Picking your brains!


Hey fellow shield wallers I would like to pick your brains for a few ideas.

I’m currently working on a game where the pc’s are coming of age and like all of their clan have to go through the “trails”. I’d like these to be a mixture of skill tests (str, Dex etc. Originally I thought they would compete against each other but now leaning towards them having to work together to get through it for example having one doing a str challenge whilst another does an Int.

I’m also think each test should have different degrees of difficulty an Easy Normal or Hard way of doing them, with the reward as well chance of failure increasing with each level.

Any suggestions of non combat test/trails would be greatly appreciated.


Navigating an unknown area to find Something Important and make it back. Whether it’s the bark of the Singing Tree to make a talisman, or a lump of ancient ore, the effort of trekking through a new area, finding food and water, making shelter, and making it back home are all things that players could apply INT, WIS, DEX, and STR to over a session (or several).

Update: you have a lot of flexibility here to set the challenge rating without planning it all out. Instead, you adjust to the decisions of the players. If the players use some LOOT or ability to bypass some of the obstacle(s) and get the prize quick, they chose the EASY route. If they use some real creativity to do something unexpected, you might elect to grant them the HARD prize for their clever solution.

I’m reminded of the old Thundercats cartoon episode, The Trials of Lion-O. This is not an uncommon trope in storytelling, so there’s no shortage of examples you can pull from literature.

You could pit the players against one another in non-combat scenarios (first one to climb Crag Mountain Peak, first one to do all of Old Mara’s chores for her, whatever). You could pit the players against the old folks in town. Maybe they have to compete against last year’s winner(s).

You could implement individual challenges for the core abilities; or you could have an overall challenge that really needs a variety of skills to solve. The latter would help encourage the party to work together to use their individual skills for the betterment of the group – especially if there’s another team of coming-of-age youths against which they are pitted. First group to climb Crag Mountain Peak, harvest three pounds of Nettling Flowers (watch out for those sharp nettles!), and make it back home wins. Oh, sorry, did we forget to mention that the Nettling Flowers are the natural home to the Nettle Bees? etc etc.


Hi What would be important aspects to adulthood of the clan?

Perhaps defining what is important to the community (physically, mentally, socially) will help you answer this question.

Example, a coastal clan may value a person’s physical ability by having the swim miles in the open ocean. A hill clan; one’s ability to climb. A desert clan, one’s ability to endure heat on limited water. For mental tasks, perhaps reciting poems, stories or songs are most important. Or perhaps a test of cleverness and cunning, etc.


I wouldn’t worry about setting an easy, normal or hard way to complete the challenge. As a gm your job isn’t to come up with solutions, it’s to present problems :slight_smile: players get the task of figuring out the solution. They also almost never make actions according to your plans :stuck_out_tongue:

If you want to present them options that is cool, just toss in some resources, in my recent game I put a horribly cracked tree near a river, in case the party thought to use it as a bridge, or knock it over on enemies, or whatever else they could think of.

The important part was that I didn’t decide what the solution was (they hopped across the river boulders) I just presented ideas that could be intriguing or thought provoking. It is like a visual writing prompt, the players see a new or interesting item/ prop/ resource/ terrain piece and they usually wanna use it. If not, no biggie.


Going to second @TheWunderLich.

If this is their first adventure in this campaign…you can use this as a way for them to build their background.

Kids go to the trials and need to make it back to camp after going down the river for a few miles until they pass the wolf totem of the Jagger clan.


Thank you for your response it’s really has got me thinking about a few things and that I need to find and introduce my boys to the Thundercats.