Skeleton, Blood

RavenloftCampaign Setting Logo

Climate/Terrain:Any Ravenloft
Frequency:Very rare
Activity Cycle:Any
Intelligence:Non- (0)
No. Appearing:2-12 (2d6)
Armor Class:7
Hit Dice:1
No. of Attacks:1
Damage/Attack:By Weapon
Special Attacks:Nil
Special Defenses:Reassembly, Undead Immunities, Half Damage from Piercing and Slashing
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:M (6' tall)
XP Value:120

Now - We must destroy and sanctify these remains, lest some other foul practitioner of the necromantic arts enslave their Blessed Goddess! No!
Brother Giorgio Ciampino

Blood skeletons are a more powerful variant of the normal animated skeleton created with the animate dead spell. In most respects, blood skeletons are quite similar to standard skeletons, and may be mistaken for them. Woe to the hero who makes such an error in judgement, for once they fall in battle, these animated horrors can rise again and again.

Blood skeletons resemble the normal skeletons created through an animate dead spell. They are complete human or demihuman skeletons, typically picked clean of any speck of decayed flesh. Through the necromantic magic that creates them, they move without muscles or tendons, and sense without eyes or ears. Though their creators rarely supply them with armor, they always wield a weapon of some sort, usually a nicked and rusty sword. Blood skeletons can only be distinguished from normal skeletons by the faint red-brown staining of their bones, the result of being steeped in blood during their creation.

Like normal skeletons, blood skeletons are incapable of communication. The only sound they make is an eerie clacking and creaking as the move. They ignore all attempts to parlay, save from their creator.

Combat: Blood skeletons are incapable of subtlety or tactics in combat, except as dictated by their creator. The commands they are capable of following, however, cannot be too complex, and thus they are often employed as guards or a brute attack force. Most blood skeletons will be encountered wielding short swords, which allow them to attack once per round for 1d6 damage. Other weapons, particularly spears, axes, and other types of swords, are not unusual.

The unique power of a blood skeleton is its inherent ability to reassemble once it has been smashed to bits. Physical damage harms a blood skeleton normally, and the creature can usually be brought low by a couple of solid strikes from a mace or similar bludgeoning weapon. One round after the blood skeleton is destroyed, however, the shattered pieces of bone rise and reassemble. The blood skeleton is instantly “healed” of all physical damage it sustained before destruction. It retains any commands issued to it prior to being destroyed, and, indeed, behaves as if nothing had happened. Obviously, this can be quite a shock to any heroes not expecting such a development!

In game terms, this power acts as an instantaneous regeneration of all physical damage one round after “death”. Even reducing the bones to splinters will not prevent this regeneration, nor will blessing or burying them in the one round window. Magical damage, however, is another matter. While cold-based attacks have no effect on blood skeletons - just as with standard skeletons - all other forms of damage-dealing magical attack cannot be regenerated. Thus, the DM should keep a tally of how much magical damage each blood skeleton has endured. Once a blood skeleton has taken its original hit points in magical damage, it may no longer rise after destruction. It should be noted that this does not apply to damage dealt by magical weapons. Damage from a sword +2 is just as easily regenerated as damage from a mundane sword.

Otherwise, blood skeletons share all of the traits of standard skeletons. Because they are composed of a good deal of empty space, blood skeletons take only half damage (rounded down) from piercing and slashing weapons. Like all undead, blood skeletons are immune to sleep, charm, mind-affecting and life-affecting spells. They are also immune to disease, poison and suffocation. A vial of holy water inflicts 2d4 damage on a blood skeleton. Because they are mindless creatures, created and commanded through magic, blood skeletons need never check morale.

Habitat/Society: Being mindless abominations, blood skeletons have no true society. They are found wherever evil wizards have left their mark, typically guarding the valuables or private sanctums of such individuals. In the Lands of Mist, they tend to be found in realms where magic is forbidden or exceedingly rare. After all, even a farmer with a sledgehammer can dispatch a standard skeleton. Without magic, however, a wizard's foes have no means to destroy blood skeletons.

It was exactly this line of thinking that led to the Lamordian necromancer Heinrich Kaufbeur to originally create blood skeletons. Kaufbeur found the standard skeletons created by animate dead far too easily destroyed for his purposes, and had grown tired of reanimating his minions once they were struck down. Even his own countrymen, who knew nothing of divine magic and were nearly as ignorant of arcane magic, could destroy normal animated skeletons. Cobbling together a complete adult skeleton for animation was not an easy task, especially in a land where graverobbing was so common.

Kaufbeur eventually developed a more powerful variant of the traditional skeleton. Unfortunately, because of the magical restrictions involved, blood skeletons can only be created one at a time. First the complete adult skeleton must be soaked for three days in a vat of blood taken from intelligent creatures. Animate dead must then be cast on the bones - now stained a faint maroon color - followed immediately by another animate dead and then mending. Because of the spells required, only a wizard of at least 10th-level can create blood skeletons.

For all his resourcefulness, Kaufbeur eventually perished on the blades of powerful heroes. The secret of his creations, however, quickly found its way into the hands of unscrupulous wizards along the Core's western coast. In the decades since Kaufbeaur's demise, blood skeletons have begun to appear in more remote and strange places. The creatures tend to be encountered most frequently in magic-poor regions, where they can prove nigh unstoppable for the locals. Many evil wizards, however, also find them useful as shock troops for when intruders have been worn down - and magically depleted - by weaker, conventional minions such as zombies or standard skeletons.

Ecology: As mindless undead creations, blood skeletons have no appreciable interaction or relationship with their surroundings. They require nothing for sustenance and have no natural enemies save the unfortunate souls their creator commands them to attack.

The Lonesome Road