Skeleton class

Most skeletons are mindless automatons, but a select few have free will and autonomy, and find themselves on the path of adventure. Small flames hover in a skeleton’s eye sockets, and their voices have a strange character, either high and shrill or dull and seeming to echo from a great distance.

  • XP progression, armor, weapons, attacks, and saves as fighter
  • Max level 4
  • Natural AC as light armor if unarmored
  • Fourth level skeletons are known as skeleton heroes

The general creepiness of talking to an obviously undead creature gives skeletons a -2 reaction roll penalty in polite society.

Automatic reconstitution

When reduced to zero HP, a skeleton falls apart (no save is allowed). However, if the bones are not scattered or smashed into powder, the skeleton will reassemble after one exploration turn passes. If the referee is uncertain, intelligent enemies have a base 2 in 6 chance to destroy skeleton remains following a battle where the skeleton’s remains are left behind.

Special defenses

Additionally, skeletons are not easily damaged by all attacks. When hit, the damage taken depends upon the type of weapon, and is:

  • 1 damage from piercing weapons
  • Half damage (round down) from slashing weapons (includes claws)
  • Full damage from bludgeoning or crushing attacks (included bites)

Skeletons do not require sustenance, do not need to breathe, and are immune to sleep and charm magic.

Vulnerabilities

Like all undead, skeletons are vulnerable to being turned or commanded (as an undead of HD equal to their level). However, PC skeletons have exceptional power of will, and are thus additionally permitted a saving throw versus any turn effects. Skeletons may reconstitute as described above following D (“destroyed”) results.


Le triomphe de la mort (source)

Le triomphe de la mort (source)

Rethel - Horse final death (cropped, source)

Rethel – Horse final death (cropped, source)

Thanks to Jason Z. and Roger G. S. for suggestions regarding appropriate images.


2014-06-14: mods for skeleton without level limits:

  • Class: choose fighter or magician
  • HP: divide by two, round up (after mods) to represent fragility
  • No save at zero HP or negative HP (skeleton just falls apart)
  • Reconstitute after one turn with chance 5 in 6 (ignore stuff about smashing bones)

So there is a 1 in 6 chance of final death any time you are reduced to 0 HP and otherwise you come back after 1 turn.

10 thoughts on “Skeleton class

    1. Brendan Post author

      @Patrick

      Because, hobbit-like, I feel that skeletons should play a bit like underdogs.

      I also like hero as the final title, and fourth level fighters are ā€œheroes.ā€

      They get free automatic raise dead most of the time, which is a pretty major benefit, so it seems to me that there should also be some big drawback.

      Reply
    2. Brendan Post author

      There is also a fine, longstanding tradition of ignoring level caps, and I suspect this class would also work just fine as a fighter (with maybe HD as cleric) that gets the auto-raise ability but can be turned and has no level cap. If you don’t care for varying the maximum level of different classes.

      In that case, you might also want to make the raise ability come with some additional drawback. Perhaps a permanent -1 to one physical ability score, randomly chosen (I actually kind of like that in general, now that I think of it, as it means that each time the skeleton comes back together it is a bit more rickety).

      Reply
      1. Patrick Stuart

        (I really love the idea of growing up to be a Death Knight.)
        Have you seen that webcomic ‘Unsounded’? One of the main characters is basically a friendly Lich. he has to repair himself constantly.

      2. Patrick Stuart

        Hmm, I would probably go;

        No healing except from necromancers or splinting yourself. Need new bones to re-constitute. Lose a level every time you are destroyed. If the killing blow is a crit to the skull then you are gone for good.

        A -2 to reaction rolls is a bit soft for me I would ahve to thing of something worse.

      3. Brendan Post author

        Oh, yeah, modifications to how healing works should be in there.

        Probably just no magical healing would be good enough for me (and then assume that repair happens during downtime). Stuff like repair by necromancer is probably best handled by ruling.

        Also given that skeletons can’t (and don’t need to) consume sustenance, potions in general would not work.

    3. Jack Colby

      All “Race-as-class” Classes have level caps as a supposed balancing factor. Only humans don’t. I would assume that’s the reason. šŸ™‚ Nice class, looks like fun!

      Reply
    1. Gus L.

      I like the lose level every time one is killed, especially with the level cap and the finding new bones. I also like this class as a raise dead mistake option.

      Reply
  1. Brendan Post author

    Mods for skeleton without level limits:

    – Class: choose fighter or magician
    – HP: divide by two, round up (after mods) to represent fragility
    – No save at zero HP or negative HP (skeleton just falls apart)
    – Reconstitute after one turn with chance 5 in 6 (ignore stuff about smashing bones)

    So there is a 1 in 6 chance of final death any time you are reduced to 0 HP and otherwise you come back after 1 turn.

    Reply

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