Skeleton, Archer

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Skeleton, Archer
Frequency:Very rare
Activity Cycle:Any
Intelligence:Non- (0)
No. Appearing:2-20 (2d10)
Armor Class:7
Hit Dice:2
No. of Attacks:1
Special Attacks:Skeleton creation
Special Defenses:Damage resistance, spell immunity
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:M (6' tall)
Morale:Fearless (19-20)
XP Value:175

Archer skeletons are magically animated humanoid undead monsters created as guardians or warriors by powerful evil wizards and priests. Such creatures are crafted from the bones of dead archers using an animate dead spell. The creator must also bond a blooded arrowhead to the skull of each skeleton. During the animation process the arrowhead fuses with the skeleton's skull.

These skeletal monsters are identical in appearance to normal skeletons, being formed from the bones of humans and demihumans, save for an arrowhead-shaped black mark on their skulls. These monsters are always armed with long bows made of ash wood and human sinew, and bone arrows carried in hide quivers.

The bowmen of the night cannot speak and are utterly unable to communicate. They can understand simple commands from their master, but these must be clearly worded and very short.

Combat: In battle, an archer skeleton almost always attacks with its sinister bow and bone arrows. A skeleton can attack once per round and each arrow does 1-6 points of damage. Although these arrows do no extra damage, they are considered magical weapons and can affect those creatures protected from nonmagical weapons.

Each archer skeleton carries 20 such arrows. A skeleton can create new arrows simply by robbing graves and sharpening other bones into arrows.

It is, however, when the archer skeleton's arrows miss their target that they prove most devastating. Whenever an arrow fails to hit its target, the DM should make a saving throw vs. crushing blow for the arrow. If the saving throw fails the shaft simply breaks and becomes useless. If it is successful, however, the arrow remains intact and rapidly (1 round) grows into a skeleton with all the normal abilities of those undead. Such skeletons are hideous automatons of death and destruction that will immediately attack the closest living target.

If forced into close combat, the archer skeleton wields its bow as a weapon, attempting to bludgeon opponents for 1-4 points of damage per hit. An archer skeleton will resort to this method of attack only if it is impossible to fire its arrows. If its bow is destroyed, the creature will claw at its enemies for 1d3 points of damage.

Archer skeletons are immune to sleep, hold, charm, or fear spells. They need never check morale, usually being magically commanded to fight to their destruction. They are also immune to all cold-based attacks, as are normal skeletons. Similarly, edged and piercing weapons do only half damage to these creatures, while blunt weapons, being designed to crush bone, do full damage. Holy water inflicts 2-8 points of damage per vial.

Habitat/Society: Archer skeletons are said to have first been created by a zealous necromancer named Karakin. Karakin wished to murder all the people of his land so that he would be the only human living there. Once this was accomplished, Karakin would surround himself with undead courtiers far more loyal than any living vassals. Creating a vast army of archer skeletons and other undead, Karakin prepared to march, but the sheer force of his malice proved virulent enough to carry him instead through the mists and into Ravenloft.

Where Karakin resides now is unknown, but his skeletal archers and the secret of their construction have come into the hands of a growing number of nefarious individuals.

Archer skeletons are most often employed as the vanguard of an evil force ranging in size from 2-20 skeletons to a full army. They are also commonly used as guards and sentinels by their foul masters. The lich lord, Azalin, is said to have a large number of these minions under his control.

Ecology: As with all lesser undead, these creatures have no place in the natural ecology. They are abominations of evil, twisted into foul mockeries of life, and exploited by those persons who have turned from light and virtue.

Although the skeletons themselves turn to dust and ash when destroyed, the longbows and arrows of these monsters remain intact. It is thus possible for a character to pick up and use these weapons. The arrows have the same effect for player characters that they do when fired by arches skeletons. However, any time an arrow fired by a character creates a new skeleton, the character must make a powers check as he adds to the corruption of the world.