Games of Skill

Arm Wrestling

Target Number/DS: 20/Opposed.
Arm-wrestling is a simple test of opposed arm strength. Two competitors sit across a table from each other, clasp matching hands (right and right, or left and left), and try to shove the other person’s hand to the surface of the table.
Each round, competitors make Strength checks. If neither competitor reaches the Target Number quickly, they may begin to tire. A character can arm-wrestle for a number of rounds equal to her Constitution, but after that, she must succeed a Constitution check (DC 10) to continue to arm-wrestle. She must check again each round, and the DC increases by 1 for each check she has made. Characters with the Endurance feat gain a +4 bonus to this Constitution check.
When she fails this check, she can no longer arm-wrestle, and automatically loses. If both competitors fail their Constitution checks in the same round, then the winner is whoever had the higher DS (Degree of Success).
A character who fails the above Constitution check incurs a -2 penalty to all Strength-based rolls involving that arm until she can rest for at least one minute.
Variants and Optional Rules
Characters who compete with their off-hands may have a -2 penalty to their Strength checks. Characters with the Two Weapon Fighting feat do not have this penalty.
Sometimes an arm-wrestle is conducted over a pair of spikes or flames, positioned so that the loser’s hand is injured. If this variant is being played, the loser takes 1d4 points of damage, plus the winner’s strength bonus. In addition, her hand is considered injured, incurring a -2 penalty to skills that require the use of that hand, and to attack rolls with that hand. This lasts until the injury is healed.
Wizards and sorcerers occasionally play psychic arm-wrestling, using their own mage hand spells (or, in rare cases, Bigby’s hand spells) to wrestle. Instead of Strength checks, use opposed caster-level checks. Wizards, sorcerers or psions can also sometimes engage in mental conflicts which work in the same way as arm-wrestles, but Intelligence is substituted for Strength and Wisdom is substituted for Constitution. The GM can optionally rule that the loser takes damage.

Long Throw

Target Number/DS: -/Direct
Similar to arm-wrestling in that it tests strength, a competition to toss a heavy object also carries the additional restriction that only the strongest can even compete. Each competitor lifts the object to be thrown and hurls it as far as he can.
First, determine the weight of the object being thrown. Competitors whose maximum load is not sufficient to lift the object cannot compete. If the object is a medium load for a competitor, she has a -3 penalty penalty to all rolls in this competition. If the object is a heavy load, the check penalty is -6.
Each competitor makes a Strength check to see how far she hurls the object. is result of her check becomes her DS (Degree of Success). If the thrown object is a weapon which the character has Weapon Focus in, she gets a +1 bonus to her check. Characters with the Far Shot feat double their rolls, because Far Shot doubles a thrown object’s range increment. e competitor with the highest DS wins.
If the actual distance matters, rather than simply who wins, assume that any check result of 10 travels a distance equal to the object’s range increment. For every 4 points beyond 10, the object travels another range increment. e normal limitation of 5 range increments for hurled objects does not matter here. For characters with the Far Shot feat, instead of doubling their result, simply calculate distance by doubling the object’s rangeincrement.
The following objects are commonly used in long throw competitions.

  • Javelin: Weight: 2 lb, Range increment: 30 ft
  • Discus: Weight: 5 lb, Range increment: 20 ft
  • Stone: Weight: 14 lb, Range increment: 10 ft
  • Halfling: Weight: 30 lb, Range increment: 5 ft
  • Small Boulder: Weight: 56 lb, Range increment: 5 ft
  • Log (22' long): Weight: 150 lb, Range increment: 2 ft

Being thrown can be quite painful upon impact. If a person is thrown, she takes 1d6 points of falling damage upon landing. If she is thrown into a solid object like a wall, she takes 1d6 points of damage plus the thrower’s Strength bonus. The object or creature struck takes the same damage. A Tumble check (DC 15) can negate the damage to the thrown creature.
Variants and Optional Rules
Some long throw competitions require the thrower to try to hit a target with precision. The target is typically a medium-size, immobile target (AC 5), at a distance of 4 standard range increments. For these competitions, contestants take turns throwing at targets. If a contestant misses and at least one other contestant hits, then the missing contestant loses. After every two series of throws, the target is moved back another range increment. Thus, usually only characters with Far Shot have a chance to hit accurately enough to win. The last competitor to stay in without missing wins.
Another variant, popularized with cabers (logs), is to have the hurled object make a precise rotation in mid-air. For most caber competitions, the goal is not to throw far, but to have the caber turn a precise 180-degree rotation and land on the end which the thrower initially held, without leaning significantly to either side. For throwing competitions like this, the thrower must still be strong enough to lift the object, but she makes a Dexterity check instead of a Strength check. She still suffers penalties if the object is a medium or heavyload.
Halfling toss is popular in many frontier towns, where humans and Halflings live together, and Halflings mock men for their large size. Large folk toss drunk Halflings into snow banks or hay bales from a distance of 15 ft or more, and throwers who miss not only lose but are pelted by Halfling-tossed stones. One man tried to play Dwarf toss, but he soon quit, saying, “It’s not so easy anymore since I got me arm cut off.”

Races and Chases

Target Number: n/a./Direct
Races test speed and endurance, and are some of the most fast-paced competitions, making them great crowd-drawers. Races can be foot races, swimming races, horse races or even a mixture of various types.
You should determine the movement rates of various competitors. Each competitor adds 2 points to any roll made per 10 ft of movement rate. The Run feat grants an additional +2 bonus in foot races. Note that the actual distance traveled is not important, only the relative Degrees of Success.
You should be aware of the use of Jump, Swim and Climb skills to make the most of this system. If you want to use races with mounts, make sure you are familiar with use of the Ride skill.
Races and chases are divided into “range increments”. It’s important to note that the actual distances covered by range increments (as with any DS-based mechanic) are abstract, as are the actual speeds of competitors, although individual GMs may wish to assign each race an actual distance per range increment; this will have no effect on the rules, however. ese rules supersede the running mechanic in the Core Rules, presenting a more streamlined way of resolving competitive races and chases.


A race consists of a number of range increments.

  • Dash: 2 range increments
  • Typical Race: 10 range increments
  • Marathon: 20 range increments

Each competitor makes one check for each range increment. e competitor with the highest total after all checks have been made is the winner.

  • Foot race: Strength checks
  • Swimming race: Swim checks
  • Climbing race: Climb checks. Climbers must beat a DC at each range increment. Failed checks mean that the climber cannot proceed, although retries are allowed (in effect, this works out as an obstacle at every range increment – see below).
  • Mounted races: Strength checks based on mount’s Strength. For all of these checks, a rider or driver who succeeds a Ride check DC 10 grants her mount or vehicle a +2 bonus to the primary check. If the Ride check beats DC 20, the bonus is +4, and +6 for DC 30 or higher.
  • Mixed races: some races may not simply require a single type of movement. For example, a race could consist of a mix of run, climb and swim checks.

A sample race: 6 competitors are racing in the Dak’Rothian Marathon, an event which involves running, swimming and climbing. It’s a long event (20 range increments), and is set out as follows:

  • 1-3: Initial Dash: A straight run, designed to put some space between the competitors. In the third range increment, competitors must leap a small canyon (Obstacle, Jump DC 15 (failing causes 3d6 damage), Retry allowed).
  • 4-6: Cliff-face: Competitors must now climb a rocky cliff unaided. This has a base DC of 14 (this is essentially three range increments each fo wich contain an obstacle; retries are allowed).
  • 7-8: Second Dash: At the top of the cliff, runners race across a large meadow. At the end of the meadow (range increment 8) they must leap from the cliff into a lake below (Jump DC 12 to dive successfully, otherwise 3d6 damage).
  • 9-12: Swim: Competitors must now swim across the lake. It is a rough lake, requiring a swim check at DC 15 at each range increment (failing by 5 or more means that the swimmer starts to drown).
  • 12-13: Underwater Tunnel: Swimmers must then swim underwater through a tunnel (cumulative -1 to the swim checks).
  • 14-18: Third Dash: A little longer than previous foot-stages, and designed to weed out those who will have tired significantly by now. In the 16th range increment there is a slippery, marshy segment (Hazard, Balance DC 12).
  • 19-20: Horserace: Horses are waiting for the racers for the final leg of the race. At range increment 20 is a final canyon to be jumped (Obstacle, Jump DC 18, No retry, falling causes 4d6 damage).


Chases are a little different to races. In a chase, you’re not trying to establish which character reaches a target destination first; the “race” has no end until the chaser catches the escapee or gives up. Use the following process to run a chase:
Starting advantage: the escapee starts with an advantage, whether this be because the chaser takes a few moments before he begins the pursuit or because there is already distance between the two parties involved. This advantage must exist, otherwise the chase is over already. e advantage is expressed in terms of DS.

  • Time: have the escapee make an initiative check. This represents his advantage and is used as his starting DS.
  • Distance-based: use the base speed of the chaser, and determine how many “increments” of that base speed exist between the two parties. The escapee’s starting DS is increased by 5 times that number.

Range increments work in the usual abstract fashion. For each range increment, both parties make the relevant checks (and obstacle checks if required). The GM should describe each increment before checks are made; often it is useful to give a number of alternatives for the next increment, so that the escapee may choose where to go. Different alternatives may require different check types (e.g. the current range increment is a busy street; the GM describes this, and gives 3 options for the next increment: a run down a nearby side street, a climbing increment up the side of a building or a run through the city park, which includes an obstacle to proceed such as a wall which must be climbed over).
The race is over if the chaser’s DS becomes equal to or greater then the escapee’s or if the chaser’s DS drops behind the escapee by 30 or more.
The escapee can utilize various tactics to help him escape. He may only use one tactic in any given range increment, and tactics are utilized before the regular race checks to increase DS (Strength/Climb/Swim etc.) are made.

  • Hiding: if the escapee’s DS is 20 points better than the chaser’s and the current range increment is not a flat plain or field, then the escapee may make a Hide check vs. the chaser’s Spot check. If he wins, then the chase is over. If he fails, he does not gain anything to his DS that round (whereas the chaser does).
  • Creating Hazards: an escapee can attempt to put hazards (see Variants and Optional Rules, below) in the chaser’s path. This requires a Dexterity check at DC 14. The DC that the pursuer must beat in order to avoid being slowed by the hazard is 10+ a voluntary check penalty decided on by the escapee. The escapee may describe the hazard how he wishes, based on the GM’s description of his surroundings. Attempting to create a hazard costs the escapee 5 DS plus the voluntary check penalty used to create the hazard.

Example – Ralf is escaping from the city guard. He has a DS lead of 12, and decides to delay his pursuer. He takes a -4 penalty to his Dex check (and his DS, reducing his lead to 8) and succeeds in his check, knocking over a barrel of apples into his puruser’s path. The guard must now make a Balance check at DC 14; he fails, and does not gain any DS for that range increment. Ralf rolls his Strength check (for a foot-race) normally, increasing his DS by12 points, making his lead a full 20 points. With that lead, he may now attempt to hide, and so in the next range increment, he rolls a Hide Check vs. the guard’s Spot check and succeeds. The chase is over.
Variants and Optional Rules
Long races: longer races presents the possibility of competitors failing due to tiredness or a lack of endurance. A character may safely race for a number of range increments equal to his (or his mount’s) Constitution score. After that, he must make an additional Consitution check each round with a DC equal to twice the number of range increments so far raced. A failed check means that the competitor must rest, adding 0 to his DS for that range increment. A non-living mount (for example, an automated vehicle or an undead mount) does not need to make Constitution checks.
Pacing: a character may choose to pace himself, sacrificing overall speed in order to be able to race for longer. Alternatively, the character may choose to sprint, racing faster but tiring more easily. The character may choose to either add 2 to his ability checks but suffer a 2 point penalty to his Constitution for the duration of the race, or he may choose to sacrifice 2 points on his ability checks in order to add 2 points to hisConstitution.
Obstacles: the above rules assume a race on a straight track or one relatively free of complications. For races with obstacles, sharp turns, or other hazards, contestants have to make a secondary check whenever a hazard occurs to determine how well they deal with it. These obstacles occur at specific places in the race, marked by specific range increments. There are two types of obstacle – an Obstacle and a Hazard:

  • Obstacle: these obstacles must be successfully navi-gated in order to progress in the race. If a character cannot make the required check, she forfeits the race.

Retries: Generally, failing a “mandatory” skill check at an obstacle (i.e. one required to even continue the race) means you forfeit the race (unless optional damage is allowed instead). However, many skill checks allow for retries. Once you have failed an initial skill roll, your DS increases by 0 for that range increment even if you succeed in a retry. Each retry decreases your current DS by 10 points. This only applies if retries are allowed for that obstacle.

  • Hazard: these obstacles don’t stop a character dead, although if not successfully navigated they can slow her down. The character should make the required check when reaching the range increment at which the hazard occurs; a successful check allows her to continue as normal, while a failed check allows her to continue but prevents her DS from increasing that round.

Taking Damage: The GM may rule that a competitor may take damage and continue the race normally on a failed obstacle check rather than slow down or stop at that range increment. The damage will vary (perhaps a jump down from a rooftop will cause 2d6 damage, or running blindly through a thorn bush will cause 1d4 damage). This rule is also useful when using vehicles, as a competitor may deliberately take risks that damage the vehicle in order to keep up.
Some example obstacles are presented below. The GM should set specific obstacles for each race. Some Elves hold climbing races through tree branches, instead of up cliffs, while Halflings and Gnomes are fond of occasionally using larger races as their mounts.

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