Our current GM is going to be out of town for a few weeks, so I have decided to try my hand at GMing our group using the We Be Goblins module from Pathfinder. The module is short and has good reviews and a fun premise, so I think it will be good both for the purpose of acting as an interlude in our regular campaign and to give me an easy first task as a GM.
The problem I am having is that the first half of the module has a lot of things that, while funny, don't really give players much agency. It starts with a bunch of challenges that effectively come down to "roll a dice X number of times and see if you win". Specifically you:
1) Dance with Squealy Nord: Ride a pig. Make 3 DC 15 Ride checks in a row. 2) Eat a Bag of Slugs Real Quick: Make 5 out of 10 DC 15 Fortitude checks. 3) Hide or Get Clubbed: Succeed at 1d10 opposed Stealth checks. 4) The Rusty Earbiter: Crawl through a spiky tunnel. Make three DC 15 Escape Artist checks before failing 3 in a row.
For the most part, the players don't really have an impact on the outcome other than deciding which player's stat block is best suited to the task, which since it is only one type of check per challenge, basically comes down to "who has the highest check". There are a few places where they can impact it, like for example:
In Eat a Bag of Slugs Real Quick the the players can decided each time to make a DC 10 check instead of a DC 15 check, but if they do so, at the end they need to make a DC 15+(number of DC 10 checks) Fortitude save or be sickened for the next 24 hours.
Still, this basically comes down to only one real decision and then a bunch of random rolls deciding the outcome. I want to try and figure out how to set up the scenario let the player's decisions have more impact on the outcome. Preferably, I would like it if there is some way that every roll they make can at least partially be impacted by how they approach the problem.
My preferred option would be to rewrite the challenges to be more open ended. If an example non-spoiler challenge had been "Climb a pole (3 DC 15 Climbs checks)", I could change it to "Get a flag to the top of a pole", where the most straight forward solution would be the same as the original, but alternative options (eg. Mage Hand) could do it too.
When that doesn't seem possible, how do I encourage my players to consider other solutions to problems like these, so they feel they made an impact on the outcome. In the "Climb a Pole" example, how might I encourage a player to look around and grab some rope to help them? If you give someone a hammer and a screw, they will generally try to hammer the screw rather than looking for a screwdriver or a nail. How do I present the problem in a context that reminds the players that there is a world they can use to get better solutions?
In summary I am looking for:
- A good strategy for turning narrow challenge (ie. make a check) into a more open ended alternative.
- When that is not possible, a way to present a narrow challenge that encourages creativity.
Most importantly, I am looking general strategies rather than specific solutions. I will likely be running We Be Goblins, Too which has a similar problem at the beginning, so I want to know how to deal with this problem generally and not just get a solution for this particular adventure. An ideal answer would give general strategies and illustrate with examples related to the challenges from We Be Goblins.