Zeitgeist - Skill Challenges

Advocatus Piscatoris

Legal Tactics

Crisillyir’s legal system is not as advanced and scientific as Risur’s. The party will mostly need good rhetoric, and should play the crowd while discrediting each of Savina’s accusations. Unlike Drakr and its philosophical debates, the tribunal of the people are a mob, and they’ll be swayed by emotions, not logic.
Evidence is secondary, best revealed for a dramatic conclusion. Since the PCs will be watched by the angels, lying will likely be discovered, which will ruin their credibility. Deceptive phrasing works, though. And luckily no one will question their statements, no matter how outlandish they may be.
In a ‘trial’ of this sort, since there is basically no physical evidence, what matters is precedent, dogma, and scripture.


The two angels each can magically detect lies (Bluff DC 42 to lie without being detected), and before anyone can speak they will try to dispel any magical effects on the speaker.


For each of the Legate’s three arguments, one Diplomacy check represents the counter argument, and closing arguments require a final Diplomacy check, with a +5 bonus if the speaker has experience entertaining crowds. For each of these, the PCs can attempt the following checks to improve the party’s Diplomacy check. Time constraints limit each PC to only one bit of aid on each of the primary checks, and none of the following options can be used more than once to assist a given check.

  • Bluff. If the party can manage to outwit the angels’ lie detection (Bluff DC 42) the speaker gains a +5 bonus to a primary Diplomacy check.
  • Diplomacy. A DC 30 check lets the party take advantage of pauses in the Legate’s rhetorical flourishes to interject and throw off her pacing, but to do so politely and with the right decorum so it does not upset the crowd. This grants a +2 bonus to the primary Diplomacy check for that argument.
  • Intimidate. A DC 30 check is able to slightly turn the angry crowd against Legate Tullius. This grants a +2 bonus to the primary check.
  • History. A DC 20 check dredges up an obscure fact about Clergy history, granting a +2 bonus to the primary check.
  • Streetwise. A DC 20 check injects a bit of local culture that the crowd responds to well, reducing their skepticism of the party as foreigners. This grants a +2 bonus to the primary check.
  • Nature. Savina’s first point criticizes Elfaivar and Risur, but a DC 15 check can cite elements of the faiths of those nations to show they are not actually inimical to the Clergy. This grants a +2 bonus to the Diplomacy check to oppose the Legate’s first point.
  • Religion. Legate Tullius is a master scholar of her religion, but a DC 35 check shows the PCs as equally familiar, granting a +5 bonus to the primary check.
  • Linguistics. If the speaker is originally from Crisillyir, he or she gains a +2 bonus to the primary check by using the proper language for this trial.
  • Insight. The crowd wants blood, true, but more importantly they want this all to have meaning. A DC 30 check forms a rapport with the audience and helps get them on the side of the speaker. This can be attempted once per primary Diplomacy check, and each success grants a cumulative +2 bonus (so potentially a +8 bonus on the final check).

Once the party has pooled their ideas, articulated the general structure of their rebuttal, and made their checks to aid, have the main speaker make a Diplomacy check for the three points of the prosecution. You might grant a modifier of up to +5 or -5 depending on the quality of their ideas, and if they actually bring Ashima-Shimtu along, they get a +2 bonus to their checks. If they don’t have the biography of Triegenes, though, that’s a -5 penalty.

Finally, the party has an odd ace up their sleeve that the biography reveals Triegenes never became a god. Revealing this is deathly risky, though, because the crowd will respond in denial and anger. The threat of such a reaction should be obvious to the party.

Cantabrilla Challenge

Liss starts at Mile 128 (–18). Griento starts at Mile 164 (+18). They’re competing to reach mile 146 (+0).

  • Miles: To build a mile, you must expend 1 Materiel. Each mile after the first in a given day also costs 1 Morale.
  • Money: Each day you acquire 1 Money per mile made the previous day. (You can spend 25,000 gp as if it were 1 Money.)
  • Materiel: Each day you can expend Money, and the next day you acquire an equal amount of Materiel. For each 1 Money spent beyond the first on Materiel, there is a 5% chance of a mishap. A mishap causes 1d4 of the Materiel you ordered not to arrive.
  • Morale: Certain events add or subtract Morale. If Morale goes below 0, you cannot build. You can buy 1 Morale for 2 Money.
  • Obstacles: Bridges are required at miles 132, 143, and 155. Bridges cost (and earn) as much as 5 miles of track.

Disruptions: A delayed train keeps Money and Materiel from arriving. A destroyed train eliminates the Money and Materiel. Rebuilding a destroyed bridge is equivalent to building 5 Miles of track. Attacks cost 1 Morale per day (or more at the DM’s discretion, if they’re very disastrous). Key personnel typically cost 1 Money to replace.

Starting Spent Acquired Ending
DAY Mile Money Materiel Morale Money Materiel Morale Money Materiel Morale Mile Count
1 -18 2 2 2 2 1 0 1 1 0 -17
2 -17 1 2 2 1 2 0
3 -15 1 1 2 1 1 0
4 -14 1 1 2
  • Acquired a Steam Crew for 1 money (9 owing): The Steam Crew can build 1 extra mile per day without costing any Morale.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys


Dismantle Kell’s guild and force him into the open, then take him down. To do this, send the 50 police officers of your task force on missions to acquire leads, take out Kell’s support, and eventually attack his strongholds.
Kell’s seat of power is the Theater of Scoundrels, in the district Parity Lake. He’s known to have three lesser strongholds: a fancy tower called Grand Suites, and a mansion dubbed Casa de Kell, both in Parity Lake; and a gated compound called Machete Hill in The Nettles.
The guild likely has affairs in other districts. The districts of Flint include Bosum Strand, Central, North Shore, Parity Lake, Pine Island, Stray River, The Ayres, The Cloudwood, and The Nettles.


Each officer can perform one mission per day, and you have four days, from Spring 9 to Spring 12. You can call in favors for additional aid, and can go on missions yourself, but each mission you join takes 4 hours of your time, and there are other matters that need attending.
For each mission, choose how many men to send and which district to send them to, then roll the officers’ skill check (use a default +10 bonus). If you accompany, use your skill modifier instead. This check determines success or failure.
The GM may call for an additional check to avoid a mishap. For instance, the Scout mission requires Perception to see how many thugs are at a location. The GM might ask for a Stealth check to keep the thugs from spotting the surveillance officers and attacking.
Each mission has a Minimum Officer entry and an Optimal Officer entry. Take a –5 penalty to the check for less than optimal, or –10 for less than minimum.
Successful missions can acquire Task Force Tokens (TFTs) and Strikes. TFTs help on later missions, and Strikes erode the guild’s cohesion. Failure wastes time and might cause casualties.


  • Front. Guild-affiliated business. Low resistance.
  • Den of Thieves. Guild hang-out. Medium resistance.
  • Illicit Transaction. Major scheduled crime. Medium resistance.
  • Stronghold. One of three well-defended compounds within the city. High resistance.
  • Theatre of Scoundrels. The guild’s seat of power in eastern Parity Lake. Very high resistance.


You can trade in a Task Force Token before a mission to get +2 to your roll for that mission.

  • Case a District. Diplomacy or Streetwise. Look for fronts, dens, and transactions in one district. Success reveals 1 or more items of interest. Minimum officers 2. Optimal 6.
  • Scout. Perception. Choose a known location and find out about it, including number of defenders. Minimum officers 1. Optimal 3.
  • Bust Up a Joint. Intimidate. Go into a Front or a Den of Thieves to look for information. Success earns 1 TFT at a front, or 2 TFTs at a den of thieves. Minimum officers is equal to number of defenders. Optimal is three times that many.
  • Sting. Intimidate. Swoop in during an Illicit Transaction. Success earns 1 Strike and 1 TFT. As above, you want three times number of defenders, but you cannot scout for a sting, so be careful.
  • Assault. Attack a stronghold to earn 1 Strike. Attack the Theatre of Scoundrels to earn 3 Strikes.


The party might use their Risur Prestige to call in favours and get some military additions, or to get some officers to work even longer.
For example, it’s a Level 2 favour to get 1 extra officer for a few hours (long enough to send them on another mission), Level 3 for 4 officers, Level 4 for 12 officers, and Level 5 for 50 officers. For military, it’s a Level 3 favour to get 1 soldier for a mission, Level 4 for 4 soldiers, and Level 5 for 12 soldiers.
For the purpose of this mission, soldiers just count as normal officers for the missions Case a District and Scout, but count as 4 officers each in other missions.
DC 30 Diplomacy or Intimidate check per day to pull in a level 5 favour (failing defaults you do to level 4).

Task Force Tracking.

Enter numbers or hash marks below to keep track of how many officers you have available, how you deploy them each day, and how successful you are.

Spring 9 Spring 10 Spring 11 Spring 12 Final
Officers 50 40 40
Additional Resources 50 50 50
Total Manpower 100 90 90
Case a District 36 0
Scout 15 0
Bust Up A Joint 27 0
Sting 22 0
Assault 0 90
TFTs Starting 3 8
TFTs Acquired 5 10
TFTs Expended 0 0
TFTs Remaining 8 18
Strikes Acquired 1 4
Casulties 10 0
Remaining Officers 40 40
Strikes Total 1 5

Three TFTs earned from capturing Rufus Hammerton.
1 TFT per contact that can only be used in that district:
1 - Bosum Strand
3 - Central
1 - North Shore
2 - Parity Lake (1 used)
2 - Pine Island
0 - Stray River
0 - The Ayres
1 - The Cloudwood
0 - The Nettles (1 used)

Preparation for Avery Coast Mission

Level 8 Skill Challenge.
Key Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, History, Insight, Intimidate, Perception, Stealth, Streetwise
Difficulty: Unless otherwise noted, all skill checks are DC 23.
This challenge has three goals which the party pursues simultaneously. Successful skill checks, clever ideas, or good role-playing can count as successes, and the more successes the party has, the better chance they have for victory in their mission. Each goal lists tactics that can contribute successes. Some tactics are marked with an asterisk (*). These do not contribute to the main pool of successes, but provide alternate routes to success or make things easier for other checks.

  • Goal One: Secrecy.
  • Goal Two: Cover Identities.
  • Goal Three: Contingencies.

Passage of Time.
This montage consists of seven rounds, each roughly a week in length. Each PC will choose one goal to pursue, then describe how he’ll attempt to reach that goal. If necessary, use a skill check to adjudicate whether the PC succeeds. Once all the PCs have had their turn, a new round starts.

Goal One: Secrecy

This represents keeping up appearances so that the various spies who are watching the party don’t get suspicious, or simply hiding from the spies outright. Sample tactics for this goal include:

  • Do Busy Work, Leave Fake Paper Trail. (Bluff, Diplomacy, Streetwise, Thievery) The PC pretends to be on another case, or actually pursues some minor investigation unrelated to the Obscurati, or files false paperwork.
  • Act in Secret. (Stealth) Alternately, a PC might arrange a careful system to ensure that no one can get a look at what the party is really up to. This tactic can contribute no more than five successes to the goal, however.
  • Locate Spies.* (Insight, Perception, Streetwise) If the PCs are going to spend their time faking effort, they ought to make sure those efforts are actually being watched by someone. This doesn’t contribute to the main pool of successes, but a success on this tactic makes the above tactics easier, reducing busy work, fake paper trails, and actions in secret to DC 19.

Goal Two: Cover Identities

Before going undercover in foreign countries, the PCs need to make sure their cover identities will withstand scrutiny. Simply showing up and announcing they’re RHC constables will get them tossed out of the country or arrested as spies. Some tactics toward this goal include:

  • Visas, Passports, Miscellaneous Documents. (Diplomacy, Thievery) These items, acquired legally or illegally, provide “proof” for the party’s cover identities. This tactic can contribute no more than four successes.
  • Look the Part. (Bluff) A PC finds appropriate clothes and accoutrements for the whole party, and makes grooming suggestions to aid the disguise. This tactic can contribute no more than three successes.
  • Rehearse Personalities. (Insight) A PC can quiz the rest of the party to make sure they won’t be tripped up by questions, that they don’t answer to the wrong name, and that they all know each other as well as they should. This tactic can contribute no more than four successes
  • Finishing Touches. (Arcana, Dungeoneering, History, Religion, Streetwise) The appropriate skill depends on what cover the party is using, but a PC could coach the party on topics their cover identity would know.

Goal Three: Contingencies

  • Docks and Ports. If the PCs need to sneak in or out of a city or get contraband delivered, this contingency will ensure they have allies they can turn to at the docks of one of the six coastal cities along the railroad (Nalaam is in the mountains). These allies might only number five or six, and they won’t fight for the party, but they’ll act as look-outs or do safe favours. The main challenge to this contingency is to arrange and communicate codes and signals to people across the sea. After all, the PCs and their allies have likely never met before. Each time the party chooses this contingency, they can arrange contacts in another city’s port.
  • Enclaves. Each night the train stops in a Danoran-owned enclave with entertainment and lodging. Each time the party pursues this contingency, they can arrange for allies in one of the seven cities along the railroad. As above, these allies won’t fight for the party, but they can be a useful extra set of hands.
  • Friendly Passengers. Each time the party chooses this contingency, they can arrange for one Allied Passenger to be in the coach cars, ready to act when they see the right signal.
  • Eyes on the Train. (Streetwise) With a successful check, a PC can arrange for a low-level RHC agent to get a job aboard the train, likely as cleaning or cook staff. If the party succeeds a second check they can also get someone hired on to the train’s security detail.
  • Teleportation. (Arcana) If the party is not able to do so themselves, they might need a mage to teleport them, particularly if they get thrown off the train and need to catch up to the next stop. Only Trekhom, Nalaam, Sid Minos, and Vendricce have teleportation circles. A successful check gets a mage in one of those cities to wait on retainer, ready to teleport the party. These cities’ teleportation circles are in secure facilities under heavy guard. While foreigners are allowed to enter, they will be questioned thoroughly, subjected to mild divinations, and asked to pay for a teleportation visa if they do not already have one (at the cost of 500 gp per person, valid for five years).
  • Care Package. (Diplomacy) If the party is capable of performing Sending rituals, they can requisition gear from the RHC just as if they were present in person. After first making an Arcana check to get a mage on retainer in Flint, the party will have to convince the RHC’s quartermaster to be ready to hand over requested items to the mage. If successful, the party performs the ritual, uses the normal Prestige rules to requisition items, and then the items are delivered via teleportation to the city of their choice. The time required is roughly 8 hours longer than normal.

Hold the Lighthouse


On the Sea Wall (Blue-Tinted Area).

Cannot be barricaded.

Outside Lighthouse (Yellow-Tinted Area).

Can have up to 20 points of barricades.

Inside Lighthouse (Red-Tinted Area).

Can have up to 10 points of barricades. PCs can’t enter or leave the area if there are more than 5 points of barricades.

Conducting the Skill Challenge.

Timeline. Each round is one minute. Allies arrive in round ten, and if the sea gate is open, the PCs win. Each round, first all the PCs act, then all enemies act. Enemies that are destroyed still act and are removed at the end of the round. PCs reduced to 0 HP automatically stabilize and do not make death saving throws.
Tracking Locations. Place PC minis in the appropriate area whenever they move. Use coins or dice to keep track of how many enemies are in each area.
PC Turn. PCs move to an area, then take one action. Suggested actions include:
Assemble Barricade. Athletics DC 18. Create 3 points of barricade inside lighthouse, or 2 points outside lighthouse. On a failed check, create 1 point. Area must have no enemies.
Battle. No check or attack roll required. Destroy 1 enemy you can reach. Spend encounter power to destroy 2, daily for 3.
Brace. Endurance DC 18. Barricade in your area resists first 2 points of enemy action this turn.
Set Trap or Ward. Arcana or Thievery DC 18. When enemies enter this area, destroy 1 enemy. The trap is expended.
Stall. Diplomacy or Intimidate DC 18. Enemies don’t advance this turn. +2 DC per round.
Other. PCs can also use non-attack powers without counting as an action, at the DM’s discretion. Usually this will be to heal themselves or each other. Remember that you have second winds.
Enemy Turn. Enemies move as far as they can toward the lighthouse interior. They stop when they reach a location with a PC, trap, or ward. If there are any barricades in an area, they stop before entering that area.
Then for each enemy, act in the following order:
Remove 1 point of barricade from an adjacent area until there are no adjacent barricades.
Deal 6 damage to a PC that shares the area with the enemy. PCs can choose who among them take the damage.
Deal 3 damage to a PC in another area.

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