Chaos at the Wall (4e Skill Challenge)

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Chaos at the Wall
Level 5
Skill Challenge
1600 XP
An army of demons has been advancing on a walled city with the intent of capturing a temple within. The empire's main army is still one day's march away. The PCs are members of a militia, the Irregulars, who have been rapidly formed and deployed to hold the city wall with the city garrison. Dawn is yet to break and the Irregulars hurry to the 50 yard stretch of wall near the South Gate. From here, over the battlements, they see hordes of demons advancing over the plains, all manner of shapes and sizes.
Goal: Hold the wall against the demons until daybreak.

The challenge is split into two stages:
First Stage: For the first 4 standard actions, the dretch are still advancing towards the wall with their "abyssal siege flowers".
After the fourth check, the siege flowers are planted at the base of the wall, which grow rapidly. The captain of the Irregulars calls "Prepare for melee!", and the close-quarters mercenaries and adventurers move into position. Yellow-green tendrils begin to wrap around the battlements. Dretch begin to furiously hurl themselves onto the battlements, clawing past each other to get into the fray. The irregulars cut into them with swords and spells.
Second Stage: During subsequent skill checks, the dretch are scaling the wall and attacking the Irregulars in melee.

Complexity: 3 (8 successes before 3 failures; 2 advantages)
Primary Skills
Successes with the primary skills contribute one success any number of times.

Intimidate or Diplomacy (DC 15 standard action, first stage only)
The PC co-ordinates a bow volley towards the advancing demons. As arrows and bolts rain over the demons, many of the dretch explode in clouds of stinking gas.

Arcana or Religion (DC 15 (first stage) or DC 22 (second stage), standard action)
The PC holds forth their implement, using magic to drive back the demons.
A PC with area burst spells or prayers may cast them during the first stage. Close burst or blast spells may be used once they have scaled the wall in the second stage. Do not make an attack roll for this: the skill roll represents the PCs endurance at making multiple attacks in mass combat.

Perception (DC 15, standard action, first stage only)
The PC takes careful aim with their ranged weapon, seeking a worthy target in the throng below.
A PC with a ranged weapon might think to fire at the siege flowers. This contributes successes if flame arrows have been prepared (see below). Picking out individual targets demons does not significantly. Killing dretch or a winged demon does not significantly contribute, and scoring only half a success.

Endurance (DC 22, standard action, second stage only)
The PC engages the dretch in melee atop the battlements, quelling the urge to be sick amidst the stinking clouds.
Do not make an attack roll. The endurance check represents the PCs ability to engage in sustained, mass combat; and to resist the dretchs' stinking cloud. If the PC succeeds their first Endurance check, they gain a +2 bonus on subsequent Endurance checks. If they fail their first Endurance check, they take a -2 penalty on subsequent Endurance checks.

Heal (DC 15, standard action)
The PC tends to the wounded, sending Irregulars back to the tower if they can no longer fight to clear room for fresh warriors.

Secondary Skills
Perception or Arcana (DC 15 minor action, 0 successes, first stage only)

The PC surveys the hordes to determine specific types of demon. Most of them are dretch, squabbling amongst themselves. There are tall, insect-like demons with big tridents. There are succubi and incubi, sat on ornate thrones carried by devolved limb oozes. Flapping awkwardly in the sky are hundreds of winged, misshapen things. A dozen groups of smaller demons are advancing forwards. Some of them are laboriously carrying organic, bulb-like things almost as large as themselves.
Other effects.
The PC attempting this must have low-light vision. On a success make clear two key pieces of information: 1) The dretch are carrying abyssal siege flowers that will be used to scale the wall. 2) Winged demons will attempt harassing fly-by attacks.

Thievery (DC 22, standard action, 0 successes, first stage only)
The PC prepares flaming arrows. This grants a +2 bonus to a primary skill roll made to co-ordinate a bow volley, and unlocks Perception as a primary skill for the first stage.

Athletics (DC 15 standard action, 1 success)
The PC concentrates on fighting the winged demons who periodically swoop in to knock militiamen off the wall.
The PC takes a -2 penalty to this skill check if they have not been warned about the winged demons through a successful secondary Perception or Arcana check.

Success
Dawn breaks and the wall defences are still intact - the first wave of demons are but corpses bubbling away in the morning light. This can lead to an encounter in which the Irregulars sally forth to stop the advance of a huge battering ram. Regardless, the Irregulars have bought the city enough time.
Failure
The walls have been completely yielded to the demons. The Irregulars have been forced over the city-edge of the wall, or back into the towers. Each PC needs to succeed on a DC 22 Acrobatics (jumping off the wall), Endurance (retreat into the towers) or Athletics (climb to safety) check or lose a healing surge. The demons take control of the gate and open it. Following encounters will require fights in the streets to stop the demons reaching the temple, and the empire's army will not arrive in time to help.


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