Skeleton Fairy (5e Background)

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This content deviates from 5th edition standards. Its use could dramatically alter campaigns, take extreme care. DesignDisclaimer.png
Caution - Here there be monsters!
This content intends to provide a different experience, or goes beyond the scope of the anticipated subjects and situations, than the 5th edition rules were intended to handle. Some portions of the content below may not be what you expect from traditional game content. When implementing this content, DMs and Players should read over all the information carefully, and consider the following specific notes of interest:
This background only works for members of races that are tiny including tiny gnomes. It also provides the class-like feature to animate a skeleton at first level. And the skeleton acts as a class avatar of a tiny character controller while the tiny character is inside it, doing many of the things the class can do that the tiny character can not. This affects the action economy.

Skeleton Fairy[edit]

Credit: James Ryman

The Skeleton Fairy movement is a fairy culture that has adapted to living inside the rib cages of animated skeletons. The skeleton fairy background is especially useful for non-flying tiny races, because the non-flying tiny creature can move at the same speed as an adventuring party. The Skeleton fairy background is compatible with many tiny races usually fairies: Bell Sprite, Butterfly Fairy, Buttery Spirte, Crom Sprite, Dragonfly Fairy, Faerie Folk Pixie, Faerie Folk Sprite, Faery Pixie, Faery Sprite, Faery Underfey, Moth Fairy, Pixie, Quickling, Wandering Sprite etc...

Standing 6 inches to 1 ft tall, a skeleton fairy animates a skeleton to live inside. Skeleton fairies have existed ever since fairies have stolen animate dead spells from necromancers. That's like hundreds of years or something. Not exactly a subrace, more like a movement among various fairy races to live inside animated things. Skeletons fairies see themselves as the hermit crabs of the fey world. Sometimes skeleton fairies wade into swamps and their skeletons just stand there for months in waist deep water.

Why do you want to run such a weird character? How do regular members of your race treat you? ask the dungeon master this one. Do you want to be a necromancer someday, or are you just being practical? How does being a skeleton fairy interact with your class? What race of skeletons do you prefer? Is it really true that Lilith is dating Dracula? These and other very important questions will be revealed in the next session of Dungeons & Dragons Tonight with special guests, Bony Rate, Bone Jovy, Sunny Bone-O, and musical guests, the Crypt Kicker Five.

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Religion

Tool Proficiencies: Your Animated Skeleton is your primary tool, Scrimshawing Tools for decorating your 'apartment'.

Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Elvish.

Equipment: 1 animated medium sized Humanoid Skeleton Fairy Skeleton under your control. You live inside its rib cage treating this like a penthouse apartment. You likely have a little couch with lots of fairy pillows, a bed, a desk, bookshelf, faerie lamp, oven, cook stove, and so on in there. You keep your treasure in its skull.

While inside the skeleton you animate, your size is considered medium or small depending on the size of the skeleton. When outside, your fantasy race size applies, usually tiny.
While inside the skeleton you animate, your base walking speed depends on the race of the skeleton, usually 25 or 30. When outside, your own race speed applies.
After a battle it takes ten minutes to fix your living space back up.
  • The skeleton provides partial cover from ranged piercing attacks.
  • The skeleton provides full protection against slashing attacks.
  • The skeleton provides full protection against bludgeoning attacks. Unfortunately your skeleton is vulnerable to bludgeoning attacks.
  • You can be hit by piercing weapons. Opponents roll two dice to hit for piercing because the skeleton has resistance. If both dice hit, you take damage half the time, and the skeleton takes damage half the time.
Skeleton Fairy Names
Male: Bony Prince Charlie, Bone Jovy, Charnel Brown, Humorous, Incus, Malleus, Palatine, Red Skeleton, Scapula, Stapes. Female: Bony Lass, Bony Rate, Charnel Crowe, Fibula, Lunate, Patella, Thistledew, Tibia, Ulna.

Feature: Animate Skeleton[edit]

You tend to glow a bit when you are inside the rib cage of your skeleton. You may only animate one skeleton, either humanoid, animal, or monster. The skeleton is usually permanently under your control.

Skeletonize Corpse
You can enchant a corpse to separate the bones from all the rest. This ritual takes 24 hours. After 18 hours the corpse may no longer be animated as an undead other than a skeleton, nor may the creature be any longer raised using raise dead.
Animate Humanoid Skeleton
You may animate one humanoid skeleton within 15 ft of you, in one round. When you are inside its rib cage, you control it. When you are not, it stands still. As long as you remain within 60 ft of the skeleton, it remains animated. If you travel more than 60 ft from it its animation fails and it falls to pieces, although you can reanimate it. You may only animate one skeleton fairy skeleton at a time
Animate Animal Skeleton
Starting at 6th level, you may animate and control an animal skeleton the same way you animate a humanoid skeleton. It's speed is the walking speed it had in life. It may not fly, swim or burrow.
Animate Monster Skeleton
Starting at 14th level, you may animate and control a monster skeleton the same way you animate a humanoid skeleton. It's speed is the walking speed it had in life. It may not fly, swim or burrow.
Bonus Action Control
You control your skeleton with bonus actions. If you use your bonus action for something else, your skeleton just stands there, not moving, dodging or defending itself.
Class Avatar
The skeleton operates sort of as an avatar for many class features. For example, the skeleton would be able to fight like a paladin if the tiny creature inside is a paladin. The skeleton can backstab like an assassin if the tiny creature inside is a thief, etc. The skeleton acts as a class avatar of a tiny character controller while the tiny character is inside it, doing many of the things the class can do that the tiny character can not.

Additional Feature: Undead Friendship[edit]

You are resistant to undead features and magic spells. You tend to be friendly with various undead, lycathropes, golems, and ghouls. They see you as a friendly presence, and are likely to not attack you unless you try to reach something they are guarding.

Suggested Characteristics[edit]

d8 Personality Trait
1 Fun - I'm a skeleton fairy. Skeleton fairies just want to have fun.
2 Monster Bash - hey lets get all the undead and lycanthropes and flesh golems together for a party.
3 Woooooooooooh! - Aren't you afraid of me? I'm a walking skeleton! Wooooo! Woooooooooo!
4 Gallows Humor - 'A vampire, a zombie, and a lich walk into a tavern...'
d6 Ideal
1 Equal Rites - I believe in equal rights for skeleton riders, and skeletons. We should be able to go any place an elf can go.
2 Romance - I put the romance back in necromancy.
3 Undead are People Too - Not the evil ones, just the icky ones.
4 Admiration - I have fallen in love with a living creature and follow it everywhere until it dies so I can make a home out of its bones. That way we can be together for ever.
d6 Bond
1 I love all fairies, especially ones that live inside things, like hermit crabs.
2 I love all necromancers, especially ones that can enhance my skeleton.
3 I love all the members of the race that my skeleton comes from.
4 I love all animated skeletons, and other undead of skeletal form.
5 I love my animated skeleton, and like to cover it with flowers and leaves. I even potted an orchid in its skull.
6 I love all unseelie, and drow because like me, they like the darker side of feylife.
d6 Flaw
1 Hey, you don't like me? Why don't you like me? its' the skeleton isn't it. yeah it's the skeleton. I thought so.
2 I don't like going into combat because it'll mess up my apartment, and I just got it arranged the way I like it.
3 I initiate combat whenever I can. I don't care if my skeleton gets destroyed. I can just make another one out of one of our dead opponents.
4 I keep forgetting the 60 ft range on my animate skeleton, and I keep investigating more than 60 ft away and my skeleton keeps falling apart with all sorts of noise. Oops

Design Note: This background breaks some generally understood rules regarding backgrounds

  1. it is only for tiny races
  2. it is crunchier
  3. It introduces a level 5 power at level 1. That is, animate skeleton.

This background works for

 any gender, any alignment, any core class, but not any core race; in fact, it doesn't work for any core race. It is designed to make members of tiny races playable.

Note: I did try this as a subrace, but it did not seem to be quite the right place in D&D to put this idea as it resulted in many cases in characters with two subraces. This background straddles the fences on what you can do (class), what is your nature (race) and what is your nurture (background) since it has elements of all three. Therefore this background has a lot more mechanical properties than most.

It won't jar the atmosphere of most games because: The background is weird enough and non-standard race enough that it would not be thematically jarring as someone with a 'normal' background would assume that the race member having it is already so weird in being an adventurer that the weirdness of the background makes sense in that context. The background works well for both grim and comedic flavored games.

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