HARP Bestiary Preview Excerpt: The Skeleton

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell and Guild Companion Publications Ltd © 2016

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"More extensive burial complexes can be infested with Skeletons, usually under the rule of one or more Skeleton Lords or other even more powerful Undead."

Description

Bloodless and fleshless, a Skeleton may seem simply an immaculately preserved collection of bones until it rises from dormancy to attack the living. Humanoid Skeletons may sometimes be found wearing some form of antique armor (frequently damaged from the original combat in which the living being was slain and subsequent battles) and armed with the weapons they bore in life during their martial careers. Animal and monstrous Skeletons have been created by necromancers; these also appear as polished bony remains.

Lifestyle

In life, humanoid Skeletons were ordinary villagers, townsfolk, and the enlisted soldiers, seeking simply to get by until their demise and unfortunate return as Undead. As Skeletons, if left to their own devices, they will prove persistent in attacking any living creatures they encounter but otherwise have no goals of their own. Animal and monstrous Skeletons are even more ferocious in seeking to purge their "territory" of the living. This limited self-will of all Skeletons means that they can be readily mastered by more powerful Undead (such as Skeleton Lords), necromancers, and various dark powers. Skeletons will be found as guards and guardians, and en-masse in companies, regiments and even armies of undead.

Abilities and Combat

The process of becoming a Skeleton adds new abilities, replaces some existing powers, and eliminates old capabilities. This is represented by applying the Skeleton Overlay to an existing creature or being.

Skeletonb Overlay

Stats

  • Racial stat modifiers become St +6, Co +9, Ag 0, Qu 0, SD +11, Re -6, In -3, Pr -6
  • Base Endurance becomes 60, Base PP becomes 0
  • Racial RR modifiers become Stamina 10, Will 0, Magic 20

New Talents:

  • Critical Resistance - Puncture (Major)
  • Critical Resistance - Slash (Minor)
  • Enhanced Senses
  • Limited Regeneration (Minor, fire )
  • Natural Weapon: where the base creature originally had one or more natural weapons, this just represents the new bony version; where the base creature lacked a natural weapon, this represents skeletal hands or claws with attacks resolved using Brawling or Martial Arts Strikes and attack size 1 step below creature size to a minimum of Tiny
  • Poison Immunity
  • Undead Fear (by Undead class)
  • Undead Vision

Forfeit Talents:

  • Dense Musculature
  • Tough Hide (any)

Additional Information

Skeletons are categorised into Classes according to their size if animal or monster (Class I - Tiny or Small, Class II - Medium or Large, Class III - Huge), while all humanoid Skeletons are Class I.

Humanoid Skeletons will use whatever weapons are available, resorting to their bony fists when bereft of a more effective arsenal. Animal and monstrous Skeletons rely on their skeletal natural weapons.

Background

Skeletons have spontaneously been found in catacombs, graveyards and mass graves since time immemorial. An ordinary life ended quickly and burial in unconsecrated ground seem to provide the necessary ingredients. Add an eddy of magic or a roving spirit to animate the corpse's bony residue and a Skeleton is the result. However, the relative ease by which necromancers can raise and control Skeletons means that most will be created through intentional necromancy for use in the service, frequently martial, of evil spell users and others.

Adventure Notes

The excavations of grave robbers and tomb raiders occasionally disturb a Skeleton from undeathly slumber. More extensive burial complexes can be infested with Skeletons, usually under the rule of one or more Skeleton Lords or other even more powerful Undead.

Inexperienced necromancers may raise a modest retinue of Skeletons as personal guards and tireless servitors. Raising Skeletons from a local populace may enrage their living relatives and lead to opportunities for adventurers to end both undead and necromancer. More powerful mages have mastered the ability to raise and control Skeletons in large numbers. Immune to thirst, hunger and exhaustion, Skeleton armies are utterly remorseless, obedient forces whose very presence on the battlefield saps courage from the living.