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Skills in Conflict

Replacing Opposed Rolls

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 189
Especially in intrigue-based games, there are situations in which many different creatures might normally need to roll an opposed skill check against a PC. For instance, if the rogue sneaks into a camp of 50 orcs, it would technically require rolling 50 Perception checks. This slows down the game, and it makes it almost certain that one of those orcs will roll a natural 20. This variant rule replaces opposed rolls to reduce this sheer number of rolls and the likelihood for a skilled PC to be defeated by math alone.

With this variant, when a character attempts a skill check that would normally be opposed, he attempts the check as normal, comparing the result against the DC presented by each foe (DC = 11 + the foe’s total skill bonus with the opposed skill). If the initiating character fails this check, he simply fails and immediately experiences the consequences of failure. If he succeeds, however, he does so only against the rank-and-file opponents (such as most of the warriors in an orc camp, or most of the hangers-on at a royal court). Select foes (such as major NPCs or dedicated scouts and guards) can attempt a check with the opposing skill (DC = 11 + the initiating character’s total skill bonus with skill he originally used). This resembles the way the Disguise skill works, where only those who pay attention to the character and are suspicious of her can attempt a Perception check.

For example, if a hunter is sneaking through a camp of 50 orcs and succeeds at her initial Stealth check against a DC of 11 + each orc’s Perception modifier, she slips into the camp. Meanwhile, the two orcs posted as sentries scan for trouble, so each of those orcs (but not the other 48) rolls a Perception check to see if they notice the hunter. Similarly, a bard might succeed at a Bluff check to convince the minor nobles of the court of his exaggerated exploits, but three key aristocrats— suspicious of the bard to begin with—try to poke holes in the story and find contradictions by grilling the bard for details, each of them rolling Sense Motive checks against a DC of 11 + the bard’s Bluff modifier.

Multiple Bonuses: If the opposing group possesses a mix of bonuses, use the highest value to determine the DC. In the example of the orc camp, if 40 of the orc warriors have a –1 Perception modifier and 10 scouts have a +10 Perception modifier, the hunter would be attempting a DC 21 Stealth check. Note that because this variant doesn’t specify which opponents beat the check, it is up to the GM to decide how the consequences of the failed check manifest.

The Odds: This variant increases the odds of success dramatically for highly skilled characters. For instance, if the hunter in the example above has a modifier on Stealth checks at least 9 higher than the orcs’ Perception modifiers, in the default system, she would have a 50% chance of succeeding. But with this variant, her chance increases to 85%. When the character has less of an advantage against her adversaries, this variant still increases the rate of success dramatically with many adversaries, and it decreases the rate slightly with a few determined adversaries. For instance, with the default system, if the hunter’s Stealth matched the orcs’ Perception, she would have essentially a 0% chance of sneaking past the 50 orcs. With this variant, her chance is 1 in 8. However, if the other 48 orcs weren’t present, her chance of sneaking past just the two sentries in the default system is roughly 1 in 4, whereas with this variant, it is 1 in 8, since only the determined adversaries make their own rolls and thus affect her odds.