For a recent session of my home Kingmaker game, I took the basic skeleton and upped it’s stats from -1 to 2. All I did was look in the GMG, and changed all the numbers from their -1 equivalent to the higher level. It didn’t turn out well. What I didn’t realize is that the role that the basic skeleton fills at -1 is not what I wanted it for that combat. As such, I’ve redesigned the monster to fill the role I wanted.
First off, what role should this monster fill? Well, to use the 4e term, I wanted a minion. For those of you unfamiliar with that game, a minion is a creature you can put a lot of in, letting the players kill them in large numbers, while still being a threat for attacks. You see if I put the -1 skeletons up against my group of level 3 characters, there would be no challenge there. The players would mow them down even without a cleric while the skeletons would have to roll a 17+ to hit anyone but the sorcerer. That’s not a challenge.
So what do I need this monster to do: hit creatures well about their level while dying (again) easily. So I changed the level from -1 to 0. This would allow the numbers to be higher while still allowing for lots of them.
Even though this monster is a 0-level creature, it should never be deployed against level 1 characters. This monster is distinctly for level 3-4 characters. Level 2, maybe, but only if there’s a cleric in the party. They’re easy to destroy but they hurt when they hit. And they will hurt level 1’s badly.
So what groups of numbers did I use? Well it’s AC is 16, high for 0 because it is low for level 3, two saves are low for 0 with one high, being moderate at level 3. 10 hit points are below low at 0 so it will die easily, but its resistances to damage will keep it as alive past 1 hit for certain types of damage. Exactly what is needed. So its defenses are balanced at 0 (maybe a little lower thanks to the HP) while being formidable where I need it to be at level 3.
The extreme ability to hit of +10 at level 0 is only moderate at level 3. This ensures the monster is still a threat at a higher level. The extreme, high, and low damage of its three attacks of level 0 are all below low damage of level 3. However, these monsters are still going to hurt because of sheer quantity. The more monsters means more attacks per round. So this monster will still bring the pain.
This monster doesn’t bring any special abilities to the table, but it doesn’t have to. Its special ability is numbers. Even being mindless these creatures will make life difficult for any adventuring group.
Skeletal Minion Creature 0
Medium Mindless Undead
Perception +6; darkvision
Skills Acrobatics +6, Athletics +3
Str +2, Dex +4, Con +0, Int -5, Wis +0, Cha +0
Items scimitar, shortbow (20 arrows)
AC 16; Fort +3, Ref +9, Will +3
HP 10, negative healing; Immunities death effects, disease, mental, paralyzed, poison, unconscious; Resistances cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5, piercing 5, slashing 5
Speed 25 feet
Melee 1 scimitar +10 (forceful, sweep), Damage 1d6+3 slashing
Melee 1 claw +10 (agile, finesse), Damage 1d4+3 slashing
Ranged 1 shortbow +10 (deadly 1d10, range increment 60 feet, reload 0, Damage 1d6 piercing