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Nerdarchy > Dungeons & Dragons  > D&D Skills 101  > 5 Performance Skill Challenges for 5E D&D
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5 Performance Skill Challenges for 5E D&D

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Salutations, nerds! It’s that time of the week again and we’re going to be talking about Performance skill challenges for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. As usual, the point here isn’t to send characters off on some grand epic quest so much as to provide a momentary stumbling block giving those skill heavy 5E D&D characters a chance to shine! So without farther ado prepare your world to be a stage. I hope you’ve all practiced those soliloquies.

dnd cartoon venger 5E D&D performance skill challenge

The ultimate villain from the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon from the 80s. Beware! [Art by Robson Michel]

5E D&D Performance skill challenges

Campfire Tales

During camp someone in your traveling caravan proposes telling tales around the fire. Everyone is expected to provide a story. Characters can make Performance checks to see how well they manage to captivate their audience.

Use When. There’s a camp scene of course, and NPCs the adventurers wish to bond with.

Result of Failure. The stakes aren’t actually super high here. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is a good opportunity to make the NPCs like them better.

Flower Dance

At a local festival an NPC comes up and asks one of the adventurers to dance. Depending on your needs this could be either just a cute local or part of some ceremony everyone is watching. Succeed on a Performance check to not make a fool out of yourself!

Use When. There’s a festival on and you want to pick on one of the adventurers. It’s some light hearted fun to be had!

Result of Failure. Probably the character trips or something and depending on how many people saw it the whole town might laugh.

Fussy Employer

A noble is hiring adventurers for a job they needs done but they’re one of those strange eccentric people with specific needs. They refuse to make a deal with the party unless they can elicit laughter first. Make a Performance check and tell a joke.

Use When. You want to set an employer up to be a pain in the butt right out of the gate or you want to slow the pace on actually getting to the adventure.

Result of Failure. The noble doesn’t laugh and gets kind of maudlin and doesn’t want to deal with the party. They’ll either have to find another way to persuade them or find another job.

Shanty

During a journey or a job there’s a tough project in need of doing. A heavy sail needs hoisted or something big hauled from one place to another. Someone starts singing a sea shanty to help make the work go faster. Make a Performance check. The higher the result the easier and faster the work goes as morale raises throughout the group.

Use When. You have a big task needing done and it might be tedious to just roll for it or say it gets done. This spices things up a little bit and gives a different flavor to the humdrum you might have otherwise been tempted to gloss.

Result of Failure. There isn’t really failing this one, just doing the work in a harder way. I’m going to be honest with you, it’s kind of hard to fabricate high stakes Performance checks.

Sneeze

In the midst of a moment of silence, either a serious one where the moment has been asked for or perhaps during a church service or a wedding ceremony, have everyone roll a die. The one with the lowest result sneezes and suddenly everyone stares at them. A successful Performance check disarms the situation.

Use When. You want to puncture the tension or call attention to the adventurers in an area where they might not stand out quite as much such as a larger war campaign.

Result of Failure. People become predisposed to thinking the character is a bore who doesn’t know how to be quiet at the right moment and it sets up the party for potential conflicts later. And actually? That’s not entirely bad news for you, Dungeon Master.

So there you have it, five Performance skill challenges you can effortlessly slot into your 5E D&D game for a little bit of low key drama. We’ll be hitting up Religion next time so brush up on your prayers and mantras folks! And as always, stay nerdy!

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Robin Miller

Speculative fiction writer and part-time Dungeon Master Robin Miller lives in southern Ohio where they keep mostly nocturnal hours and enjoys life’s quiet moments. They have a deep love for occult things, antiques, herbalism, big floppy hats and the wonders of the small world (such as insects and arachnids), and they are happy to be owned by the beloved ghost of a black cat. Their fiction, such as The Chronicles of Drasule and the Nimbus Mysteries, can be found on Amazon.

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