Converting Ravenloft monsters

Cleon

Legend
"Archer Skeleton" would probably work (could be cross-listed as "Skeleton, Archer"). Unless there are other "Archer Skeletons," I wouldn't feel the need to put "Ravenloft" or "Karakin" into the name.

Well I'll be Indexing both Archer Skeleton and Skeleton, Archer when I actually add them to the Creature Catalog. It's just a question of which you prefer as the name on the monster entry.

As for other Archer Skeletons, there are a couple in 3E: The Barrow of the Forgotten King has Skeletal Archers (which are just standard SRD Human Warrior Skeletons armed with shortbows and +1 flaming arrows) and Dragon #317 has the Eldritch Archer (a new monster based on the D&D Heroes video game. It's an animated skeleton of an elven arcane archer with 16 HD and a +5 keen composite longbow.)

Let's deal with the easy stuff first. All the red text down to the full attack line is fine.

Fine by me.

I guess the original monster's "damage resistance" turns into the DR 5/bludgeoning of the 3.5e skeleton.

That's what I'd go for.

The original also has "spell immunity." Does that just convert to immunity to cold and other undead immunities, or should we add some SR?

It's the standard AD&D undead trait plus the common skeleton's immunity to cold:

From Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness (1994)
 Archer skeletons are immune to sleep, hold, charm, or fear spells. They need never check morale, usually being magically commanded to fight to their destruction. They are also immune to all cold-based attacks, as are normal skeletons. Similarly, edged and piercing weapons do only half damage to these creatures, while blunt weapons, being designed to crush bone, do full damage.​

Environment and org lines are good, and I'd probably go with - for advancement.

I'll go along with that.

Updating Archer Skeleton Working Draft.

If that's all good with you, shall we tackle the bone arrows?

Yup.
 

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Cleon

Legend
If that's all good with you, shall we tackle the bone arrows?

I'm wondering about whether we should place some cap on the maximum number of skeletons the Archer can have animated at any one time, or have some time limit on how long the skeletons remain in existence.

Otherwise you'd think an Archer Skeleton would almost always be accompanied by a horde of regular skeletons if they can create them for free. Any undead mastermind worth their salt would just order its Archer Skeletons to collect as many bones as it can and churn out an army of regular Skeletons if there wasn't some limit on the common skeletons created by bone arrows.

The text makes no mention that Archer Skeleton are usually accompanied by regular skellies.

Come to think of it, the text does not say the Archer Skeleton has any control over the bone arrow undead, it says:

From Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness (1994)
 It is, however, when the archer skeleton’s arrows miss their target that they prove most devastating. Whenever an arrow fails to hit its target, the DM should make a saving throw vs. crushing blow for the arrow. If the saving throw fails the shaft simply breaks and becomes useless. If it is successful, however, the arrow remains intact and rapidly (1 round) grows into a skeleton with all the normal abilities of those undead (see the MONSTROUS MANUAL). Such skeletons are hideous automatons of death and destruction that will immediately attack the closest living target.​

That solves the problem! The bone arrow skeletons are not controlled by the Archer Skeleton but just run on the default setting of "kill everything!" like uncontrolled excess undead created by the animate dead spell.

Speaking of animate dead, that spell can create up to twice the CL of undead HD and has a maximum control limit of 4 HD per CL.

That means an animate dead with a caster level of 5 (same as the Archer's Hit Dice) would animate up to ten 1 HD skeletons and the Archer could have up to twenty 1 HD skeletons "under its control," so maybe we can do something with that?

The twenty 1 HD skeletons limit neatly matches the twenty bone arrows the Archer can have. Hmm…

How about the Archer Skeleton has a max of 20 bone arrows, but cannot replace arrows that have turned into skeletons until the skeleton is destroyed? I'm also tempted to either have a maximum of 10 skeletons at any one time (meaning it can have up to 10 bone arrows left in its quiver) and/or have the skeleton only run around looking to kill things for, say, 10 minutes and then crumble to dust.

The other question is do we want to keep the original rule that the bone longbow and bone arrows remain after the Skeleton is destroyed and can be used by anyone who picks them up, so they can create uncontrolled murder skeletons too!

The original required a Ravenloft Powers Check for creatures using the bone arrow, but that ain't standard 3E. I'm thinking maybe a Fort Save to avoid Constitution Drain or Energy Drain might be in order to discourage casual use.

That and the fact that any resulting skeletons are "hideous automatons of death and destruction".
 

Cleon

Legend
Oh, the other thing was the original arrows needed to make saves to avoid breaking and only turned into undead if they remained intact.

There's already an equivalent rule for Magic Weapons in the SRD:

Magic Ammunition and Breakage
When a magic arrow, crossbow bolt, shuriken, or sling bullet misses its target, there is a 50% chance it breaks or otherwise is rendered useless. A magic arrow, bolt, bullet, or shuriken that hits is destroyed.​

Shall we just adapt that?
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Yeah, none of those other monster names are enough to justify changing the name of this one. "Archer Skeleton" will work just fine.

Last thing first: yes, let's just take the 50% break chance for the arrows that miss.

Let's give it a max of 20 arrows available at a time and a 10 min "countdown timer" for each (uncontrolled) skeleton. I kind of like the energy drain for other critters using the bow/arrows, too.
 

Cleon

Legend
Yeah, none of those other monster names are enough to justify changing the name of this one. "Archer Skeleton" will work just fine.

Right ho. I'll go along with that.

Last thing first: yes, let's just take the 50% break chance for the arrows that miss.

Agreed, using the current rules is the simplest solution.

Occam's Razor Cuts Again!

Let's give it a max of 20 arrows available at a time and a 10 min "countdown timer" for each (uncontrolled) skeleton.

Seems we're agreed again!

I kind of like the energy drain for other critters using the bow/arrows, too.

So any creature attempting to wield it must make a Fort save or it bestows one negative level on them. Will that be standard energy drain or like some alignment clash or cursed magic items where the negative level(s) only remain as long as the weapon is in hand?

We could make it like some magic items and add part or all the "This negative level never results in actual level loss, but it cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the weapon is wielded" rule from those weapons.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Let's go with the "as long as the weapon is being wielded" or whatever the standard wording is for that. And I'd be happy with the additional "can't be overcome" rule.
 

Cleon

Legend
Let's go with the "as long as the weapon is being wielded" or whatever the standard wording is for that. And I'd be happy with the additional "can't be overcome" rule.

Seems we're more-or-less agreed on the mechanics. All that remains is to write it up.

It seems easier to separate out the bows and the arrows.

Bone Arrows: Archer skeletons carry quivers containing a score of bone arrows, gruesome missiles made entirely from humanoid bone. Archer skeleton can never have more than 20 bone arrows at a time. Should an archer skeleton acquire another bone arrow when it already has twenty, the oldest arrow in its collection crumbles into bone dust.

Crafting #1 (based on animate dead)
Archer skeletons can turn the bones of dead humanoids into replacement bone arrows. This crafting takes 10 minutes. A bone arrow can only be created from a mostly complete corpse or skeleton, but the body need not be intact or articulated. A dead humanoid that's scattered in pieces can be used if most of its long bones remain unbroken. Only one bone arrow can be produced from a single dead humanoid.

Crafting #2 (simpler version)
Archer skeletons can turn the bones of dead humanoids into replacement bone arrows. This crafting takes 10 minutes. A bone arrow can be created from a corpse or skeleton if it has an arm or leg with an intact long bone. A dead humanoid that's scattered in pieces can be used if one of its long bones remain unbroken. Only one bone arrow can be produced from a single dead humanoid.

If shot from a bone bow (see below), a bone arrow is a +1 longbow arrow [?] with a special property that if it misses its target and breaks (it has a 50% chance of breaking) the arrow transforms into a human warrior skeleton that mindlessly attacks living creatures it sees. The warrior skeleton crumbles into bone dust after 10 minutes or if it is destroyed. The archer has no control over undead created from bone arrows. An archer can deliberately miss its show to attempt to place a warrior skeleton in a particular spot but the bone arrow must still fail its break chance to transform. If the bone arrow does not break it can be retrieved and reused.

If shot from any other bow, a bone arrow acts as a [masterwork longbow arrow? OR standard longbow arrow? with no magical properties.

Bone Bow: A bone bow is a +1 composite longbow made from fused humanoid bone with humanoid sinew for its bowstring. The bow is evil, and any creature attempting to wield it must succeed at a DC 15 [?] Fortitude save or gain one negative level. This negative level never results in actual level loss, but it cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the weapon is wielded.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Let's go with crafting option #2 and make it a masterwork arrow if used with a different bow. DC 15 Fort save is ok. Seems great!

Are you still happy with CR 2?
 

Cleon

Legend
Let's go with crafting option #2 and make it a masterwork arrow if used with a different bow. DC 15 Fort save is ok. Seems great!

Updating Archer Skeleton Working Draft.

I tweaked the grammar of the Bone Arrows slightly but made no changes of substance.

Are you still happy with CR 2?

It's a little tricky since we have to allow for the skellies created from its bone arrows in the Challenge Rating.

A warrior skeleton is CR 1/3 and it could potentially produce 20 of them. Although that'd take it at least 20 rounds and the 50% break chance means it'd likely be a lot longer, with the archer skeleton picking up its arrows and reshooting them.

Hmm, that suggest ten warrior skeletons are the normal maximum since it's unlikely that the archer will be running around a battlefield to retrieve its arrows. A half score of CR 1/3 opponents is EL 4. If I'm correct that an Archer Skeleton without skellie support is CR 2, that'd make one with 10 skellies EL 5.

However, it's WAY more likely that the archer will only produce a few of them in a fight. Maybe one to four? That's like CR 1. So if the Archer's CR 2 without skellie support, then allowing for three warrior skeletons makes it CR 3.

It might be prudent making it "Challenge Rating: 3 (see Combat)" with a note in Combat saying encounters that maximize or minimize the skeleton's ability to produce warrior skeleton minions require an EL adjustment.

Also, the Combat section's tactics should emphasize that Archer Skeletons try to keep as far away as possible and take cover, peppering bone arrows to try to create as many skeletal minions as they can.

Or it could just hide behind a wall and repeatedly shoot the ground until it has a posse of warrior skeletons surrounding it, ready to assault the first living creature that comes around the wall.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
CR 3 seems fair. I don't think we need a note like that, though, since you're always supposed to adjust EL if the encounter highlights (or downgrades) a monster's special ability. It's also likely they don't have time to shoot all that many arrows before they're destroyed.

I agree with your tactics suggestions, though the hiding and shooting one seems a bit smart for an Int - undead, especially since it would have to plan when an adversary is coming by.
 

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