Skeletons: A Spooky Scary Entry

Lore: Spirits of Habit

Raised by dark magic, skeletons can either be summoned as a necromancer’s minion or simply by their own accord. Skeletons retain nothing of their former lives, though they can still be revived, rejuvenating flesh and soul while banishing the spirit that possessed them.

Those raised by necromancer’s are bound to the will of their master, obeying orders without question. While simple-minded, skeletons are capable of surprisingly complex tasks. However, it may take careful instruction depending on the complexity of said task.

Independent skeletons sometimes mimic actions they frequently took in their past lives. For example, a skeletal dog might remain guarding over the ruins of their former home. When they encounter a living creature, they are automatically driven to kill unless ordered not to. If not, they will fight until they are destroyed.

This lore is full of fun, maybe even creepy, potential! Perhaps the players wander into a dilapitated mansion, where a horde of skeleton nobles are trapped in an eternal dance. Or maybe the BBEG is a necromancer, and they raise a beloved NPC as a skeleton for them to fight; do they put down their friend again, or take the chance to try fully resurrecting them?

Can you make a skeleton into the BBEG and write a full campaign around them? No. They’re just another flavor to use in undead-themed campaigns. Still, they’re a nice flavor. Like adding paprika to your taco meat!

Design: Dude, For Real?

It’s a skeleton. You already know what it looks like.

Stats: Skeletons Smash!!

We’ve got three different flavors of skeleton to go over. There’s the regular humanoid skeleton, a skeletal minotaur, and a skeletal warhorse. Luckily for us, they’re all more or less the same, so this won’t take that long at all.

None of these guys are particularly durable. Their AC ranges from 12-13, and their HP is really low. Except for the minotaur skeleton; its HP is fairly high for a low-level monster. They sort of make up for this with their immunity to poison.

But that doesn’t really matter, considering they’re vulnerable to bludgeoning damage. Anyone in the party got a hammer? They automatically win.

Regular skeletons have two weapons: a shortsword and a shortbow. Neither are all that dangerous. The warhorse skeleton only has their hooves; these do a bit more damage, but that’s all they’ve got.

The minotaur skeleton is the most dangerous of the lot by far. It has two actions: its Greataxe and Gore. Both do a fair bit of damage. Even more so if you add on the Charge ability, which adds even more damage and can knock its opponent prone.

Even then, all three of these enemies are exceptionally simple. They make for good enemies early on in undead-themed campaigns, but they get pretty boring pretty quickly. If you’re looking for a truly memorable or terrifying fight, the skeleton minotaur might fill the bill early on. Beyond that, however, you’ll need to find another monster.


As you might have expected, this is a fairly plain monster. Its lore was surprisingly strong! But the rest was as basic and flat as you might expect. I wouldn’t call it bad. Just basic. Like vanilla ice cream.

With all that in mind, the Skeletons are going to #116 on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Mind Flayer
  4. Dragon Turtle
  5. Mummy/Mummy Lord
  6. Nagas (all three of ’em)
  7. Green Dragons
  8. Red Dragons
  9. Blue Dragons
  10. Black Dragons
  11. White Dragons
  12. Silver Dragons
  13. Couatl
  14. Behir
  15. Aboleth
  16. Sea Hag
  17. Lamia
  18. Bronze Dragons
  19. Brass Dragons
  20. Copper Dragons
  21. Gold Dragons
  22. Chuul
  23. Kuo-Toa
  24. Gibbering Mouther
  25. Kraken
  26. Intellect Devourer
  27. Shadow
  28. Chimera
  29. Death Knight
  30. Fomorian
  31. Bone Devil
  32. Dracolich
  33. Faerie Dragon
  34. Gelatinous Cube
  35. Lich
  36. Peryton
  37. Remorhaz
  38. Orcs (all four of ’em)
  39. Magmin
  40. Shield Guardian
  41. Kobold
  42. Kenku
  43. Hobgoblins
  44. Night Hag
  45. Green Hag
  46. Black Pudding
  47. Ankheg
  48. Hook Horror
  49. Oni
  50. Purple Worm
  51. Storm Giant
  52. Hill Giant
  53. Empyrean
  54. Efreeti
  55. Grimlock
  56. Minotaur
  57. Dao
  58. Cloud Giant
  59. Manticore
  60. Scarecrow
  61. Drow (all four of ’em)
  62. Shadow Demon
  63. Modrons (all five of ’em)
  64. Marilith
  65. Drider
  66. Aarackockra
  67. Azer
  68. Demilich
  69. Spectator
  70. Gray Ooze
  71. Ochre Jelly
  72. Hydra
  73. Rakshasa
  74. Marid
  75. Salamander
  76. Harpy
  77. Werejackal
  78. Otyugh
  79. Satyr
  80. Half-Dragon
  81. Cambion
  82. Fire Giant
  83. Nothic
  84. Pixie
  85. Animated Armor
  86. Roper
  87. Banshee
  88. Basilisk
  89. Yochlol
  90. Bulette
  91. Cloaker
  92. Darkmantle
  93. Doppelganger
  94. Revenant
  95. Ghoul and Ghast
  96. Sahuagin (all three)
  97. Ettin
  98. Medusa
  99. Pit Fiend
  100. Erinyes
  101. Chain Devil
  102. Bearded Devil
  103. Barbed Devil
  104. Spined Devil
  105. Ice Devil
  106. Mimic
  107. Djinni
  108. Merrow
  109. Nalfeshnee
  110. Glabrezu
  111. Chasme
  112. Grell
  113. Barlgura
  114. Horned Devil
  115. Balor
  116. Skeletons <———————-
  117. Shadow Dragon
  118. Myconids (all four of ’em)
  119. Piercer
  120. Werebear
  121. Lizardfolk
  122. Vrock
  123. Dretch
  124. Pseudodragon
  125. Gnolls (all three)
  126. Goristro
  127. Hezrou
  128. Manes
  129. Quaggoth
  130. Frost Giant
  131. Weretiger
  132. Werewolf
  133. Duergar
  134. Quasit
  135. Dryad
  136. Shambling Mound
  137. Flumph
  138. Goblin
  139. Nightmare
  140. Rust Monster
  141. Wereboar
  142. Wererat
  143. Githyanki
  144. Owlbear
  145. Planetar
  146. Imp
  147. Ogres/Half-ogres
  148. Roc
  149. Clay Golem
  150. Flameskull
  151. Displacer Beast
  152. Carrion Crawler
  153. Githzerai
  154. Grick
  155. Invisible Stalker
  156. Rug of Smothering
  157. Bugbear Chief
  158. Bugbear
  159. Flesh Golem
  160. Vine Blight
  161. Twig Blight
  162. Needle Blight
  163. Mephits (all six of ’em)
  164. Bullywug
  165. Hellhound
  166. Ettercap
  167. Gas Spore
  168. Cockatrice
  169. Lemure
  170. Homonculus
  171. Merfolk
  172. Solar
  173. Deva
  174. Gorgon
  175. Hippogriff
  176. Griffon
  177. Cyclops
  178. Centaur
  179. Ghost
  180. Pegasus
  181. Fire Elemental
  182. Water Elemental
  183. Air Elemental
  184. Stone Giant
  185. Deep Gnome
  186. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  187. Iron Golem
  188. Stone Golem
  189. Earth Elemental
  190. Galeb Duhr
  191. Helmed Horror
  192. Flying Sword
  193. Crawling Claw
  194. Violet Fungus
  195. Shrieker
  196. Gargoyle

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