Skeleton Frolic: A Nuisance Spell for Pathfinder

William T. Thrasher
Go, man, go!

The nights grow longer, a chill wind whistles through the trees, and cartoons in the public domain air on hastily assembled Halloween specials. For me, there is no sign fall is upon us more certain than an airing of the classic Ub Iwerks cartoon "Skeleton Frolic". Nothings says All Hallow's Eve to me like a quarter of animated dead rising from the earth to engage in a little song and dance. Inspired by this cartoon and its many imitators, I present Skeleton Frolic, a new Nuisance spell for the season.


School necromancy; Level bard 1, cleric 2, sorcerer/wizard 2

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S, M (music written upon a sheet of fine vellum worth 5 gp)

Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)

Duration permanent until discharged

Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

This spell turns corpses into undead skeletons that dance, dance, dance! This spell animates a number of skeletons equal to your caster level, but each skeleton possesses only a single hit die and a Performance (dance) skill equal to your caster level or Performance (dance) skill, whichever is higher. The skeletons dance for 1 minute per caster level.

The undead do not follow you or obey your commands, but you are free to choreograph their dance in as much or as little detail as you wish, including giving them instructions on how to interact with the living should any be present (e.g. "waltz with the prettiest lady", "dance in a circle around anyone in the cemetery", "dance away from anyone who approaches you", etc.). The skeletons will not attack, nor will they defend themselves if attacked. If threatened or damaged, they simply press on and attempt finish their routine. The skeletons can also be instructed to provide their own musical accompaniment, playing their ribs as xylophones, femurs as flutes, and skulls as drums etc.

The skeletons do not animate to perform their routine until a specific event occurs. This event can be a general as "under the next full moon" to as specific as "As soon as George Laggenbottom from 227 Leadford Way is within 30 feet of you", or the dance can begin the moment you cast the spell.

If you'd like some idea what skeleton frolic can accomplish, enjoy the cartoon that inspired it.