DMs Guild Review – Challenge Accepted!

Adds D&D 4E’s Skill Challenges into Fifth Edition, along with over a dozen example encounters.

dms guild review

A review copy of “Challenge Accepted!” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Justin Handlin (Crit Academy)

I have zero experience with Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition, but according to Challenge Accepted!, Skill Challenges were a popular and well-received rules mechanic for overcoming encounters outside of, or sometimes adjacent to, combat encounters.. The rules supplement features over a dozen detailed example encounters that employ Skill Challenges, as well as several traps and hazards to create exciting situations in D&D 5E.

With D&D and other tabletop RPGs, it’s generally good advice to avoid shutting down PCs with a harsh “no,” and instead using “Yes, but…” when they present a solution or tactic to a situation. Skill Challenges help break up those moments into individual skill checks of varying difficulty. Skill Challenges can range in complexity from 1 to 3, which determines the number of successes players need to collectively roll, before rolling three failures.

The results can range from Total Success (no failures), to partial success (1-2 failures rolled) to Failure (three failures rolled).

Skill Challenges can be used in any situation or encounter that affects the whole party, and they can be as dramatic as an active trap with enemies, or as mundane as searching a library for information.

The actual rules for Skill Challenges only take up a handful of pages. The bulk of the supplement are 16 example challenge encounters. These are well-written, well-designed encounters that range from hazardous (navigating blizzards and raging rivers), to dangerous (shutting down demon-spewing portals), to social (interrogating a captured foe, or convincing a unicorn you mean no harm) to information-gathering (searching a library for clues).

dms guild review

Murder in the Streets showcases a murder investigation, and how different party members can use different skills to suss out the culprit, such as Investigating the body, using Medicine to check the wound, Nature to identify poison, Perception to note any clues, and Survival to track footprints, as well as using the usual social skills to interview witnesses. Each skill DC will have a different Difficulty Class, mostly drawn from the whims of the DM. Identifying the poison could be Hard (DC 20) while finding the wound would be Easy (DC 10).

Emergency Surgery is another good example of a skill challenge. What could otherwise be a single PC making a Medicine check, could become a more interesting group encounter by using Medicine, Sleight of Hand, Perception, and Nature checks to identify and remove a magically poisoned arrow. Total Success involves saving the victim, partial success saves the victim but leaves them permanently scarred or disfigured, while failure leaves the poor victim dead.

My main concern about Skill Challenges is that it may game-ify things too much and take away from role-playing. I wouldn’t want to turn every encounter or situation into a party-wide Skill Challenge, but they definitely provide an interesting avenue to get PCs more involved, more coordinated, and rolling dice.

Challenge Accepted! also includes several terrain hazards and complex traps that can be used to add additional elements to any Skill Challenge encounter. None of them are particularly noteworthy or unique, but I appreciate the suggested countermeasures that attempt to predict how the PCs will deal with them, and what a potential Skill Challenge with them would look like.

Pros:

  • Excellent layout and presentation.
  • 16 well-constructed encounters that utilize Skill Challenges
  • Multiple degrees of total success, moderate success, and failure.

Cons:

  • None!

The Verdict: Challenge Accepted! expertly Ushers Skill Challenges into Fifth Edition with over a dozen detailed example encounters.

A review copy of “Challenge Accepted!” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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