Illustration by Adam Gilespie. Copyright 2009 Wizards of the Coast.

The first Monster Manual already included plenty of skeletons, so this time we just get a couple more of them. The basic lore remains the same and you can see it in the link above.

Bonecrusher Skeleton

A Large-sized skeleton that used to belong to an ogre, minotaur, oni, or similar creature. Not having to haul all that flesh around makes it surprisingly fast for its size.

This is a Large Natural Animate with the Undead keyword, and a Level 7 Soldier with 80 HP. It has all usual skeleton traits: darkvision, immunity to disease and poison, resist 10 necrotic, vulnerable 5 radiant. It runs at speed 8.

The skeleton wields a Reach 2 greatclub, and it can use it to perform a Crushing Blow (reach 2; recharge 6+) that does more damage and knocks the target prone. Its superb agility is expressed as Threatening Reach 2.

Skeletal Steed

A horse skeleton that can act as a fearless and tireless mount, proving that mundane horses truly suck in 4e. Even a dead horse is better mount than a live one.

Skeletal horses are Level 3 Skirmishers with 47 HP, darkvision, and immunity to disease and poison. They don’t have resistance to necrotic damage or vulnerability to radiant damage. Their ground speed of 8 and their fearless, untiring nature make them highly desired as mounts by people who don’t mind the whole skeleton thing.

If forced to fight the skeletal steed uses kicks like a normal horse, and they can also perform them as part of a Mobile Melee Attack. You know the drill on this one: the steed moves its speed, makes an attack at any point along the way, and doesn’t draw opportunity attacks. It can also emit a Death Shriek (fear; close burst 3; recharge 5+) that does no damage and inflicts a -2 attack penalty (save ends).

When used as a mount, the steed allows its rider to join in on the Mobile Melee Attack. Either the rider makes a basic attack while still allowing the steed to kick, or the steed gives up its attack to allow the rider to use a non-basic power.

Sample Encounters and Final Impressions

These new skeleton types rise in much the same way as the other ones. Most often it’s because a necromancer intentionally animates them, but sometimes a freak accident with necrotic energy can cause them to rise up as well. In such cases, skeletal steeds tend to rise along with their former riders.

We get two sample encounters here:

  • Level 5: 1 deathlock wight and 2 standard wights riding skeletal steeds. Ancient horsemen riding again.

  • Level 6: 1 orc eye of Gruumsh plus a zombie hulk and three bonecrusher skeletons. Orc necromancer and his undead ogres.