Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

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Benedict
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby Benedict » 04 Jun 2016, 16:50

When talking about skeletons the first thing that springs to mind is this.

Image

Most of the above suggestions seem quite appropriate. One thing that really bugged me though with rpg skeletons is that most versions are mindless. An interesting twist could be a skeleton animated by a deceased spirit, demon, or elemental spirit, hating life itself. With the appropriate acumen/will/cunning to reflect that. :twisted:

Also necromancers shouldn't create them with a single spell, they should either try to control existing ones, or perform rituals to bind/invite the animating force inside the skeleton. But I'd really like it to be more akin to making a deal with an entity instead of controlling hordes of undead minions, like most stereotypical rpgs.

Another idea. Since skeletons lack sensory organs, and if they are animated like I explained above, they should have a sense of life force around them. Hence they woudn't be influenced by darkness or stealth.
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby EinBein » 06 Jun 2016, 04:16

Benedict wrote:When talking about skeletons the first thing that springs to mind is this.

I love the singer in the lower right corner ;) Seems to have passed the Steel test with a critical success...

Most of the above suggestions seem quite appropriate. One thing that really bugged me though with rpg skeletons is that most versions are mindless. An interesting twist could be a skeleton animated by a deceased spirit, demon, or elemental spirit, hating life itself. With the appropriate acumen/will/cunning to reflect that. :twisted:

That's more or less exactly the second version you can do in The Dark Eye: The common Necromancer would use a spell to re-animate dead bodies like described in the OP. A follower of the archdemon of undead Thargunitoth though could summon the lesser demon Nephazz to possess a body. The demon is relatively intelligent and more powerful in general than ordinary skeletons. This is of course only possible in smaller numbers.

Also necromancers shouldn't create them with a single spell, they should either try to control existing ones, or perform rituals to bind/invite the animating force inside the skeleton. But I'd really like it to be more akin to making a deal with an entity instead of controlling hordes of undead minions, like most stereotypical rpgs.

I guess you'd need to change it like that to avoid over-use of skeletons if they are really that powerful in the BoB rulesystem.

Benedict wrote:Another idea. Since skeletons lack sensory organs, and if they are animated like I explained above, they should have a sense of life force around them. Hence they woudn't be influenced by darkness or stealth.

I would say that this - in no doubt magical - sense needs to be blocked by physical barriers at least, to give characters a chance to hide.
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby nemedeus » 08 Jun 2016, 05:31

Korbel wrote:
hector wrote:I would be tempted to ignore impact and TN increases for any wound, but take any broken bones to mean that that limb is no longer usable. The skull would have to either be shattered or severed in order to make the skeleton stop fighting.

I like this. The skull would be the part that when destroyed, disables the whole skellie. But it must be crushed! If severed only, it could still bite.


"Bones have fainted memories of how it felt to be alive, Necromancy only reminds them of it."

(Could mean the Skull 'remembers' how a brain functioned, giving them some basic low level intelligence. Could also mean that skeletons animated as such make for terrible soldiers because the bones are afraid to 'die' again... Fantasy, right?)
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby higgins » 08 Jun 2016, 07:25

In one of the probably best known Estonian zombie horror novels (which included silent zombie POVs, btw!), zombies went for the brains because they extracted their victims' most vivid memories from that. It's been a looong while since I read it and I can't find it from my shelf right now, but I do believe they cherished those memories and "used them up" to get themselves out of tight spots. Then they mourned the loss of those memories as they went and searched for new ones.

And of course, there was memory-envy, if they knew their fellow zombie had a really good one.
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby nemedeus » 08 Jun 2016, 07:37

So that's where the idea for iZombie came from!
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby Marras » 15 Jun 2016, 06:29

Even with life force detection skeletons would need some other way to "see" in order to actually avoid obstacles. OR the tactic against them would be to block their path to target and then kill them off from distance with a polearm :)

One thing that occurred to me is that if you want to lower the threat from skeletons is to increase a chance to break bones. After all skeleton bones lack the "protection" of flesh and maybe the magic holding them together is not as good as the proper flesh. Also, old bones could be more brittle than those of a zombie not to mention of a living human.
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby willard » 28 Jun 2016, 12:31

Amazing content. Thank you for this, and I hope to see more. :D Excuse me if I say anything that doesn't make sense with the system, I come from Blade. Some suggestions:

I like the idea of making them more susceptible to bone breaks, but I also feel like that could be explained by the magic/necromancy rules. The Stamina of anyone raised should probably be entirely dependent on the level of magic, with poor condition bones requiring a higher result to strengthen. So, in this way, how susceptible a bone is to break depends on the level of magic binding it, and the fact that a person is hitting bone directly can be hand-waived via "it's magic". To implement that magic is inherently weaker than flesh, just make sure that the average skeleton raised has lower Stamina than an average human.
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby Korbel » 02 Aug 2016, 08:57

What about the next episode? Do you have any ideas?
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby EinBein » 02 Aug 2016, 10:12

Thought about some beastly / barbarian fighting that is not covered by the modern techniques in the basic rules and fit more in the realm of common fantasy stories, but any other proposals are welcome as well!

I've my last exam for this semester on Saturday. After that, I might find the time to start a sequel. Again, other people are welcome to start their own version if they like ;)
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Re: Fantastical creatures and how they fight us - Skeletons

Postby Agamemnon » 08 Aug 2016, 21:33

So I missed this when the conversation was fresh, but I figure I'd throw in my two cents for what they are worth.

You guys are basically on the mark. The biggest, scariest thing about undead is that they don't feel pain like we do. I'd ignore TN shifts for undead and zombies entirely. Instead, only apply the narrative effects of damage. If you hack off an arm, they've lost the arm. If you take a leg, they might fall prone, etc. I'd probably apply half the impact, as some of it is pain but some of it is just throwing the other person off-balance. For zombies, I'd argue that blunt does full damage, piercing and slashing might convert to blunt for half damage.

When talking about specifics of behavior and such though, you have a lot more options. The scariest thing about any monster is the unknown. Monsters work best when they are strange and unusual. This is one of the reasons something like D&D can be really compelling when you first start playing and all the creatures are new and different... but can become old hat once you're well familiar with the properties of a bugbear. I would actually be against the idea of a "standard skeleton" being a thing as 'Bastards is not really a game that should have "standard monsters." Of Beasts and Men (the TROS supplement) was actually right on the money in this regard.

That said, you definitely have a few ways to play with skeletons. You can make them completely mindless and able to follow a single command, so all they will do is attack. You can make them animal-level intelligence, where they will attack and defend themselves with no higher reasoning capabilities... or they could be sentient undead animated by the souls of their former owners or bound spirits/demons.

Destroying them has similar options. It could be as simple as "destroy/remove the head." Or you could have to dismember them joint by joint to keep the remaining bits from crawling at you. Worse still, the parts could start wiggling towards each other and reassembling if the source of their animating power isn't destroyed. This last one would be especially nasty if you put the skeleton in a gothic plate harness or similar armor that would hold their bones together.

From a GM's perspective, the big thing is not to let any encounter with the weird ever be ordinary. Fighting the dead should always be an unsettling and slightly terrifying prospect.
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