Scaled Down Scales
Quest Skill Challenge
I use the term “Quest Skill Challenge” to refer to a special kind of skill challenge. The goal of a Quest Skill Challenge is to get quests. If a particular dungeon is associated with a number of quests (or hooks), then I sometimes run a skill challenge to determine how many of the quests (major and minor) the characters are actually on when they take on the dungeon.
Take the Thunderspire Labyrinth hooks: Lord Padraig’s quest to eliminate the Bloodreavers, Valthrun the Prescient’s quest, the baron’s quest (slave rescue via Sister Linora), and Bairwin’s trade mission.
The Lord Warden asked my PCs to investigate the rumors of slaver activity (which proved to be true) in order to implicate a dishonest innkeeper (which so far appear to be false). Success on this skill challenge would result in their discovery of all four quests (2 major and 2 minor). Failure would result in their discovery of only those quests which they had discovered before their failure resulted in crucial sources clamming up.
As it happened, the party was able to uncover all four (although it was a close-run thing, with Anthony convinced Sun Li’s bad roll had blown it in the end. Sun Li also uncovered a somewhat disloyal Sothren noble who may be plotting to take over the Lord Warden’s job.
I prefer this method of using hooks as it makes the players feel like they are uncovering the quests, rather than just recognizing the obvious hooks being presented by the gamemaster.