Sunday, September 13, 2015

10 Variant Skeletons

10 Variant Skeletons

Presented below are 10 variant skeletons for OSR Dungeons & Dragons. They are based off the Labyrinth Lord version of the Skeleton. Like all undead Skeletons can be turned by clerics and are immune to mind-affecting abilities. These variants add a small mechanical component which can be a nice change of pace from your typical encounter. As with anything you should adjust the experience if needed.

If a player has access to the animate dead spell you might let them create these variants by finding an exotic component to use with that spell.

1. Brittle: Upon being hit the skeleton explodes into hundreds of pieces of bone. Everyone within 10' of the skeleton take damage equal to the hit points of the skeleton. If the skeleton had 5 hit points everyone takes that damage.

2. Savage: This skeleton has two claw attacks that does 1d6 points of damage. If both claws hits in the same round it rends for additional 1d6 damage.

3. Frenzy: Once combat begins this skeleton descends into a frenzy of brute fury. Each round the skeleton is active in combat its damage increases by 1 Die. In round 1 it does 1d6, round 2 2d6, round 3 3d6,etc. The damage resets to 1d6 if the skeleton is not engaged in combat for 1 round.

4. Armor-Plated: This skeleton has had metal plates fused onto its bony frame. For each plate fused onto the skeleton it grants  +1 to armor class and 5 hit points. Each 5 points of damage the skeleton takes one metal plate is destroyed and its armor class is reduced by -1.

5. Cackling: This skeleton emits a loud maddening cackle. Those within 30' find it hard to concentrate. All acts of concentration like spell-casting, thief skills, etc require a wisdom check to maintain your train of thought.

6. Unholy: This skeleton bones are pitch black and swirl with negative energy. This skeleton is immune to all damage except positive energy. Holy water, cure spells, potions of healing etc can be used to harm this skeleton.

7. Tar: This skeleton is covered in tar. Any hit by a melee weapon has the potential to be stuck to the skeleton. Any successful hit requires a strength attribute check or be stuck to the skeletons body.

8. Host: The rib cage of this skeleton is fused together to form an intricate prison. Small creatures can be housed inside the rib cage. If attacked in combat the rib cage has 50% chance of shattering and releasing what is inside.
                                             d4 Random Rib Cage Inhabitant
                                                1. 1d6+2 Crawling Hands
                                                2. 1d4+1 Homunculus
                                                3. 2d6 Zombie Pixies
                                                4. 1d4 Mummified Cats

9. Psychic: The cracks of this skeleton skull reveals a pulsating cranium. This skeleton has a semblance of intelligence and attacks with a psychic blast with a range of 30'. Because of its degenerative state the psychic blast is random and unpredictable.
                                             d4 Random Psychic Blast
                                              1, Save or be Confused(as per the spell) for 1d4 rounds
                                              2. 2d6 Psychic Damage
                                              3. 1d4 Wisdom Drain
                                              4. Your mental attributes switch place with your physical attributes for                                                       1 turn.

10. Candy Cane: This skeletons bony frame is coated in peppermint candy. The sweet aroma is hard to resist. All within 5' of the skeleton must save or use your action to consume pieces of this skeleton. Each bite you must save vs poison. Failure means your next 1d4+1 rounds you are nauseated and can't act. Each bite regardless of success or failure rots 1d4 teeth. They fall out 1 turn later.

If you enjoyed these variants I also have blog post on variant zombies and wights. The links are below. I hope to have a variants of all the main undead eventually. So if you like what you see please consider following my blog!

20 Variant Zombies
10 Variant Wights


  1. Better late than never; thank you for these.

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  3. The Tar skelly helped me curb an obnoxious rogue who rolled super good stats in the early part of the campaign. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I love different variants of monsters. It changes the whole thought of monsters being bland and unexciting. I hope that we get to see more in the days to come or are you willing to take submissions?