Author Topic: Challenge of Champions  (Read 7490 times)

Cramulus

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Challenge of Champions
« on: October 03, 2011, 03:29:49 pm »
Here's a toy for the DMs out there.

Challenge of Champions is a puzzle based adventure for Dungeons and Dragons.

The concept is that the PCs are competing in an adventurer's competition. They are one of 15 teams to enter the contest. The contest consists of 10 rooms, each containing a puzzle. The adventurers may not bring in any weapons, armor, gear, or use any spells during the contest - in each room, they are given some tools they must use to solve the puzzle. They have 15 minutes of real time to solve each puzzle - the time limit is adjusted based on actions that your PC takes. (so if you say "I use the rope to tie the two ladders together like nunchucks", the DM may say "that takes 2 minutes", and now your time is up at 13 instead of 15 minutes)

The Challenge of Champions adventures can be run for PCs of any level, in any edition of D&D. It has no combat whatsoever. You may need to use d20srd.org to reference how specific spells and magic items work within the test. (for example, the mod writeup may say that the proctor hands you a Rod of Lordly Might, but the writeup doesn't include the magic item description... you'll have to look it up on d20srd)

Challenge of Champions I was printed in the 90s in Dungeon Magazine. There have been six of them published. I've managed to find three of them.

Here's a scan  of Challenge of Champions V: http://www.scribd.com/doc/67292178/Challenge-of-Champions-V

If you guys want, I can scan in some others.

Cramulus

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Re: Challenge of Champions
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2011, 03:33:48 pm »
I ran one of these (I think it was Challenge IV?) with my group last week. It was a lot of fun - but VERY different from our current gaming style.

My PCs aren't used to describing their actions in such detail, so there was a little frustration surrounding that. There were a few moments where I'd say, "Wait, you just said you pick up an object in each hand and climb a ladder... how do you climb the ladder with your hands full?" and the PC goes "Gahhh fine, I hold the egg with my mouth" or something like that.

A lot of the skill checks they ask for in these writeups don't make sense in 4th edition... for example, there's no Use Rope or Balance skill. I substituted ability checks (mostly dex) for these missing skills. But I set the DC really low because the challenge is more about solving the puzzle than it is about having the right skills.


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Re: Challenge of Champions
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2011, 05:44:40 pm »
They have 15 minutes of real time to solve each puzzle

OK, here's a question that surely reveals how little of a DnD guy I am.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the character I'm playing has an intelligence of 18 (or, whatever catagory or score indicates genius-level smarts-- the last time I looked into a game, you rolled 3d6 for stats).

Also for the sake of argument, let us assume that I am most certainly not a genius (that one won't be too hard).


So, I am presented with a room with a puzzle.  I happen to suck at puzzles.  However, the character I'm playing is brilliant at puzzles. 

The question being: How is it considered "fair" that I, and not my character, must figure out the puzzle?  Would the DM give me hints pro-rated to my character's intelligence?

Cramulus

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Re: Challenge of Champions
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2011, 05:51:59 pm »
it kind of depends on the DM and the style of campaign.

My view on it is:

in these scenarios, the "FUN" is in actually figuring out the solution. If your character was able to just roll a check to solve the puzzle, then there's little point to writing puzzles. Riddles would be things like "Who was the first king of Ave Sestina?" and the solution is that the player with the highest History skill rolls a 10 or higher on a d20. Not terribly interesting because it didn't take any creativity to solve the problem.

As a DM, you do fudge the results a little to account for people's ability scores. A good example is the party paladin who has a really high charisma, but the player himself is not nearly as glib. So when I'm playing an NPC he's talking to, I react to the player as if he's a really intimidating and persuasive guy.

I often give hints based on character knowledge and personality. That way you still get a bit of a "smart guy" edge during a mental challenge. But if I actually put together a puzzle, then generally, you actually have to solve the puzzle.


PopeTom

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Re: Challenge of Champions
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2011, 12:00:14 am »
They have 15 minutes of real time to solve each puzzle

OK, here's a question that surely reveals how little of a DnD guy I am.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the character I'm playing has an intelligence of 18 (or, whatever catagory or score indicates genius-level smarts-- the last time I looked into a game, you rolled 3d6 for stats).

Also for the sake of argument, let us assume that I am most certainly not a genius (that one won't be too hard).


So, I am presented with a room with a puzzle.  I happen to suck at puzzles.  However, the character I'm playing is brilliant at puzzles. 

The question being: How is it considered "fair" that I, and not my character, must figure out the puzzle?  Would the DM give me hints pro-rated to my character's intelligence?

It's a weird thing about RPGs.  In a fight you use all the abilities of the character you are playing to resolve it.  Once you aren't in a fight, solving puzzles, negotiation a price on a magic item, hobnobbing with the royal court, many times it becomes the player's abilities at those things, not the character's.

The solution I've seen that I kind of like for this is to roll the skill test then role-play the result.  As opposed to, say, giving an impassioned speech to build up the morale of an out numbered army (and the player doing a good job of it) then rolling a 1 on the charisma/ diplomacy check.
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kingyak

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Re: Challenge of Champions
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2011, 05:08:38 pm »
My basic rules for dealing with the gap between player and character abilities:

Players are not penalized for not knowing things their character would know
If you're playing a cop and start to do something that violates police procedure, I'll tell you know that and let you decide whether or not to continue. I'm not going to let the player do something (perhaps unknowingly) that the character would know is a no-no and then punish them for it. If it's something iffy, I might require a roll for them to realize they're entering a gray area. If I'm not sure if what they're doing would be legal or not, I may also have them roll, with success indicating that the character is able to come up with a legal/procedural justification for the action. Likewise, I'm not going to expect players to know all the specifics of the game world--you know the current king's name, but might have to roll to remember who was king 100 years ago.

Players are not penalized for the GM's shortcomings
The characters are experiencing the world in full detail, but the players are limited to the GM's ability to describe that world. Obviously things like search checks require rolls, but I also allow rolls whenever the gap between game world and GM abilities could result in the players not picking up on something. If a GMC is hiding something, I'll try to play him appropriately, but if the players don't pick up on it, I'll give the ones whose characters have a chance of noticing the GMC's shifty behavior a roll to make up for my limited acting ability.

Resolving everything with die rolls is boring
If an action isn't really going to add to the plot or allow for meaningful characterization ("I'm going to Google the bad guy"), a die roll is fine. In other situations, using die rolls causes the story to suffer. In these cases, I use a "role-play, then roll" rule, possibly with bonuses or extra Yum Yums going to players who role-play well, come up with good ideas, etc. In the time limit puzzle type scenario, I'd probably give the players a few minutes to figure things out on their own and let them roll for clues a few times during the scene. If they're getting close to the end of the time limit and still haven't figured things out, I'd probably give them one last roll to figure out the solution at the last minute. I often do the same kind of thing in combat. If a fight scene is getting boring or everybody's had a chance to do something cool or the players come up with a cool "finishing move," the enemy dies regardless of whether or not he's got any hit points left.

Player abilities shouldn't take the place of character abilities
This is kind of the inverse of the previous one. A guy I used to game with (who fancied himself a smooth talker) used to try to fast-talk his way out of everything, regardless of whether or not his character had any appropriate skills. Some GMs would let him get away with it if he came up with a halfway plausible story. I always made him roll no matter how good his story was (though, as mentioned above, I would give him bonuses if he actually came up with a good tale). In a puzzle type situation, if a smart player has a dumb character, he'll have to roll before he suggests a solution or possible way to solve the puzzle.  



« Last Edit: October 06, 2011, 05:13:44 pm by kingyak »
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