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Skill Encounters: Non-Combat Challenges (PFRPG) PDF

****( ) (based on 5 ratings)

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Need a challenge besides another combat to throw at your PCs? How about a chase through a crowded urban landscape, a delve into the great library in search of lost secrets or a days-long trek through an ancient forest? Skill Encounters gives you the tools you'll need to create and run compelling non-combat encounters that will test your PCs' skills, wit and imagination.

Included in this 20-page PDF you'll find the basic rules for running and creating your own Skill Encounters along with 5 complete ready-to-run encounters any campaign can use including:

  • Chase
  • Gathering Information
  • Haggling
  • Research
  • Wilderness Travel

Level up your game tonight with an encounter that will test your PCs' talents, guile and skill. Your PCs will never forget it.

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Product Reviews (5)

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 5 ratings)

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Missing the Basics

**( )( )( )

While this PDF has examples of Skill Encounters, it doesn't actually tell you what they are. The section entitled "What is a Skill Encounter" simply gives some fluff, and then says that this book contains some examples. The next section is then "How to read our examples". Nothing on what needs to happen to set up a Skill Encounter.

Do you roll initiative? It discusses turn duration and number of turns, but doesn't actually spell out what a turn is, what the structure of a turn is, what kind of actions can be taken during the turn, who is taking the turn, etc etc. It discusses skill checks, primary and secondary, but makes no mention of if you can do both, or just one per "turn". Does this fit into the combat structure? Are secondary checks move actions and primary standard actions? There isn't even a play-by-play example of running one of these challenges to infer what they're trying to do with this.

It feels like there's a whole chapter missing from the front of this book, or that this book is a supplement to a previous book. The authors make a lot of assumptions as to what they expect us to know going into this book. It's a lot of branches and leaves, but the trunk is missing entirely, and it all falls apart.

The only reason this gets the number of stars I gave it is because it does give some interesting scenarios to various situations one might not have thought of, like the various contacts in the information mission.

Skill encounters for Pathfinder

****( )

This pdf is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC/Editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2/3 page SRD. That leaves 17 1/3 pages of gaming content.

You know, I was rather disappointed when I bought and played 4th edition. I don’t say it’s a bad system because it simply isn’t – it works awesome for the thousands of people who enjoy it, it’s just not made for me. However, I absolutely loved the idea of skill-encounters and had been using a similar concept in my home campaign for years. This pdf brings skill-encounters to PFRPG.
The pdf kicks off with three pages that explain how to read a skill-encounter and how to write them.

The first skill challenge presented is the all-time classic, the chase (3 pages). The encounter includes information on how spells affect the encounter, with several complications like quick changes, escapes to sewers and rooftops and the like and results for failures. We also get a sidebar for combat during the chase.
I enjoyed reading this one.

The second skill-challenge is gathering information (4 pages). This one also has a huge one page box detailing contacts (barkeeper, wenches, etc.) for the PCs to ask. I’ve been looking for a pre-made encounter for this as I always hated the generic “One-roll-you get the-info-approach”. Well-made piece.

The third skill-challenge is haggling (2 pages). Due to the nature of the challenge, this one is rather timid and not too suspense-laden, but well done nevertheless.

The fourth skill-challenge is research (3 pages). This is probably one of the coolest skill-challenges within this book – at least for me. If you happen to have an investigation-heavy campaign, this section alone is worth the price. The complications like other scholars, library holidays and the like are both generic and cool. Nice work.

The fifth and final skill-challenge is wilderness travel (2 1/3 pages). While the default is a forest here, we get a sidebar on other terrains and how to implement the complications presented. Another great skill-encounter.

I really love skill-encounters, if only because they give PCs a chance to roll the bones and build suspense without resorting to bashing. Thus, this pdf has a rather easy standing with me. Especially the gather information, research and chase encounters are gold for my campaign. The pdf itself is beautiful and full-color, the artwork is okay and presentation is concise and precise in its wording. I didn’t notice any editing glitches. However, there are also some drawbacks that I feel I have to mention: While the pdf is beautiful, the page are yellow and there is no printer-friendly version out there. While the pdf is not large, I think it would have benefited from a printer-friendly version, as b/w print-out it just doesn’t look as great. I also would have loved to see bookmarks, as there are none. In the haggling section, I missed a complication for another bidder for the item. The pdf is priced $5.00, which is ok for the quality, but not too cheap. It’s quite hard for me to rate this pdf: On the one hand, I LOVE skill-encounters and that they have been brought to PFRPG and the utility of this product. On the other hand, I have these minor criticisms and thus can’t rate it 5 stars. I’ll shoot for a very good 4.5 stars instead, with the notice that, if you don’t care about the yellow pages or the lack of a competing haggler, this is a must-buy for you. These rules should be part of the standard Pathfinder canon. Here’s to hoping Paizo will implement them.

Take the game up to 11!


Pathfinder, D&D, and a host of other roleplaying games are essentially about killing monsters. The combat chapter, most of the Spells and Equipment chapters are essentially about finding a creature and killing it. Hack-n-slash.

Now, perhaps there is actually a reason to bother writing down skill ranks. Skills have been the most neglected part of the game. Until now.

Entire encounters can be designed using these very simple rules that focus on skills and roleplaying rather than hack-n-slash. Encounters become more than just the Cleric making a Diplomacy roll and moving on. Most every player should be able to contribute something to a Skill Encounter now.

The rules are simple, easy to implement in ANY game and the five samples are perfect for giving you the feel of just how much this can cause a boring forgettable encounter to explode into an encounter the players will be talking about for years to come.

One word of warning! The background page is YELLOW... The guys at 4D should really drop the yellow. It's hard on the eyes and a waste of ink.

Excellent expansion to the Pathfinder rules


I'm just discovering Pathfinder after being away from 3e for 6-7 years, and love the fact that the ruleset is embracing the "next generation" innovations like manoeuvres, traits, hero points, and here Skill Encounters, the Pathfinder version of the Skill Challenge rules. This little PDF is all you need to introduce cool and crunchy skill-based non-combat challenges into your games; it gives you guideline rules for playing them, hints and tips for writing your own, plus five sample and easily customisable skill encounters for chases, info gathering, haggling, researching, and travelling through trackless wilderness. Highly recommended, as well as its trap-oriented companion volume. I hope to see lots of Skill Encounters appearing all over the forums shortly!

I'm giving this 5/5 for content - there are a few unnecessary typos (like one on the cover page!) which mar an otherwise excellent product!

A Great Addition to any GM's Arsenal


This product presents 5 unique skill challenges, but that's not the best part really. The opening chapter deals with creating your own skill-based encounters which are traditionally the weakest part of the games I run. I think any GM, even an experienced one, will be able get a lot out of this. I highly recommend it. It is designed to work with Pathfinder, but I really think the concepts can translate into almost any gaming system. Two thumbs way up! Gift Certificates
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