This is what happens when the person naming these monsters either gave up or ran out of ideas. ‘Flameskull’? Really? That’s all you could come up with? Not ‘Burning Spirit’ or ‘Vengeful Specter’? All you had was ‘Flameskull’?
The flameskull is the kind of monster you can look at and immediately forget exists. It’s about as far from the word ‘impressive’ as you could possibly get. It isn’t offensively bad and it has its uses in a campaign. But on its own, it really isn’t anything to talk about.
So imagine how difficult it was to write an entire article about the thing. Not very, but I want to pretend that it was harder than it was.
Lore: The Wizard, Reborn and Enslaved
A flameskull is a lowly servant of a dark wizard, brought back to life from the corpses of other wizards. They are bound to their creator, serving as the protector of whatever its master demands of it. They’ll follow their orders to their interpretations; as such, their master needs to be careful when writing up their orders.
Only the dimmest memories still remain of the flameskull’s old life. It may have the voice, it is but an echo of the wizard that once was. The only thing that isn’t a hollow shell of what it was is its magic.
Killing a flameskull is more challenging than just smashing it. In order to permanently kill it, one needs to use holy water or a spell that removes its curse. Should its orders become impossible to carry out any further, the skull regains its own free will.
There’s not a whole lot of lore to work with there. But the few options there are could be pretty interesting. Maybe you could have a slightly rebellious flameskull work with the party to betray its master. Or maybe an autonomous flameskull could cause some havoc for the party after regaining its free well. Nothing especially amazing, but it could be fun!
Unlike its design. Which is just… so dull.
Design: Take a Guess
What the fuck am I supposed to say here? What do you want from me? There’s nothing! I have literally nothing to say here! Surprise surprise, the monster called Flameskull is a flaming skull! How shocking!
This is a first for this series. There is literally nothing to talk about. This monster has literally nothing to talk about. There’s nothing good or bad to discuss. There’s just… nothing.
But I managed to fill enough space to make the article look visually appealing, so I win.
Stats: I CAST MAGIC MISSILE FROM MY EYE SOCKETS!!!
I don’t know why, but that image is simultaneously the most intimidating and hilarious thing I’ve ever imagined.
If not for its resistances/immunities, this thing would be easy to kill. Its AC is pretty low and the HP just as mediocre. It’s resistant to lightning, necrotic, and piercing, and completely immune to cold, fire, poison, and a good number of conditions.
It’s much better on the offensive than it is on the defensive. It’s got all the following spells to throw at your players:
- Cantrip: mage hand
- 1st level (3 slots): magic missile, shield
- 2nd level (2 slots): blur, flaming sphere
- 3rd level (1 slot): fireball
On top of that, it has the Fire Ray attack, which it can use twice a turn. This really isn’t anything special. Just a little bit of fire that can deal 10(3d6) damage. Nothing especially impressive or intimidating.
This can make for a decent low-level casting fight. Want to put the wizard against the wall? Wanna screw with your party with some low-level spells? This dude is the right one for the job. But is it good for an actual challenge? Not really.
This is a pretty dull monster. It has some decent lore and stats, though nothing incredible. If not for that nothing design, it would be a mid-tier monster. But as it stands, it is doomed to be low tier.
With that in mind, let’s put the Flameskull on the Best of the Bestiary!
- Death Tyrant
- Dragon Turtle
- Green Dragons
- Red Dragons
- Blue Dragons
- Black Dragons
- White Dragons
- Silver Dragons
- Bronze Dragons
- Brass Dragons
- Copper Dragons
- Gold Dragons
- Death Knight
- Bone Devil
- Faerie Dragon
- Drow (all four of ’em)
- Shadow Demon
- Animated Armor
- Pit Fiend
- Chain Devil
- Bearded Devil
- Barbed Devil
- Spined Devil
- Ice Devil
- Horned Devil
- Shadow Dragon
- Flameskull <—————————
- Displacer Beast
- Carrion Crawler
- Rug of Smothering
- Bugbear Chief
- Vine Blight
- Twig Blight
- Needle Blight
- Fire Elemental
- Water Elemental
- Air Elemental
- Dinosaurs (All six of them)
- Earth Elemental
- Flying Sword
- Crawling Claw