Home >Bestiary >(Bestiary) By Type >Templates >

Skeleton (CR +Varies)



Examples

    Creating a Skeleton

    “Skeleton” is an acquired template that can be added to any corporeal creature (other than an undead) that has a skeletal system (referred to hereafter as the base creature).

    Challenge Rating: This depends on the creature’s new total number of Hit Dice, as follows:

    HD CR XP
    1/2 1/6 65
    1 1/3 135
    2–3 1 400
    4–5 2 600
    6–7 3 800
    8–9 4 1,200
    10–11 5 1,600
    12–14 6 2,400
    15–17 7 3,200
    18–20 8 4,800

    Alignment: Always neutral evil.

    Type: The creature’s type changes to undead. It retains any subtype except for alignment subtypes (such as good) and subtypes that indicate kind (such as giant). It does not gain the augmented subtype. It uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

    Armor Class: Natural armor bonus changes as follows:

    Skeleton Size Natural Armor Bonus
    Tiny or smaller +0
    Small +1
    Medium or Large +2
    Huge +3
    Gargantuan +6
    Colossal +10

    Hit Dice: A skeleton drops any HD gained from class levels and changes racial HD to d8s. Creatures without racial HD are treated as if they have 1 racial HD. If the creature has more than 20 Hit Dice, it can’t be made into a skeleton by the animate dead spell. A skeleton uses its Cha modifier (instead of its Con modifier) to determine bonus hit points.

    Saves: Base save bonuses are Fort +1/3 HD, Ref +1/3 HD, and Will +1/2 HD + 2.

    Defensive Abilities: A skeleton loses the base creature’s defensive abilities and gains DR 5/bludgeoning and immunity to cold. It also gains all of the standard immunities and traits possessed by undead creatures.

    Speed: A winged skeleton can’t use its wings to fly. If the base creature flew magically, so can the skeleton. All other movement types are retained.

    Attacks: A skeleton retains all the natural weapons, manufactured weapon attacks, and weapon proficiencies of the base creature, except for attacks that can’t work without flesh. A creature with hands gains one claw attack per hand; the skeleton can strike with each of its claw attacks at its full attack bonus. A claw attack deals damage depending on the skeleton’s size (see Natural Attacks table below.) If the base creature already had claw attacks with its hands, use the skeleton claw damage only if it’s better.

    Natural Attack Base Damage by Size Damage Type Attack type
    Fine Dim. Tiny Small Medium Large Huge Garg. Col.
    Claw 1 1d2 1d3 1d4 1d6 1d8 2d6 2d8 B and S Primary

    Special Attacks: A skeleton retains none of the base creature’s special attacks.

    Abilities: A skeleton’s Dexterity increases by +2. It has no Constitution or Intelligence score, and its Wisdom and Charisma scores change to 10.

    BAB: A skeleton’s base attack bonus is equal to 3/4 of its Hit Dice.

    Skills: A skeleton loses all skill ranks possessed by the base creature and gains none of its own.

    Feats: A skeleton loses all feats possessed by the base creature and gains Improved Initiative as a bonus feat.

    Special Qualities: A skeleton loses most special qualities of the base creature. It retains any extraordinary special qualities that improve its melee or ranged attacks.

    Environment: Any, usually the same as base creature.

    Organization: Any.

    Treasure: Generally none, although sometimes a skeleton’s creator arms it with magical armor or weapons.

    Official Variants

    The bloody and burning skeleton variants are created using the animate dead spell, but count as twice their normal number of Hit Dice per casting. Once controlled, they count normally against the controller’s limit.

    Bloody Skeleton

    A bloody skeleton is coated in a slick layer of blood and gore infused with negative energy. This gore allows the skeleton to reform and heal itself.

    If you want a standard bloody skeleton already prepared for you, we’ve got one here: Bloody Skeleton.

    If you’d like to create other forms though, read the following creation guidelines.

    Creating a Bloody Skeleton

    In addition to the changes for the skeleton template (above), make the following adjustments to the base creature:

    Challenge Rating: As a normal skeleton + 1.

    Fast Healing: A bloody skeleton has fast healing equal to 1 per 2 Hit Dice it possesses (minimum 1).

    Saves: A bloody skeleton gains channel resistance +4.

    Abilities: A bloody skeleton’s Charisma is 14.

    Special Qualities: A bloody skeleton gains the deathless special quality.

    Deathless (Su)

    A bloody skeleton is destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points, but it returns to unlife 1 hour later at 1 hit point, allowing its fast healing thereafter to resume healing it. A bloody skeleton can be permanently destroyed if it is destroyed by positive energy, if it is reduced to 0 hit points in the area of a bless or hallow spell, or if its remains are sprinkled with a vial of holy water.

    Burning Skeleton

    A burning skeleton is surrounded by an aura of flames that deals fire damage to those it strikes.

    If you want a standard burning skeleton already prepared for you, we’ve got one here: Burning Skeleton.

    If you’d like to create other forms though, read the following creation guidelines.

    Creating a Burning Skeleton

    In addition to the changes for the skeleton template (above), make the following adjustments to the base creature:

    Challenge Rating: As a normal skeleton + 1.

    Aura: Burning skeletons possess a fiery aura.

    Fiery Aura (Ex)

    Creatures adjacent to a burning skeleton take 1d6 points of fire damage at the start of their turn. Anyone striking a burning skeleton with an unarmed strike or natural attack takes 1d6 points of fire damage.

    Defensive Abilities: Burning skeletons lose their immunity to cold but gain immunity to fire. A burning skeleton gains vulnerability to cold damage.

    Melee Attacks: A burning skeleton’s melee attacks (including both those made with a natural weapon and those made with a manufactured weapon) deal an additional 1d6 points of fire damage.

    Abilities: A burning skeleton’s Charisma is 12.

    Special Qualities: A burning skeleton gains fiery death.

    Fiery Death (Su)

    A burning skeleton explodes into a burst of flame when it dies. Anyone adjacent to the skeleton when it is destroyed takes 1d6 points of fire damage per 2 Hit Dice the skeleton possessed (minimum 1d6). A Reflex save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the skeleton’s Hit Dice + the skeleton’s Cha bonus) halves this damage.

    Variants from Classic Horrors Revisited

    The simple, tottering skeleton is a stereotypical image of the walking dead, but these undead horrors come in highly variable forms. Bloody skeletons, burning skeletons and deadly intelligent skeletal champions are the best-known variants, but the walking dead are a diverse lot, and many more varieties might stalk moonlit graveyards and haunted crypts, each possessing its own strange and unique abilities. In many cases the variant abilities below may be applied to either skeletons or zombies, unless common sense dictates otherwise (such as a gasburst skeleton). Likewise, except as noted, the following variations can be stacked with one another—it’s possible to have an exploding acid skeleton, for example.

    Skeleton (Acid): The bones of an acid skeleton constantly ooze caustic acid. An acid skeleton’s melee attacks deal an additional 1d6 points of acid damage, and anyone striking an acid skeleton with an unarmed strike or natural attack takes 1d6 points of acid damage. Acid skeletons lose their immunity to cold but gain immunity to acid. An acid skeleton’s Charisma is 12. Other energy types, such as electric skeletons or frost skeletons, can be applied in a similar fashion. (CR +1)

    See completed Acid Skeleton here: Acid Skeleton

    Skeleton (Exploding): Also called “bone bombs,” an exploding skeleton detonates in a burst of razor-sharp bone fragments when it dies. Anyone within 10 feet of the skeleton when it is destroyed takes 1d6 points of damage per hit die of the skeleton (minimum 1d6). A Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 the skeleton’s Hit Dice + the skeleton’s Cha modifier) halves this damage. Bloody, burning, and multiplying skeletons cannot be exploding skeletons. (CR +0)

    See completed Exploding skeleton here: Exploding Skeleton

    Host Corpse: This skeleton or zombie has been infested with a swarm of vermin or Tiny undead creatures that it releases from its body. Skeletal hosts often hold carrionstorms or bat swarms in their rib cages. Acid, bloody, and burning skeletons cannot be host corpses. (CR +0, with the swarm’s CR counting as a separate creature)

    See a completed Host Corpse here: Host Corpse Skeleton

    Magus: These variant skeletal champions and zombie lords are minor spellcasters (typically 5th-level or less) that have retained both their intelligence and their spellcasting abilities. Magus skeletons and zombies gain Silent Spell as a bonus feat. (CR +1 plus caster level)

    Mudra Skeleton: Sometimes known as “whirlwind skeletons,” mudra skeletons are created with four or more arms, each capable of wielding a weapon. A mudra skeleton’s Dexterity increases by +4 (instead of +2), and it gains Multiweapon Fighting and Weapon Finesse as bonus feats. (CR +1)

    See a completed Mudra Skeleton here: Four-Armed Mudra Skeleton

    Multiplying Skeleton: This fearsome skeleton variant grows into more skeletons if destroyed. When a multiplying skeleton is destroyed, its bones reform 1d4 rounds later into two smaller multiplying skeletons with half the Hit Dice of the original. Each resulting multiplying skeleton continues to reform into smaller and smaller sizes. A Colossal multiplying skeleton splits into two Huge skeletons, a Gargantuan skeleton becomes two Large skeletons, a Huge skeleton reforms as two Medium skeletons, and so on, until the skeleton’s Hit Dice can no longer be halved or the resulting skeletons would be Diminutive or smaller, at which point the skeletons are finally destroyed. Bloody, burning, and exploding skeletons cannot be multiplying skeletons. (CR +1)

    See a completed multiplying skeleton here: Multiplying Tyrannosaurus Rex Skeleton

    Skeleton (Medium Archer): While not as intelligent or skilled as skeletal champions, skeletal archers are nevertheless a welcome addition to any undead army. Skeletal archers gain Point-Blank Shot and Precise Shot as bonus feats. (CR +0)

    See completed skeletal archer here: Skeletal Archer

    Section 15: Copyright Notice – Classic Horrors Revisited
    Classic Horrors Revisited. Copyright 2009, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: James Jacobs, Rob McCreary, F. Wesley Schneider