Roleplayer #22, November 1990

Bronze Skeletons

Magical Monsters – or Machines?

by Robert Collins

Bronze skeletons look like actual human (or other) skeletons formed of solid bronze – darkly glinting, or greenish and corroded, as the case may be. Typically, they are used as guardians of great treasures or dangerous items. They can also be used as menial servants, carrying or moving things. They may occur either in science fiction or fantasy campaigns. In a fantasy situation, they are magical, created by a variation on the Golem spell. In a SF scenario, they are elaborately-designed robots.

They may be "programmed" either for combat or for simple work, but not for both. Combat-programmed skeletons can be set either to attack anything within range (no more than five yards), or to attack specific targets. They can carry one weapon and a shield, or two weapons. Fantasy skeletons won't use missile weapons; robotic skeletons are usually not programmed for anything but primitive hand weapons, but occasionally there are surprises!

Skeletons may also be set for menial labor, following very simple instructions, like "Push that," or "Pick that up and carry it over there." They may be set to follow any instructions, any instructions prefaced with a code word, any instructions given by a certain person . . . If labor skeletons are ordered to attack, they will, but the attack will be clumsy (see below) and weaponless.

Fantasy skeletons will continue to fight until destroyed, or unless hit with a Dispel Magic spell.

SF skeletons will fight until destroyed, but can be slowed by jamming a joint or joints with a small metal object, like a small knife or a nail. This requires a DX-4 roll in close combat. There may also be special gadgets that can halt or disable them.

Skeletons of all types can be knocked down; if downed, a combat skeleton will flail at anything "hostile" that comes close, but will be unable to stand easily. A skeleton must make a DX-4 roll to stand, and will try to stand on any turn that there is no target within range.

Because of their open structure, bronze skeletons are immune to impaling damage from primitive weapons. Even bullets bounce off without effect unless the skull is targeted, then PD is 6. Lasers and other impaling beam weapons can attack them, but their PD against such weapons is 6.

Bronze Skeleton Statistics

ST 16, DX 10, HT 13, IQ 8 (for sense rolls).

Metal body has PD 3, DR 2; PD 6 against fire, laser and similar damage; skull PD against bullets is also 6. The "brain" of a metal skeleton may be either in the skull or the chest; if it is the skull, decapitation, or 7 hits of head damage, will immobilize the skeleton. If it is in the chest, 10 hits of torso damage will destroy it.

Base weapon skill 14; second weapon or shield 12.

Weaponless skeletons strike at DX level for 1d-1 crushing damage. Some have also been known to bite with sharpened or even poisoned teeth; this is up to the GM!

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