Corporeal Forces: 2
Ethereal Forces: 1
Celestial Forces: 0
As corporeal creatures (more or less) skeletons have the equivalent of a Vessel/2, -2 Charisma. Also, the gradual drying out of the bones will cause one level of Vulnerability (crushing attacks) per ten years of age.
Body Hits: 12
Skills: Dodge/4, Fighting/3, Large Weapon/3 (various), Move Silently/3, Ranged Weapon/3 (various)
Gear: Skeletons usually have some sort of simple hand weapon (axes and clubs are most common) and a shield (+1 to Dodge), or a bow and 30 arrows. They can wear armor, but at a -1 to Protection (minimum 1) unless it's been explicitly designed to fit a Skeleton.
Skeletons fall somewhere in that nebulous area between Constructs and the Undead. While they are created through the dark arts of necromancy, they are not really 'human'... even if one expands the term to include things like Zombis.
Creating a Skeleton
Obviously, first you need a complete skeleton: the fresher, the better. The bones have to be reasonably clean of ... external matter ... but not all of the pieces have to have come from the same donor, although they usually come from at least the same species. Anything with a recognizable skeletal structure can be converted into a Skeleton.
Preparing a Skeleton can be somewhat tricky, as the bones need to be somehow reattached to each other. The traditional method involves a special type of clay: creating it requires a Necromancy roll at +1 and some very nasty ingredients. Once this clay is created, the Sorcerer then uses it to essentially stick each bone together. This requires both a successful Necromancy roll at -2 (representing the ability to properly mystically align the bones) and a successful Knowledge: Anatomy roll (representing the ability to avoid attaching a femur to a vertebrae). The actual ritual itself (Create Skeleton) is fairly straightforward, if a trifle boring: the roll to activate is (Necromancy + Enchantment), with a cost of 6 Essence and a minimum casting time of 8 hours. If successful, the Skeleton will activate at the end of the ritual.
Not being quite Undead, Skeletons do not require a suitable Need to fuel their dark vitality. They instead run on Essence: one note of Essence will power a Skeleton for one hour. Skeletons have a capacity of 3 notes of Essence, which is effectively reserved for activation purposes - lacking sentience, Skeletons may not learn or use Songs, and cannot use their Essence to improve their skill rolls.
The perceptive will note that Skeletons seem fairly easy to disable, thanks to their relatively low number of Body Hits (12). It is true that two or three good hits will disassemble one: indeed, Skeletons are designed to be disassembled. The trick is to keep it disassembled. If the pieces of a Skeleton are scattered, without any further precautions taken (see below), the various bones will reassemble themselves within five minutes. Any bones that were empowered by the above ritual can be reused to create a new Skeleton.
There is a solution, of course: actually break the bones instead of just sending them flying. A character that makes a Strength roll at -2 can cause up to (CD/3) permanent Body Hits per round: however, the character may not do anything else during that round (including Dodge), which can be problematical if there are still Skeletons active and in the fight.
Skeletons are not free willed creatures: they are always under the orders of their creators. There are precisely four commands that can be given to one: 'Attack', 'Wait until someone comes close enough, then attack', 'Stop attacking' and 'obey [Insert name here] as you would me'. In the medieval period (the great first heyday of Skeletons), they were usually used as endlessly patient guards. These days, they exist mostly as curios, accidents or pure kitsch: there's a few demonic Tethers that keep them along for the look of things, and of course they make a nice addition to any Forgotten Temple. Other than that, frankly modern weaponry can make mincemeat out of them.
Of course, if you simply must have them, there's always
Corporeal Forces: 2
Ethereal Forces: 1
Celestial Forces: 0
*Denotes 'bought-up' Attribute
Vessel: Vessel/4 with +2 Toughness and -2 Charisma
Body Hits: 48
Skills: Dodge/4, Fighting/3, Large Weapon/3 (Chainsaw), Move Silently/3, Ranged Weapon/3 (Shotgun), Tactics/3
Gear: Integral Shotgun, Integral Chainsaw, Kevlar Armor that is designed to be worn by a Skeletechon.
This is a Skeleton after Vapula has finished playing with it. Not that the original design wasn't clever, in its own way, but there were so many improvements to be made. First, obviously, this clay nonsense had to go, instead, there's an intricate internal titanium frame (+3 to Strength, +1 Toughness and +2 Vessel). Next, well, a dedicated internal computer and integral targeting scope/vision suite, backed up with a virtually bug-free - for Vaputech, at least - AI program seemed appropriate (+3 Intelligence, +3 Perception and Tactics/3). Granted, the AI isn't very bright, and isn't quite up to mimicking true sentience, but that's for the next generation. It is capable of determining when to expend Essence - which is why they also come with a dedicated Reliquary/2 (which extends their maximum operating time to 5 hours). After that, there really was nothing left to do except to replace one arm with a chainsaw and the other with a shotgun. Luckily, having them built in allowed for better accuracy (+1 sounds about right).
Problems with the design? Well, you have to understand that these things come with a tradeoff. Unlike their prototypes, Skeletechons cannot reassemble themselves when their bones are dispersed: Vapula's working on the problem. Then, of course, there's the unfortunate fact that Skeletechons have no fine manipulators, thus making them fairly useless if somebody rips out their integral weaponry. That cannot be helped. And, true, their appearance makes it difficult to use them too publicly - but that's society's fault, not the Skeletechon's.
Then there's the power supply issue. Personally, Vapula isn't too sure whether having the computer, sights and chainsaw be powered by a highly volatile plasma battery is either a bug, or a feature. On the one hand, when the battery is breached by an energy or fire-based attack (essentially, 10+ points of damage in a single attack), it tends to explode (on a 1 or 2 CD of the attack roll), causing 4d6 Body Hits to anyone within 10 yards of the explosion. On the other hand, when the battery is breached by an energy or fire-based attack, it tends to explode, causing 4d6 Body Hits to anyone within 10 yards of the explosion.
It all depends on your point of view, really.
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