The second major skill challenge I ran for the party began when they blundered into a magical ambush laid for them by a shadow-infused troll called Ragnotti. I described the hallway growing dark with magical darkness (I think they continued to assume it was smoke from the fires, though I’m sure I made it a point to say it wasn’t smoke) and they plodded ahead, heedless. If it’d been me, I’d have looked for an alternate route. *shrug*

Once the party was deep within the shadow, they found their light sources didn’t work as would be expected, with even the fighter’s sunrod (a piece of equipment that shines with light bright enough to illuminate more than thirty yards in all directions) reduced to a glow not much bigger than a lighter. With the aid of a light-amplifying item, they were able to drive the darkness out of a five-foot space alone. (I described the darkness as “peeling away” from the light, though it quickly “poured” back in as soon as the light moved.)

While trapped within the darkness, the group took shots at identifying the cause of the darkness and ultimately pierced the illusion, though not before taking some psychic damage while they were menaced by Ragnotti, the troll. Gunter and Dave both tried to “attack the darkness” (I was unable to find a trope to go with “attack the darkness,” so scroll down to the quote to find out why it’s funny — there’s a link as well) and were rewarded with some psychic damage for the trouble.

If I remember correctly, it was the fighter’s Religion check (a call to Pelor to dispel the darkness) that ended the challenge in success for the party. Though I’d originally intended for it to be primarily based on Insight and Nature into discerning the identity of the assailant and the magic, I thought that the plea to Pelor was relevant, what with him being a sun god and all, and the roll was good enough that I let it work. The player seemed to take something away from it as well, so everyone was happy.

Of course, when the supernatural darkness melted away, the party found themselves in a far worse place than they left…