepare for your charge. As your troops clash with the enemy, you order a quick withdraw, only to repeat the charge a moment later. This harrying by your forces confuses and weakens the enemy ranks, while suffer only minor loses. Using Athletics in this way cannot be attempted until it is opened up through the use of Diplomacy or Intimidate to motivate your troops. A success indicates the enemy is one step closer to fleeing the battlefield, as they cannot keep up with your rapidly changing tactics. A failure indicates the enemy has matched your badgering by consolidating their forces and digging to defend themselves.

Bluff (Hard DC):
Just before surging into combat, you company splits up and baits the enemy into thinking you are fleeing the battlefield. Once baited to follow, you turn back on your heels and charge straight into their charge. A success indicates the enemy believes you are fleeing the battlefield, follows and falls right into your trap. A failure indicates that either your soldiers were not able to fool the other side or they caught you before you were able to organize a counterstrike.

Diplomacy (Moderate DC): You trumpet the virtue of your cause and invigorate your forces to mount a blow that strikes at the heart of the enemy. Success does not count towards the overall success of the challenge, but does open up the use of Athletics and Endurance as well as provide a +2 bonus to the next skill check for this challenge. The use of Diplomacy can only be used once in this way during the skill challenge.

Endurance (Hard DC):
You lead your company forward like an iron juggernaut able to handle whatever the enemy throws at you. Your company forms a pointed phalanx, with the PCs at the lead as you trample down the front lines of the enemy forces. A success indicates that the PCs and their company have broken and scattered the first lines of enemy forces, opening up their second string warriors and ranged combatants for battle. A failure indicates the enemy has stopped your phalanx in it tracks and forces you into a grisly clash of sword and shield that leaves many wounded or dead.

Insight (Moderate DC):
Your keen senses reveal that the enemy is readying for a quick assault on your position, hoping to strike before you have time to fully ready yourselves. A success proves to drive back the enemy into the open, and weakens their spirits. A failure forces you to abandon your position temporarily while you regroup and find a new angle of attack.

Intimidate (Hard DC): You command your entire company to lay down their lives in the name of your cause, and remind them that to die by the sword is better than to die by the arrow. You lead the charge into battle, and your soldiers follow suite. This does not count towards the overall success or failure of the challenge, but a success serves to open up the use of Athletics or Endurance for a daring attack on the enemy.

Perception (Hard DC): You notice the enemy command unit has positioned themselves in a weakly defended position. You command your forces to assault this location immediately. A success drives the enemy commanders further back from the front lines, weakening their influence over their troops. A failure indicates that the opposing force stops you short from your strike, and the enemy commanders move to a better defended location on the battlefield.

SUCCESS: After driving the enemy back several times, weakening their forces, and possibly their commanders, they eventually leave their positions and flee the battlefield. You suffer minor loses, but you forces benefit from a large boost in their morale.

FAILURE: After several attempts to drive the enemy out; you ultimately fail and both sides suffer heavy loses in the process. Another approach is going to have to be taken for success.

Got something else to add to this skill challenge? Let me know by leaving a comment!

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