Skill Challenge: Travel to the House of Withered Blossoms

I like skill challenges for abstracting away long travels. My PCs encountered the first 2 fail encounter and first 3 success encounters. 


SKILL CHALLENGE

Travel to the House of Withered Blossoms

You set off from Ordan-Aganhei as autumn draws to a close and snow begins to fall.

Complexity Requires [number of PCs] successes before 3 failures.

Process A skill challenge is a type of scene where the party needs to succeed on a certain number of ability checks before you reach a certain number of failures. We go to each person in turn, and you set up your scene yourself, describe how you try to overcome it, then make a check to see if you are able to succeed. If the party gets enough successes, you reach your destination safely. If the party fails the skill challenge, something bad will happen.

Each character can only use a skill proficiency once. Once [character A] makes a Wisdom (Perception) check during this skill challenge, they cannot use it again until the challenge is over. You can still make a Wisdom (Insight) check, just not another Perception roll. Tell the players the complexity but not the DC of each test.

The PCs always have encounter Guardian of the Way encounter as they enter the forest and the Ancestral Spirits encounter when they finish the skill challenge

Victory If the PCs succeed, they find their way to the Torii Gate (Ancestral Spirits Encounter) in two weeks + 1 week for each failure – depending on travel pace. They have the following friendly encounters along the way:

    • Success 1 Spirit: Kentaru Yoshiyuki
    • Success 2 Spirit: Li Xu, the Wandering Song
    • Success 3 The Cherry Grove
    • Success 4 Berries of Madness encounter.
    • Success 5 The Agony of Grief Encounter.
    • Success 6 Optional: The Consequence of Hasty Actions

Defeat The PCs still make it to Torii Gate but each failure adds a 2 weeks of travel time and increases the number of encounters.

    • Failure 1 Monkey Army! Encounter.
    • Failure 2 The Anger of Storms encounter.
    • Failure 3 The Fire Spirit encounter.

EXAMPLE SKILL USES

It is up to each PC to decide what skill he is using and describe the related scene, below are some ideas to help the DM adjudicate the test.

Nature/Survival DC 15- The character uses his knowledge of nature and the wilds to identify safe routes, avoid impassable terrain and otherwise find their way.

History DC 20 – The character uses his knowledge of the lands both recent and forgotten to find lost trails.

Perception DC 20 – The character looks for clearer passage and possible obstacles to travel, allowing the party to avoid delays.

Diplomacy/Intimidate DC 18 – Only useful if there are intelligent inhabitants in the area, can be used to learn of local paths and roads

Athletics DC 20 – You assist the party in overcoming obstacles in your path such as chasms/gorges, steep hills which must be climbed, etc.)

Other skills as appropriate DC 20 – Any reasonable skill use by the player which might lead to either making travel easier or finding a better route to the destination.

ENCOUNTERS

Kentaru Yoshiyuki

Kentaru is a NG Shukenja who sought to retreive the Shelter Stone.  But he never made it to the Pagoda dieing in the Cancerous Gardens. Once the Shelter Stone is safety retrieved Kentaru is put to rest and passess to Yomoi.

Wisdom Saving Throw: DC 25

Ongoing Effect: The PC has access to Shukenja spells as a 5th level caster.

Boon: The character permanently gains access to 1 kami domain spell (DM’s discretion).

  • Cantrip: Firebolt
  • 1st Level: Cure Wounds
  • 2nd Level: Horse’s Nose (Grants the scent special ability), Know the Shadows (+20 to Hide checks in darkened areas), Tetsubo of Earth (Melee attack deals 1d10+1/two levels poison damage), Yari of Air (Melee attack deals 1d8+1/two levels cold damage).
  • 3rd Level: Jade Strike (Damages and blinds Shadowlands creatures).

Onashi Taisuke, The Anger of Storms

If the players figure our a way to put Onashi to rest properly they possessed character gains the following boon.

Boon: You gain the samurai class ability “Blades of Fury”.

BLADES OF FURY

Also at 3rd level, when you delay your attack with your ancestral daisho until after your are attacked in the round, you take advantage of the opening and can add a +2 bonus to your attack and damage rolls. In other words, you delay your action until after you are attacked in melee combat. Blades of Fury’s bonus increases to advantage on the attack roll and +5 damage at level 12.


The Cherry Blossom Grove

If the characters know how to get to the grove, they have no trouble finding it. Oth- erwise, read the following:

The travel through the wild lands has been tiring. As you approach the river that bisects the forest, you hear the roar of the river roaring. As you continue onward, it seems to sing a sad lament.

Those characters listening closely to the lament (DC 10 Intelligence Ability Check) hear actual crying coming from the hills away from the direction they need to travel. If any choose to investigate the sound it becomes more distinct as they approach.

A young maiden, sitting on a hilltop beneath an ancient cedar, looks out over the river and weeps. There is something unnatural about the maid, and a garland of cherry blossoms decorates her hair.

The maid is Sei, a lesser nature spirit (cherry tree). She at first seems shy and demure. If questioned about her weeping, she mentions that she mourns the death of her kin and the kidnaping of one of her cousins. If the characters reveal anything of their mission, she offers them aid and invites them to her home. If the characters refuse, she bids them sadly on their way.

The maid’s home is an enchanting cherry grove hidden within a tangle of gorse and dogwood. Upon stepping into the clearing, the characters are suddenly surrounded by a dozen spirits stepping from the trees with bows drawn. If the PCs attack instead of showing restraint, the girl intervenes, but she will not later give them the magical cherry pits (following).

The maid introduces the characters to her clan and asks them to explain their mission. The spirits look sad and grimly shake their heads. Seizing the opportunity, the maid again notes that her cousin is held prisoner in the garden of that evil place, and if the characters swear to aid him, she will give advice in the form of a haiku:

  1. First, is the paper maiden, whose weapon is mightier than the blade. Her strength comes from her office of power.
  2. Second is the daughter of death; her graceful touch is doom, her power a veil of deceit.
  3. Third is the steward of the fields, she who harvests men as others harvest wheat. Her strength comes from the land.

Her brother’s tree is in the Garden of Vivid Decay and the only real way to save him is to purify the House of Withered Blossoms by killing/banishing Munasukaru.


MONKEY ARMY!

(inspired by Sekiro)

Wave 1

Monkeys start throwing poo at the party.

Wave 2

Monkey Swarm attacks the party.

Wave 3

X (PC/2) Monkeys with war caps and flintlock guns shoot at the party. Use the ape statblock except they are small and have AC 13 and an additional attack:

Flintlock Gun. Ranged Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, range 100/400 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d10) piercing damage.

Wave 4

White Monkey commander attacks party.

Monkey Commander

Medium beast, unaligned

Armor Class 12

Hit Points 153 (18d8 + 72)

Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
23 (+6) 14 (+2) 18 (+4) 8 (-2) 12 (+1) 7 (-2)

Skills Athletics +9, Perception +4

Senses Passive Perception 14

Languages — 

Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)

Actions

Multiattack. The monkey commander makes two katana attacks.

Katana. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 22 (3d10 + 6) slashing damage.

Poo Explosion! Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 50/100 ft., one target. Hit: 30 (7d6 + 6) poison damage.

Reactions

Parry. The monkey commander adds 2 to his AC against one melee attack that would hit him. To do so, the monkey commander must see the attacker and be wielding a melee weapon.

Monkey Army

Large Swarm of Medium beasts, unaligned

Armor Class 12

Hit Points 36 (8d8 + 48)

Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
16 (+3) 14 (+2) 14 (+2) 6 (-2) 12 (+1) 7 (-2)

Skills Athletics +5, Perception +3

Damage Resistances Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing

Condition Immunities CharmedFrightenedGrappledParalyzedPetrifiedProneRestrainedStunned

Senses Passive Perception 13

Languages — 

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

Swarm 2.0. The swarm can occupy another creature’s space and vice versa, and the swarm can move through any opening large enough for a Tiny aberration. The swarm can’t regain hit points or gain temporary hit points. A swarm takes half damage from attacks that use an attack roll and double damage from effects that require it to make a saving roll. Creatures that are not swarms are impaired while they remain in the swarm’s space or within 5 feet of it and have disadvantage on attack rolls and Constitution saving throws to maintain concentration. The area of the swarm is considered difficult terrain.

Actions

Fist. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 0 ft., one target. Hit: 17 (4d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage.

Rock. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 25/50 ft., one target. Hit: 17 (4d6 + 3 bludgeoning damage.