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I'm adding a plot hook about some murders that take place on each winter and summer solstice. (It's up to the characters to find out that a mysterious wizard who lives south of town comes into town every six months... hmmm...)

The characters may or may not realize that the summer solstice is only three days away. I'm having trouble deciding which skill they would use for it.

My first reaction was perception. Then I thought no, they aren't actually SEEING anything (unless they happen to walk by a calendar, but I don't imagine there's many of those.)

Then I thought insight, maybe history. But they don't really apply either.

Now, I'm leaning toward nature, as someone in tune with nature would surely be conscientious of when the solstices were.

The players in the party are a paladin, sorcerer, and wizard, so not particularly "naturey" folks here.

What DnD 4e skill would this challenge be most appropriate under?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

None of the above

I'm taking a page from gumshoe here, as Curtis' answer is excellent by the rules as written. If a given fact is critical for the solving of the case, it should not require a roll. In 4e's case, you have two options:

  1. inform the character who has the arcana or history skill about the date, especially if they're at a location where they could reasonably ascertain the dates of the other murders. If you want to be subtle about it, inform the characters of the date as part of your beginning-session recap, especially if told in a narrative voice. "We rejoin our heroes three days before the sun reaches its peak, in the worried town of $SeasonNameDefenseName. Besides reminding them of important clues from the prior session, you introduce the useful temporal data in a "natural" fashion.

  2. Most towns, historically speaking, had non-trivial festival days at the various solstices. If you simply indicate preparations for the given solstice (for details of authentic celebration methods, I recommend The Golden Bough or some of the many resources published as Ars Magica suppliments. By weaving solstice prep into the sensory narrative, your players may pick up that time may be important.

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Hmm.. I like all the responses people have provided, but I really like #2. I imagine a decent clue would be a rich merchant or noble in town who knows the solstice is approaching and would like a little extra protection, or a mercenary who has been hired as such. I think that's what I'm going to go with. Thanks! –  corsiKa Jun 13 '11 at 5:16

I'd probably go with Nature or Religion (holiday/ritualistic event) depending on the nature of solstice in your setting.

I'd also consider not having a skill roll for it at all.

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Ravn has the right idea here, specifically which (or both) skill you'd use for your check. Is your campaign/city highly religious? Would there be a holiday or is it just another day for most people? (Much like how it is for us today, most people don't know/don't care about the solstices.) To expand upon Ravn's answer, I foresee issues with making it a skill roll or challenge in that if the characters fail they don't notice it. If they are religious or naturally inclined that wouldn't make sense in terms of the character. I would suggest just dropping a few hints in the narration instead. –  GPierce Jun 12 '11 at 21:10

Knowledge History

Since you are adding a plot hook about some murders that take place on each winter and summer solstice and the players are to find out about the wizard causing them every 6 months that he visits the best way to solve this problem would be using NPC characters to talk about what is happening, i.e. a mysterious magic shop salesman who knows the solstice is close after they have put together that these murders are always on a solstice.

Since your PC's are a Paladin, Sorcerer, and Wizard Arcana is not a bad choice to feel something magic-key going on.

(Knowledge Arcane, Spellcraft) You have knowledge about magic and magical effects, and (if you’re trained) you know how to detect a persistent magical effect.

(Knowledge History) You have knowledge about history, including significant events, legends, customs, and traditions.

So as for what DnD 4e skill would this challenge be most appropriate under? I would say go with one of these two.

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Perhaps you want to edit "Best Skill To Use" to be the actual skill you recommend to use? :) –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 13 '11 at 4:44
    
I suppose it makes sense that the solstice could cause more magical energy, so arcana would be reasonable. I suppose it could qualify for significant events, but I would question the connection between knowing there is a solstice and making the connection that it's only 3 days away. –  corsiKa Jun 13 '11 at 5:14
    
@TotalFrickin: The qualification for the significant event would than lead the PC's to asking around the town which would than send them to someone Magic-key and thus get them the 3 days away knowledge they did not have before. Just to clarify ha-ha. –  Curtis Miller Jun 13 '11 at 15:52

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