No argument from Eryndir. He's proficient in Persuasion and Deception, but not inherently very Charismatic.
Top of round two seems like a good time for Eryndir to Help Caleb, then. Since Caleb has a sense of the disposition of the wine sellers, Eryndir will offer a gentle nudge. His taciturn gaze falls unflinchingly on the Best Wine barrel.
If you let me know what skill you'd like to use once we're ready for Round 2, I can offer a narrative of how Eryndir helps as creatively as possible.
Cool. I think I want to wait and see how the others do first.
"Men are the only animals that devote themselves, day in and day out, to making one another unhappy. It is an art like any other. Its virtuosi are called altruists." - H.L. Mencken
Ah. My bad. Charn'll try to do a Perception check on the Insectoids, then.
Charn's inspection is not only incomplete, it is mildly insensitive. It probably involves poking.
Two successes, one failure.
Able believes it is his duty to look over everyone entering. He will attempt to investigate each group once (in the order they appear to have arrived). He has no bias, so if an investigation fails to find anything suspicious, he's fine with letting them go. Even if we make an honest mistake, we'll have done the job appropriately.
I have 'profociency', but don't know the bonus. I don't care what the difficulty level is - I'll do it once for each group because Able trust's his own judgement. Please feel free to roll. I can post IC if you want.
As official guards, I don't see any reason to be sneaky. If I want to look in a cart, that's my perogative. TSA, bitches.
On a skill check, the bonus is your ability modifier and your proficiency bonus if applicable. At level one, your proficiency bonus is +2. The most common ability that applies to Investigation rolls is Intelligence. That's appropriate here.
Who does Able investigate first?
Able investigates the 'normal' group first. Might as well join everyone else and set clear expectations for the others so they don't think we're profiling.
Cool. That's an easy roll. Go ahead and roll your investigation - 1d20+INT+Proficiency Bonus if applicable
To Able's trained eye, everything is in its right place.
Two successes, two failures.
Everyone can feel free to leave a comment in the IC thread about your interactions.
Alright, team -- as we enter Round Two of this skill challenge, I have a thought. Our generous DM has said that we are each allowed to use the Help action once in this challenge. We currently sit at 2 successes and 2 failures.
I propose that in Rounds 2 and 3, we each Help once and investigate once. That will give two Help actions and two skill actions in each round. If we can ensure success (because of the advantage) on all of the skill actions, we can go into Round 4 with 6 successes and 2 failures. Hopefully.
From there, we can decide what we'd like to do.
I don't have any feelings on which groups folks want to look at or how. Just suggesting that we front load our Help actions to try and get our success count up.
As a note, you can use other skills than investigate.
You could use social skills to talk to the newcomers. You could use Knowledge skills to look for inconsistencies in what should be true and what you see. Basically, come up with a reason to use your best skills here.
Right - I meant "investigate" in the generic sense. I was definitely thinking about Persuasion in conversation, or Sleight of Hand as my next skills. But I wanted to emphasize the Help action and teamwork as ways to boost us.
I still don't trust others to investigate on my behalf. So I'll investigate the next group. Let's go with the Thi-kreen.
Alrighty. That's our third failure.
At this point, I'm resetting the clock. Something happens which you'll find out later.
We're now at zero successes and zero failures and a mystery.
Understood re: Able. Still happy to offer a Help action to Charn or Caleb in Round 2. Eryndir has his eye on that "Best Wine" barrel, but we can come back to that whenever. For the moment, Eryndir will Help whoever it makes the most sense to assist. If you let me know what skill you're using and on which group, I can come up with a narrative as to how Eryndir will help.
Everything appears to be in order.
Zero successes, one failure.
Okay, just to check where we are -
Skill Check Round 1 - Charn/Perception (failure, poked the insects); Eryndir/Perception (success, saw the funky wine barrel); Caleb/Insight (success; judged the mood of the human & halfling); Able/Investigation (failure, waved the human & halfling on). 2 successes/2 failures.
Skill Check Round 2 - Able/Investigation (failure, examined the insectoids); Eryndir/??? (???); Caleb/??? (???); Charn/??? (???) - 3 failures, mystery happened, skill clock resets.
Skill Check Round 3 - Able/Investigation (failure, examined the demons); Eryndir/??? (???); Caleb/??? (???); Charn/??? (???) - 1 failure, zero successes.
We got ahead of ourselves somewhere.
Able is going to let all of these fools in here and we'll be 9/11ed for sure. The only silver lining is that for all we know they're ALL bad guys and maybe their nefarious plots will interrupt each other.
@Trigger - that's right.
@MinusInnocence - that's right.
Caleb wants to use Persuasion to get the obviously drunk guys to lose a little bit of their precious cargo in customs and share the wealth.
For Round 2, then, Eryndir will "Help" Charn. Roll your skill check with advantage, and I'll come up with a narrative way for how Eryndir helps.
Caleb is successful in soliciting a bribe. I will describe that bribe in the IC thread.
This won't count as his contribution to the skill check, so he can still contribute in the second round.
Cool. We'll try Religion in Round 2.
Charn mutters something under his breath in Draconic and puts up a gaunteled palm and insists to the insectoids, "Hold. State your business." He does his best to spurt a little frost out of his nostrils and look tough.
Charn had advantage on that roll. Eryndir is helping. Though not very intimidating on his own, he'll silently stalk around the insectoid creatures, giving them hard looks to reinforce the tough tone of Charn's command.
As a post-script, don't forget that the DM is willing to give us the relative difficulty of the DC before we roll. Some of these tasks may be harder or easier than others.
I think Able already rolled three times. We're still in round two, so he's a bit ahead of himself.
Fortunately, that 1 doesn't count.
Ah. Advantage. Let's try that again.
I love that Able is the hard-nosed, by-the-books border agent here and he is absolutely terrible at it. It could be a string of axe murderers and he would size each one up before letting them pass to go play at Camp Crystal Lake.
Yeah, that's brutal.
The good news is that Knowledge Religion is a success!
Caleb knows the following:
Orcus was typically described as having the head and legs of a goat, although with ram-like horns, a bloated body, bat-like wings, and a long tail.
Orcus cared for nothing save himself—not even his devotees and undead servants—and focused only on spreading misery and evil. One of his most identifiable symbols was the artifact known as the Wand of Orcus, a skull-topped wand with the power to slay any living being. Orcus also wielded a powerful artifact known as the Orcusword.
Like many of the most powerful demon lords who struggled for power in the Abyss, Orcus started his existence as a mortal on the Prime Plane. He was apparently a wicked spellcaster of some sort, most probably a priest to some dark deity. After his death, his soul, like the souls of all chaotic evil mortals, went to the Abyss and Orcus began his afterlife as a lowly larva.
Orcus proceeded to climb through the demonic ranks over the next several thousand years, going from larva to mane, from mane to dretch, from dretch to rutterkin, from rutterkin to vrock, from vrock to glabrezu, from glabrezu to nalfeshnee, and eventually a balor. From there, he ascended to the rank of demon lord, becoming the Prince of the Undead and ruling the layer of Thanatos, the Belly of Death. Even though there are other demon lords aspiring to the title of "Prince of the Undead", Orcus' claim to the title went unchallenged for the most part. Ever hungry for more power, Orcus wanted to be recognized as "Prince of Demons", a title held by Demogorgon and coveted also by Graz'zt. As a result, he became the arch-enemy of both demon lords. In time, Orcus also achieved true godhood.
Orcus' realm was Thanatos, the 113th layer of the Abyss. It was a frigid and frozen layer infested with the undead. Several cities dotted the layer (most of them ruled by minions of Orcus, including a powerful succubus and Quah-Nomag himself). Orcus ruled from his palace of Everlost in the bone-meal desert of Oblivion's End, north of a vast mountain chain called the Final Hills that cut across the layer. Despite Orcus regaining control over Thanatos, Kiaransalee's taint could still be found in the city of Naratyr on the Frozen Sea south of the layer, and in the so-called Forbidden Citadel in the city of Lachrymosa, located in the Final Hills.
(Everything in italics taken from: http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Orcus)
Caleb also knows that Orcus died in The Empire. After Sareen's Folly, Orcus was ripped from the Abyss and transported to what would one day become The Outpost. Orcus lead a series of brutal battles against Mammon in most of the territories belonging to the Scaled Alliance in the south. Many greenskins flocked to Orcus' banner during these bloody days and nights. It is reputed that Orcus was slain by Mammon at Orcus' rest.
Is there any utility to cutting the skill check here? We've got one shit sandwich we'll have to eat somewhere down the road due to amassing failures, and we're currently sitting at 1 success, 2 failures on the second go 'round.
What if we cut our losses? We're a bit all over the place, and without any kind of cohesion, it's hard to see us overcoming the success deficit.
Caleb has enough cash to buy some food to cover him for the next few days and has every intention of getting drunk here in a minute. He thinks the absolute worst that could happen is that he might get fired for sucking so bad but then he would be just like every other adventuring cleric on every other Prime Material Plane - a homeless murderer/tomb robber. Not so bad.
But out of character, yes, we are objectively terrible at this.
I think you guys are terrible at this right now. I don't think you have to be. As players, you can do things like find out how hard your roll is before you roll, you can work together, and you can use skills where you have reasonable bonuses. You're not doing any of those things.
The story isn't bad, but it is the equivalent of getting into a fight and not pulling out your swords. You're not monks, so that's just going to make things really tough.
If we proceed, Caleb wants to roll History to determine what he knows about the kinds of people who used to worship Orcus - these guys sound like textbook asylum seeker material but maybe he could glean some insight into what sort of folks they are apart from their previous religious activity. Maybe there are significant active players in what is left of Orcus' cult, like the necromancer Eryndir saw last night.
But if we abandon the skill challenge, what happens exactly? Do we shut the gate and not let any of the travelers through, abandon our post and let everybody in, or does some external thing happen to interrupt us?
Abandonment of the skill challenge here would be equivalent to the abandonment of the skill challenge in the prologue - you fail, with appropriate results. In the prologue, your intrigue and diplomacy was complicated by barbarian rage. Here, your investigation might be complicated by . . . other factors.
In this case, I know what happens and am prepared for many more mysteries.
In Out of Character terms, we're not functioning as a unit, and we're leaving advantages on the table (like the Help action, and the DM's willingness to tell us the difficulty of rolls before we make them). It doesn't make sense to continue like that, and we're only making things harder for ourselves down the road.
In In Character terms, I think Eryndir would feel the same way. He wouldn't want the party to continue looking like a monkey fucking a football. He'd wave the insectoids along, because they've suffered enough indignities, he'd quarantine the human and halfling because someone has tampered with their wares, and he'd leave the demons for someone else to make a decision about because they give him the creeps.
I have no issues with the character choices folks are making - I assume the best intentions and figure everyone has an awesome story-based reasons for making the choices they do. But if the party isn't going to function as a unit, then we should cut our losses and move on.
NPC boss gave us orders, so we should follow them. The orders were vague, so Able has no problem with doing it badly. If he wanted it done well, he should have provided on the job training.
To me, the DC of the task is irrelevant, as are alternate skill checks. I wasn't told to get to know these people, or determine their background, only if they pose a threat. Since this is a fortress and there are a bunch of badasses here, I don't see anything that looks like a problem.
This might be my failure as a player, but I don't see a problem to engage in. If the thi-kreen were trying to eat the halfling, we'd have a problem. Right now, we don't.
Regarding skill challenges, it seems like we were all encouraged to take an action each round, but if we were smart only the person with the highest bonus should roll. I mean, if I had an example of 'you could succeed with 1 easy diplomacy, 1 easy religion and 1 easy slight of hand' as opposed to 'easy/medium/hard investigate' I could make an informed decision, but I don't understand why we would want to do anything other than investigate, and why we wouldn't just have the person with the highest bonus roll.
So maybe it would be helpful to me if there was some example on how they should work, because I don't 'savvy'
Caleb can't really get a read on whether or not the party is doing poorly. He thinks Able is being weird about trying to move everyone along without even talking to some of them or checking out their cargo any more carefully than with a brief once-over; but it isn't obvious to him that the party, collectively, are failing in their appointed task.
Actually, for his part, he's doing really well. He hasn't failed a roll yet and even succeeded on a freebie along the way, not to mention that some of the skills he hasn't tried yet that he is actually proficient in have an even higher modifier. So he's fine with however it shakes out.
But if we continue and Eryndir would like Caleb to assist him and try to give him advantage on one of his rolls instead of packing it in and conceding defeat, let's talk shop. I'm proficient in History and Medicine but have positive modifiers for Wisdom- and Charisma-based skill checks. Is there something you would like to attempt that falls into one of those categories?
I'm sorry if I didn't make the rules of the encounter clear. Every round, each of the PCs makes a skill roll to interact with the skill challenge. In this case, you're told to act as the extraplanar TSA. You should decide what skills your character uses to act as the protagonist from the hit game "Papers, Please".
I think you're using investigation correctly - your character might investigate the NPCs and make decisions there. However, you can use other skills too - Able might use Persuasion to talk to the NPCs, gain their trust, and hear what they have to say. Someone could use Sleight of Hand to pick pocket somebody and see what they are carrying. Someone could use Medicine to look and see if any of the NPCs have infectious diseases that shouldn't be brought into The Empire. There are a number of different ways to use skills to creatively screen these extraplanar immigrants.
The event is certainly an abstraction, but it works in rounds just like combat. Each round of the skill challenge each PC can attempt to advance a solution to a problem. Similarly, a PC could choose to "help" another with their action. This means that the PC doesn't get a chance to roll, but another PC gets advantage on their skill check. Your goal is to accrue a number of successes before you accrue three failures.
We engaged in a skill challenge during the prologue. I posted a long set of rules in the 33rd post in the OOC thread for the prologue. Those rules still apply here. If you have questions I am more than happy to answer those. Let me know how I can help.
Do we have to roll skill checks each round? Why would I use persuasion instead of [i]charm person [/i]? Why does each PC have to roll each round? No matter what skill Able chose, he'd have tanked the challenge because I've rolled so poorly.
Edit - For most people, a more concrete example is helpful, for me, I'd just like to determine basic probability. It appears that we're at 50% or below for each check, in which case we're highly unlikely to achieve 3 successes before 3 failures (and virtually guaranteed not to achieve 6). But I don't understand what 3 successes to 3 failures means versus 6 successes to 3 failures.
Each PC does have to roll a skill check each round, with one exception. Once per challenge, you may forgo a roll to assist someone else and give them advantage. Some people use this as a way to not accrue a failure, while others use it to greatly improve the chances of a success. Your millage may vary.
You could use charm person, and I could determine that gives you advantage or have some additional effect. However, charm person does also have downsides. There are trade offs. If you want to do something unexpected - like solicit a bribe of wine - I might arbitrate that outside the bounds of the skill challenge. That's what Caleb did here.
Rolling poorly does have negative side effects (see every roll Charn has made this entire campaign). There isn't much to do there.
You can ask the DC prior to making the roll. For example, investigating the wine merchants/Orcus cultists would be a DC 10. Investigating the demons was DC 12. Investigating the Thri-Kreen was DC 15. That's easy/medium/hard. Using something like Knowledge religion for the demons is DC 10. Using it on the wine cultists is DC 12. Using it on the Thri-Kreen is DC 20 - crazy hard! Before you roll though, you get to come up with an idea and pitch me on it. I'll assign a rough value to it and you'll decide whether or not you want to go through with it or change your approach. Once you roll though - that's it. You live and die by the die roller.
There isn't much you can do when rolls are poor - but you can mitigate the negative effects of low rolls by cherry-picking low DCs, by giving each other advantage, and by building on previous successes. For example, once that rascal wood elf figured out that the Best Wine barrels were goofy, someone specifically investigating the Best Wine barrels would have a lower DC - the DC 10 might go down to DC 5! Your best bet is almost always to build on the successes of the people who came before you and/or come up with a really creative application of the world.
So it seems like we should let a declared action fully resolve before we post our declaration?
It can't hurt.
I'm happy to keep going with the skill challenge if we all want to work together on it. As the DM said, there are ways for us to collaborate, give one another advantage on rolls, build on prior successes, and seek out advantageous DC's. That's just a decision we've got to make as a group.
If there are reasons that the characters wouldn't work together, then we should cut it here.
I'm totally happy either way. No judgment - honest. If there are reasons that the PC's wouldn't work together, that's a perfectly valid character choice to make. If Able doesn't trust the party yet, that's awesome! It gives us something to build upon from an RP perspective. If characters think they're fulfilling their task adequately, that's also awesome. Our PC's don't know what our rolls are, so they don't know whether they're succeeding or failing. (Except Caleb, who seems to be succeeding with aplomb.)
But while it's not clear how many successes or failures they're gathering, I think it's clear to my PC at least that they're scattered and sometimes working at odds with one another. So, unless he saw an opportunity to pull it together and function as a party, he'd probably just make the call as I described above. Wave the insectoids in, quarantine the wine cultists, and ignore the demons.
OK. In that case, Caleb will proceed in Round 3 with the History check about Orcus-related activity since the Folly that I mentioned earlier, hoping to piggyback off the Religion roll. If he knows where Orcus' Rest is or how far away it is he will also offer that information to the cultists.
Eryndir would like to inspect the Best Wine barrels. Here are my thoughts on how to do so.
1. Stealth, because it's my best roll. He's not trying to sneak around the cart, per se. He's walking around it openly with a discerning eye, but will hopefully be able to take advantage of some distraction someone else is providing in order to sneakily examine the barrels.
2. If the DC for Stealth is not "easy," then he will try to use basic Perception again. Same idea, though - walking around the cart to inspect the barrels, taking advantage of the fact that someone is distracting the merchants to play extra close attention to the barrels while he passes.
Would Able or Charn be willing to assist?