The Lonesome Road
|Climate/Terrain:||Any subtropical to tropical|
|Alignment:||Chaotic neutral (evil)|
|No. of Attacks:||2|
|Special Defenses:||See below|
Graveyards aren’t evil. They just tend to attract overzealous personalities.
An uncle skeleton is a powerful necromantic spirit which delights in frightening mortals. These bizarre entities somehow manage to be simultaneously sadistic and good-natured. Their erratic behavior coupled with their potent powers makes them dangerous beings indeed.
Despite strong appearances to the contrary, an uncle skeleton is not undead. It is actually a spirit creature in a physical form. The uncle resembles a human skeleton with clean, powder-white bones. Not a speck of flesh remains on the creature's frame. The eye sockets of the skull, however, contain intact eyes with glowing yellow irises. Uncle skeletons will often wear fashionable clothing, but they are equally likely to go about in nothing but a tophat and cane. Sometimes, they paint their bones with mysterious line drawings, thought to be necromantic symbols.
Uncle skeletons can usually speak a host of modern and ancient languages, and may speak with dead at will.
Combat: Ironically, for all their fiendish abilities, uncle skeletons rarely attack other beings directly. They prefer to use their powers to frighten and torment, rather than actually harm. Still, if pressed to do so, an uncle skeleton can unleash devastating attacks.
In physical combat, an uncle skeleton can strike with its bony fingers, inflicting 1-6 (1d6) damage with each blow. Occasionally, an uncle may choose to wield a melee weapon – usually a machete, sword cane or whip. Once per week, an uncle skeleton may animate dead and control undead as if it were a 14th-level wizard. Uncle skeletons, like normal animated skeletons, are mostly composed of empty space, and thus edged or piercing weapons inflict only half damage on them.
In addition to these powers, an uncle skeleton has all the abilities of a 9th-level mage, with a particular focus on the schools of enchantment/charm, illusion, and necromancy. Favorite spells of uncles include: audible glamer, change self, friends, grease, phantasmal force, spook, taunt, ventriloquism; blur, fog cloud, forget, improved phantasmal force, invisibility, mirror image, misdirection, scare, spectral hand, Tasha’s uncontrollable hideous laughter; feign death, hold undead, spectral force, wraithform; confusion, fear, fumble, hallucinatory terrain, improved invisibility, shadow monsters; advanced illusion, demi-shadow monsters, distance distortion, dream, shadow magic, summon shadow, teleport.
Despite the fact that they are not undead, uncle skeletons have some powers and weaknesses that resemble those of the living dead. They cannot be affect by sleep or life-affecting spells, and they are immune to poison, suffocation, and paralyzation. They are, however, vulnerable to charm and hold spells. They cannot be turned, but may be held at bay by a lawful good holy symbol presented with conviction. A vial of holy water inflicts 2d4 points of damage if splashed on an uncle skeleton. Furthermore, for reasons that are not quite clear, uncles may not approach within 30’ of a large constricting snake, such as a python, boa, or anaconda.
Habitat/Society: Unsurprisingly, uncle skeletons dwell in cemeteries, mausoleums, burial grounds, and the like. Their lairs are bizarre abodes indeed, appointed to fit their curious taste for the ghoulish as well as worldly pleasures. Though they are quite obviously nothing but bones, uncle skeletons are capable of enjoying the finer things in life, especially fine cigars and good rum. They also like expensive fashion and fine art. Yet they have a fiendish appreciation for the macabre; their lairs are often decorated with human parts in various states of decay, and infested with all manner of vermin. They keep vast numbers of skeletons and zombies as servants, and often congregate with ghouls, wights, and other graveyard undead.
One part deranged carnival showman, one part skulking undead lord, and one part winking, good-natured father, the uncle skeleton is an enigma. Although they are often characterized as evil, because of their association with evil undead and their perchance for terror, most uncles prefer to think of themselves as fulfilling some vital role. They reason that mankind must be reminded of the dangers of the night, lest they become careless and lazy and fall victim to the undead’s predations.
The uncles see themselves are harbingers of a benign fear that gives humans a healthy respect for the dead. To this end, they keep trespassers, necromancers, graverobbers, and curious children away from graveyards with demented funhouse tricks. Uncle skeletons should not be regarded as good-willed creatures, however; often, their gleeful tricks can literally scare a man to death. Children are taught to respect the spirits of the dead, lest an uncle skeleton come to turn their hair white. On holidays associated with death or the dead, uncles roam the countryside on sedan chairs of bone, seeking to spread their wicked delights to unfortunate travelers.
Ecology: Being spirit creatures, uncle skeletons are immortal for all practical purposes. They do not reproduce as a regular course of action, but are capable of creating more uncle skeletons when their numbers dwindle significantly. At such times, uncle skeletons from across the Demiplane of Dread make their way to a mysterious jungle island in the Sea of Sorrows. This unknown isle is said to possesses a gateway to the Ghost Bush, a netherworld where the spirits that become uncle skeletons reside. The gathered uncle skeletons perform an elaborate ritual that summons forth these spirits and give them material form. The young and old uncles then disperse, until their numbers again become sparse. Many centuries may pass in between these cycles.
Uncle skeletons have no natural enemies per se, unless, of course, one counts the unfortunate mortals who find themselves battered by the uncles’ games. They rarely get along well with the more serious-minded, powerful undead, particularly vampires. Generally, uncles have an intense dislike for willful, good-aligned personalities, such as priests and paladins, whom they consider “sticks-in-the-mud”. The Vistani, for their part, refuse to interfere in any situation which involves an uncle skeleton. The Voodan, meanwhile, although more knowledgeable about the nature of the uncles, find them troubling, and may assist those who are plagued by such creatures.
The bones of an uncle skeleton are heartily sought by witches and the like for use in a variety of magical items related to fear and the undead. Uncle bones might be used in the construction of a rod of terror, wand of fear, amulet versus undead or deck of illusions.
The Lonesome Road
Last Modified: March 21, 2014, 18:37:18 GMT
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