Phantom Steed Skill Challenge


Advice


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Hi

I'm working up a side-trek to run for my players. It is somewhat inspired by the movie Guns of the Navaronne.

The players will need to scale a cliff to get up a hidden side of a tropical island occupied by enemy pirates (and possibly other natural/fantastic threats). They then need to quickly cross the island in dangerous territory to get to the other side and take out cannons on a high cliff. These cannons are used by enemy pirates to threaten shipping through a narrow straight. They are climbing the cliff because it gives them an approach that is not seen, but unfortunately for the PCs, it is not to close to the cannons.

I want a friendly wizard to be waiting for them at the top of the cliff who casts communal phantom steed to help them quickly cross the island and get to the site with the cannons. The wizard is level 9, so plan that the communal phantom steed spell will make 6 horses each lasting 90 minutes. The horses have a speed of 80 ft per round and can cross sandy/muddy/swampy ground easily. This is the only assistance this wizard will provide the party.

Where I need advice:
I want to treat the phantom steed ride across the island as a skill challenge, kinda like the equivalent of a motorcycle chase in Pathfinder. Please help me brainstorm things that could happen during this phantom steed ride to make for a fun and interesting skill challenge.

The players are level 5-6.

Jack

Shadow Lodge

drsparnum wrote:

Hi

I'm working up a side-trek to run for my players. It is somewhat inspired by the movie Guns of the Navaronne.

The players will need to scale a cliff to get up a hidden side of a tropical island occupied by enemy pirates (and possibly other natural/fantastic threats). They then need to quickly cross the island in dangerous territory to get to the other side and take out cannons on a high cliff. These cannons are used by enemy pirates to threaten shipping through a narrow straight. They are climbing the cliff because it gives them an approach that is not seen, but unfortunately for the PCs, it is not to close to the cannons.

I want a friendly wizard to be waiting for them at the top of the cliff who casts communal phantom steed to help them quickly cross the island and get to the site with the cannons. The wizard is level 9, so plan that the communal phantom steed spell will make 6 horses each lasting 90 minutes. The horses have a speed of 80 ft per round and can cross sandy/muddy/swampy ground easily. This is the only assistance this wizard will provide the party.

Where I need advice:
I want to treat the phantom steed ride across the island as a skill challenge, kinda like the equivalent of a motorcycle chase in Pathfinder. Please help me brainstorm things that could happen during this phantom steed ride to make for a fun and interesting skill challenge.

The players are level 5-6.

Jack

First of all, the duration of Phantom Steed, Communal requires you to 'divide the duration in 1-hour intervals among the steeds summoned' so you can't actually end up with 6 mounts for 90 minutes each: At best, three of the mounts will last 1 hour and the other three will last for 2 hours.

Outside of that, does anyone in your party actually have ranks in the Ride skill? Not many people take it in my experience (so many options, so few skill points), but it would seem rather hard to make a 'horse chase skill challenge' without actual ride checks, which in turn means the PCs will probably do fairly badly unless the difficulty is set so low that it's not really a 'challenge'...

Honestly, even climbing the cliff should be an issue for most party members (even if it is really easy, a negative climb skill is not actually unusual), but at least there are a fair number of magical options to help with that...


1. As the PCs ride up or down a ravine along a narrow path, they must make a check or stumble and slide. Anyone failing might cause rocks to fall and damage riders (or their steed) beneath them.

2. As 1. but rocks tumble from above.

3. The PCs ride through baboon territory. As they pass beneath the screeching primates, the creatures throw sticks, rocks, poo, and also poo-smeared sticks and rocks at them. They avoid attacking the phantom steeds (being animals). Riders struck take 1d4+1 damage and must make a DC 10 Fortitude save or be sickened for 2 rounds. It should take about 4 rounds of successful Ride checks to clear the territory (assume underbrush, roots, and winding paths prevent full out running). Each round, each PC should be subjected to 3 attacks.

Optional: There are approximately 25 baboons. For each one killed, there's a 1% cumulative chance that some monkey god gets upset and sets a devil monkey onto the PC's trail within 10 minutes. While the phantom steeds can run faster, the jungle underbrush, slow progress on future challenges, or pausing to rest or heal up might allow it to reach them (possibly as they assault the cannons).

4. A large tree has fallen across a chasm. The PCs must walk or ride their steeds across it.

5. During a relatively straight stretch of animal trail, the PCs must make checks to pass beneath low branches and dangling vines or get yanked from their saddles and take falling damage.

6. As 5, but there's an assassin vine.

7. A wide clearing of head-high (to a horse) sawgrass. Crossing it at half-speed is relatively safe. Crossing it faster deals 1 point of damage to the steed per round and to any riders without sufficiently protected feet and legs (or other body parts in reach of the grass) and requires a Ride check or the steed stumbles or the rider otherwise falls off (taking half normal falling damage because of the grass cushioning the fall, but an additional plus one from the sawgrass.
Unfortunately, a pair of hunting tigers (or velociraptors if you like the classics) are hunting inside as well and might catch up to slow movers.

8. This stretch of jungle has numerous tree roots and ground vines that might trip up the steed's unless their speed is slowed, damaging them or any riders thrown off.

9. A massive pair of trees have fallen across the path. The PCs can try and go around them (taking time to bushwhack through the undergrowth), move them with Strength checks (taking time depending on methods and success of the checks), or leap them with the phantom steeds. The difficulty should be high enough that accounting for the steed's speed (80) they should have a 60–70% chance of success, but on a failure the steed slams into the tree, taking damage (and possibly destroying it) as well as the rider being thrown (either into the tree or over it to the other side).

10. As any of the above but with low-laying jungle mist concealing 1–2 feet of the jungle floor.


Taja the Barbarian wrote:
drsparnum wrote:

Hi

I'm working up a side-trek to run for my players. It is somewhat inspired by the movie Guns of the Navaronne.

The players will need to scale a cliff to get up a hidden side of a tropical island occupied by enemy pirates (and possibly other natural/fantastic threats). They then need to quickly cross the island in dangerous territory to get to the other side and take out cannons on a high cliff. These cannons are used by enemy pirates to threaten shipping through a narrow straight. They are climbing the cliff because it gives them an approach that is not seen, but unfortunately for the PCs, it is not to close to the cannons.

I want a friendly wizard to be waiting for them at the top of the cliff who casts communal phantom steed to help them quickly cross the island and get to the site with the cannons. The wizard is level 9, so plan that the communal phantom steed spell will make 6 horses each lasting 90 minutes. The horses have a speed of 80 ft per round and can cross sandy/muddy/swampy ground easily. This is the only assistance this wizard will provide the party.

Where I need advice:
I want to treat the phantom steed ride across the island as a skill challenge, kinda like the equivalent of a motorcycle chase in Pathfinder. Please help me brainstorm things that could happen during this phantom steed ride to make for a fun and interesting skill challenge.

The players are level 5-6.

Jack

First of all, the duration of Phantom Steed, Communal requires you to 'divide the duration in 1-hour intervals among the steeds summoned' so you can't actually end up with 6 mounts for 90 minutes each: At best, three of the mounts will last 1 hour and the other three will last for 2 hours.

Outside of that, does anyone in your party actually have ranks in the Ride skill? Not many people take it in my experience...

for the duration, you can give the npc a metamagic rod of extended spell. netting him 18 hours to give out.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Thank you. Really great ideas!

Shadow Lodge

drsparnum wrote:
Thank you. Really great ideas!
The important questions are:
  • How many party members will suck at ride checks? Remember, a 12 Dex + MW Fullplate character will probably roll 1d20-4.
  • Are there going to be consequences for check failures? Will this just make the group miserable as each check is probably going to have at least one failure?
  • When the party loses a mount, how does this impact the story? Will reducing the party to the dismounted character's walking speed change things? If not, should the party just reject the initial mount offer and head off on foot in order to avoid the ride check hassles?

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