Saturday, October 29, 2016

Racial Template: Dungeon Fantasy Player Skeleton (Blog or Treat)

Yesterday, toward the end of my post on a martial arts style for a skeleton character, I realized there are several skeleton templates, but none are great for a player character, usually more in line with fodder to smash or fodder to summon. Today, I'm going to try to fix that! Let's see how that goes.


So let's start with the ever so sturdy Servitor Skeleton from Dungeon Fantasy 9, but let's make it not a pill to play by removing all the slavery garbage and keeping all the stuff that would be fun and interesting for a player.
[..Several minutes of hemming and hawing later...]
Ok, we got something that looks a bit more usable by a player.


50 points
Attributes:  DX+1[20], HT+1[10]
Secondary Characteristics:  Basic Speed+0.5[10]
Advantages:  Claws, Blunt[3], Damage Resistance 3[15], Doesn't Breathe[20], Doesn't Eat or Drink [10], Doesn't Sleep[20], High Pain Threshold[10], Injury Tolerance (No Blood, Brain, Eyes, Vitals, Unliving)[40], Resistant(Metabolic Hazards, +8)[15]
Disadvantages: Appearance (Hideous, Universal, +25%)[-20], Social Stigma (Monster)[-15], Dependency (Mana, Very Common, Constantly)[-25], Fragile (Brittle)[-15], Skinny[-5], Unhealing (Partial, Must Rest in Burial Sites, like graveyards or tombs)[-20], Vulnerability (Crushing, x2)[-30]
Perks: Cotton Stomach[1], Payload (Ribcage) [1]
Features: Affected by spells that affect the undead. Affected by Spirit Empathy, The Skull does not get free DR.


First off, any of the advantages that a servitor skeleton on p.26 of Dungeon Fantasy 9 are on the table except for the ones indicative of being a dumb slave worker, which does take a few interesting choices off the table.
Next, the following disadvantages can be bought off:
  • Using the rules for fae in Dungeon Fantasy 11, the mana dependency may be removed.
The following special abilities can be bought:
  • Flexibility
  • Milk Bathing[9]
    • This power-up is almost like a transformation that removes a lot of good and bad things. You drop the advantage Doesn't Eat Or Drink[10], but acquire reduced Consumption 2[4] and Restricted Diet (Common, Milk)[-10] and Slow Eater[-10]. You take a two hour bath in milk once a day to absorb calcium, moisture and other nutrition. This removes Fragile[-15] and Unhealing[-20]. This changes the cost of your racial template from [50] to [59]
    • Milk Bathing 2[35] - Once you acquire Milk Bathing, you can also buy off the Crushing vulnerability for 30 points, and the Skinny disadvantage if you like by growing very strong bones for 5 points. This changes the cost of your racial template from [59] to 94.
    • When either Level is taken Regrowth[40] and Damage Resistance up to a total of 6 may be bought. Payload may be bought up to 5 as well as the chest cavity is now stronger.
  • Flesh Prison
    • You can disguise yourself as a human (or if you took a different racial template, whatever that template was.) Take any racial template and add the disadvantage Supernatural Features(No Body Heat, Pallor)[-15] which lowers the template value significantly, and makes a large majority, save some 75 point races, in the realm of possibility. This advantage is Alternative Form(One "normal" player race, Minimum Duration 1 Week, -20%)[12] (or read the rules for alternate forms on p.83 of the Basic Set. if you really want a different expensive race.) When you disguise yourself, you gain all the pros and cons of your original living form. You must stay in a given form for a minimum of 1 week before changing again.
  • Throw Rib
    • This is an innate attack.that models a famous ability from a famous game. You throw a rib at a very very high trajectory at an opponent making it hard to dodge. You may throw it as if it were a boomerang with the Thrown Weapon (Stick) skill, and it grows back strangely fast, allowing free use every 15 seconds. The maximum damage is equal to your swing damage.
      • Crushing Attack 1d (Overhead, +30%; Takes Recharge, 15 Seconds, -20%)[5.5 points/level] round up.
      • If you buy the Regrowth Advantage, you may buy the Takes Recharge limitation down to 5 seconds, which makes the ability 6 points a level.
  • Modular Physiology
    • You may buy as many extra arms and extra legs as the GM will tolerate, and similarly, more heads or any extra body parts. You may also buy exotic strikers, teeth, horns, and claws, assuming you find interesting bones with preferable features.
    • With heads facing forward and backward you may take 360 degree vision.
    • You may buy Independant Body Parts, and you may buy the instant Reattachment enhancement for it.
  • Instant Admittance into the Process of Eminence with free tuition. The Roll With Blows technique is a lifesaver.

Racial Maxima and Minima

A regular skeleton has a maximum ST of whatever living race it was minus 50% of average starting ST. For example, a Human with ST 10 has a maximum of 20. A human skeleton has a maximum of 20 - (10*0.5) = 15.
A skeleton with Milk Bath 1 changes the fractional modifier to 0.75, and one with Milk Bath 2 has a fractional modifier of 1, or the same maximum ST as a living version.
Most other racial maxima are unchanged, but a Skeleton may add +1.00 to the maximum max speed and 2 to both DX and HT.
All of these things combined make Skeletons great swashbucklers, and knights, but a weak choice for any class that nominally benefits from very high ST like Barbarians, or those that require lots of downtime, like Martial Artists or Incanters.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

Skeletons! They are pretty vanilla, I think. But they weren't done yet, so here you go. Make a fun player with unique challenges, or make some skeleton NPCs. Make stronger Skeleton foes. have a Druid's extra life go wrong! Go wild!


  1. > but none are great for a player character
    I don't think that I have ever had a player want to play an animated skeleton that wasn't a liche or some other kind of powerful willful undead. I am having trouble even thinking of what a playable "ordinary" skeleton would be, or why they would exist. Soldiers from a place that is really into recycling? Some kid of curse?

    1. Well... willful undead is the most likely one. I think I've heard a lot of players talk about paladins who loved their deity or country so much, they willed themselves to not die and so are skeletons enclosed in heavy armor.

    2. Yeah liches, wraiths, and death knights are the sort of thing that I was talking about but there are templates for those and I wouldn't call them "skeletons" in gamer jargon.

      By the way, for the latter kind of thing Eberron had the Deathless, positive energy undead, that figured strongly in elven religion.

    3. Well templates for liches and wraiths, and I would start with the latter for a death knight in GURPS.

  2. I would definitely add Disturbing Voice.

    1. That's a good option, though I think a lot of them happen to have weirdly soothing voices in different fictional appearances.


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