i've got a bone to pick with youThis entry has been partially migrated over from my old blog. It was reposted here on 23 February 2023.
Skeletons are my favorite D&D enemy. My players know this fact very well. It's become a running joke.
Can you blame me though? Skeletons are a perfect monster. Consider:
- Orcs/goblins/humanoids have language, society, all that shit, and once your monsters have those things then you're at the whole "can an entire species be Inherently Evil and if I say yes does that make me like, a racist" dilemma (answer: usually, even if it's an accident).
- Big fucking snakes and owlbears and stuff are comparable to big animals: bestial, sure, but are they truly Monstrous? Anathema?
- Tentacle monsters and demons are cool, but I don't like using them all the time. I feel like it spoils their otherworldliness.
Skeletons have the best of all these worlds. They are obviously wrong. You see a skeleton walking around like it's no big deal, you know that's some fucked up shit. Smash.
At the same time, they are ubiquitous. Nearly every poor motherfucker who ever died in your campaign world left behind a skeleton (and if your campaign doesn't have a spell that animates skeletons inside of the still-living, so that they burst out of their hosts like a butterfly out of a cocoon, get on that ASAP).
They are humanoid, so they can wield human equipment. They are also a reflection of the human-ish characters and human players: the body, stripped of thought, desire, will, individuality; reduced to its... well, its skeleton.
Finally, the skeleton is fate. You can spend your life cracking skeletons into dust - a hundred, a thousand, a million - and in the end, all you will do is join their ranks. Awesome shit.
Here's a few simple types of skeletons from my game. Also check out this post by Skerples over at Coins & Scrolls. This post is certainly not me also experimenting with stat block formatting. Any alterations to the appearance of the tables below is illusory, I assure you.
skeletonHD 1 MV 30' AC Leather or Armor, Immune to Arrows MR 12
Attacks Weapon or Claw 1d4
Wits Unrelenting, efficient, shitty pathfinding algorithm
Wants To be struck down, to smear themselves with fresh blood
skeleton warriorHD 1+1 MV 30' AC By loadout, Immune to Arrows MR 12
Loadout: Arbalestier AC Leather, Longbow 1d10
Loadout: Lancer AC Chain & Shield, Spear 1d6
Loadout: Voulgier AC Chain, Polearm 1d10
Loadout: Slinger AC Leather & Chain, Sling 1d6
Wits Unrelenting, now with scattered memories of military training
Wants To smear themselves with the blood of their kills
bloody oneHD 2+2 MV 50' AC Leather, Immune to Arrows MR 12
Attacks 2x Claw 1d4
Wits Suicidally bloodthirsty, sadistic
Wants Murder, suffering
consigned pyriurgeHD 3 MV 30' AC Leather, Immune to Arrows & Fire MR 12
Attacks Spell: Flame Gout 2d6 in 20' cone Sv ½, Heat Aura 2
Wits Cruel, rash, boiling resentment it can't smell burning flesh
Wants Arson, the knowledge it has filled the air scent of burning flesh even though it can't smell it itself, but maybe like, someone could come along and smell it before they also get their flesh burned off
soullessHD 1+3 MV Hover 30' AC Quick, Immune to Arrows MR 12
Attacks 4d6 Javelin 1d6 + Necromantic Poison
Wits i'm using this space to say that these dudes are in fact from the Myth games, bungie's least-appreciated series, and that i hate them so much
Wants to float around throwing stupid fucking javelins at you until you die and become a zombie. seriously fuck these guys
Necrotic Poison – The javelins of the Soulless are coated in a thick blue-black poison, which lingers in the blood until the next sunrise. Any creature that dies while poisoned rises as a zombie in the night. Even the slightest exposure is enough to cause this effect.