I’m experimenting with this idea of introducing skill challenges into the midst of battle by presenting them as creatures. I’ve created a special trait to attach to each such creature:

Skill Challenge
Roll initiative at the start of the encounter. You must be “defeated” with successful [skill] checks (DC [x]), as a skill challenge with a difficulty of [n] ([2n+2] successes, before 3 failures).

The basic idea is to help the players become more comfortable with using skills in-combat, and by extension, become more comfortable with skill challenges on the whole. I’d like to really get into the concept of abstract dice rolls representing events of different scales, from mundane to grandiose, and so on, and so forth, ditto, ditto, et cetera, et cetera.

I’m also trying my hand at designing Skill Challenges in general. I really like the idea of abstracting events based on a set of character skills, and it’s something I think I can apply to my writing. (I’ve played around with it in Rumors of War: see Chapter 11 of the comic, or the second half of Chapter 17 for examples of this concept in action.)

Now, imagine taking the dice rolls out and leaving just the concept behind — encounters (or scenes, however you want to look at it) are designed with the characters’ skills in mind. I think it’s incredibly nerdy and fun. Though I’m designing Escape from White Cliff with the Fourth Edition skill set in mind, you can see that Rumors of War uses different skills.