- "However you look at it, the Skeleton is a perfect symbol of both Death and Undeath; that part which endures after the rotting of the body and the departure of the soul... Fitting then, that these are among our most feared and numerous soldiers. What Human could hope to resist Death?"
- —Constantin von Carstein, Vampire Lord.[1a]
Skeleton Warriors are, as their name implies, skeletons that have been raised from their graves to fight, willingly or not, on the behalf of the Necromancer who raised them, forming the overall backbone of most Undead armies under the control of the Vampire Counts.
For thousands of years, armies have marched and fought across the Old World since the time of its creation. There is barely a field, hill or valley that has not seen fierce fighting at some point in the past. Going as far back as the reign of Sigmar Heldenhammer and even earlier, these great battles have left many unmarked and unblessed graves scattered all across the world.[2a]
Such charnel fields often attracts large influx of Dark Magic, forcing the souls of some warriors to remain trapped within the material realm. Some are the spirits of men betrayed by their commanders, others of cowards who were cut down as they ran, or of those who died a violent and unexpected death. Unable to find peace due to their actions, these spirits are forever bound to the dead corpse that lay within the earth. Beneath the mud lie the grave-stained bones of these bitter, ancient warriors. Long held beneath the earth, they are clad in their corroded armour, their lifeless hands still gripping the swords, axes, spears and shields they held in during the time of their death.[2a]
Provided their remains have not been blessed by the rites of Morr, a spirit is therefore vulnerable to the sorcerous abilities of a Necromancer or Vampire, where they use the coiling energies of Dark Magic to instil a semblance of life and a flicker of spirit into these dormant warriors. As the regiments of past massacres claw their way to the surface, their empty eye sockets have been known to glow an eerie light, a small flicker of semblance of their former personality. Silently, these corpses would gather together in a semblance of their old ranks, mutely awaiting the commands of their new lord as the remains of their tattered banners flap in the unnatural breeze of their creation.[2a]
Though a skeleton no longer possesses flesh to cut, nor organs to pierce, a well-aimed blow can still destroy it and release the spirit that is trapped within. Dark Magic is used to replace flesh that have long since been dissolved from the bones, but an arrow or sword thrust can disrupt the magic that binds the ancient bones of these soldiers together. Decapitation or severing of the spine is usually the most effective means to release the Skeleton Warrior's spirit from the mortal plane, and a heavy blow from a bludgeoning weapon such as a hammer or a club can easily shatter an entire skeleton into pieces. However, even those that are felled can be raised up again as necromantic power knits together shattered bones and instills them with vigour once more.[2a]
All that these long-dead fighters can recall of, in their mortal life are faint impressions from battles fought in ages past. All that they feel is the compulsion to fight and obey their masters. They have no autonomy or intelligence, though some vestige of their battlefield training remains ingrained in their bones. Driven by the undying will of a Vampire, these ragged warriors can still wield their swords and spears, and raise a shield to block an enemy attack. A mortal who dares to fight an army of skeletons is confronted by rank upon rank of ghastly apparitions. Imbued without the need to eat, sleep, or feel the touch of fear, these skeletons are a horrible sight to all those of the living.[2a]
- 1: Old World Bestiary (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 1a: pg. 62
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (8th Edition)
- 2a: pg. 35