Skill Challenge: Honour the Dead

by Sterling on September 10, 2009

Adventuring is a high risk profession. Traversing harsh terrain, exploring the cavernous underdark and fighting dragons are just a few things that may lead to an adventurer’s untimely and unexpected death. In a game with magical healing and resurrection rituals, the truly powerful don’t remain dead for long. But there will come a time when someone’s death truly means that they are gone forever. Honouring the dead can be an important role-playing experience to the larger campaign.


An NPC or PC has died. The PCs must weigh their options and determine the best way to honour their friend’s passing. This may include building a funeral pyre to cremate the remains, building a cairn or burying the body according to the local customs.


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

Primary Skills

Bluff, Athletics, Dungeoneering, Diplomacy, Endurance, Heal, History, Nature, Perception, Religion

  • 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.

Other Skills

Perception, Thievery

Athletics or Endurance (moderate DC, maximum 3 successes)

Digging a grave, moving rocks for a cairn or gathering enough wood for a pyre is hard physical labour.

Buff, Diplomacy, History, Religion (easy DC, maximum 2 successes)

You recall stories and exploits of the deceased to break the tension and make the labourious job easier.

Dungeoneering (moderate +2 DC)

  • Your expertise allows the party to build a stable cairn or pyre.
  • Your expertise allows the party to dig a grave without the sides caving in as they dig.

Heal (moderate DC, assist)

Monitor those doing the physical labour and tend to strains and pains. +2 to the next Athletics or Endurance check.

Nature (easy DC)

  • You determine how much wood is required to burn the body.
  • Find appropriate materials for the pyre or cairn.

Nature (moderate DC)

  • You determine how deep to dig the grave to prevent frost from pushing the body out of the grave.
  • Determine how big to make the cairn to prevent animals from getting at it.

Nature (moderate +2 DC)

Find an appropriate sight for a pyre or cairn.

Religion (moderate DC)

Perform last rights.

Religion (moderate DC)

Determine whether a grave, pyre or cairn is appropriate for the region, terrain or religion of the deceased.

Perception (easy DC)

Find suitable materials for a pyre or cairn.

Perception (moderate DC)

Find an appropriate location for a pyre, cairn or grave.

Stealth (moderate +2 DC)

If the party is doing this in hostile territory or needs to remain undetected while completing the task at hand a Stealth check is required at the beginning of the process.

Thievery (hard DC)

Liberate the body of small items that the other will assume are buried or burnt away. This does not count as a success or failure, but if the PC fails this check it can lead to interesting role-playing consequences.


You’ve honoured the dead by burying or burning the body in accordance with the deceased whishes and beliefs. The grave should go undetected and undisturbed.


Your motives were sound, but the outcome wasn’t as successful as you hoped. Perhaps the terrain was unsuitable, you lacked the proper tools or materials, or maybe you couldn’t risk lighting a pyre for fear of detection. Regardless, the body will most likely be discovered by wildlife or other passers by.

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