Skeletal dragons are created via the animate dead spell and function as normal skeletons in most ways, though they retain a few of their draconic abilities and qualities even after death. Despite a skeletal dragon's loss of sentience, the pinpoints of red light smoldering in its eye sockets betray the spark of unlife that still exists.
Like typical skeletons, skeletal dragons do only what they are ordered to do. They can draw no conclusions of their own and take no initiative. Necromancers particularly prize skeletal dragons, because they make formidable guardians. They are sturdier than a typical skeleton of their size, and their added qualities strike terror into would-be intruders.
Powerful draconic spellcasters have even been known to animate the skeletons of their fallen rivals or, in the case of particularly vile dragons, family members who have passed away.
Creating A Skeletal Dragon
"Skeletal" is an acquired template that can be applied to any dragon (referred to hereafter as the base dragon). A skeletal dragon uses all the base dragon's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Size and Type: The creature's type changes to undead. Do not recalculate the creature's base attack bonus, saves, or skill points. Size is unchanged.
Hit Dice: The base dragon's Hit Dice remain the same, but it loses any Constitution bonus to its hit points (see Abilities, below). However, a skeletal dragon gains bonus hit points equal to its HD.
Speed: The creature retains its land speed, but loses fly and swim speeds. If it had a burrow or climb speed, it retains that as well.
Armor Class: Replace the base dragon's existing natural armor bonus to AC with a new natural armor bonus based on its size.
|Up to Tiny||+0|
Attacks: Same as the base dragon, except that skeletal dragons cannot make crush attacks.
Special Attacks: A skeletal dragon loses all supernatural and spell-like special attacks possessed by the base dragon. It retains any exceptional special attacks (such as frightful presence or improved grab).
Special Qualities: A skeletal dragon loses all supernatural and spell-like special qualities possessed by the base dragon. It retains any exceptional special qualities (such as immunities or blindsense). It loses any subtypes it had, though if the base dragon had any immunities based on its subtype (such as immunity to fire for the fire subtype), it keeps those immunities despite losing the subtype. It also gains additional special qualities as noted below.
Damage Reduction (Ex): Skeletal dragons have damage reduction 5/bludgeoning.
Immunity to Cold (Ex): Skeletal dragons have immunity to cold.
Undead Traits: A skeletal dragon is immune to mind-affecting effects poison, magic sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects or is harmless. It is not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage to its physical ability scores, ability drain, energy drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or death from massive damage. It cannot be raised, and resurrection works only if it is willing. It has darkvision out to 60 feet (unless the base dragon had a greater range).
Saves: As undead, skeletal dragons are immune to anything that requires a Fortitude save unless it affects objects.
Abilities: A skeletal dragon retains the base dragon's Strength, Dexterity, and Charisma scores. Being undead, a skeletal dragon has no Constitution score. It also has no Intelligence score. Its Wisdom score becomes 10.
Skills: A skeletal dragon loses all skill ranks and racial skill bonuses possessed by the base dragon.
Feats: A skeletal dragon loses all feats possessed by the base dragon. It gains Improved Initiative as a bonus feat.
Challenge Rating: Base dragon's CR x 1/2 (minimum 1).
Alignment: Always neutral.
Advancement: Up to +2 HD
Level Adjustment: -
Sample skeletal dragon: Skeletal Mature Adult Black Dragon.