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 Intelligent Skeletons in the Realms
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
3724 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2019 :  17:43:56  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
With the coming of 5e, skellies are now intelligent. How does this change things for the Realms...or is this something that could simply be ignored?

If intelligent, is it the original person; or something simply invested in the mortal's remains?

I'm open to ideas, because this changes lots on how skellies in places heavy with undead would act...

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Seethyr
Senior Scribe

USA
549 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2019 :  17:57:28  Show Profile  Visit Seethyr's Homepage Send Seethyr a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Have they become just a step beyond mindless automatons, like “I’m not going to follow you over that cliff” intelligent? Or are we talking chess playing during downtime in the dungeon intelligent? If it’s the former, I don’t think much will be different than in earlier editions.

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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
3724 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2019 :  18:46:38  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
They have an intelligence of 6 now

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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32073 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2019 :  19:26:59  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Given that it's just a 6, I'd assume it's some magic that's invested in the remains, and nothing of the original personality.

I'd also ignore it, since it violates prior lore -- unless I was making some sort of enhanced skeleton.

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sleyvas
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USA
8008 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2019 :  22:31:53  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You know Dalor, you keep making me relook at the changes in 5e and go "WTF".... weak arsed drow... goblins that are dangerous to 1st level townsfolk... now skeletons that CAN figure out how to use tools, open doors, and even have rough memories of their past lives. I'm not against the change, but its stuff like this that keeps catching me. Its like when I found out that clone effectively makes becoming a lich a LOT less attractive.

3e
Skeletons are the animated bones of the dead, mindless automatons that obey the orders of their evil masters. A skeleton is seldom garbed in anything more than the rotting remnants of any clothing or armor it was wearing when slain. A skeleton does only what it is ordered to do. It can draw no conclusions of its own and takes no initiative. Because of this limitation,
its instructions must always be simple, such as “Kill anyone who enters this chamber.” A skeleton attacks until destroyed, for
that is what it was created to do. The threat posed by a group of skeletons depends primarily on its size.


5e

Obedient Servants. Skeletons raised by spell are bound to the will of their creator. They follow orders to the letter, never questioning the tasks their masters give them, regardless of the consequences. Because of their literal interpretation of commands and unwavering obedience, skeletons adapt poorly to changing circumstances. They can't read, speak, emote, or communicate in any way except to nod, shake their heads, or point. Still, skeletons are able to accomplish a
variety of relatively complex tasks.

A skeleton can fight with weapons and wear armor, can load and fire a catapult or trebuchet, scale a siege ladder, form a shield wall, or dump boiling oil. However, it must receive careful instructions explaining how such tasks are accomplished.

Although they lack the intellect they possessed in life, skeletons aren't mindless. Rather than break its limbs attempting to batter its way through an iron door, a skeleton tries the handle first. If that doesn't work, it searches for another way through or around the obstacle.

Habitual Behaviors. Independent skeletons temporarily or permanently free of a master's control sometimes pantomime actions from their past lives, their bones echoing the rote behaviors of their former living selves. The skeleton of a miner might lift a pick and start chipping away at stone walls. The skeleton of a guard might strike up a post at a random doorway. The skeleton of a dragon might lie down on a pile of treasure, while the skeleton of a horse crops grass it can't eat. Left alone in a ballroom, the skeletons of nobles might continue an eternally unfinished dance.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
3724 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2019 :  22:59:18  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm equally full of WTF moments lol

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The Arcanamach
Master of Realmslore

1643 Posts

Posted - 17 Apr 2019 :  01:16:29  Show Profile Send The Arcanamach a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Despite the grognard in me I rather like the change to skeletons. I think the drow change reflects more the change in environment given that many are living on the surface and may not be pushed so hard in their youth to excel to the point they were in previous editions. Goblins, however, have no logic to their change. Going back to skeletons, perhaps there can be a 1st-level spell, call it Raise Skeleton, that creates the mindless version and the standard spell creates this new version.

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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6777 Posts

Posted - 17 Apr 2019 :  03:30:54  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
If intelligent, is it the original person; or something simply invested in the mortal's remains?
Good question. If undead have intelligence then it's implied they possess some memory of their previous lives or that they're imbued with some other sort of consciousness (which the living typically consider malign, hungry, angry, or threatening).

I speculate these undead are something like Moander's corrupted or like Borg drones - whatever "soul" or "spirit" or "humanity" or "consciousness" they once possessed has departed for eternal afterlife/oblivion and only a sort of unaware husk (following a sort of animal-like instinct or programmed behaviour) continues to animate the remains.

Liches and vampires continue to retain unliving/twisted versions of their former living identities. Ghosts continue on by imprinting some undying echo or fragment of their former identities onto the world (typically without even requiring a corporeal body). But I think skeletons and zombies are the opposite of ghosts - merely animated bodies with animated needs and desires, going through the motions as an unaware parody of life - they might be animated by a negative planar "spirit" much like golems are animated by inner planar spirits.

Maybe the original living soul/spirit has somehow been fully or partially bound to the body of a half-mindless undead - maybe also dominated or compelled to obey all the orders issued by a necromancer. To me such enslavement of the soul/spirit (in a clumsy, inarticulate, unthinking, decaying husk) would be an even greater horror than becoming a "greater" species of undead. I imagine it's basically the magical/spiritual equivalent of surgically butchering brains into submission, just keep extracting or destroying or deactivating troublesome components (and perhaps overwriting them with negative planar "spirit" components as needed) until only a compliant and obedient shell of the "person" remains to serve as a useful undead minion.
(This is probably exactly how most Good-aligned religions and priests view undead, explaining their special powers at blasting the lowest types of these "abominations" into nonexistence by simply brandishing their faith.)

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 17 Apr 2019 03:55:20
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Diffan
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USA
3585 Posts

Posted - 17 Apr 2019 :  07:13:22  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I always felt giving undead a zero in intelligence was kind of dumb. How is the creature supposed to obey your commands if it can't even comprehend language? Sure "it's magic" is the oft toted excuse but that's such a lame explanation. In 4e, Skeletons INT range from 3 to 10 depending on level and difficulty, 5e simply continued the trend.

It also seems to follow the concept of Skeleton monsters. I'm reminded of the evil critters Jason and his Argonauts faced, killing quite a few people with tactics and cunning. I don't feel you get that with an INT of 0.

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moonbeast
Senior Scribe

USA
522 Posts

Posted - 20 Apr 2019 :  17:06:49  Show Profile Send moonbeast a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Given that it's just a 6, I'd assume it's some magic that's invested in the remains, and nothing of the original personality.

I'd also ignore it, since it violates prior lore -- unless I was making some sort of enhanced skeleton.



While an INT of 6 is very low in terms of human IQ, it's also very indicative of sentient and self-aware thought. I'd presume probably the equivalent of the INT level of a human toddler (2 or 3 years old).

If you've ever taken care of a toddler (of around 2-3 yrs of age), don't underestimate them. They are capable of very rationale thought (even tho they act irrationally a lot of times as well), capable of complex emotions, etc. They know when parents are mad at them. They often can sense when parents are lying to them or bluffing.

So yeah…. an INT level 6 skeleton is still scary…. they may not be the brightest bulbs around, but they can still think somewhat independently.

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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32073 Posts

Posted - 20 Apr 2019 :  17:51:39  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moonbeast

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Given that it's just a 6, I'd assume it's some magic that's invested in the remains, and nothing of the original personality.

I'd also ignore it, since it violates prior lore -- unless I was making some sort of enhanced skeleton.



While an INT of 6 is very low in terms of human IQ, it's also very indicative of sentient and self-aware thought. I'd presume probably the equivalent of the INT level of a human toddler (2 or 3 years old).

If you've ever taken care of a toddler (of around 2-3 yrs of age), don't underestimate them. They are capable of very rationale thought (even tho they act irrationally a lot of times as well), capable of complex emotions, etc. They know when parents are mad at them. They often can sense when parents are lying to them or bluffing.

So yeah…. an INT level 6 skeleton is still scary…. they may not be the brightest bulbs around, but they can still think somewhat independently.





I have taken care of a toddler, more than once, and more than one toddler.

My reasoning was that the average adult is going to be more than Intelligence 6 - and skeletons are usually made from adults. Therefore, if the skeleton of a person is less intelligent than that person was, the logical assumption is that that person is no longer resident, and the animating intelligence is from somewhere else.

Further, a skeleton should not be able to get up and walk around. They have nothing to hold the bones together, no muscles to move the bones, nothing to hold said muscles to the bones, no means of sensory input, nothing to process the sensory input, nothing to maintain their balance -- but skeletons are still up and walking around without falling over everything and listening to the orders of whoever raised them. If the animating magic provides everything else a skeleton needs for mobility, why not the intelligence, as well? That magic certainly isn't calling the muscles and tendons and eyeballs of the prior resident back, so why would the intelligence be any different?

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Varl
Learned Scribe

USA
276 Posts

Posted - 20 Apr 2019 :  23:10:16  Show Profile Send Varl a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There's a spell already for this in the 2e Wizard's Spell Compendium 4, page 964, called Undead Aides.

"Intimidation is a weapon of the Legion. Intelligence is not." -Illidan Stormrage

Edited by - Varl on 20 Apr 2019 23:10:35
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LordofBones
Senior Scribe

882 Posts

Posted - 22 Apr 2019 :  15:26:14  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by moonbeast

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Given that it's just a 6, I'd assume it's some magic that's invested in the remains, and nothing of the original personality.

I'd also ignore it, since it violates prior lore -- unless I was making some sort of enhanced skeleton.



While an INT of 6 is very low in terms of human IQ, it's also very indicative of sentient and self-aware thought. I'd presume probably the equivalent of the INT level of a human toddler (2 or 3 years old).

If you've ever taken care of a toddler (of around 2-3 yrs of age), don't underestimate them. They are capable of very rationale thought (even tho they act irrationally a lot of times as well), capable of complex emotions, etc. They know when parents are mad at them. They often can sense when parents are lying to them or bluffing.

So yeah…. an INT level 6 skeleton is still scary…. they may not be the brightest bulbs around, but they can still think somewhat independently.





I have taken care of a toddler, more than once, and more than one toddler.

My reasoning was that the average adult is going to be more than Intelligence 6 - and skeletons are usually made from adults. Therefore, if the skeleton of a person is less intelligent than that person was, the logical assumption is that that person is no longer resident, and the animating intelligence is from somewhere else.

Further, a skeleton should not be able to get up and walk around. They have nothing to hold the bones together, no muscles to move the bones, nothing to hold said muscles to the bones, no means of sensory input, nothing to process the sensory input, nothing to maintain their balance -- but skeletons are still up and walking around without falling over everything and listening to the orders of whoever raised them. If the animating magic provides everything else a skeleton needs for mobility, why not the intelligence, as well? That magic certainly isn't calling the muscles and tendons and eyeballs of the prior resident back, so why would the intelligence be any different?




Spontaneously-risen undead seem to be more-or-less sentient ragemachines powered by resentment or hunger towards the living. I'd wager that skeletons and zombies are more-or-less creatures of instinct twisted by negative energy rather than beings capable of independent thought.

Greater undead, such as liches and vampires, retain their intellects and personalities, albeit twisted (in the case of vampires). That's probably because their forms of undeath are based around arcane rituals, willful transformations and being essentially a sentient, sapient disease. I'd say this extends even to ghouls; they, liches and vampires all have their own racial deities (Doresain, Mellifleur and Velsharoon, and Kanchelsis).

Death knights are the exception, but most death knights had their condition gifted or cursed on them by gods or demon princes. Most famous death knights have some weird divine juju going on, like Kargoth being bestowed his powers by Demogorgon, and Soth's condition being a divine curse.
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
3724 Posts

Posted - 22 Apr 2019 :  16:39:16  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
For 5th edition it isn't uncommon/unheard of, statistically speaking, for a character to have an 8 intelligence...so a skeleton isn't much less than that.

I'm only saying that a skeleton isn't much less intelligent than say a barbarian or whatever else...not a soothing notion in my book.

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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
8008 Posts

Posted - 22 Apr 2019 :  22:03:28  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My thing just comes down to "why make the change"? I'm not against it. But, the old way, a skeleton left behind simply waits there for centuries for something to kill if its no longer under command. Now, without command they start roaming the countryside like rogue ghouls looking for things to kill. Also, as I look at skeletons, they're also now more powerful as well as intelligent. They have 2d8+4 hit points, so more than your average guardsman. Granted, at the same time, the idea of raising an army of skeletons is greatly diminished in 5e as well.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Starshade
Learned Scribe

Norway
228 Posts

Posted - 25 Apr 2019 :  16:12:51  Show Profile Send Starshade a Private Message  Reply with Quote
the Critical Role Livestream character Grog Strongjaw got an Int of 6, and is a 5e D&D character..
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