A while back, while doing some design brainstorming for the rewrite of my Hard Contact Clone Wars module. I knew that I wanted to insert a scene that involved the characters storming an enemy fortress. The question then became, how best to model the scene in a short amount of time, without bogging things down with numerous weak enemies that wouldn’t represent a major danger to the party.
Then, I hit on it: a modification of the basic skill challenge rules as presented in Galaxy of Intrigue. This is what I’ve modeled for a new Challenge Effect to fit the situation:
In a skill challenge modified by this challenge effect, characters cannot accrue failures by failing a skill check. The only way the characters can accrue a failure is by the enemies making a successful “attack” against them. The enemy side makes two attack rolls, calculating the attack bonus as if it were a hazard (equal to the CL of the challenge +2). If the attack roll beats the DC of the Medium difficulty of the challenge (shown on Table 2-1, GoI 43) then they have successfully hit the party, and they have accrued a failure.
However, a PC can also choose to make an attack roll on their turn in the skill challenge instead of making a skill check. This attack roll is made at the PC’s attack bonus against the same DC as the enemies attacks (Medium). If they are successful, instead of accruing a success, they erase one failure from their total, giving them more breathing room.
Other than that, the normal rules apply. Determine complexity as normal to decide the number of successes necessary for completion and if the enemy makes three successful attack rolls before the requisite number of successes are met, the challenge is failed.
I ran this challenge in a recent session, where the PCs had to storm a fortress occupied by an invading force and reestablish command. It worked very well, giving the combat heavy characters a chance to shine while also still playing into their skill strengths (plenty of uses for Climb, Jump, and Initiative checks in a combat situation) without taking anything away from the characters who are more skill focused. There’s also plenty of uses for the characters to make use of their feats and talents in a situation like this on a case by case basis.
As a note, this challenge effect should work very well in an “approaching enemy horde” situation, be they waves of stormtroopers, battle droids, or dark side zombies, putting the PCs into a heavy combat situation without putting them through what could be a really tedious combat grind if not handled carefully, not to mention putting a scenario that could potentially take an entire session if handled the “traditional” way into something that can be handled in less than an hour, thereby keeping any player interest and tension levels high, which can make or break any table situation like this.