The long anticipated announcement of the Skeleton ancestry being made legal for Pathfinder Society play has finally taken place. As of October 6th, members of the Society may purchase the Skeleton Ancestry boon for the same price as most humans have in their body…i.e., 206 Achievement Points. The name of the boon is called the Steadfast Refugee. It can only be purchased once per player. It allows you to build and play a skeleton adventurer who was traveling through Lastwall before meeting their untimely demise and rebirth.
Make no bones about it: while your character may be a skeleton, they are still expected to adhere to the ideals of the Pathfinder Society. They cannot be evil, and you as a player are expected to remember that other players have various tolerance for horror themes (not to mention that “playing the xylophone with your ribs” is funny a maximum of twice per session). Playing a skeletal character is naturally more perilous; other characters built for healing may not be able to heal you, so you may have to be more self-sufficient than normal.
Other characters can also be assured that traveling with a skeletal Pathfinder does not violate their anathema in any way. Pharasma has been consulted on this one and while she’s not thrilled, she understands that these Pathfinders didn’t willingly become undead, so you are under no obligation to smite them on sight. PVP is still prohibited, even if your party member is using their own skull as a basilisk ball.
There are some things that players need to remember when playing a Skeleton. First up, you must own Book of the Dead. That’s pretty automatic since that is the rule of things for Organized Play with any source book other than the CRB, Bestiary 1, and Lost Omens: World Guide, but due to the specific rules about playing the Skeleton, I want to make sure everyone has the book if they’re playing a skeleton. There’s some very unique rules involved which mean players might need to look up things during a session. Let’s begin with looking at pages 44-45 of Book of the Dead.
BASIC UNDEAD BENEFITS
The archetypes and skeleton ancestry that follow can give the basic undead benefits detailed here. These are somewhat different from the normal undead creature abilities to better fit player characters.
Few undead can be called heroes, but a small number overcome the challenges of unlife to become something more. Durable and adaptable, they might even become adventurers and thrive. The tools in this section enable you to be undead as a player character.
Necril: You know the Necril language.
Undead Vision: You gain low-light vision, or you gain darkvision if your ancestry already has low-light vision.
Negative Healing: You are damaged by positive damage and aren’t healed by positive healing effects. You don’t take negative damage and are healed by negative effects that heal undead.
Negative Survival: Unlike normal undead, you aren’t destroyed when reduced to 0 Hit Points. Instead, powerful negative energy attempts to keep you from being destroyed even in dire straits. You are knocked out and begin dying when reduced to 0 Hit Points (Core Rulebook 459). Because you’re undead, many methods of bringing someone back from dying, such as stabilize, don’t benefit you. When you would die, you’re destroyed rather than dead, just like other undead.
Immunity to Death Effects: You’re immune to death effects. This keeps you from being automatically killed or from having your dying value automatically increase, but it doesn’t make you immune to other parts of the spell or effect. For example, you can still take mental damage and become frightened by a phantasmal killer, you just don’t instantly die from it.
Disease and Poison Protection: You gain a +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws (or any other defense) against disease and poison.
Undead Hunger: While you don’t eat or drink the same food as humanoids do, you usually have thirsts and hungers related to your undead state, such as a ghoul’s hunger for humanoid flesh, a zombie’s craving for brains, and a vampire’s desire for blood. Additionally, while you don’t sleep, you enter a state of quiescence for at least 4 hours a day to recuperate, which lets your undead flesh reknit and recover naturally. Many undead choose to rest when the sun is at its highest.
Because of negative healing many typical means of healing don’t work on undead. The heal spell can’t heal undead, but harm and soothe (this has been ruled on by the head of Organized Play) can. Healing potions and elixirs of life are no use, but an oil of unlife can heal undead. In addition, a character can take the Stitch Flesh skill feat to heal undead with Treat Wounds.
STITCH FLESH FEAT 1
Prerequisites: trained in Medicine
You can use Treat Wounds to restore Hit Points to undead creatures, not just living ones. The techniques you use to do so vary, but all require sutures, bandages, and other tools included in healer’s tools. Some conditions that might raise the DC of treating undead’s wounds differ from that of living creatures. For instance, the GM might increase the DC if the undead being treated is in a church of Pharasma or the wounds were caused by powerful positive energy.
So, as you can see, there are some things to consider before purchasing that one time only ancestry. There are some more technical questions being reviewed by some VOs that impact play, such as drowning, suffocation, bleeding, etc. We are expecting to see some clarification on things like these at some point, but for now your GMs are making those calls. Not so sure they can drown or suffocate, but they can bleed is a general consensus so far.
Finally, some of you may ask about Achievement Points. I will refer you to an earlier post about them here at our very own League of Aroden blog.
Enjoy the skeleton! If you need more AcP, that’s easy! Just play or GM Pathfinder 2e games! We will be having another GM Academy in about two months, so let me know if you want to attend one. I will be doing a live Academy and a Zoom Academy during the holiday break at some point (Dec-Jan).