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Skill Challenge Handbook (PFRPG) PDF

***** (based on 2 ratings)

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Neverending Challenges Await!

Challenge your players like never before using the SKILL CHALLENGE HANDBOOK, by Everyman Gaming LLC. Building up decades of roleplaying game mechanics and history, the SKILL CHALLENGE HANDBOOK provides GMs with everything they need in order to design truly memorable skill-based challenges for their PCs. With the SKILL CHALLENGE HANDBOOK, skills in the Pathnder Roleplaying Game are no longer a one-roll-solves-all affair: success requires strategy, cooperation, and determination, transforming even the simplest scene into a full-fledged encounter with as much depth as any battle.

SKILL CHALLENGE HANDBOOK includes:

Rules for running skill challenges—multi-check scenarios that require PCs to think tactically and plan accordingly in order to win the day.
An in-depth analysis of how to construct skill challenges for use in your home games, as well as a step-by-step guide pertaining to the construction to whatever skill challenge you need to properly set the scene.
Four skill challenge subtypes: chases, contests, influence challenges, and verbal duels, each designed with their own mechanical quirks and special features, as well as rules describing how to properly run and construct skill challenges of each type.
Example skill challenges of each type presented within to provide GMs with adequate examples, as well as ready-to-play skill challenges for fast use.
And much more!
With Everyman Gaming, innovation is never more than a page away!

Page Count: 78

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Will be added to your My Downloads Page immediately upon purchase of PDF.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

PZOPDFRGGEMG0014E


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Product Discussion (53)
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Paizo Employee Webstore Coordinator

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Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks, Rick!

The Skill Challenge Handbook can best be described as a culmination of over a decade of improvements to how skills function in RPGs. It takes all of the dispart skill systems and combines them into a robust, streamlined rule set that includes detailed rules and advice for creating your own skill challenges. Essentially, it is the skill-version of Ultimate Charisma.

For me, this book was absolutely necessary towards a different endgame--Everyman Gaming prepublished Adventures. I couldn't tell the stories I want to without a solid foundation for how skill-based encounters should work, and I think that once you pick it up for yourself, it'll be tough to imagine a campaign that doesn't use this system.

I hope you enjoy it!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As i posted over on Facebook, where I first saw this, this looks fantastic. Can't wait to pick it up as I struggle with these in my home game now, after the next pay period.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

This looks awesome!! Absolutely what I have looking for.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Immediately bought and downloaded it. I remember when Skill challenges came up during 4E, I found them absolutely terrible. But when I later read Mike Mearls splendid series about them at the old wizard's page, I found that this had mostly been a matter of representation and bad examples before, and that I actually really would like to have such a system for pathfinder

Well, I never did one myself, so I really am looking forward to see what you came up with .


Are there player options in it that facilitates (but not trivialize) skill challenges for pc classes that offer minimal skill ranks per level or is that deficiency already taken into account in the skill challenge system? On a similar thought, how well does the skill challenge system fares for one-on-one games?

And finally, even though mythic is an optional rules system, is the skill challenges compatible with the Mythic rules?

Thanks for any information on this.

CB

Contributor

Canadian Bakka wrote:

Are there player options in it that facilitates (but not trivialize) skill challenges for pc classes that offer minimal skill ranks per level or is that deficiency already taken into account in the skill challenge system? On a similar thought, how well does the skill challenge system fares for one-on-one games?

And finally, even though mythic is an optional rules system, is the skill challenges compatible with the Mythic rules?

Thanks for any information on this.

CB

There are no player options in this book. I would rather promote people taking things like Skill Focus or the "+2 to 2" feats than make something super niche. (Also, the book's math assumes specific options like those don't exist.)

The book doesn't directly interface with the mythic rules, but various Skill Challenge rules allow you to make up to CR 30 skill challenges, which should be appropriate for even the highest-tier mythic characters.

Hope this helps!

Contributor

Elorebaen wrote:
This looks awesome!! Absolutely what I have looking for.

Hope you enjoy it!


Just how well does this product work with the alternate skill point system in your earlier release Everyman Unchained:Skills and Options? I imagine that as the latter provides PCs with more skill points, it makes it easier to use this product with skill-poor classes.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Damnit, Alex...

Here I am, budgeting hard, figuring out how much I can spend at UK Games Expo next weekend, and you come out with something like this.

*sigh*

Fine, I'll buy it later, damn you...

(Translation: Giggity, this is gonna be AWESOME!)

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Just how well does this product work with the alternate skill point system in your earlier release Everyman Unchained:Skills and Options? I imagine that as the latter provides PCs with more skill points, it makes it easier to use this product with skill-poor classes.

So the Skill Challenge Handbook essentially boils down to three parts: Explain, Sample, and Do-It-Yourself.

The sample skill challenges (which make up a fairly small part of the book) use Pathfinder's skills, so my Unchained Skills & Options will work fine. (As you mentioned, that system mostly adds flexibility, so it's totally compatible.) The only system I can think of that would need some converting is the Consolidated Skills system from Unchained.

The rules explanations typically talk more about how to make checks and actions then about the skills themselves, so there should be little to no converting needed there. (The contest rules might be an exception, though.)

The do-it-yourself is mostly essays on how to build skill challenges, and they don't really talk about individual skills at all outside of, "Here's how you might want to pick skills for your skill challenge."

So tl;dr, if you're looking to use my sample skill challenges, they might not be compatible with some rules variants without some small bits of tweaking. However, most of the book is explaining how skill challenges work and offering advice on how to build those; they're system agnostic bits that'll work in any d20 game that uses the same skill DC progression as Pathfinder. (5e fans will likely have trouble with the DC tables as listed because skill bonuses scale more slowly in 5e, but since skill challenges largely use their own action economy, the general concept is transferrable enough.)

Contributor

Chemlak wrote:

Damnit, Alex...

Here I am, budgeting hard, figuring out how much I can spend at UK Games Expo next weekend, and you come out with something like this.

*sigh*

Fine, I'll buy it later, damn you...

(Translation: Giggity, this is gonna be AWESOME!)

It's been exactly four months since the Dynastic Races Compendium came out; I was due for an awesome soon-to-be-print book! :D


Congrats, Mister Augunas, on having the Skill Challenge Handbook hit the #1 spot on the downloads from other companies list! If only I had a little more money to spend.

Hopefully someone will post a review soon.

Contributor

Eric Hinkle wrote:

Congrats, Mister Augunas, on having the Skill Challenge Handbook hit the #1 spot on the downloads from other companies list! If only I had a little more money to spend.

Hopefully someone will post a review soon.

What, WHAT?

Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Aaaaaaah! We got #1 Download at Paizo this week?! That's a company first

Thank you SO much everyone for making it happen!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

@Eric: Guess what was prioritized for June? July, at the very latest, possibly before that since I have always enjoyed skill challenges. :)


In fairness, this is the kind of thing that GM's like me immediately take notice of when it's brought to our attention. XD Anything that helps make better and more interesting skill challenges - instead of just "roll Disable Device" or "roll Diplomacy" - is, by nature, useful.

...

Speaking of, I think I have more credit on my account than this costs.

>.>

<.<

*Click*

The Exchange

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Hopefully someone will post a review soon.

Not sure how soon "soon" will be, as I'm simultaneously reading the Adventurer's guide and sifting through bestiary 6, but I also hope to get a review done this month.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm intending to have more non-combat encounters in Starfinder; I'm hoping this will be good and useful for such a campaign.

Contributor

Distant Scholar wrote:
I'm intending to have more non-combat encounters in Starfinder; I'm hoping this will be good and useful for such a campaign.

So I don't know whether the math will work out the same; Starfinder might have fewer modifier bonuses. If you are willing to convert the DCs, it should be fine. (You'll just need rouse SF's skill list instead of PF's.)

Contributor

WormysQueue wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Hopefully someone will post a review soon.
Not sure how soon "soon" will be, as I'm simultaneously reading the Adventurer's guide and sifting through bestiary 6, but I also hope to get a review done this month.

I'll be looking forward to it!

Contributor

GM Rednal wrote:

In fairness, this is the kind of thing that GM's like me immediately take notice of when it's brought to our attention. XD Anything that helps make better and more interesting skill challenges - instead of just "roll Disable Device" or "roll Diplomacy" - is, by nature, useful.

...

Speaking of, I think I have more credit on my account than this costs.

>.>

<.<

*Click*

Huzzah!

Contributor

Thank you, Rednal, for your glowing review!

To everyone who has this book so far, two questions: 1) Which is your favorite type of skill Challenge, and 2) what could I add in the future to make the Skill Challenge system more useful or fun to you as a player, GM, or adventurer writer?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hmm...

I don't know about favorite, but 'normal' skill challenges are what come up the most often, so that's probably the part of the book I'll be referencing the most. XD

The thing that would probably be most useful to me would be an expansion into ability checks, which tend to be much harder to get great modifiers for than skill checks are. Some parts of this book address ability checks as a thing that can happen, but a little more commentary on that and - especially - a chart like the one on Page 29 would help make those easier to integrate as things like obstacles in chases or stand-alone challenges.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've been busy going to UK Games Expo, so haven't actually read any more than the introduction up to this point.

I shall now do some reading while I wait for my gaming group to come online.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Alexander Augunas wrote:

Thank you, Rednal, for your glowing review!

To everyone who has this book so far, two questions: 1) Which is your favorite type of skill Challenge, and 2) what could I add in the future to make the Skill Challenge system more useful or fun to you as a player, GM, or adventurer writer?

1) May change as I read them, but at the moment I'd say the Influence challenges are my favorite and the type of challenge that might most immediately find use in my games. I'm a big fan of the diplomatic approach and simultaneously hate the diplomacy skill, so this may come in handy big time

2)I'll come back to that when I've finished reading the book, so to be able to add something substantial to the discussion.

Contributor

WormysQueue wrote:
1) May change as I read them, but at the moment I'd say the Influence challenges are my favorite and the type of challenge that might most immediately find use in my games. I'm a big fan of the diplomatic approach and simultaneously hate the diplomacy skill, so this may come in handy big time

I'm a big fan of them too! In fact, I wrote the Skill Challenge Handbook largely so I could do a chase the way I wanted in A Fox's Wedding, and an influence encounter the way I wanted in Yuletide Terror.


Rednal wrote one great review for this.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is awesome... Like, as someone whose not played 4E but is familiar with the concept, the title undersells it honestly. I can't think of the last time I was so floored by a PF-compatible product. Bravo! So to answer your questions...

1) Right now, I'm loving Verbal Duels: with the plethora of tactics and the interactions, it's *very* reminiscent of Burning Wheel's Duel of Wits...

2) ...which leads me to say, "Hey, you know what'd be great? Some guidelines for creating and adjudicating verbals duels between PCs." Pathfinder isn't a PvP game, but it'd be a boon for those groups that want RP encounters between their characters to both carry more in-game weight and to not just don't boil down to 'the pushiest player's ideas win.' My thoughts got kind of long, so I dropped it a spoiler.

Spoiler:
If you're (somehow, given the design) unfamiliar with Duel of Wits, the two participants agree on stakes (what each side gets if they win), and then it plays out like a no-audience, double-blind Verbal Duel with the momentum quality. The victor gets what they want, but they have to offer a compromise, and the more momentum they lost, the bigger the compromise. Now, this works well for BW in part because characters have a few flavors of hero points based around how they interact with their beliefs and goals, which encourages players to work it out in-character because even the loser benefits. A combination of XP or hero points could work to this goal, but there's likely better mechanics to play with to play with.

It also works because the result is mechanically binding, and the same four considerations would be required for Pathfinder: namely, that both players consent to the duel, that they understand that the result would be mechanically binding (possibly with a mundane geas analogue), that the stakes are specific enough as to not be debilitating (like, perhaps the Paladin's stakes are "The rogue will not steal from the citizens of Ustalav," allowing the rogue the freedom to pilfer from merchants, caravans, and other adventuring groups passing through the area, or any who are not legal citizens of the land) and that not direct opposites of each other (if they are, that leaves the winner no room to both get what they want for winning and also offer the loser a compromise). It'd take a bit of doing, but I'd love to see what comparable system you might accomplish.

Phew, now that we got that out of the way, couple things I've noted in that same section:
- Pg. 66: Between the Special Actions header and the Discover Biases subheader, the paragraph references 'chases' rather than 'verbal duels.
- Pg. 69, 70: The Presence and Wit tactics both reference a 'determination' statistic that appears to be left over from an earlier draft, as a quick word find didn't reveal 'determination' anywhere else in the document.

Contributor

Quote:
2) ...which leads me to say, "Hey, you know what'd be great? Some guidelines for creating and adjudicating verbals duels between PCs." Pathfinder isn't a PvP game, but it'd be a boon for those groups that want RP encounters between their characters to both carry more in-game weight and to not just don't boil down to 'the pushiest player's ideas win.' My thoughts got kind of long, so I dropped it a spoiler.

It's a neat idea, but I'm not sure that offering specifically PVP skill challenges is the right away to go for an expansion, considering that in my experiences, PVP content tends to just be a hassle for the GM unless she's specifically planned and intended for it in her campaign. (I don't really want to stop the storytelling process so my two players can use a mechanics-based system to "suss it out" when they're both real people at the table and should be able to work out their problems on their own for the betterment of the gaming experience.)

Of course, this is just how I view PVP interactions, and if you're using the highly modular Skill Challenge system to build PVP stuff in your home games, more power to you. It's simply not a direction I'm likely to take a future product.

Contributor

Quote:
- Pg. 69, 70: The Presence and Wit tactics both reference a 'determination' statistic that appears to be left over from an earlier draft, as a quick word find didn't reveal 'determination' anywhere else in the document.

You're right; basically, replace "determination" with "completion," so that presence reasons like this:

Quote:
Special: If you win an exchange with presence, you reduce your opponent’s number of successes towards completing the skill challenge by 1 (minimum 0).

And wit reads like this:

Quote:
Special: When using wit, you can choose to gain a +2 bonus on the associated skill check. If you do so and fail the associated skill check, your opponent gains 1 additional success. If you fail by 5 or more, you take a –2 penalty on wit’s associated skill checks for the rest of the duel.

Behind the Curtain:
Basically, the core mechanical system that the Skill Challenge Handbook uses as a scaffold is a "filing off the serial numbers" of Pathfinder's research, verbal duel, chase/pursuit, and influence rules, but more streamlined with more options and advice, plus rules discussing how to build each type of challenge. In Ultimate Intrigue's verbal duel rules, "determination" is basically your willingness to continue the discussion, and for a whole into the book's writing I had kept the term. However, I ultimately decided that since the rest of the book uses the term "completion," it didn't make sense to keep "determination" when the prior term was fine.

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Understandable regarding the expansion suggestion. It's definitely outside of the realm of normal Pathfinder play. It mostly came from the fact I love Pathfinder for it's staggering options, yet I also find a lot of things in other RPGs that look neat and like to find ways to incorporate that into my PF games rather than convincing people to try a new system. Thanks for the response!

Silver Crusade

Going to test this system out in this week's session with the start to book 6 of Giantslayer; I'll give you an after action report, Alex!

(and the Kyubi review is still being worked on)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on Lou Agresta's RPGaggression, OBS, etc.

Seriously, folks. GET THIS. I can't recall when a book so thoroughly blew my mind. It's universal in its awesomeness and may be the best GM-tool out there for PFRPG. Not kidding.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Endzeitgeist wrote:

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on Lou Agresta's RPGaggression, OBS, etc.

Seriously, folks. GET THIS. I can't recall when a book so thoroughly blew my mind. It's universal in its awesomeness and may be the best GM-tool out there for PFRPG. Not kidding.

Wow, you humble me with your praise! Thank you for your review, End! :D


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I knew dipping in for this was the right idea. XD I stand by my thoughts on the minor things I think could make it even more useful than it already is... but yeah, this is a pretty outstanding product.


End's review gives me the idea that he finds this one pretty good. ;) I guess I'll have to step up my plans on when I'll buy it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I do have to second Endy's review (and will do my own as soon as I can fit it into my apparently ridiculously busy schedule).

This book is fantastic.

Alex does amazing work, and this is definitely going to sit up there with Ultimate Charisma as one of my favourite supplements ever.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I was already looking to pick this up, now I have to move it to the top of the list after reading End's review.


A question for the people who have this one: would you say it works well when handling social skills? I.e., like with the material listed in Ultimate Intrigue? Debates, trials, seductions, influencing people, etc.?


3 people marked this as a favorite.

You could probably mix the two books, though my gut feeling is that the Skill Challenge Handbook is broadly standalone. Most notably, one of its major sections is Verbal Duels, and that would probably suffice for things like debates and trials while seductions and influencing people are probably represented better by a 'normal' skill challenge.

Either way, it's certainly capable of handling social skills.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

When EZG writes such a review about a 3pp product, i buy it in a blink of an eye!

Contributor

Thanks for all of the support, gals and guys! :D


GM Rednal wrote:

You could probably mix the two books, though my gut feeling is that the Skill Challenge Handbook is broadly standalone. Most notably, one of its major sections is Verbal Duels, and that would probably suffice for things like debates and trials while seductions and influencing people are probably represented better by a 'normal' skill challenge.

Either way, it's certainly capable of handling social skills.

Thanks.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm, any chance of a physical copy of this one becoming available? I like it a lot, but it'd be a lot easier to use with a physical copy to consult, I think.

Though now I'm pondering a compilation of all your Unchained material (unchained fighters and expansion material, eidolons, monk archetypes, cunning, rage, skills & options)...though you've made some noises before about an unchained bard, so maybe such an idea should wait...presuming there's even enough demand to justify it...

Anyways, good work as usual, Alex!

Contributor

Luthorne wrote:

Hmm, any chance of a physical copy of this one becoming available? I like it a lot, but it'd be a lot easier to use with a physical copy to consult, I think.

Though now I'm pondering a compilation of all your Unchained material (unchained fighters and expansion material, eidolons, monk archetypes, cunning, rage, skills & options)...though you've made some noises before about an unchained bard, so maybe such an idea should wait...presuming there's even enough demand to justify it...

Anyways, good work as usual, Alex!

You can pick up a physical copy now at DriveThruRPG!

As for having hard copies at Paizo's Warehouse? Not sure. When I was independent (aka before I started listing with Rogue Genius Games) I never really sold physical copies all that well anywhere but DriveThru. It sort of ended up turning into money that was just lost to limbo.

Why? Is anyone interested in buying them here instead of elsewhere?


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Alexander Augunas wrote:

You can pick up a physical copy now at DriveThruRPG!

As for having hard copies at Paizo's Warehouse? Not sure. When I was independent (aka before I started listing with Rogue Genius Games) I never really sold physical copies all that well anywhere but DriveThru. It sort of ended up turning into money that was just lost to limbo.

Why? Is anyone interested in buying them here instead of elsewhere?

Ah, I just admit I don't pay that much attention to DriveThruRPG goings-ons. Good to hear there's a physical version...will have to snag it later on.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Due to DTRPG being one of the reasons I had to get 4 new credit cards in 6 months, I currently refuse to give them money. I use the account for review copies of books, but that's it. So I, for one, would be happy to get physical books from here.

Of course, I do tend to just print out books, regardless, so I have a hardcopy already, it's just not bound with a glossy cover...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I will pick this as soon as my wages hit the bank.
How can I buy one pdf here to gift it to my GM ?

And yes, this was already on my wishlist thanks to rednal's review and this thread. EZG just turned it into instant MustBuy. Thanks guys and thanks to the author for inspiring such exaltation :-)


Hmm... if nothing else, I'm pretty sure you can buy a gift certificate and tell your GM that it's for a specific product you'd like to give them.

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