Not every encounter has to end up in combat—sometimes, your skills can be mightier than your sword. When you need to solve a lot of small tasks to overcome one big problem, you're in a trial.

This chapter introduces Trials, how to create them, and advice on how to run them in your games.

A Trial

In a trial, players seek to accomplish a goal by completing a series of smaller tasks. They do this by working together and making ability checks—the more successes they get, the more tasks they can complete. Too many failures, however, and penalities may occur—or the entire trial may be forfeit.

Trials can take any form—a chase through a bustling city, decrypting a necromancer's sinister spellbook, exploring a fetid dungeon, a parley with a formidable warlord, a war against an infernal army—so be creative.

Chansi, Valiant, and Clanda are trapped in the Storm Wilds, surrounded by a horde of animated shadows sent by the Twilight Crown.

In a clearing, Clanda discovers the broken ruins of an elven portal. Can the adventurers reactivate the portal in time to escape the attacking shadows...?

Escape the Twilight Crown

  • Trial
  • Medium / Detailed
DC 15
Successes 20
1 per Turn
10 Rounds

Fix the Storm Wild's fey portal to escape the Twilight Crown.

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: The party escape with a valuable prize—a captured, animated shadow.
1-2 Minor Victory: The party escape—just in time.
3-4 Minor Defeat: The party escape—but suffer a significant loss.
5 Major Defeat: The portal is destroyed and the party are captured by the Twilight Crown.
A Repair the Portal

Restore the broken pillars of the portal circle.

B Harvest Spellpower

Gather arcane fragments and spellpower.

C Cast the Ritual

(Requirements: A and B) Activate the fey portal.

D Hold Back the Horde

Defend yourself from the attacking shadows.

Running a Trial

Once you have a trial mapped out for your players, it's time to put it into play. Follow these steps when running trials in your game:

1Triggering a Trial

A trial can begin at any point—when a player tries to intimidate a formidable NPC, when a monster chases the party through a dark forest, when the rogue triggers a trap mid-combat, etc.

Once it looks like a trial is about to take place, announce it to the party.

  • GM:You hear the whine of arcane power building up in the metal sphere—this force bomb will detonate in less than one minute. Clanda—what do you do?
  • Clanda:I'm going to disarm the bomb, of course.
  • GM:Excellent—a risky gambit. A trial has begun...

2Set the Stage

Now, you must set the stage. It's important to let the players know the details of their trial—if your players aren't aware of their situation, they can't enagage with it in a fun or meaningful way.

Describe the rough outline of the trial—the goal, the tasks, the expected outcomes, and the effective difficulty (DC, successes required, pacing, deadlines, etc.).

  • GM:This is a simple but hard trial—you need 5 DC 20 successes. If you succeed, you'll stop the bomb from exploding, if you don't...
  • Clanda:So, don't drop the exploding death ball? Got it. What do I need to do?
  • GM:You think there are three tasks: 1) carefully open the bomb casing, 2) decipher the arcane sigils within, and 3) countermand the spell.
  • Clanda:How long do I have?
  • GM:You think maybe 10 rounds—but you're not sure.

Limited Information

You may decide that some information is—at first—obsured to players. Consider allowing them to discover this information with appropriate Intelligence checks—or other checks as appropriate.

3Making a Check

Whenever a player describes an action they are taking to resolve a task, the GM can ask that player to make an ability check against the DC of the trial.

Once the player makes their roll, check the Trial Check Results table below to see what the outcome is.

Open Skills: When you decide which ability check to ask for, use attributes and skills in any combination as best matches the player's action.

Advantage & Disadvantage: Depending on the situation and the action taken, you may choose to grant either advantage or disadvantage to the player's roll.

Trial Check Results

Result Outcome
+10 or more

Critical Success: Choose one of the following:

  1. Gain two successes.
  2. Gain one success and remove one failure from the trial.
+0 to +9 Success: Gain one success.
−1 to −9 Failure: Gain one failure.
−10 or lower Critical Failure: Gain two failures.
  • Clanda:Ok, first thing's first—lets crack open this case. Can I look for a weak spot in the plating and prise it open?
  • GM:That sounds like an Intelligence (Athletics) check to me—make a roll.
  • Clanda:Oof, athletics—not my strong point... (rolls 17) ...see? Sweaty hands.
  • GM:That's one failure—the casing remains intact.
  • Clanda:Blast. What if I use my tinker's tools?
  • GM:Those tools are perfect for a device like this—make an Intelligence (Tools) check with advantage.
  • Clanda:I knew these would come in handy... (rolls 23) ...ah now that's more like it.
  • GM:That's one success. You hear a slight click and part of the casing slides open—you can see some of the glimmering arcane sigils within...


Your players may have access to special resources—tools, spells, gear, allies, etc. When a player opts to use one of these resources, consider one of the following:

  • It helps the situation: Grant a) advantage on a roll, b) one automatic success, or c) two automatic successes.
  • It makes things worse: Grant a) disadvantage on a roll, b) one automatic failure, or c) two automatic failures.
  • Clanda:Can I use Identify to decifer these spell sigils?
  • GM:You think Identify might give you two automatic successes—but it'll take you one minute to cast that ritual. That's 10 rounds, and the clock is ticking...

Improvised Tasks

Your players may naturally improvise tasks of their own based the trial's description. Try to be flexible with your trial outline—if the players have a good idea, incorporate it as best you can.

Failure Consequences

Depending on the trial and the action taken by the player, you can apply a consequence if an ability check results in a failure—taking damage, spending hit die, burning spell slots, losing gold, etc.

Clanda rolls a failure when trying to countermand the spell powering the arcane bomb. The GM decides to apply a consequence—arcane power lashes out and Clanda takes 2d12 points of force damage.

Making an Attack

Your players may opt to make an attack as their action within a trial. To resolve these attacks, don't use attack rolls or saving throws—instead, resolve them as a simple ability check based on the attack action described by the player. For example:

  • A barbarian swings her axe with great power at an iron golem? Make a Strength (Athletics) check.
  • A rogue shoots a crossbow whilst hidden in the shadows? Make a Dexterity (Stealth) check.
  • An eldritch knight slashes a green flame blade at fearsome lich? Make an Intelligence (Athletics) check.
  • A wizard casts magic missile with great haste at a charging dragon? Make a Intelligence (Arcana) check.
  • A cleric casts sacred flame at a rampaging zombie? Make a Wisdom (Religion) check.
  • A druid casts entangle on a group of rowdy kobolds? Make a Wisdom (Nature) check.
  • A draconic sorcerer uses burning hands on a swarm of rats? Make a Charisma (Arcana) check.
Using Class Features & Abilities

If the player uses a relevant ability—such as a class feature, spell, or other resource—consider granting them advantage (or an automatic success) to the roll.

To hold back the horde, Valiant wants to attack the overwhelming shadows of the Twilight Crown with his mace. The GM asks for a Strength (Athletics) check.

Because Valiant has the Divine Strike passive ability—and the shadows are vulnerable to radiant—the GM grants advantage to the roll.

4Add Challenges

Trials are at their best when the narrative evolves with each ability check, expanding the story and encouraging a variety of abilities and skills. So if you find that players are relying on the same actions and abilities to solve a task, consider mixing things up with a challenge.

Describe a change in the narrative that puts one or more characters in a difficult—or perilous—situation. Use this opportunity to put the spotlight on a particular character, ability, or skillset.

Valiant could simply use Strength (Athletics) each time to hold back the horde with melee attacks. But to keep things interesting, the GM decides to introduce some challenges. For example:

  • A giant shadow grabs hold of you with suprising speed, Valiant, lifting you up off the ground. You see sinister tendrils wrapping around you—what do you do?
  • A shadowmage calls out a piercing cry and encases you in a twilight barrier, Valiant. Dark sigils blind and restrain you—what do you do?
  • Thunder crackles ominiously as rain pours from the blackened sky. The ground beneath your feet is slick and tretcherous, Valiant—what do you do?
  • As you battle the horde, Valiant, one of the twilight crown sinks into your shadow. You suddenly stumble and fall prone as it tries to possess you through your own shadow—what do you do?

Valiant must now describe a different action in reaction to the challenge which may require a different ability, skill, or feature.

5Ending a Trial

No trial lasts forever. All things must end, and a trial typically concludes in one of four ways:

  • Victory: The players have rolled enough successes to complete the trial. Check the trial's list of outcomes to see what happens next—the fewer failures, the better the outcome.

  • Major Defeat: When a trial gains five failures, it ends automatically in a major defeat.
  • Expiration: The deadline expires. This may result in a consequence—such as a critical failure.
  • Abandon: The players abandon the trial to pursue another objective. Depending on the trial, this may result in a consequence.

After some tense rolls, Clanda rolls 5 successes in her trial to disarm the arcane bomb. The trial ended with 2 failures—a minor victory.

She disarms the bomb safely, but is unable to recover any information about who created it.

Building a Trial

Once you have an idea for a trial, follow these six steps to start building it:

1Set the Goal & Outcomes

Your first step is to define the overall goal of your skill challenge—what is it the players are trying to accomplish?

You must then decide on the outcomes of the trial: what happens when the players succeed or fail in their efforts? There are four outcomes to any trial:

  1. Major Victory (0 failures): The goal is achieved with exceptional results–the players gain additional benefits.
  2. Minor Victory (1-2 failures): The goal is achieved.
  3. Minor Defeat (3-4 failures): The players fail to achieve the goal or achieve it but suffer a significant penalty.
  4. Major Defeat (5 failures): The players fail to achieve the goal and suffer a catastrophic penalty.

The goal of Krazak, Viridian, and Crackle is to explore a sunken crypt in the Umbral Deeps—rumored to be the lair of the necromancer Jander Skull.

  1. Major Victory: The party find a secret stash of treasure. They recover 1000 gp, a scroll of Raise Dead, and a Sword of LIfe Stealing.
  2. Minor Victory: The party explore the crypt. They recover 100 gp and a scroll of Raise Dead.
  3. Minor Defeat: The party are overwhelmed by the undead, escaping with two levels of exhaustion.
  4. Major Defeat: The party run afoul of Jander Skull. One party member is killed, and the others escape with two levels of exhaustion.

2Difficulty & Complexity

Next, you must choose a baseline difficulty and complexity for your trial. The higher the difficulty, the harder it will be for your players to succeed in their efforts—and the higher the complexity, the more successes your players must achieve. Choose your options from the tables below:

Trial DC

Difficulty DC
Very Easy 5
Easy 10
Medium 15
Hard 20
Very Hard 25
Impossible 30

Trial Complexity

Complexity Successes
Simple 5
Straightforward 10
Involved 15
Detailed 20
Intricate 25
Complicated 30

Jander Skull is rumored to be a fledgling necromancer with a tretcherous, sunken lair. The GM decides to create a medium / involved trial—the party must make 15 × DC 15 successes to complete the trial.

3Create some Tasks

Now it's time to break down the goal—and the required successes—down into smaller, narrative-focused tasks.

A task describes a specific objective that should (or must) be met by the players to accomplish the goal of the trial. Use these to create a variety of small, narrative challenges for the party to overcome during the trial.

After some consideration, the GM creates the following tasks for their 15 × DC 15 trial:

  1. Enter the Crypt (2 successes)

    Locate the secret entrance to the sunken crypt.

  2. Explore the Sunken Chamber: (5 successes)

    (Requirements: A) Navigate the twisting chambers of the sunken crypt.

  3. Battle the Undead: (5 successes)

    (Requirements: A) Defend yourself against the risen undead that roam the crypt.

  4. Defeat Jander Skull: (3 successes)

    (Requirements: A, B, and C) Battle the necromancer.


Some tasks may have requirements—sequencing, tools, skills, abilities, etc. Add requirements where necessary to a) create a variety of challenges for the party and b) strengthen the narrative theming of your trial—try to highlight multiple skillsets whenever possible.

Task Themes

As a rule of thumb, try to put the spotlight on at least two sets of primary skills within each trial—the more skills you support, the easier you make it for players to participate.

Use the task themes listed below as a starting point to help you allocate some skill spotlights:

Task Themes

Theme Primary Skills
Academic History, Investigation, Medicine
Battle Athletics, Stealth, Arcana, Religion, Nature, Perception
Exploration Investigation, Athletics, Acrobatics, Nature, Stealth, Perception, Survival
Infiltration Stealth, Deception, Perception
Magical Arcana
Physical Athletics, Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, Stealth
Primal Animal Handling, Nature, Survival
Social Intimidation, Deception, Performance, Persuasion
Spiritual Religion, Insight

3Pacing & Deadlines

Next, choose a pacing and a deadline for your trial. The faster the pace, the more checks the party can roll within a certain time—the longer the deadline, the more time the party has to act.

Trial Pacing

Pacing Checks
Extra-fast X per turn
Fast X per round
Slow X per hour
Extra-slow X per day
Weekly X per week
Monthly X per month
Yearly X per year
Decadal X per decade

Trial Deadline

Type Deadline
Turns X turns
Rounds X rounds
Minutes X minutes
Hourly X hours
Daily X days
Weekly X weeks
Yearly X years

To round off their dungeon exploration trial, the GM chooses a pace and a deadline:

  • Pacing: Exploring the crypt is a slow process—the party can make up to 2 checks per hour.
  • Deadline: The party have 2 days before the crypt sinks into the swamp.

4Failure Consequences

Finally, you may wish to apply an immediate consequence to your players when they roll a failure during your trial. Choose one (or more) of the following—or create your own unique consequences:

  • Lose a number of hit points.
  • Lose one or more hit dice.
  • Lose your lowest/highest unspent spell slot.
  • Gain a level of exhaustion.
  • Lose an amount of gold.

The GM decides to apply a consequence to failed checks—a player loses one unspent hit die or gains a level of exhaustion if they have no hit die remaining.

5Start Playing

Your trial is now ready—see Running a Trial () to start putting it into play.

The Crypt of Jander Skull

  • Trial
  • Medium / Involved
DC 15
Successes 15
2 per Hour
2 days

Explore a sunken crypt in the Umbral Deeps—the lair of the necromancer Jander Skull.

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: The party find a secret stash of treasure. They recover 1000 gp, a scroll of Raise Dead, and a Sword of Life Stealing.
1-2 Minor Victory: The party explore the crypt, recovering 100 gp and a scroll of Raise Dead.
3-4 Minor Defeat: The party are overwhelmed, escaping with two levels of exhaustion.
5 Major Defeat: The party run afoul of Jander Skull. One random party member is killed. The others escape with four levels of exhaustion.
A Enter the Crypt

Locate the secret entrance to the sunken crypt.

B Explore the Sunken Chamber

(Requirements: A) Navigate the twisting chambers of the sunken crypt.

C Battle the Undead

(Requirements: A) Defend yourself against the risen undead that roam the crypt.

D Defeat Jander Skull

(Requirements: A, B, and C) Battle the necromancer.

  • GM:You stand on the edge of the swamp of the Umbral Deeps, wherein—you suspect—hides the sunken lair of Jander Skull. What do you do?
  • Crackle:I served a black dragon for years—I know my way around a swamp. Can I look for anything out-of-the-ordinary?
  • GM:Yes—though, being a small creature, you feel that your movement and vision will be hindered by the thick swamp.
  • Viridian:Jump up on my shoulders, Crackle—a little extra height might help you see better.

Chances of Success

When you create a trial, it's important to consider the party's chances of success—the higher you set the DC, the harder it will be for your players to pass the trial.

As a general rule of thumb, use the Average Ability Bonuses across the party as a starting point.

Average Ability Bonuses

Level Average Ability Bonus
Unskilled Skilled Expert
1-4 +0 +3/+5 +5/+7
4-8 +0 +4/+7 +7/+10
9-12 +0 +5/+9 +9/+13
13-16 +0 +6/+10 +11/+15
17-20 +0 +7/+11 +13/+17

Chances of Success

Bonus Chance of Success (%)
DC 5 DC 10 DC 15 DC 20 DC 25 DC 30
-5 55 30 5
-4 60 35 10
-3 65 40 15
-2 70 45 20
-1 75 50 25
+0 80 55 30 5
+1 85 60 35 10
+2 90 65 40 15
+3 95 70 45 20
+4 100 75 50 25
+5 100 80 55 30 5
+6 100 85 60 35 10
+7 100 90 65 40 15
+8 100 95 70 45 20
+9 100 100 75 50 25
+10 100 100 80 55 30 5
+11 100 100 85 60 35 10
+12 100 100 90 65 40 15
+13 100 100 95 70 45 20
+14 100 100 100 75 50 25
+15 100 100 100 80 55 30

Improving your Chances

A low ability bonus isn't the end of the world—there's (almost) always a way to improve your odds and help out in a trial. To boost your chances, consider the following:

  • Help/Assist: Spend your action to help another character with their ability check, granting them advantage in their efforts.
  • Spells & Features: Use special magics and character features to gain ability bonuses, advantages, or—depending on the situation—automatic successes.
  • Tools: Use tools creatively to bypass tasks.
  • Creative Thinking: Think outside the box and use your talents in creative ways within the scenario.

Variant Dials

If you want to customize Trials for your game, consider the following variant dials.

ATask DCs

Use Task DCs if you want to run a more granular trial with a variety of DC modifiers.

When you create a task for a trial that you think is notably easier or harder than normal, apply a relative DC modifier to it: easiest (-4), easier (-2), normal (+0), harder (+2), or hardest (+4).

The GM wants to use Task DCs with the Crypt of Jander Skull trial (DC 15). They apply the following modifiers:

  • Enter the Crypt: Easiest (DC 11)
  • Explore the Sunken Chamber: Normal (DC 15)
  • Battle the Undead: Normal (DC 15)
  • Defeat Jander Skull: Harder (DC 17)

BSpellpower Successes

If you want a more precise method for determining which spells can trigger automatic successes, use this Spellpower Successes variant.

To gain advantage or automatic successes on an ability check during a trial, a spell must be of a minimum level relative to the DC—as shown in the table below.

Spellpower Successes

DC Minimum Spell Level
Advantage 1 Success 2 Successes
0-4 0 1 2
5-9 1 2 3
10-14 1 3 4
15-19 2 4 6
20-24 3 5 7
25+ 4 6 8
  • GM:In the dank crypt, the risen undead groan and stumble out of the gloom towards you. What do you do, Crackle?
  • Crackle:Easy! They're no match for my 2nd-level Dragon's Breath... uh, I mean, I hope not. Are they?
  • GM:Let's find out. You breathe draconic fire at the advancing zombies—roll DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) with advantage.
  • Crackle:Please work, pretty please... (rolls 16) ...hah!

A Perfect Fit

If a spell is a perfect match for a situation, act as if it is +2 spell levels higher to determine if it should grant advantage or a success.

Trial Templates

To get you started with trials, here are some example templates you can use in your games. Use these templates as a starting point—adjust the difficulties, pacing, deadlines, and apply your own theming where appropriate.


In a chase, the party are in hot pursuit. A monster running through a dark forest, a thief fleeing across crowded city rooftops, a pirate ship escaping across a stormy sea—when the party need to need to catch up with an evasive opponent, use this template.


  • Trial
  • Easy / Straightforward
DC 10
Successes 10
1 per Turn
10 rounds

You are chasing after someone—or something—across some tricky terrain. Can you reach the target in time?

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: You catch up with your target and gain a bonus.
1-2 Minor Victory: You catch up with your target.
3-4 Minor Defeat: You catch up with your target—but at a significant cost.
5 Major Defeat: You lose track of your target.
A Track Target

Keep the target in your sights.

B Overcome Environment

Overcome a hazard caused by the environment.

C Close the Gap

Close the distance between you and the target.

  • GM:The flashbomb suddenly explodes—when your vision clears, you catch a glimpse of the assassin escaping into the crowded city. What do you do?
  • Viridian:We chase—right guys?
  • Krazak:Damn right we chase! No hesitation, I charge into the crowds after the assassin.
  • GM:Excellent—the chase begins! Krazak, make a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to force your way through the immediate crowds.


In a crafting trial, the party are being creative. Building a suit of armor, reforging the broken sword of kings, brewing a lethal poison—when the party are trying to create something, use this template.


  • Trial
  • Easy / Straightforward
DC 10
Successes 10
1 per Hour

You are trying to craft an item. Gather recipies, materials, and tools to put your creativity to the test.

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: You craft the item perfectly, gaining a bonus.
1-2 Minor Victory: You craft the item.
3-4 Minor Defeat: You craft the item—but it has a significant defect.
5 Major Defeat: You failed to craft the item and wasted the materials in the process.
A Prepare Materials

Process the materials you need for your crafting.

B Craft the Item

Turn the materials into your desired item.

C Apply some Finishing Touches

(Requirements: A and B) Apply some finishing touches and flourishes to the item.

  • Valiant:We've got the campfire burning hot, Chansi.
  • Chansi:Great. Lets cook up a batch of my family's special phoenix stew—that'll clear up all our exhaustion. I'll start cutting up the carrots.
  • GM:Excellent—the cooking begins! Chansi, make a DC 10 Wisdom (Survival) check as you prepare the ingredients. You're proficient with cook's utensils, so you also have advantage.


In a escape, the party are trying to lose a pursuer. Breaking free from an eldritch prison, running across desecrated ground patrolled by soul-devouring wraiths, hiding in the mountains from a raging red dragon—when the party need to keep their distance from a foe, use this template.


  • Trial
  • Easy / Straightforward
DC 10
Successes 10
1 per Turn
10 rounds

You are being pursed. Can you hide your tracks and open up enough distance to lose the hunter?

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: You escape your pursuers and gain a bonus.
1-2 Minor Victory: You escape your pursuers.
3-4 Minor Defeat: You escape your pursuers—but at a significant cost.
5 Major Defeat: Your pursuers catch up.
A Cover Tracks

Cover your tracks as you make your escape.

B Overcome the Environment

Overcome a hazard caused by the environment.

C Get some Distance

Open up some distance between you and your pursuers.

  • GM:The guard sneers at you from outside the cell, Viridian, throwing a ring of heavy keys casually in the air. "Enjoy your last night, hero—Lord Erasius likes his executions nice and early."
  • Viridian:I rather like my head where it is... I have to escape. I'll fake an illness to get the guard into my cell—then knock her out and steal the keys.
  • GM:Excellent—the escape begins. Viridian, make a DC 10 Charisma (Deception) check to fake a painful illness. As an actor, you have advantage on this roll.
  • Viridian:Perfect—I roll... (rolls 14) ...a success! As the guard leans over me, I throw a punch and grab the keys as she falls unconcious.
  • GM:You now have the keys to your cell, and one unconcious guard. No alarms are sounding—yet.
  • Viridian:I'd better hide this guard to cover my tracks...


In a heist, the party are trying to take something from a location in secret. Stealing a diamond from a bank vault, rescuing an emperor from draconic kidnappers, taking a phylactory from a lich's lair—when the party are trying to acquire something without detection, use this template.

  • Krazak: Bah I say we storm the temple, punch out the priests, and steal the idol. It's for a good cause.
  • Clanda: Good cause or not, if the Church of Ilmater find out we stormed their temple we'll be in serious trouble. Is there another way, Zane?
  • Zane: There's always another way. A big temple has big shadows—we sneak, we steal, we survive.
  • Clanda: You think we can do a heist?
  • Zane:I could heist this in my sleep—if Krazak can get me the temple blueprints.
  • Krazak:I think I know a guy... Lemme have a drink with him, call in a favor.
  • GM: Excellent—the heist begins. Krazak, make a DC 10 Constitution (Persuasion) check while you drink.


  • Trial
  • Easy / Involved
DC 10
Successes 15
1 per Hour
1 week

You are trying to pull off a heist. Can you get in, grab the loot, and get out without raising the alarm?

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: You escape with the item and gain a bonus.
1-2 Minor Victory: You escape with the item.
3-4 Minor Defeat: You escape with the item—but at a significant cost.
5 Major Defeat: You were discovered during the heist—bad things are about to happen.
A Make a Plan

Put your team together, gather information, and acquire the tools/resources you need.

B Execute the Heist

(Requirements: A) Infiltrate, locate, and acquire.

C Escape Unnoticed

(Requirements: A and B) Get back out without raising the alarm.


In an investigation, the party are trying to learn something. Investigating a murder scene, uncovering the lair of a mythical beast, learning the secret handshake of an underground cult—when the party need to discover some information, use this template.


  • Trial
  • Easy / Straightforward
DC 10
Successes 10
1 per Hour

You are gathering information. Can you turn clues and rumors into a solid conclusion?

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: You gathered some information and a bonus.
1-2 Minor Victory: You gathered information.
3-4 Minor Defeat: You gathered some information—but at a significant cost.
5 Major Defeat: You didn't gather any useful information—and something bad will happen.
A Gather Clues

Search a location and gather clues.

B Ask Around

Talk to people and collect information.

C Make a Conclusion

(Requirements: A and B) Assemble your scraps of information into a conclusion.

  • Truth:You think Sister Sedeena was murdered?
  • Valiant:If not, it's one hell of a coincidence. Sedeena wanted to tell us something—all of a sudden, the shrine catches fine whilst she's trapped inside? By accident? I don't buy it.
  • Krazak:Must be those damn Zhentarim again.
  • Zane:No, this is too sloppy for Zhentarim. No serious assassin trusts fire—a knife is much more reliable.
  • Truth:Then we need to find out who, and why. Valiant and Zane, see what leads you can find in town—Krazak and I will investigate the shrine. I'll start by asking the acolyte—Darcy Brin—what he remembers of that night...
  • GM:Excellent—the investigation begins! Truth, make a DC 10 Charisma (Investigation) check.


In a persuasion, the party are trying to get someone to do something. Turn against their master, release some prisoners, give up some vital information—when the party are trying to change an NPC's mind, use this template.

  • GM:The gnoll snarls at you, Viridian, as he presses a black knife to Clanda's throat. "Back off, devilspawn, or I'll slice her from ear to ear!"
  • Clanda:Better do as he says, Viridian—this wretch killed Vemi in cold blood.
  • GM:"I killed Vemi because she was a butcher," spits the gnoll, "and I'll kill you too if you don't shut your lying elven mouth." He's watching you closely with crazed eyes, Viridian—what do you do?
  • Viridian:I want to convince him to let Clanda go—I'm a talker, not a fighter. I'll try to calm his temper, tell him I'm only here to talk.
  • GM:Excellent—the persuasion begins! Viridian, make a DC 10 Wisdom (Persuasion) check to begin.


  • Trial
  • Easy / Involved
DC 10
Successes 10
1 per Turn
10 rounds

You are trying to change someone's mind. Can you do it without turning them against you?

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: You persuade the target and gain a bonus.
1-2 Minor Victory: You persuade the target.
3-4 Minor Defeat: You persuade the target—but at a significant cost.
5 Major Defeat: You were unable to persuade the target—something bad is about to happen.
A Make your Case

Put forward your case and make arguments about why your position is right.

B Counteract

Counteract your opponents arguments and prove them wrong.

C Soothe and Enflame

Manage the emotional state of your opponent through charm, intimidation, and insight.


In an quest, the party are trying to achieve something grand. Recovering a treasure from a sunken lair, hunting a dangerous necromancer, gathering the four elemental crystals—when the party need to undertake an adventure, use this template.


  • Trial
  • Easy / Involved
DC 10
Successes 15
1 per Hour

You are on a quest. Can you reach the end and complete your adventure before misfortune strikes?

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: You complete the quest and gain a bonus.
1-2 Minor Victory: You complete the quest.
3-4 Minor Defeat: You complete the quest—but at a significant cost.
5 Major Defeat: You failed the quest, and something bad is about to happen.
A Embark

Travel to the location of the quest.

B Explore your Surroundings

(Requirements: A) Explore the environment and solve any puzzles or obstacles that block your path.

C Battle Enemies

(Requirements: A) Defeat those who would oppose you.

D Defeat the Boss

(Requirements: A and B) Defeat (or otherwise overcome) the big boss.

  • GM:What do you do in your downtime, Valiant?
  • Valiant:Well my temple has asked me to cleanse the Darkwood Shrine—is that something I can accomplish in a week?
  • GM: It's a ways north, but you think it's achievable.
  • Valiant:Perfect—I'll do that while everyone else is resting in town. I'll take one of the acolytes with me—they've been to the shrine before.
  • GM:Excellent—the quest begins! Valiant, make a DC 10 Wisdom (Survival) check as you embark. The acolyte remembers the path—you have advantage.


In a unlock trial, the party are trying to open or disarm something. Cracking open a secret vault in an artificer's workshop, opening a set of locked diamond doors, breaking through a sealed fey portal—when the party are trying to bypass something, use this template.

  • GM:As the battle wages on, the eldritch portal crackles with purple lightning. You hear a gibbering roar as another four mouthers crawl through the aberrant vortex and into our world.
  • Truth:Damn, there's too many mouthers—we'll be overwhelmed if they keep pouring through! Clanda, can you shut down that portal?
  • Clanda:Sure—if you can keep them off my back.
  • Truth:You heard her, Krazak—let's clear a path.
  • Clanda:Alright, let's see what we're dealing with... I'll try to make sense of the sigils on the portal stone.
  • GM:Exellent—the unlocking begins! Clanda, make a DC 10 Intelligence (Arcana) check to gather information about the portal. Because you don't understand deep speech, however, you have disadvantage on your roll.


  • Trial
  • Easy / Simple
DC 10
Successes 5
1 per Round

You are trying to unlock or disarm something. Can you bypass the restraints before something bad happens?

Failures Outcome
0 Major Victory: You unlock the target and gain a bonus.
1-2 Minor Victory: You unlock the target.
3-4 Minor Defeat: You unlock the target—but at a significant cost.
5 Major Defeat: You were unable to unlock the target—something bad is about to happen.
A Gather Information

Gather information about the locks.

B Test the Defences

Test the defences with some initial advances.

C Unlock

(Requirements: A and B) Attempt to unlock the target.

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