Skill Challenge: Rightful Heir

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on February 26, 2009

The lord of the land is ill and dying. The man next in the line of succession is a tyrant. There are rumours that the lord has an illegitimate son who could challenge for the throne.


  • The reputation of the PCs honesty and fairness has reached the ear of the lord’s loyal aide. Since the PCs are neutral and have no stake in the outcome, he hires them to find the rightful heir if he exists.
  • The PCs have had run-ins with the tyrant before. His rise to power would be the beginning of huge long-term problems for the PCs. A different heir would make their lives easier.
  • A letter from a close friend or family member arrives explaining the situation, pleading for the PCs to help in any way they can.


2 PC level +0 (requires 6 successes before 3 failures).

Primary Skills

Diplomacy, Heal, History, Intimidate, Perception, Streetwise

  • Each skill can only be used to accomplish 1 success towards the overall skill challenge unless noted otherwise.
  • Skill checks denoted as assist do not count as a success or failure towards the overall skill challenge.

Secondary Skills

Diplomacy, Insight

Diplomacy (moderate DC, assist)

You have a very difficult time making friends dispite your kind words and friendly demeanor. The townsfolk are scared. They want to help you but seem unwilling. +2 to your next Streetwise check.

Diplomacy (hard DC +2)

Your persistance pays off. You finally find a few people brave enough to talk to you.

Heal (moderate DC)

Rumours have persisted for years that the lord is sterile. This is why he is childless and his cousin is next in the line of succession. A Heal check made after an examination of the lord reveals no signs of illnesses that cause sterility. You believe the rumours are false.

History (easy DC)

You are familiar with the laws and traditions of succession. Any claims made by a possible heir will need to be accompanied with compelling physical proof or confirmation from the lord himself.

Insight (moderate DC, assist)

You realize many people know more than they’re willing to share. They’re afraid. If they help you and you fail to find the lost heir, the tyrant may extract revenge when he becomes the new lord. +2 to your next Intimidate or Diplomacy check.

Intimidate (moderate DC, maximum 2 successes)

Most people will not talk to you. They fear reprisal when the tyrant takes over. The only way to get some information is to present a more immediate threat than living under the tyrant’s rule.

  • 1st success: A woman who used to be a servant for the lord has a son who is the right age to be the lost heir.
  • 2nd success: The servant was given a ring before she was dismissed from the lord’s service. It could be used to prove her son’s linage to the throne.

Perception (hard DC +2)

You catch a glimpse of a teenager bearing a striking resemblance to the lord.

Streetwise (moderate DC, maximum 2 successes)

It’s common knowledge that the lord’s wife bore him no children. Other details are not as commonly known.

  • 1st success: Following the loss of his wife, the lord took many lovers including some of the servants in his employ.
  • 2nd success: One servant was dismissed from service about a year after the death of the lord’s wife. He hasn’t had any known lovers since. It’s rumoured that he can’t perform due to illness.


The PCs find the heir. His legitimacy can only be proven by the lord’s testimony or the presentation of the lord’s ring. If either condition is met, the lord’s teenage son is recognized and proclaimed rightful heir.


Depending on how close they PCs came to successfully completing the skill challenge, three different outcomes are possible.

  • 5 successes

    The rightful heir has been identified but his lineage cannot be proven to satisfy his claim to the throne. The tyrant will act to execute the heir as soon as he becomes the new lord.

  • 4 successes

    Enough evidence has been provided for the people and the tyrant to believe the existence of a possible heir. The tyrant will spend tremendous resources to find the heir and execute him quickly and quietly upon becoming the new lord.

  • 1-3 successes

    Your investigation, although unsuccessful, has brought hope to enough people that they no longer fear the tyrant. In fact they are already starting to rebel against him. He blames the PCs for this uprising and will extract revenge as soon as he becomes the new lord.

1 jonathan February 28, 2009 at 8:21 am

Hello! Interesting SC! In general I like it, although severe failure should probably land the PCs in trouble, eh? I mean.. one success is enough for a rebellion to start? Maybe the townsfolk didn’t need the PCs anyway.

Heal — absolutely love, and am disgusted by, the thought of the PCs giving an exam to a old dying king. LMFAO.

Here’s a twist… maybe success proves that one of the PCs is the hier? Oh.. that would be interesting…

2 Ameron February 28, 2009 at 2:34 pm

@Jonathan. Thanks for stopping by.

I always try to include as many skills in my skill challenges as possible. I find that most of the “official” publications only seem to list a select few skills. I try to anticipate how players might look for successes and provide the DM with guidance.

I’ll admit that in this case the use of Heal is not a route I expect most PCs to take, but it’s happened before at my gaming table so I decided to include it. I guess I didn’t give it the creepy visual you did, but now that I’ve gone there I can’t get the visual out of my mind. Thanks for that.

3 BattleAxe+8 March 3, 2010 at 1:42 am

Hmm… In that case, if one of the PCs is the heir, you could make them escape the region before the tyrant executes them, and send Executors(PC level+1) whenever they go into the region again unless they suceed at a stealth check

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