• Justin Handlin

Challenge Accepted!

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

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Dungeons and Dragons is a game that consists of multiple pillars of play; combat, roleplay and exploration. Crit Academy discusses their best-selling DMsguild product "Challenge Accepted". This adaptation is designed to help enhance all those various challenges in a controlled and structured format called a skill challenge. In many scenarios, our heroes find themselves in encounters and social situations that revolve entirely around their skills. Other times they are in combat and skill challenges add a level of complexity or strategy to the encounter. This supplement contains pre-designed skill challenges that you can fit into your campaigns.

Let’s talk about Blank!

The Beverage Tea

Crit Academy, my group is totally struggling to work as a team. We have no tactics whatsoever. Some of it is being new to the game, some of it (I’m looking at you Monk) is just trying to showboat for each other, and some of it is that we just don’t know tactics. For example, we never scout areas out first, we never agree on a plan of attack, we never have contingency plans if it all goes to shit and we need to retreat. It's all Leroy Jenkins and it’s all the time.

Could you go over a few scenarios with the typical party of a Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Caster for; how to clear out a dungeon room by room, how to deal with a swarm on an open field, how to break through a horde with your backs to a cliff.

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Segment: Main Topic: Challenge Accepted!


Fundamentally a skill challenge is a kind of encounter, similar to a combat encounter. Part of playing the game has the characters using skill checks to interact with the world around them. Part of the excitement of D&D is that success or failure is often uncertain. Skill challenges offer the DM a tool to introduce a complex series of changing conditions, keeping track of the results to determine the overall success or failure of a collection of challenges over different lengths of time. In some instances, a skill isn’t sufficient, and a special tool must be used, such as thieves tools. For example; the party is attempting to persuade an Archmage to send aid to defend a small village. Or maybe they are trekking through a mountain to find a hidden cave during a blizzard. This supplement will provide you with a structured roadmap full of challenges for you to introduce to your players. Regardless of success or failure, the story should always move forward as a result.


If a player offers a reasonable explanation of how a skill, spell or feature could be used and it’s not listed, make sure to do your best to allow it!


In each challenge, a number of skill check successes are needed before a certain number of failures (three) determined by its complexity. As the DM you can choose to alter this if you wish, increasing the number of failures to lower the difficulty, or reducing it to increase the difficulty. Three is a recommendation. Below is an overview for Total Success, Success, and Failure conditions. In some cases, specific challenges will call out additional effects on a success or failure, such as granting advantage to another skill check



Intricate arcane glyphs surround a prisoner forming a prismatic magical circle. The colors of the barrier are ever-changing, humming with a low resonating power.

Setup: The characters have been tasked with rescuing an NPC of some renown. When they finally locate them, they find that the NPC has been imprisoned in a powerful magic circle. The characters must dismantle the wards that have been placed or risk hurting themselves, or the NPC.

Complexity: 1 (requires 4 successes before 3 failures)

Primary Skills: Arcana, Constitution, Investigation

Arcana (Moderate DC): Studying the magical circle, The character gains insight into the wards and confirms it cannot be opened with mundane means. They begin to use their knowledge of the weave to dismantle the threads of the complex ward, pulling and twisting the weave’s threads in a mix of lights and floating arcane sigils.

  • Failure: Failure incurs a chaotic surge of magic through the character causing the character to lose one Hit Die. If the character doesn’t have any Hit Dice, they instead suffer a level of exhaustion.

  • For the purposes of dispel magic, treat the effect as a 6th level spell. Dispel magic can only remove one of the spell effects at a time.

  • A character with the magic circle spell prepared has advantage on all checks.

Constitution (Moderate DC): The character attempts to weaken the ward by drawing some of its energy into themselves, either by direct contact, or attacking with a melee weapon.

  • Success: Grant advantage on the next Arcana check and the character loses one one Hit Die.

  • Failure: The character loses two Hit Dice.

Investigation (Moderate DC): The character identifies hidden additional arcane glyphs hidden under thick layers of dirt. This can only be used to gain 1 success.

  • Grant advantage on the next Arcana check.

Total Success: The characters are able to successfully disable the magical circle prison and its warding.

Success: The characters are able to successfully disable the magical circle prison and its warding, but the experience was taxing on the characters, the arcane energy sapped their strength. All characters lose one Hit Die.

Failure: The characters are able to safely bring down the magical prison's wards, as a result, a powerful torrent of prismatic arcane energy is released. Each creature in 20-foot-radius of the circle must succeed on a (Hard DC) Constitution saving throw, or suffer 1 level of exhaustion. The DM can determine randomly or decide if the NPC at its center is unconscious, maimed or dead.

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Character Concept:


“ I speak for the cold darkness beyond the stars.

I see the myriad ways that doom comes upon you.”

You wrap yourself in the fear of the darkness beyond the stars and use it as a shield against your enemies. In addition, you examine the strands of fate to issue proclamations of doom to all who stand against you.

A great variation of the divination wizard, lore bard or any who use the bane spell or similar effects.

Monster Variant:

Blackrock Dreadnought

A combination of acid and stone, the blackrock dreadnought prefers to follow commands, leaving hard decisions to those smarter than itself. So long as its endless appetite for death and destruction is sated.

Origin: Gargoyle

Lost Features: Bite, False appearance

New Features

Immunity to Acid

Acidic Aura. At the start of each of the dreadnought’s turns, each creature within 5 feet of it takes 3 (1d4) acid damage. A creature that touches the dreadnought or hits it with a melee attack takes 3 (1d4) acid damage.

Caustic Boulder (Recharge 6). Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 60/240 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d10) bludgeoning damage. Hit or miss, acid splashes the area. The target and each creature within 5 feet of it must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or take 7 (2d6) acid damage.


Knockback. When the dreadnought is hit with a melee weapon attack, it can use its reaction to take the Shove action.

Encounter: The Door of the Dragon

The characters approach a large intricately carved wooden double door. The image of a ferocious dragon surrounded by small white gems watches protectively for any who approach. Etched into the door in Draconic is the words “Speak the name of your King and Queen to pass.”. A character with draconic heritage can speak the words and the doors will open.

The door has a mechanical lock as well as an arcane lock spell cast on it. The Strength (Athletics) check to defeat the arcane lock is DC 30, and the Dexterity check to bypass the magical lock using thieves’ tools is a DC 25. Casting the knock spell on the door suppresses the magical lock for 10 minutes, lowering the DCs by 10 during that time. The mechanical lock remains intact if the magical lock is bypassed, requiring another knock spell or the use of the key (which you can plant on any patrol you wish).

The door is warded from forced entry. If a character tries to force the door open, or fails a check to unlock it triggers a trap. A successful DC 21 Wisdom (Perception) detect tiny little cold fractures around a series of small white gems set into the door. If activated, anyone within range is hit by a released cone of cold spell emanating from the white gems.

Magic Item:

Cryptspawn Potion

“This viscous liquid smells faintly of death, yet it invigorates you against diseases and poisons.”

Potion, uncommon

A character who drinks this magical ash grey fluid regains 4d4+4 hit points. Additionally, you gain immunity to poison and necrotic damage for 1 minute.

Dungeon Master Tip:


Include interpreters to make language variation stand out in your games. By forcing the characters to interact with an intermediary, you open the world to a new collection of challenges. What if the interpreter isn’t around? Maybe an enemy poisoned them, now the characters can’t communicate with the person they are likely to protect. This also gives some of the lesser used character spells and abilities such as tongues to really shine. Likewise, this can end up with a single player character becoming the interpreter leading to similar more personal situations.

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Solicit Recommendations

For new players it can be confusing and overwhelming to know what to play. Or even as a veteran player and want to know what might be a good fight for the campaign, don’t be afraid to solicit recommendations. Don't just guess about the kinds of characters that might be rewarding to play when you can ask the one person who's most likely to know. Your Dungeon Master probably has plenty of ideas about backgrounds, classes, and concepts perfect for the adventures to come.

Once you understand the DM's recommendations, look for ways to put your own spin on those ideas. If he or she recommends primal characters for a wilderness-based campaign but you are most interested in the fighter class, you could decide to playa fighter raised in a barbarian tribe.

-DnD4e Player’s Strategy Guide-

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