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For the purposes of this question, please assume that I have four characters in play. They all have "Acrobatics" skill. They are 1st, 5th, 10th, and 15th levels respectively.

They are in a bar and they want to swing on exactly the same chandelier to impress a fair maiden on the other side of the room.

What is the difficulty class for the swing? Why?

What if all the characters were the same level?

What is the difficulty class for the swing? Why?


I'm trying to ascertain, in 4e, whether the DCs change with the character or with the situation. In other words, does the difficulty of the swing depend on the chandelier -- its the same for everyone; or does it depend on the character -- there's a sliding scale?

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What level is the fair maiden? – yhw42 Dec 3 '10 at 5:01
Some follow-up context might be useful. Otherwise you're just going to get, "this, according to page that, because of these design reasons." if you're looking for aught else, some more info would help answerers understand why you're asking a question with a potentially trivial answer. – SevenSidedDie Dec 3 '10 at 5:01
Take a look at:… for what I think you're trying to ask. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 3 '10 at 5:40
Hi, Wilmanric! Don't be disheartened by the reaction you're getting. I think if you reword things, you'll get a better response... This question is set up as a theoretical exercise, but quite "ivory tower" and not likely to occur in any real world game. If you make it more realistic a scenario, you might get a better response. – Adam Dray Dec 3 '10 at 16:04
-1, it's a really focused, unrealistic mental exercise. – Adriano Varoli Piazza Dec 3 '10 at 19:55
up vote 5 down vote accepted

It depends on the chandelier, the maiden, and the level of a typical character who would do such a thing. If impressing this fair maiden by swinging on this chandelier should be hard for a 1st level character, its DC is 19. If it should be medium difficulty for a 5th level character (since she's the governor's daughter and a bit out of a f1st level character's league), the DC is 15.

   level easy med hard   
   1      8    12  19  
   5     10    15  22  
   10    13    18  26  
   15    15    22  30

Numbers (and a very good description) from here. Thanks @Brian for the link!

Once the DC is chosen, anyone can attempt it, though. If the PCs are trying to be diplomatic, but are in over their heads (i.e. 3rd level characters vs 8th level diplomats), pick the DC as easy for an 8th level character (DC 12) just for them to keep up with the negotiations.

Someone who is trained and has a good attribute score (16) will succeed automatically on Easy tasks for their level. (i.e. Easy DC = 1/2 level + trained(5) + bonus(3)) That same character will succeed on medium difficulty more than 2/3 of the time and succeed on hard difficulty around half of the time. (Note that medium and hard scales assumes that the relevant attributes are going up with the level increases at 4th, 8th, etc. since that's what the character is good at.)

For your example, let's describe the challenge for each of the 4 levels you reference:

  • a young woman with 1 level of Fair Maiden
  • the governor's daughter (a level 5 encounter)
  • a 10th level socialite (and it must be a high class tavern!)
  • the duchess (at level 15)

NOTE: I'm using the levels in the description to describe the level for which the interaction is normed. I am NOT saying that all NPCs that the characters interact with need to be of the their level!

To interpret the results:

  • Easy: you didn't make a fool of yourself
  • Med: you did well and she'd probably talk to you
  • Hard: Wow. She's impressed!

So a Fighter, a Wizard, a Monk, and Vin Diesel walk into a bar.

The 1st level Fighter rolls a 2. She has an Acrobatics bonus of +8 (0+5+3), so she can't make a fool of herself in front of her peers. In front of the socialite or the Duchess, though, she'd be completely embarrassed and lose face.

The wizard rolls a 16 to jump to the chandelier. At 5th level he's got a +3 bonus (2+0+1) since he has a 13 dexterity. The governor's daughter would talk to him, but even with that great roll, he didn't wow her. The young woman would be wowed, and luckily he even wouldn't have made a fool of himself in front of the Duchess.

The 10th level Monk makes an Acrobatics check to swing across the room. She rolls an 11 and adds her bonus of 15(5+5+5) for a 26. Even though it's about average for her, she could be in the circus and the socialite invites her to all her fancy parties. Everybody is wowed, except for the Duchess who sees that kind of stuff all them time.

Vin Diesel enters and he doesn't need to roll. The bartender just gives him a drink and everyone swoons. Since he's got a modifier of +29(10+5+6+racial and inherent bonuses!) it's an automatic success, even against the Duchess. He's that good. She'd definitely want to talk to him, but he'd just want to drink his drink in silence.

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Your question is unanswerable, as we don't know the nature of the bar. The DC of interactions is a function of the environment, not the characters. The characters, however, usally inform the environment by adventuring in level specific areas.

In a bar like this, it is up to the DM to determine who is the "appropriate" level for the bar, and then based on the intrinsic difficulty of the task relative to intended level, assign a DC, as discussed here. The players will not experience different DCs for the same activity, though they can be presented with different DCs to demonstrate their level of skill

For simple DCs by level, look here. And for another discussion of the scaling nature of difficulties, here.

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This question relies on premises that are not true of D&D 4e play.

For the purposes of this question, please assume that I have four characters in play.

If the "I" here refers to a single player, you will not typically have four characters, just one. If the "I" here refers to a DM and his or her four players, that's more reasonable, but the presumptive speaker then bears more burden for the resolution of the following.

They all have "Acrobatics" skill. They are 1st, 5th, 10th, and 15th levels respectively.

Those four characters would not be "in play" together — they range all over the heroic and paragon tiers, and things that would be a suitable challenge for one might be trivial for another and an insurmountable obstacle for the last. This is particularly true if one of the characters has not just trained in Acrobatics, but is heavily focused on it ("all in"), as a rogue might be.

They are in a bar and they want to swing on exactly the same chandelier to impress a fair maiden on the other side of the room.

So, which is it to be: Acrobatics, to swing on the chandelier, or Diplomacy, to impress the maiden? :) What's the end result of this maiden being impressed? If it's just to pass the time, perhaps this could be addressed quickly and without any rolls at all.

What is the difficulty class for the swing? Why?

In this hypothetical situation: the difficulty class for the swing should based on the tier of the campaign being run. As the DM, you'll know what that is, and set it accordingly. The other characters should treat the chandelier as an element of the scenery: either they have the skill to surmount it easily, or it's entirely out of their league.

What if all the characters were the same level? What is the difficulty class for the swing? Why?

This has been addressed in other answers: use this table and set a DC appropriate to the circumstances of the bar. (Slippery floor? Tables to run and jump on to gain height?)

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