Skill Challenge Glossary

One of the draws of the skill challenge system is the fact that similar terminology is used throughout the Skill Challenge Handbook to provide a common ground for GMs and players. Additionally, although the specifics of terms change between different types of skill challenges, the overall meaning and purpose of that term does not change. For example, even though verbal duels and influence challenges have different time intervals from contests, the term “frequency” refers to the amount of time one cycle represents across all skill challenges that make use of that term.

Clearing a Skill Challenge

To clear a skill challenge is synonymous with beating or winning it.


A skill challenge’s completion is the medium by which characters track their progress towards clearing the skill challenge. Most skill challenges use movement, progress, or successes as their completion method, but contests have a unique completion method (points). In all skill challenges, a “skill check to earn completion” is synonymous with “a skill check to earn movement,” or any similar, specific type of completion. For instance, in a contest, “skill checks made to earn completion” are skill checks made to earn points. Likewise, in influence challenges “influence checks” are skill checks made to earn completion in the form of progress or successes that ultimately sway the target NPC.


Any character actively participating in a contest by making skill checks to earn completion or opposing the opposition from making such checks is known as a contestant. The term “character” and “contestant” are used interchangeably in the contest rules.


Much as how rounds represent one turn’s worth of actions per character over a specific interval of time (six seconds per round), cycles represent one turn’s worth of actions per character over a specific interval of time in a skill challenge. The interval of time represented by a skill challenge differs drastically from skill challenge to skill challenge, and it is usually described by the skill challenge’s frequency. Most skill challenges have an interval of 1 minute, but hours, days, or even weeks or months are likewise possible.


Any character who is participating in a verbal duel by making skill checks to earn completion is known as a duelist. The terms “character” and “duelist” are used interchangeably in the verbal duel rules.

Influence Check

In an influence challenge, the term “influence check” refers to any skill check made to sway a target NPC. Because influence challenges use completion to determine when a target NPC is swayed, the term “influence check” is synonymous with “skill check to earn completion.”


This is a general term for a character or group of characters whose goals are directly opposed to those of a second party—usually the PCs. For instance, if the PCs are running from a king’s guard during a chase, the PCs would consider the king’s guard their opposition, while the king’s guard would consider the PCs their opposition. “Opposition” is sometimes used synonymously with “opponent” or “character.”

Primary Skills

In most skill challenges, a primary skill is a skill that can always be used to earn completion in that skill challenge. In a contest, all “scoring skills” are considered primary skills, while in a verbal duel all skills assigned to tactics are “primary skills.”

Secondary Skills

Secondary skills are all skills for a given skill challenge that aren’t primary skills, meaning they might not be usable to earn completion in a given skill challenge. Typically, most skill challenges note in their description whether secondary skills are allowed, and in some skill challenges secondary skills aren’t allowed at all, such as contests or verbal duels. That having been said, what can or cannot be used as a secondary skill is entirely in the realm of GM fiat. Even in skill challenges that do not normally allow secondary skills, the GM can allow characters to use other skills to earn completion anyway.

Target NPC

In an influence challenge, a target NPC is any nonplayer character that can be swayed with successful influence checks, and whose influence is paramount towards clearing the skill challenge. For instance, the PCs might be able to sway the butler of a high-ranking noblewoman, but if swaying him doesn’t bring the PCs any closer to clearing the influence challenge, then he’s not a target NPC.

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