Dec 24, 2008

"We're gonna need an bigger boat" an aquatic skill challenge.

Inspired by the rampant coolness of the Mad Brew Labs / Core Mechanic series on skill challenges, I brainstormed one up for an upcoming encounter. Please let me know what you think of it : )


The fishermen of Whisker Lake beseech you! A monster fish from the lake’s black depths has come, and is eating all of the fish! Old Jack Lefty has made a heavy line to hook the beast with, but none of the fishermen will go back into the water. “Please, we are humble folk without the courage to face such a monster, will you help us?” they beg. Your reasons are your own, but your group decides to help…fish the monster out.

…"We're gonna need a bigger boat"…

Even the most pathetic of creatures become dangerous when they are the size of a draft horse. Catching this monster will be no easy task.

Complexity: 5 (12 successes before 6 failures)

Encounter Level: PC Level+3

Goal: Kill the Fleshwarped Whiskerfish by either exhausting it with a line and chase, or enter the water to do battle with it.

Power Use: 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 power used, the following bonuses are gained:

At-Will: +0 to skill check
Encounter/Utility: +3 to skill check.
Daily: +5 to skill check.

Skills Used: Acrobatics, Athletics, Arcana, Endurance, Insight, Nature.

Acrobatics –(Hard DC) - Half of the challenge will be staying in the boat! Each time a character fails a check, he must make an acrobatics check.

Success indicates that the character has kept his balance.
Failure indicates that the character has fallen into the lake (see “No Swimming” below). Checks made falling into or getting out of the lake do not count toward the challenge goals.

Arcana – (Hard DC) – You recognize that the nature of this beast has been altered in some fundamental way. By focusing your arcane energies, you are able to identify weaknesses that can be exploited.

Success on this check bestows a +4 bonus on any other check made during
this encounter. This check may be made more than once, with the DC increasing by
2 for each successive check, as the beast only has a finite number of weaknesses.
Failure indicates that the character has no ideas that are helpful to the encounter. This
check may not be re-attempted.

Athletics - (Moderate DC) – While reeling this monster in, SOMEONE has to man the oars! Not to mention pulling folks out of the lake. This is an opposed check, that may only be made at 1 on initiative. If player's total is higher than whiskerfishes vs. Ref attack, the attack fails.

Success indicates that you have been able to keep the boat from being jerked or rocked
excessively. Additionally, it may be used to pull a character out of the lake – checks
made to pull a character out of the lake do not count towards the challenge goals.
Failure - Oops! someone randomly falls into the lake.

Endurance – (Moderate DC) – Fighting the fatigue in your muscles, you continue to draw in the slack on your line. The beast appears to be tiring!

Success indicates you have been able to pull in some of the line, weakening the fish, and
bringing you closer to delivering a killing blow to the monster. The fish takes 10 points of damage, as the hook digs deeper into it's flesh.
Failure indicates that the beast has pulled some slack back, undoing your progress.
The character making the check loses one healing surge.

Insight – (Moderate DC) – Your observation of this creature leads you to believe that despite it’s size and grotesque appearance, it is still a primitive creature. Using the bait buckets, you can influence it’s movements to a degree.

Success indicates that you can keep the monster from attempting violent action, and
rocking the boat. The DC increases by 2 for each successive check, as the
beast becomes full.
Failure indicates that you error in your bait placement, erratically moving the boat, causing you to fall into the lake.

Nature – (Moderate DC) – Same as Insight (see insight – above).

SPECIAL – Every round, at initiative 1, the beast struggles and thrashes, making a +5 vs. Ref attack on all those in the boat. (if the beast is in melee, this is a free action) A hit causes the character to fall into the water (See “NO SWIMMING” below)

Success: You drive the beast until exhausted, then deliver a killing blow to it, ending the threat to the fishermen and their livelihood.

Failure: If the party fails, the boat is smashed in half, and they are spilled into the water to do battle with the creature.

NOTE: The beast nay be attacked from the boat. A -4 penalty applies to the rolls due to being in a dinghy.

NO SWIMMING – See “Aquatic Combat” DMG Pg.45 “Athletics” PHB Pg.182

If a character falls into the water, he immediately becomes a target for the monster fish. The player will effectively be fighting the beast solo (or with others fallen in), as it will never surface, and the water is too murky for the other players to see.

The other circumstance would be the failure of the check, with the whole party fighting this monster.

It is a more powerful foe underwater, and will take full advantage of that fact, attacking from below to foil opportunity attacks, and using it’s superior movement skills to respond to actual threats.

NOTE: I made an image of the new stat block, but blogger is misbehaving, and won't allow me to post it. It's coming, honest - It is a Lvl.5 Solo Soldier.

Condition: Swallowed

- The Whiskerfish may only swallow two medium sized targets at any one time. If, at any time it has two medium sized targets inside it's stomach, it will attempt to flee to the dark, cool waters of the lake bottom, effectively dooming the characters.

- A swallowed character may cut his way out with a total of 20hp damage to the whiskerfish. Small edged weapons only.

- Additionally, an acrobatics or Athletics check (DC 20) will also cause the whiskerfish to vomit the character out.

- The damage done to the swallowed character is crushing and acid.


Jonathan Jacobs said...

I can't believe I missed this.. almost. LMFAO!!! I'm so linking this next weekend. Thanks for the bump too! And I love this S.C.!!

Jonathan Jacobs said...

Oh, and the series at the core mechanic is also the work of Gamefiend; the author of the blog "At-Will".

Anonymous said...

Awesome, it's like The Old Man and The Sea meets D&D.

Donny_the_DM said...

It may need a little fine tuning, but it seems to be a working challenge.

Kind of a hybrid battle with skill checks worked into the encounter. It seems fun, and works within the ruleset...I can't WAIT to spring this one on them!

Thanks for coming, guys!

Monk of Mirth said...

Worked great last night for my guys, used it as a sub-quest in my level 6 version of Keep on the Shadowfell. The barbarian got swallowed, the wizard used icy grasp to hold the fish, and the jaws theme from itunes I had playing in the background worked great. Thanks Donny!

Donny_the_DM said...

Glad you liked it!

Total Party Kill DM said...

This is what I always thought a SC should be. Story driven, action packed, and a lot of leeway with success and failure. Nice work.

Total Party Kill DM said...

Could getting a Russian wife be a skill challenge?