4th ed Conversions, Skill Challenges

A project to create a Spelljammer conversion to 4th edition rules.
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Storm Giant
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4th ed Conversions, Skill Challenges

Post by Silverblade-T-E »

general thread on skill challenges
while many SKill Challenges may fall under other thread headings, having a thread spcifically for them is helpful, to cross post for indexing, or general ruminations, ideas etc :)
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Than a King who believes in Nothing


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Elvith Jars
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Re: 4th ed Conversions, Skill Challenges

Post by Elvith Jars »

The Plane Above provides a good basis for 4e skill challenges:
The Plane Above: Adventures on the Astral Sea

The eerie tranquility of astral travel is often shattered by eruptions of sudden danger. Characters aboard skiffs or other conveyances could face magical storms, arcane anomalies, hostile ships, or hungry free-flying creatures, such as astral dreadnoughts. Depending on the game’s pace, such a moment of navigational menace can be resolved with a single skill check, as a skill challenge, or as an extended combat or action set piece.

General Shipboard Actions

The following skills can be applied to nearly any shipboard emergency.

•Acrobatics: Perform stunts requiring precarious climbing up, down, or through the ship’s masts and rigging. Tumble through falling obstacles to secure a critical piece of equipment knocked loose in the struggle.

•Athletics: Momentarily hold stressed or breaking ship pieces in place. Man the ship’s helm, executing audacious maneuvers or steering the vessel in the face of great resistance.

•Arcana: Pour additional magical fuel into the engines, momentarily (and dangerously) increasing the vessel’s speed or maneuverability (to compensate for missing crew members, for instance).

•Endurance: Perform tasks while battered and nearly destroyed; survive with minimal food and water after supplies are lost or stolen.

•History: Identify oncoming vessels by size and configuration, naming the origin and likely intentions of their crews.

•Perception: Spot trouble before it starts, determine the weak point in an enemy’s hull, or see a creature’s vulnerability.


When the crew of one vessel tries to engage and the other tries to escape, a chase ensues. If you know that a fight will ensue when one vessel catches up to the other, resolve the chase as a single Athletics check by the character at the helm. In instances when the conclusion of the chase won’t necessarily lead to ship combat, run the chase sequence as a skill challenge of its own.

•Arcana: Spot astral eddies to gain increased speed; locate nebulae or other astral bodies to hide behind; find portals allowing magical teleport to another sector of the sea.

•Nature: Spot or avoid schools of astral creatures that impede navigation.

•Stealth: Plot a confusing course while fleeing; identify a confusing course laid in by a fleeing vessel.

Conquering Enemy Vessels

In a skill challenge to board and overrun an enemy vessel, the characters contend for the opportunity to stage a fight on the enemy crew’s deck. If they lose, the targets successfully disengage before a fight can occur. Alternatively, a lost challenge could result in the fight occurring on the characters’ ship. Victorious invaders not only defeat their opponents, but can then seize control of the vessel.

•Acrobatics: Use a piece of loose rigging to swing onto the target deck.

•Intimidate: Frighten crew members into backing away or otherwise ceding ground.

•Stealth: Sneak aboard from a different direction to achieve surprise.

Allow movement attacks and racial powers to substitute for skills as the logic of the scene permits. For movement powers such as fey step, where no skill modifier pertains, ask for an Arcana check to determine if the character’s "aim" is correct, or treat the use of the power as an automatic success.

Interactions With Rival Crews

•Bluff: Fool targets into thinking you're an ally, letting you act unexpectedly and achieve surprise.

•Diplomacy: Pursuade adversaries to not attack you; determine how much to bribe to secure your freedom should things go sour.

•Intimidate: Persuade potential adversaries that it'll hurt them more than it'll hurt you.

•Insight: Identify crews intending to attack you when they're appearing friendly; make an important mental connection about a ship and its tactics.

Disable or Destroy Enemy Vessels

•Arcana: Use onboard magical weaponry (if available) to modify arcane ranged and area attacks to damage ships from a distance. This check allows subsequent uses of the attack powers themselves. Expending a daily arcane power grants a +5 bonus to the attack roll.

•Religion: Same as above, but for divine powers.

•Weapon Attack: Damage ships using onboard siege engines.

Repulse Boarding Attempts

Ways to avoid a fight on your own ship:

•Bluff: Lure an invader into making a false step or into a trap.

•Intimidate: Scare off the invaders.

•Stealth: Surprise an invader trying to move between vessels, shoving the target overboard.

Avoiding Navigational Hazards

Permanent navigational hazards are known as anomolies. Avoiding hazards may require skill challenges that use:

•Arcana: Operate the ship's instruments to detect the hazards.

•Endurance: Physically shielding an ally from the effects of the hazard and bearing the brunt of the effects yourself.

•History: Reveal the locations of the hazards to avoid.

•Nature: Predict oncoming weather conditions by observing changes in the astral eddies, wind and wildlife.

•Religion: Sensing divine energy indicating past or present activities of deities and thei agents; identify mystic runes left over from the Dawn War.
To expand upon the material from WoTC:

•Insight: Determine the intentions of the enemy ship.

•Intimidate: Maneuver the ship aggressively, making the other guy flinch, granting combat advantage (save ends)

•Arcana: Identify performance capabilities of the enemy ship, operate the aether drive, repair the ship, study the universe and how it relates to planar alignment and the effects of the universe on magic.

•Nature: Investigate celestial bodies like planets, asteroids, and comets, predict the orbits of celestial bodies (basically, what we call Astronomy in the real world).

•Athletics: When piloting a ship or flying mount, perform stunts like Sideslip, Avoid Hazard, Bootleg Turn, Dash, Feint (requires Bluff check), Grapple, Hard Brake, Hard Turn, Jump to Spelljamming Speed, and Withdraw if you successfully meet or beat the DC and you meet the prerequisites for the stunt.

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