Monster: Greater Skeleton

The following is declared to be Open Game Content under the terms of the Open Game License v. 1.0a. It is specifically written for the Adventures Dark and Deep™ system, but should be usable with most OSR-type games.

In honor of the festive Halloween season, I give you…

Skeleton, Greater

Number 1d4
Morale n/a
Hit Dice 3d8
Armor Class 7
Move 120’/min.
Magic Resistance Standard
No. of Attacks 1
Damage 1d10 or per weapon type
Defenses Spell immunity, immune to cold-based attacks, non-blunt weapons do half damage
Attacks Throw skull, fear music
Weaknesses Holy water
Size M
Intelligence 0
Alignment Neutral
Treasure Type None
Treasure Value n/a
Magical Treasure None
X.P. Value 65+3/h.p.
Turn as Type III

General: Greater skeletons are created by the spell animate dead, but only a spellcaster of 7th level or higher may use the spell to create one. The process is identical to the regular process of creating an animated skeleton, but requires powdered ruby of at least 100 g.p. value, which is sprinkled over the bones and lost as the spell is cast. Greater skeletons can be ordered about like ordinary skeletons, but can retain instructions up to 200 words in length. They seldom arise spontaneously, but when they do they invariably form from the bones of someone who was not lower than 6th level in life.

Combat: Greater skeletons attack with a weapon or with their bony fingers. Like all mindless undead, they are immune to mind-affecting spells and magical effects such as sleep, charm, illusion, etc. Cold does them no harm. Because they lack flesh, only blunt weapons such as maces and clubs will do full damage to them – all others will only do half damage (round down). A vial of holy water inflicts 2d4 h.p. on a greater skeleton.

Greater skeletons also have the ability to detach their skull and hurl it at an enemy up to 30′ away, causing a blast that does 2d8 h.p. to the target and 1d6 h.p. to anyone within 5′. The skull is not destroyed in the blast, and will roll back to the skeleton in the next round, where it will be picked up and reattached. The skull can be hurled once every ten minutes.

In addition, if more than one greater skeleton is encountered, they can act in tandem to create an eerie music which instills fear in any living creature within 60′ that fails a saving throw vs. magic. This is done by one of the skeletons removing the bones from one of its legs and playing the ribs of the other skeleton like a xylophone. While they are doing this, they cannot attack. If one or both take damage while creating the fear music, they will stop and attack. Creatures struck by the fear will flee in terror in a random direction for 1d3 rounds, and must make a wisdom check to keep from dropping anything held in their hands.

Appearance: Greater skeletons appear as animated skeletons with a cold light burning in their eye sockets. They are indistinguishable from regular animated skeletons until they use their special powers.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

3 thoughts on “Monster: Greater Skeleton

  1. "…appear as boneless skeletons…"

    Now THAT inspires.

    Skeletons made of sticks? Sand and rocks? Insects? Crystal shards?

    Starting to sound like Golems. Maybe these are Undead Golems.

    Opens up new possibilities…


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