Posted on : 28-01-2011 | By : Brian | In : D&D, Guest Posts, Marcelo Dior
Guest contributor Marcelo Dior returns to us, giving us his take on a contest of martial skill, the axe-throwing contest.
Let’s say there are two Rangers in the group, equally skilled with the battleaxe, or you’re the Ranger and that thickheaded Dwarf Fighter keeps bragging about he being the best axe thrower of the realm. I present you, dear reader, a Skill Challenge that could be used between two PCs or against one or more NPCs. It’s a competition, the…
Axe Throwing Derby
Setup: a target (usually circular, but it could be a straw doll mounted on a rack) is put 10 yards from each of the competitors, who have 30 seconds to throw their axes. Considering 10 seconds for each Skill Check, the contenders may roll up to three different Skills before actually throwing their axes, otherwise they won’t be awarded any points. Only the battleaxe or the greataxe is permitted.
All the Skill checks have a DC 15, and they might be:
- Acrobatics: The contender concentrates on the weight and balance of his axe while adjusting his stance so the throw comes out more precise. Success: +2 bonus to the throw. Critical failure: -5 penalty to the throw.
- Athletics: Cannot be used on the last (third) throw. The competitor flexes his or her muscles to lend potency to the throw. Success: +2 to the throw. Critical failure: -5 to the throw.
- Bluff: Must be made prior to the throw of another contender. The competitor makes sudden and odd movements, feints, and jokes in an effort to make an adversary lose focus. Success: one contender near the you takes a -1 to his or her action (throw or Skill Check).
- Endurance: Cannot be used on the first throw. You try to catch your breath for the next throw, ignoring the weariness of the previous throw. Success: +1 on a Skill Check made before the next throw.
- Healing: You summon your inner energy and your knowledge of anatomy to warm your muscles correctly and recover from the weariness of the competition. Success: +1 on the Endurance check, above.
- Perception: You gauge the distance to the target, wind speed and direction, and the play of lights and shadows cast over the field to precisely calculate your throw. Success: +2 to the throw. Critical failure: -5 to the throw.
(I decided the roll of 1 on Skill Check should have consequences, something alien to 4e, to make things a little bit more interesting, reflecting in game terms a gross miscalculation on the use of Acrobatics, Athletics, and Perception.)
After all contenders have made their Skill Checks, any and all of the bonuses and penalties they earned are added to a Melee Basic Attack roll against 12 (that’s right, Melee Basic, not Ranged. This is a precision test, not an attack to kill a monster). The one who beats it by the greater margin earns points equal to the number of contenders. The second best net hit earns points equal to the number of contenders -1, and so forth. Failing in beating the DC of 12 earns you no points for that round. In the case of a tie, both competitors earn the same number of points.
After the first throw, the weapons are returned and the targets are repositioned at 25 yards. The same 30 seconds (three Skill Checks) are available and now the DC for the Melee Basic Attack is 15. The points are tallied and we move to the third and final round of the competition, with targets at 50 yards and DC 18. In the case of a draw at this point, the last round is done again with the contenders that have tied, as many times as necessary to untie the score.
Usually, in this kind of contest, magical axes or other items — such as magical bracelets or belts — aren’t allowed, and the organizers (if there is one) will have means of detecting magic over or on the competitors.
Obviously, this competition may be about other kinds of weapons. It could be a dispute of archery (with Ranged Basic Attacks instead of Melee), knife-throwing or even the obvious handaxes. An especially peculiar organizer could allow the mix of battle- and greataxes and handaxes amongst the contenders (in which case the check is made with the Ranged Basic Attack for the contender using the handaxe). That would lead to possible and interesting protests by the other competitors or heated discussions at the tavern after the competition about the validity of such an obviously lop-sided contest.