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Investigating the Fire

Encounter Level 4 (350 xp)

Skill Challenges are not supposed to stop the characters from progressing in the story but rather make it harder for them to do so if they are failed, and in this skill challenge it is important that the PCs gather all the information that is available, and so the question arrises of “why a skill challenge?”. The answer to that question lies in the fate of an NPC, and future effects on the game rather than on the initial outcome of the skill challenge. If the PCs succeed in this challenge an NPC’s life is saved, if they fail he is killed as the perpetrator and other events must transpire to reveal his innocence leaving the PCs (and other NPCs) to resolve their feelings over putting an innocent man to death, along with the actions of the NPCs allies in seeking revenge.

As with Something’s Burning! this skill challenge is adapted from the Paizo  3.5E adventure path Legacy of Fire and so only names and key facts are included to give direction on how to adapt the information from that module into a skill challenge. Being that this challenge is mostly one of talking to people it is heavily dependant on social skills, so this may result in only a few characters being good at achieving success during it, which may require your adjusting it for your party.

Investigating the Fire – Sill Challenge

Level: 2
Complexity: 2 (6 Successes before 3 Failures)
Special: This skill challenge is divided into scenes which can happen in any order theoretically, except the “Judgement” scene which must be last.

Scene 1 – The Burnt Wagon
Perception or Thievery (DC15): The character(s) search the wagon and learn that there are no obvious signs of a struggle, or of forced entry into the wagon.
Heal (DC20): The PC cannot find any signs of injury other than fire on Eloias’ body and can conclude the fire or smoke killed him.
Special: The characters can get 1 success from this scene. If they gain all the information they gain a +1 bonus to rolls in Scene 5 – Judgement.

Scene 2 – Questioning Almah
Special: Almah has authority over the PCs and cannot be intimidated, be sure to mae this clear to the characters before they start talking to her.
Diplomacy (DC12): The PCs are able to learn that Almah hired Eloias because having a “psychic” “felt right”. She readily reveals that she spent a lot of time with Eloias, and denies any romantic involvement with the man. She will also, should the PCs bring it up agree that the time she spent with Eloias could have made Dashki jealous.
Insight (DC 17) (No Success or Failure): The character realises there is more to what Almah has to say about Elioas than she has said so far. This allows the PCs to make more discrete enquiries.
Diplomacy or Bluff (DC17): The PCs convince, Almah one way or another of their trustworthiness and they are able to get her to reveal that Elioas’ readings had been becoming more grim of late and that the portents pointed to something called the Legacy of Fire.
Special: The characters can gain 1 success from this scene. Even if the PCs fail the DC12 Diplomacy check they should learn the information it reveals, if the check is failed though they get a -2 penalty on checks in Scene 5 – Judgement. If they succeed on the DC 17 Diplomacy or Bluff check they gain a +1 bonus in Scene 5 – Judgment.

Scene 3 – Dashki Knows Something
Diplomacy or Bluff (DC 12) (No Success): Dashki says he knows nothing about the fire, only protesting his innocence.
Insight (DC 12) (No Success): Dashki is hiding something from the PCs, his attitude is nervous a sure sign he knows something he isn’t saying.
Diplomacy or Bluff (DC 17) after Insight or Intimidate (DC17) at any stage: Dashki reveals his infatuation for Almah and that he was spying on her when the fire started. He is sure it was started by a creature called a Pugwumpis.
Special: The characters can earn 1 success from this scene. If the PCs succeed they gain a +1 bonus in Scene 5 – Judgment.

Scene 4 – Questioning the Camp Members

  • Camel Drivers: Nature or Diplomacy (DC17) (No Success) : They reveal or confirm Dashki’s infatuation with Almah and name him as prime suspect, along with revealing his past as a Gnoll Hunter.
  • Mercenaries: Streetwise or Bluff (DC12) (1 Success): They state they were all around the fire and that Dashi was not with them. If the PCs succeed by 5 or more than they reveal that they think Dashki was spying on Almah, and suggest he might have killed Eloias to remove competition for her hand.
  • Almah’s Guard: Diplomacy or Bluff (DC15) (1 Success): They were all busy doing their duty, but one recalls seeing Dashki trying to hide behind a nearby tree to get a look into Almah’s tent. This places him far from the wagon when the fire started.
  • Zastoran: Arcana, Religion or History (DC12) (1 Success): Impressed by the PCs knowledge  Zastoran reveals that he liked Eloias, and he has a low opinion of Dashki and believes Dashki is capable of the crime. He also confirms the Mercenary’s story that all 6 were at the camp fire, but that Dashi was missing.

Special: The PCs can earn a maximum of 2 success from this scene, and once they have done so cannot earn further failures. If the PCs gain all the information of this scene they gain a +2 bonus during Scene 5 – Judgement.

Scene 5 – Judgement
Special: The PCs can have a maximum of +5 to their rolls in this scene earnt through the other scenes.
Skills: Aracana, Bluff, Diplomacy, History, Religion and Streetwise can all be used at DC12 to argue the case. Thievery, Acrobatics and Athletics can be used at DC17 to create demonstrations.
During this scene the PCs make their case for the cause of the fire using the information they have gathered from the other scenes. As long as they have not accumulated 3 Failures they may continue to make their case until they have the 6 successes needed to succeed at the skill challenge. Once the PCs have either 6 total successes or 3 failures Garavel and Almah have made their decision about Dashki’s guilt, though the PCs should be allowed to finish making their case.

Ending the Challenge:

If the PCs succeed then they have proven Dashki innocent for the moment, and with nothing else to go on, they are asked to see if they can find the creatures Dashki names as responsible.

If they have failed at the skill challenge then Dashki is killed for the crime, only to be proven innocent when more ill befalls the camp due to the pugwumpis forcing the PCs to go and investigate them anyway. Further Dashki’s allies will come to take revenge for killing their brother.

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