SKELETON

FREQUENCY: Rare ([Cold Civilized Swamp]), ([Cold Wilderness Swamp])
FREQUENCY: Rare ([Temperate Civilized Swamp])
FREQUENCY: Rare ([Temperate Wilderness Swamp])
FREQUENCY: Rare ([Tropical Civilized Swamp], [Tropical Wilderness Swamp])

NO. APPEARING: 3-30
ARMORCLASS: 7
MOVE: 12"
HIT DICE: 1 ~ 19
% IN LAIR: Nil (52 Skeletons: desert, TPL18:3rd, REF3.83)
TREASURE TYPE: Nil
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-6
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Nil
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Sharp weapons score half damage only
MAGIC RESISTANCE: See below
INTELLIGENCE: Non-
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: M
LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: I | 14 + 1

SAVES: (14)16.17.18.20.19

Skeletons are magically animated, undead monsters. They are enchanted
by a powerful M-U || cleric of evil alignment. The skeletons
perform according to the command of their animator -- the command
being limited in scope to but a dozen or two words. They are found only in
burial places or dungeons and similar forsaken places.

The skeleton strikes with some form of weapon, but regardless of the
weapon type the damage caused by a hit will be 1-6 hit points.

Skeletons suffer only one-half damage from sharp and/or edged weapons
(such as spears, daggers, swords). Blunt weapons such as clubs, maces,
flails, etc. score normal damage. Fire scores normal damage. Sleep,
charm, hold and cold-based spells do not affect skeletons. Holy water
causes 2-8 HP of damage on a skeleton for each vial which strikes it.
Skeletons attack until destroyed.
 

The skeleton is the sacred animal of Yurtrus.

<link 2 holographic map of the skeletal system>

<T3.49: Skeletons, gnoll (6): AC 7, MV 9", HD 2, hp
12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7; #AT 1, D 2-7; XP 52,
50, 48, 46, 44, 42>

Question: When a character attacks a skeleton with a piercing weapon,
is the character’s strength--damage adjustment added to the
number of points of damage inflicted on the creature?

Answer: Skeletons take half damage from attacks by sharp weapons
--in other words, half of the points of damage that would have
been suffered by a creature which does not have that partial
protection. The result of the attack is computed normally, the
bonus to damage (if any) is added to the full result, and then the
damage points are halved. e.g., a character with <alt>
strength 18 (+2 to damage) hits a skeleton with his long sword
and does 4 points of damage with the weapon. The skeleton will
take 3 points of damage from that attack (4 + 2 equals 6, divided
by 2 equals 3), as opposed to the 6 points of damage it would
inflict on a creature which is fully vulnerable to edged weapons.
 

Ecology of the Skeleton <Necrology>

Hubert was blustering his way through
his third pitcher of ale at the The Empty
Tankard tavern. His audience was
mostly reduced to younger adventurers
who welcomed the blowhard's tales
while Callis, the innkeep, readied the
evening meal.

"Last month Rado and I stumbled
across the tomb of Tynik the Robber
King, in the Gray Hills," the big man
said. "You've all heard of it . . ." he paused
while heads nodded on cue in the lamplight,
". . . but they don't tell you about
the carnivorous skeletons that guard it.
We fought them as long as we could,
but we were outnumbered. They crave
humanblood, and when we ran, they
gave chase . . ."

After the past hour of similar yarns,
one listener wasn't having any of it.
"That's enough misinformation right
there, you ignoramus!" blurted a rough
voice.

Hubert blinked in surprise at the
unexpected interruption. A female
dwarf moved into the lamplight, and <subrace?>
put her empty mug down on Hubert's
table with a definitive thunk.

"I'm Tarif Zag," the dwarf introduced <subrace=x>
herself, "and I fought skeletons before
you were born. Learned a lot about
them in the field. Then I retired, and
became a cleric," she said, fingering a
medallion around her neck in the form
of a silver hammer, "and learned a lot
more. Any adventurer deserves to
know the truth about those creatures,
and not a lot of hogwash.

"Now, let's get some of this straight,"
declared Zag, surveying the audience
she had so deftly stolen from Hubert.

"Skeletons are both more dangerous
and less fearsome than you've been led
to believe. Anyone who makes them out
to be worse than zombies || ghouls has
never fought zombies or ghouls." She
took a long pull from her mug, and shot
a sideways glance at Hubert. "And anyone
who says they're nothing but a pile
of bones, easy to beat, has never had a
close call with 'em."

"But I've seen the ones that want human
blood," rejoined Hubert, not so easily
quelled. "They chased us, and brought my
friend down like a pack of dogs . . ."

"Sure" Tarif cut him off. "That's what
it looked like. But let me tell you a thing
or two about skeletons.

"When a skeleton is animated, the
enchantment accomplishes two things.
First, it knits the bones together magically,
binding them with force drawn
from the Negative Energy Plane. Almost
all the bones have to be there-without
mostly complete remains, the spell is
almost impossible to hold together.

"Second, the spell binds energy called
the animus into the skeleton to animate
it. That's not the same as the spirit or
soul of the deceased. It is only a fragment
of soul energy, the portion that
helped keep the soul in the living body.

In death, the animus lingers around the
have no emotions and no desires--
much less 'cravings for blood." The
remains until they turn to dust. This is
true no matter what the race of the
creature whose bones are animated."

<>The dwarf snorted and refilled her mug
from Hubert's pitcher.
Tarif drained her mug and looked
Hubert peered unhappily into his
near-empty pitcher, and drained what
was left with one swallow. "Then how
do you explain those skeletons that
squarely at Hubert. "Since skeletons
killed Rado'" The fighter belched, then
continued. "Once they caught sight of
have no brain and no soul, they likewise
us, they chased us forever. They were
bloodthirsty enough to do that!?<>

Tarif shook her head. "Theress only one
thing that motivates a skeleton: the
orders of the spell-caster that created it.
Once the animus is housed in the bones,
the spell-caster tells it, in a few words,
exactly what he wants it to do. Skeletons
follow those orders exactly-no more, no
less. They behave rather brainlessly, actually,
taking those orders at their literal
face value. More than one necromancer
has been undone by wording skeleton
orders sloppily."

A studious young man in robes put a
full pitcher on the table near the dwarfish
cleric, then asked a question as he
refilled her mug. "So you mean if a
spell-caster tells a skeleton to guard an
area, that might not be good enough?"

Tarif studied him for a moment.
"Have thoughts of animating the dead
yourself, do you?" His blush was adequate
response  "Hmph." Her disgust
was apparent, but she sampled the ale
anyway and mused out loud.

"No, an order like that wouldn't be
good enough," she said. "What does
'guard' mean? Stand at attention with a
halberd at port arms? Kill anyone in
sight? If the orders aren't specific
enough, the skeleton either stands
there undecided, or takes a random
action that seems to fulfill the order.

"The best orders are simple and exact:
'Stop anyone from leaving this room, killing
them if necessary," or, "Kill anyone who
enters this hallway." Zag inclined her
head to Hubert. "I suspect that's the kind
of order your skeletons had. As you
noticed, you can only stop them from carrying
out their orders by destroying
them--or by evading them completely."

Hubert returned her gaze. "Are skeletons
always used as guards, or do they
have other purposes too?" he asked,
helping himself to the new pitcher.
Zag shrugged. "That's their most common
use, I'd say-either guarding a person,
or a place like Tynik's tomb. They're
too brainless to do much else. But they
make tenacious and ever-alert guards.
Besides obeying their orders to the letter,
they are the easiest type of undead to
raise, and are relatively simple to create.

Of course, you only find them employed
by unscrupulous sorts who don't mind
disturbing the remains of the dead. Then
again, they don't even exist among people
that practice cremation!"

The robed fellow spoke up again.
"Can a skeleton be raised if it's buried?
Or does it have to be uncovered first?"
Tarif frowned as she replied."No,
skeletons can be raised right up out of
the ground. When the magic knits their
bones together, they're charged with
Negative Plane energy. This unnatural
force has an 'unbinding' effect on Prime
Material Plane matter, allowing the
skeleton to push and scramble its way
out of the ground like a worm through
sand. Or push the stone plug out of a
crypt. And so on. But that burst of
energy fades after a minute or so, and
then the skeleton is no more powerful
than a healthy man or dwarf!"

The room fell quiet as listeners envisioned
skeletons rising from their
graves. A few shuddered.

"Is there no protection against a sacrilege
like that?" grumbled Hubert, voicing
the thought of many.

"Well, in fact, there is:" said the cleric.
"Not many bother to have it done, but
the clerical ceremony, eternal rest,
drives the animus from one's remains
and makes it impossible for the
deceased to be raised as any sort of
undead creature. It's a rather costly
ceremony, and one not too many consider
essential. But it can be done."

Hubert nodded thoughtfully as a
youth in a ring-mail vest spoke up.
"How hard is it to fight and destroy
skeletons? I've heard they're pretty
easy to kill--if that's the word for it."

"They have a few quirks that are
important to know about:" replied Tarif.

"Holy water or fire are especially useful
against them. Holy water hurts skeletons
because it undoes the Negative
Plane energy that binds them together.
Fire burns them like it does a person,
and you don't have to worry about your
aim too much when you use it.

"Swords, axes, spears--all bladed
weapons, in fact, do only about half the
damage you'd expect them to. Slashing
a bone does a lot less damage than slashing
flesh would. Arrows and other missiles
are next to useless, since they
glance off bones and fly right through
the skeleton. Maces and blunt weapons
do wonders, though, smashing bones
into bits. They're the best hand weapon
to use against skeletons."

"Why didn't you just TURN the skeleton
instead?" asked Hubert.

"I wasn?t a cleric then!" Zag laughed.
"It's hard to turn undead if you're not.
But, just as skeletons are the easiest
undead to create, they're also the easiest
to turn. So you have a good chance if
you have a cleric along when you meet
a skeleton!"

"I've heard there are potions that turn
undead as well." It was the robed man
again.

Tarif shook her head. "Not to turn
undead, really, but to control them, as if
they were charmed!" The dwarf made a
face. "If there's ever a disgusting thing
to drink, a potion of undead control is
it. The more powerful creature it's
made to control, the more nauseating
the taste. Bleah." She shuddered. "I've
known some people who couldn't keep
one down, it's that bad. At least a potion
of skeleton control isn't as awful as the
rest. It's a gruesome brew to make, but
effective, if you can stand to swallow it."

On that appetizing note, the innkeep
announced that the roast was done. As
thirsty customers ordered their meals,
their attention turned away from
Hubert and the dwarfish cleric. Tarif
turned to the adventurer, looking sadly
at his once-again empty pitcher.
"Don't worry," she said under her
breath. "At least the bones of your
friend Rado will never be animated as
undead. I suppose those were his
remains I blessed with eternal rest.”
"What?" Hubert looked at Tarif,
uncomprehending.

"And here," said the cleric, placing a
gold coin on the table in front of
Hubert. "Have dinner, on me. If you
hadn't reduced the number of skeletons
guarding that tomb, I might not
have made it in and out again. Thanks."

The coin was stamped with the mark
of Tynik, the Robber King. Zag was
gone before Hubert could think of a
response.

Creature Notes

1. Orders are given to a skeleton at
the time the skeleton is animated. Once
given, they cannot be revised unless the
animation spell is terminated and the
undead raised a second time. <semantics>

2. A spell-caster's orders cannot exceed
24 words in length. The shorter and
more precise the orders are, the better
chance there is for the skeleton to carry
them out without error. If there is ambiguity
in a skeleton's order when it is confronted
with a particular situation
("Guard this room"), there is a 50%
chance that it will stand inactive and confused.
The remainder of the time, the
creature may interpret its order in any
way the DM may conceive as being in
accordance with the original wording.

3. After the appropriate spell is cast,
it takes one round for a skeleton's animation
to become complete. At the
DM's discretion, certain spell variations
may allow the skeleton to be raised
from its grave. In such a case, one additional
round is required for it to free
itself if buried in the ground or sealed
in a crypt. At the DM's discretion, this
may take longer due to unusual circumstances.
In certain situations, the
undead cannot free itself at all (if, for
instance, it is sealed behind a brick wall
or buried beneath a landslide).

4. The important ingredients for a
potion of skeleton control are ground
bone (from the type of skeleton the
potion is to control); graveyard dirt;
mandrake root; hair from a cleric of
10th-level or greater; and a dash of holy
or unholy water (depending on alignment
of user). This is the most palatable
of any potion of undead control.

5. Skeletons are immune to the
effects of charm, sleep, cold-based magic,
and all spells which affect willpower.
Holy water inflicts 2d4 points of damage
on a skeleton, while sharp or bladed
weapons do only ½ normal damage
(round down).
 

by Deborah Christian
 

Q: How does a skeleton see?
What about other creatures that don't have eyes?

A: One can assume that the magic that
animates a skeleton also grants it 60' infravision.
Other eyeless creatures don?t see at
all; they navigate by touch, smell, or hearing.
Such creatures are never fooled by
invisibility spells.
(138.12)
 
 


Tarsus (skeleton), the skeletal region between the tibia and fibula and the metatarsus

Gandalf Istari wrote:
Would this include undead created via an animate dead spell, such as skeletons and zombies?
It's been asserted that you always held undead such as skeletons and zombies to be nothing more than automatons, powered by magical force with no "spirit possessing the remains" as you put it.

Thanks in advance for any clarification.


Not that any of this matters a jot or tiddle, but...

Right you are about mindless skeletons and zombies.
They operate as golems, by magical energy, although some malign intellect might direct them.
Animated dead are not akin to the true undead--ghouls and wights and the rest.

This is not to say thet a malign spirit could not possess a skeleton or a corpse, so as to make something more potent and dangerous than the usual.
the juju zombie was an example of such a concept, and skeleton "lords" are likewise.

Cheers,
Gary
 


Quote:
Originally posted by ColonelHardisson
Gary, I'm guessing you are, or were, a Ray Harryhausen fan. After watching many of his films over the past weekend on Turner Classic Movies, many of the critters in them seem to have wandered their way into D&D - the giant crab and giant bee, for two striking examples from Mysterious Island.


Right, Colonel!

From my very early childhood I recall from the film THIEF OF BAGHDAD (I think), where Sindbad was swinging on a line from a giant spider's web, fighting it, sending it falling into a deep pit in which octopi were waiting to devour it. Don't know if that oldie was Harryhausen's work, but his skeletons were indeed what I visualized for the D&D monster of that name.
Ray did some very good work using the technology available then.

The old film that holds up the best IMo is the original KING KONG, though. What a great movie that was!

Cheers,
Gary