Skeleton, Crystal

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Skeleton, Crystal
Climate/Terrain:Any arctic or subarctic region
Frequency:Very rare
Activity Cycle:Any
Intelligence:Semi- (2-4)
Alignment:Chaotic evil
No. Appearing:1-8
Armor Class:8
Hit Dice:1
No. of Attacks:2
Special Attacks:See below
Special Defenses:See below
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:M (5-7')
XP Value:175

Crystal skeletons are human or demi-human skeletons that have been transformed by a series of spells into pale blue ice. Little is known about the creation of these fell creatures, though most sages agree that animate dead, a specialized delayed shatter, and protective magics are involved. It is argued that create water and control temperature 10' radius are also needed for the creation, suggesting that not only are there dark arts at play, but unholy prayers as well.

Unlike normal skeletons, crystal skeletons are semi-intelligent and have been known to track their victims endlessly, plotting the best routes and ambushes. Crystal skeletons understand the language of their creator as well as the native tongue they spoke when they were alive. They communicate with their creator with nods or shakes of their head and share a telepathic bond with others of their kind. There is no record of crystal skeletons communicating with others, though it is thought possible.

Combat: Crystal skeletons do not use weapons. Instead they attack twice per round with their dagger sharp fingers. As with other skeletons, they suffer half damage from edged or piercing weapons and are immune to sleep, charm, hold, fear, and any other mind-affecting spells. Blunt weapons inflict normal damage. Holy water causes 2-8 hp damage per vial.

However, crystal skeletons are not created for their fighting abilities but for their destructive powers. Crystal skeletons head unerringly for the most densely occupied area of a group to fight. With so few hit points and poor THAC0, they are easily dispatched. Once destroyed however, they explode into razor-sharp shards of ice. Each explosion covers a 10' radius and inflicts 3d4+2 hp damage. Victims of a blast receive a saving throw vs. paralyzation. If the save is made, only half damage is suffered. Spells or psionics that cause non-living matter to shatter make the skeletons explode with double the force, increasing range to 20' radius and damage to 6d4+2. One round after the blast, the shards vaporize into steam. Shards embedded in flesh at the moment of vaporization cause additional damage. If the previous save was successful, only 1-3 hp damage is taken; if failed, the victim suffers 1-6 hp damage.

Organized and cunning, crystal skeletons realize their greatest threat is their exploding bodies and wait for the best opportunity to damage the largest number of foes, attacking with maddening glee. They are immune to cold-based attacks and are turned by priests as 2-HD creatures. Crystal skeletons fight to the death and never need to check morale.

Habitat/Society: Crystal skeletons are only found in cold regions where snow and ice are common. They have no society and exist purely at the whim of their evil creators. Though they are compelled to follow orders of their creator, they are not beyond independent thought. They are not passive undead, waiting motionless in a crypt or graveyard, but a restless guard, stalking an area in frustrated anger. Sages believe that crystal skeletons exist in an agitated state because they are good-aligned souls trapped in an evil union of magics. This would account for their suicidal attacks, as once destroyed, their souls are free to rest in peace once again.

Ecology: Because crystal skeletons are undead and unnatural creations, they play no role in ecology or nature.

New Spell

Delayed Shatter

This spell is similar to the second-level Wizard shatter spell in the Player's Handbook. The differences for delayed shatter are as follows: it is a third-level spell and has a casting time of 3, the spell can be cast only on a single object, and the duration lasts until the object on which the spell was cast is destroyed. All other statistics are the same as shatter. Since this spell cannot be cast on magical items, it is assumed that this is the first spell cast to create a crystal skeleton.