100% Crunch: Skeletons (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GM’S RESOURCE Supplement by Julian Neale

Got bored with the normal version of a monster and fancy spicing things up a bit? Want to include imaginative and interesting versions of an iconic fantasy monster but don’t have the time to build the stat block yourself? Fear not – the 100% Crunch line is here to save the day! Each instalment in the line features dozens of ready-to-go stat blocks of an iconic monster at a wide range of CRs.

This installment of 100% Crunch presents 97 skeletons (CRs 1/3-8) for the time-crunched GM to immediately utilise in game.

This product is a Dual Format PDF. The downloadable ZIP file contains two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.

For free samples, visit ragingswan.com/skeletons

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****½ (based on 3 ratings)

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More than just the bare bones...

*****

If you’re a DM read on players should beware this review will contain spoilers that may take the excitement and mystery out of the encounters you could face…

Skeletons, I’m sure they see a lot of use in a game, but rarely any variation. Nearly every encounter is with a humanoid skeleton, most often a human. Why? Because this is the default in the bestiary and most times anything else doesn’t warrant the time needed to stat it up. Well no more!

100% crunch: skeletons is most definitely true to its title – 35 pages long including:

4 pieces of artwork (from OK to quite good)
6 pages of content, index, foreword and advertising.
2 pages of suitable creatures by CR (the CR they would possess as a skeleton) and source book (bestiary 1, 2 or 3)
The rest is pure crunch. 1 page of simple templates, 1 of complex and 25 pages of crunchy skeletal stat blocks.

First the templates: 8 simple ones so a GM can mix it up if they wish.
Perhaps you need an archer?
Maybe an armoured enemy?
Or perhaps an ancient forgotten foe left to crumble and decay in deathly solitude?
Well they are here and very simple to apply.

As for the more unusual. How about a four armed foe?
Or an acid oozing boney nemesis that will make them think twice about brute force?
Do you want to fill them with dread with a curse delivering enemy?
Perhaps you simply want to add a sting to an otherwise well deserved victory – a foe that explodes or one whose every defeat simply results in more numerous smaller enemies to battle?

However you choose to use the templates your players will start questioning every skeleton they face, adding a sense of mystery or a potential twist to an otherwise hum drum foe.

The 2 complex templates do require a tiny fraction more work for a DM – not a lot mind you – and will produce encounters that your players will remember for some time to come.

The burning skeleton and bloody skeleton produce 2 variants that are punishing combatants. The burning skeleton has the capacity to inflict considerable damage in a fight and upon his horrible explosive death. The bloody skeleton, a favourite for me, could prove to be a real thorn in the side – these are simply hard to destroy (there’s a neat little trick to it) and would make for a great relentless horror based encounter where players are pursued by an what appears to be undefeatable foe – Love it!

Now the skeletons.
Firstly there are a lot, at least 90+ and you get at least 7-8 examples for every CR presented (which includes CR1/3, ½ and 1 through to 8. All have complete and accurate stat blocks, neatly presented and easy to read. All are bookmarked in the PDF making them easy to find quickly. Each page contains around 4 complete stat blocks of the same CR so if you do choose to print anything every skeletons stat block appears complete on a page, no stat blocks spilling over pages. Even better you can print a single page and get at least 4 useable and complete stat blocks of whatever CR you choose without having to print multiple pages.

All of the stat blocks have the entire set of information presented so you do get a fair bit of repetition of things like undead immunities, but ultimately this means you don’t need to look anywhere else when you use these creatures.

Many of the stat blocks make use of the templates and across the book there is a huge variety of creatures used to create the skeletons – including you standard humanoids (orcs, elves, goblins, giants) to the some unusual hippogriffs, girallons, angels, devils (yep there’s a pit fiend) and dragons. While the variety at lower CR’s is limited (a large number of essentially humanoid skeletons and only 3 non humanoid) once you get to CR1 or higher the variety if actually quite amazing and spans a huge range at each CR, which means a DM could potentially use the stat blocks for a very long time before even repeating an encounter.

One issue I can foresee however is a common problem with templates. Some of the creatures, while technically within a certain CR look to be awfully punishing, if not outright deadly.

Take the “Exploding Mudra Ogre Skeleton” This awesome 4 armed ogre has 2 greatclub attacks at +5, dealing 2d8+7 damage, or 4 claws at +7 dealing d6+5. In addition it deals 4d6 damage upon it death in an explosion of bone shards. This equates to around an average of 32 points of damage in 1 round (39 if it explodes – the save if low). That is brutal considering it CR of 3!

Similarly the CR7 cloud giant skeleton stands to inflict from 38 (unarmed) - 96 (armed) damage in an average round (attack bonus +22/+17/+12) . However this appears to be the exception rather than the rule.

Overall this is a fantastic DM tool. The power to quickly pull out a huge variety of skeletal foes means that every encounter can offer something different. And while the book is indeed 100% crunch the variety of skeletons on offer here leaves a creative DM with a wealth of ideas just waiting to be “fleshed out”.


*****

Julian Neale opens the 100% Crunch series for Raging Swan with Skeletons. Now, we all know these walking bone piles, and for a great deal of game tables out there the skeleton has for many years been a go to for cannon fodder. But they can be so much more. Ponder this, when you think of the word skeleton, the image of a human, or at least humanoid skeleton comes to mind, doesn't it? Not hard to understand why, as they are the easiest and most basic of the creature when it comes to a statblock write up, hence forth they are the creature most of us have faced or used. But what if it wasn't an issue of time and difficulty in applying the skeleton template to a mass variety of races? What if there were a repository of pre-built, ready to go statblocks of skeletons that defy the norm?

That my friends is exactly what the 100% Crunch series is all about. Giving the GMs of the world a resource of statblocks with options, lots and lots of options...97 of them to be exact. With creatures ranging from merfolk to T-rexs, rats and orcs, dolphins and fire giants...if you can't find a new and cool skeleton in here to keep your stories fresh I'll be surprised. But, just in case you cant, and you have an idea not covered there are hints in the book on how to handle that easily, and with minimal effort.

A full CR breakdown listing of all the statblocks included, a listing of skeleton worthy creatures from the three bestiaries, the full skeleton template provided here for the sake of ease and completeness. A handful of various templates including many we have seen before like the bloody and burning. A great deal of what is here is in fact material one could glean from “official” sources, that is very true. But, I know I don't have the hours it must have taken to put this listing together, and I doubt you do either. And that is where a product of this nature excels. By providing in one source one specific theme, with a large amount of options and potentials.

Could there have been some new and interesting twists thrown in? Sure. But adding a great deal of new stuff without any fluff could get rather boring if you think about it, and that in the end is detrimental to the new material. This series promises 100% Crunch, and provides just that.

Editing and formatting follow the high standards I have come to expect from Raging Swan, with a dual column layout and a few pieces of art that invoke an old school feel. Now, I feel the need to state, for the record, that I didn't think I was going to like this product. Heck, I didn't think I was going to like anything in this series. I am primarily not a crunch kind of GM. I understand its importance, but I prefer the story element to the rules element. I always have. So I went into this book with a halfhearted reluctance, feeling more an obligation to review it than a desire to. It didn't take me long to begin to not only see the value of a product of this nature, but to find myself enjoying the read through.

My point being this, I am not a huge fan of Crunch only material, and I liked this product...I liked it enough that I am looking forward to the next in the series. It made me realize how underused the skeleton really is when it comes to various racial options for the base creature. It brought to light the immense amount of time one could put into designing various skeletons to use, and why so many people stick to just the basics. This product belongs in your collection folks, as I guarantee it will save you an immense amount of time, as well as inspire you with ideas...(skeletal merfolk??? Seriously???)

Stamping this with a golden 5 star rating, and labeling it well worth the price of admission!


4.5 stars - nice selection of skeletons,could use 1 or 2 unique templates

****( )

The first supplement of Raging Swan Press' new line "100% Crunch" is 38 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advertisement, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with a total of 30 pages of content for this installment, so let's check this out!

We kick off this pdf with a table of skeletons by CR before we delve into a one-page step-by-step guideline on how to create skeletons with damage, XP, natural armor bonus etc. all neatly calculated for your easy use - with this, creating your own bony undead will probably take considerable less time - which you can use to ponder new options, like the 8 simple skeleton variants, which provide easy on the fly modification for your skeletons via the most basic of simple templates, ranging from under-equipped (CR -1) skeletons over those oozing acidic sludge (CR +1) to skeletons bearing a curse and even mudra skeletons, i.e. many-armed ones - 4 arms equaling CR +1, while 6 arms mean CR +2. Two more complex, classic variants of skeletons are also covered: The Bloody Skeleton, which regenerates unless destroyed by positive energy and the burning skeleton, which comes with a fiery aura and additional fire damage.

The next 4 pages will be a godsend for any DM looking for some base-creatures: Organized by CR of the final skeleton creature (including racial HD-information) and Bestiary in which they're found, they also provide information on whether e.g. such a creature would be aquatic.

Well, after that, though, we're off to CRUNCH. A lot of it. Organized by CR, we get a vast array of different pregenerated skeletons for your perusal that range from dire rats and drow (at CR 1/3) over Bloody Goblin Skeletons, Grave Chill Skeletons (essentially the cold brothers of their burning brethren), dolphin skeletons, exploding 4-armed ogre skeletons to those of elephants, elasmosauruses, siyokoy, ghaeles, giants, sea serpents and even dragons and a statblock for the remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. And if you don't realize how cool a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus is, you have to start reading Dresden Files...

If I haven't miscounted, you'll find a total of 99 statblocks spanning CRs from 1/3 to 8 in this book - quite an array!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are as top-notch as I've come to expect from Raging Swan Press. Layout adheres to their elegant no-frills, two-column standard and the pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks, while also providing 2 basic versions of the pdf: One optimized to be printed and one for screen-use. Much like the "So what's..."-series, this pdf is definitely a godsend for DMs in that it takes a lot of unpleasant work off one's shoulders. by providing the easy step-by-step process, lists for the bestiaries and a vast array of sample statblocks, the pdf ensures its usability almost from the get-go and can be definitely considered a time-saver par excellence when you're currently creating some skeletal minions for necromancer, priests of Orcus or similar villains. The simple mini-templates/variants included are also nice, though I would have loved to see at least one that hasn't been done before - multiplying, bloody and burning skeletons are nice, yeah, but could we perchance have a some more customization tools?

Bone-splinter breath-weapons? Hollow bones filled with alchemical essences? Something like that? That being said, this is nagging at a high level. While njot particularly cheap, the maximum usability and concise presentation of this book will, I am sure of that, ensure its value for almost any DM out there apart from those who so routinely modify monsters that they can apply templates on the fly. Due to the aforementioned lack of a truly new piece of content, though, I can't really rate this at the absolute peak - My final verdict will thus be 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 stars for the purpose of this platform. I hope to see more variants/modifications to go with the excellent statblocks provided by the series in future releases.

Endzeitgeist out.


Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Is now available!

For some sample stat blocks, check out this link for a free sample!


THIS is something I'd buy! It will help me out immensely. 97 different skeletons! I want to see more crunch items like this.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Ultra cool idea!

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Thanks! We have instalments for zombies, zombie lords, skeletal champions and liches on the way!

Dark Archive

nice! cover for all my favourite monsters!


97 different liches? Wow.


Hmm, this could be useful for that one 'Way of the Wicked' Oracle of Bones PC I've been thinking of.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I love this idea. I'd also be cool to have a similar book, but with all the various options for the Summon monster 1-9 all statted out. Possibly with the variants. It's be a great resource for any and all who summon.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As someone involved with the book/line, I'll reply to the above:

ulgulanoth wrote:
nice! cover for all my favourite monsters!

That's great! If you like them, please post reviews.

ulgulanoth wrote:
I love this idea. I'd also be cool to have a similar book, but with all the various options for the Summon monster 1-9 all statted out. Possibly with the variants. It's be a great resource for any and all who summon.

Thanks for making the suggestion. As nobody has suggested anything else yet, I'm sure it'll be strongly considered as a future possibility!

EH and others, thanks for the comments. I hope you all like the book.

Dark Archive

em, the second statement wasn't me, was the coffee golem, I know he's small and hard to see and all...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oops. Just too late to edit. Grrr. (Sorry, TCG!)


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
I love this idea. I'd also be cool to have a similar book, but with all the various options for the Summon monster 1-9 all statted out. Possibly with the variants. It's be a great resource for any and all who summon.

Sounds like something that would make a great set of cards so people can easily shuffle through the options, and have a different card for each monster summoned. I know some people hate making their PF games feel like Magic: The Gathering, but others swear by it.


And reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

How marvellous! A Sunday review - I trust we not working you too hard!


Finally got a review done for this, have to admit, I am sold on a fluffless book. The 100% Crunch concept works, and works very very well. And am going to have to second the idea of doing a monster summoning collection in this format...(or perhaps I'll start working on building that...lol)

Scarab Sages

6c per statblock?

That's like, four shiny pennies, in proper money!

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

I was wondering how a completely fluffless book would go down. It is somewhat different to Raging Swan's normal offering. Luckily, it seems to be going quite well! Thanks very much for the review.

Shadow Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Just posted a review - hopefully not too long winded and dull. I've really enjoyed the first 3 in this line and look forward to the next few. You just can't overlook the utility.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Wow! Thanks, Cat-thulhu. I for one really enjoyed the review and I'm sure Julian will be delighted as well!

Thanks for taking the time to go through 100% Crunch: Skeletons in such depth.

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