When explaining Tech Challenges to people, I often get the response that they don’t represent the kind of challenge the GM is looking for. While yes, they are designed to replicate technology challenges, “Tech” is actually referring to Technical Challenges. Let me explain how we’ve used them in our games to illustrate how flexible they are.
In our current campaign, I used a Tech Challenge when the players wanted to pick a lock. Obviously the first skill that was attempted was the Pick Locks skill but that roll failed. The next player didn’t have the pick locks skill, and this really shows the power of Tech Challenges, he wanted to use his sensor systems to see the internal workings of the lock to help. He rolled amazingly well and solved the challenge. How I interpreted this was to say that, with the internal workings of the lock understood, it was a trivial matter to now open the lock.
When was the last time you used sensors to pick a lock? It was a first for me.
With a typical skill system, I would be hard pressed as a GM know if I should allow that kind of cross discipline skill use. But that’s part of the beauty of the Tech Challenge system.
In another game, the PCs needed to figure out why a general was holding out on supporting them. We used a Tech Challenge using sociology and culture skills to find clues. It worked wonderfully well. Each Challenge Point reduced, yielded more information on the general’s situation.
The power here is that the players decide what skills they want to use to tackle a problem. They justify the use and the character’s skill helps to decide if the skill will help. The idea here is that someone who is very competent may be able to use even unusual skills in unexpected ways.