About Skill Challenges

The Skill Challenge Handbook is split into five sections, each describing a specific type of skill challenge. A skill challenge is essentially a full skill-based encounter, possessing similar qualities to combat encounters. Skill challenges progress in cycles, involve checks to earn completion, and are ultimately cleared when a requisite amount of completion is earned.

In addition to standard skill challenges, four specialized subtypes of skill challenges are also presented within the Skill Challenge Handbook: chases, contests, influence challenges, and verbal duels. Although these specialized skill challenges use many of the same terminology and flow as standard skill challenges, they all include enough specialized terminology and rules elements unique to that type of skill challenge that they deserve to be recognized independently.

The four sections that appear in the Skill Challenge Handbook, as well as a brief description of that section’s content, are as follows. See the Skill Challenge Glossary for more information about the terms used in these sections.

Skill Challenges

This section details skill challenges as they are generally presented. Included within are rules regarding how cycles advance throughout the skill challenge, different types of completion methods that can be used to determine when a skill challenge is cleared, and a plethora of sample skill challenges ranging from CR 1 all the way up to CR 13. Additionally, advice for how to adjudicate the use of class features and spells is presented, as is a detailed system of rules for designing your own skill challenges for use in your home games.

Chase Challenges

The second section in the Skill Challenge Handbook presents chase challenges, which offer a specialized version of the standard skill challenge rules that are based around movement—specifically pursuing or fleeing—as the primary action that characters take during the skill challenge. The chase rules presented here can be used for short-distance chases that span minutes and miles, or long-distance chases that span hours or days and take place across large swaths of terrain. Several sample skill challenges are provided in this section, as are a detailed set of rules for building your own chase challenges.


This section introduces the concept of contests, specialized skill challenges that represent the act of playing a game or competing directly with other individuals to win. This section describes how to play games such as baseball or badminton, as well as how to participate in contests like pig wrestling and skipping rope. Unlike other skill challenges in this section, contests rely on opposed roles between characters, rather than hard skill DCs that characters must meet. As a result, contests lack rules for designing them that are as codified as standard skill challenges, but this section does include helpful advice for translating your favorite games and competitions to the skill challenge format.

Influence Challenges

This section introduces the concept of influence challenges, which are specialized skill challenges that use multiple stat blocks that revolve around interacting with and ultimately swaying the attitudes of specific target NPCs. Influence challenges possess one stat block for every target NPC active during the skill challenge, plus a smaller stat block that summarizes the setting where the skill challenge is taking place, as well as and events that take place during the skill challenge. Influence contests follow similar rules regarding their creation as standard skill challenges, although stat blocks for each target NPC must be made, rather than making a single stat block for a single event.

Verbal Duels

The final type of skill challenge covered in the Skill Challenge Handbook are verbal duels, which represent two individuals competing head-to-head in a contest of linguistic skill and acumen. Verbal duels have the least complex stat blocks of any type of skill challenge as a result of their mechanics—essentially, characters pick skills to use and make opposed skill checks with those skills until a victor has been decided.

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