Daily Illuminator

December 27, 2021: Brass Skeletons In The Fantasy Trip

In the deepest part of a labyrinth, or guarding the lair of an especially powerful mage or warlord, you might see skeletons that seem to be made, not of bone, but of living metal that gleams and glints in the torchlight. These are Brass Skeletons.
To create a Brass Skeleton, a mage must start with the intact skeleton of a humanoid warrior. However, rather than the Zombie spell, the skeleton is enchanted using Greater Magic Item Creation. The skeleton costs whatever it costs; often it is the former property of an unlucky adventurer. The mage will also need $100 worth of brass in small shavings, no less than $65 per week in common ingredients which include strong acids, and a seven-foot-long ceramic vat in which to prepare the skeleton. A wizard who can make a Brass Skeleton would need 40 weeks, spending 175 ST per day, and would charge at least $50,000.
Once it is finished, all the original material is gone and only animated brass remains. It is not undead, but similar in some ways to a golem. It has no personality, but it does have reasoning ability. It has ST 1d+16 (due to uncertainties in the process, some are significantly stronger than others), DX 12, IQ 8, and MA 10. However, it disbelieves illusions with the IQ of its current owner, so record that stat as well. It can use any weapon for which its creator, or the person who provided the skeleton, had the skill.
A Brass Skeleton begins as the servant of its creator, who can see through its eyes and hear through its ears as for a regular skeleton. The creator may give it to another, who may give it to another, and so on; it will only follow the orders of its current owner. It will follow voice orders in any language its creator knew. It will follow mental orders if the owner can see the skeleton. A change of ownership breaks the telepathic bond, though, and only its creator will ever be able to use the skeleton's senses remotely.
If the owner of a Brass Skeleton dies, the skeleton will continue to carry out its last orders. If it completes the orders it had been given, it becomes quiescent, standing motionless. However, if attacked or moved, it will fight until it or its attacker(s) are dead. There is no known way for someone else to take control of an unowned Skeleton.
In combat, a Brass Skeleton is immune to arrows, as well as spears, javelins, and other long pointy missiles. Its resilient brass material gives it 4 points of "toughness," and it can wear other armor as well. It cannot be destroyed, as a regular Skeleton can, by a single heavy blow. It takes only half damage (calculate after damage reduction, and round down) from attacks based on flame, lightning, cold, or water, and is not de-enchanted by lightning. It does not breathe and is completely immune to gas attacks unless they are corrosive in nature.
A Brass Skeleton does not age or decay at all. When "killed," a Brass Skeleton remains a battered skeleton made of corroded brass, but all its unnatural life has left it and it cannot be repaired. However, a Brass Skeleton with even a single point of HT left will draw energy from the universal mana field and "heal" at one point every local midnight until it is at full HT.
The owner of a Brass Skeleton may bejewel it, gild it, solder on horns or fangs, and otherwise enhance it for the sake of appearance. This does not affect its combat ability but may confuse opponents. Likewise, an occasional Brass Skeleton is whitewashed to mislead its master's foes into thinking it is an ordinary skeleton.
A single Brass Skeleton might be found leading a group of regular Skeletons, since it has its own IQ of 8. It cannot speak unless it has been additionally enchanted (e.g, with Proxy), but it can command them mentally.

Brass Skeletons

Brass Skeletons on the Tabletop

Start with a regular skeleton miniature and use a dark primer. Then go to town with your metallic paints. A light red-orange ink wash will help define the bones and enhance the brassy appearance; you may also want to indicate some highlights.
Weapons may be normally colored, but might also be brass-painted to match the skeleton if that is what their evil master (i.e., you) prefers.
Get your own miniature to represent a Brass Skeleton on our Kickstarter campaign for The Fantasy Trip Foes, ending on January 4! 

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