It’s Halloween time again, and in the spirit of things we’re going to talk about the things that go bump in the night. First off, we’re starting with the spookiest of them all: those scary skeletons! They may seem like boring bags of bones, but what if I told you that these basic undead can be used in unique ways that will make some memorable games?
Skeletons can start off as pretty bland, but in the realm of undead they act as a blank canvas. They don’t really fit a niche, so they can be put into any niche. If you need a monster to use as filler, skeletons are an excellent choice. The thing is, skeletons are everywhere, since they’re a byproduct of…well, living. All you need is a dash of necromancy and bam! Instant monster filler. They’re weak enough to be thrown at a starting party, but they can be buffed up to match parties of any level. They’re flexible, which is one of their best qualities.
The other benefit of the open design of skeletons is the ability to add on to them. You can use different creatures as a base for your skeleton, giving them abilities based on their past life. Use an orc skeleton for extra strength, or a gargoyle for flight. You can use the excuse of arcane to explain any powers you want to give your skeletal beings. You can also delve more into the idea of them being dead and push that to its limit. My favorite example of this is since they don’t particularly care about preserving their life, you can have them marked by exploding runes and then boom! Kamikaze skeleton!
Skeletons may be bland on their own, but they can be used to fill in holes in combat, and modified to serve just about any purpose. It may not even have to be combat. Skeletons can make excellent laborers. They require no rest, pay, or food and can be easily replenished with the right know-how. Is this ethical? Is it better than a necromancer trying to destroy others with magic than building himself up? Perhaps that’s a dilemma for your players to solve. While they do so, be sure to keep those dice rolling high!