There was a general theme I had gotten from the DMG2, don’t take the rules in D&D as gospel. If something doesn’t work in your game, tweak it and have fun. I especially got this impression from the skill challenge section. WotC changed the success/failure ratio (something I think needed to be done to make it a challenge), but made it clear that DMs should feel free to modify skill challenges to make them fun and engaging. At the heart of it, I think WotC finally wanted to get some kind of structure and reward to all those roleplaying and skill aspects of the game, so players didn’t feel like the only way to get XP was from killing monsters.
The recent podcast posted on the D&D experience seminar I think has cemented this idea. Save my game had a seminar that was a great listen. It covered a fair bit on skill challenges. If you are still finding skill challenges a little clunky in your game, or just unsure how to make them more engaging, I highly recommend giving this a listen. Even if you think you’ve gotten a good command of running them, I think it has some helpful tips.
One thing I have had little experience with is running an extended skill challenge. Most of my challenges have been short ones, as I couldn’t quite wrap my head around having one that would go through several rounds of checks. After listening to a few suggestions, I think I’ve definitely gotten some good ideas on how to approach running one. I’m eager to try one for my game and have a good series of scenarios for such a challenge.
They also dole out some good advice on encounter makeup and addressing some tips on handling a game on a time schedule (like for conventions and LFR events). I highly recommend giving this a listen. Some great stuff in this podcast.