The Book of Skelos

Contributed by: Thulsa ()

"He desired to learn if this island were indeed that mentioned in the mysterious Book of Skelos, whereon, nameless sagas [alleged], strange monsters guard crypts filled with hieroglyph-carven gold." -- Robert E. Howard: "The Pool of the Black One"

The Book of Skelos is sought by sorcerers throughout the Hyborian world. Within the pages of this forbidding book are spells and incantations to bring the dead to life, control the elements, and to summon extraterrestrial demons from the Outer Darkness, the black gulfs of space, and the pits of Arallu.

The Book of Skelos

In Conan's age, only three complete copies are known to exist: one is beneath a royal crypt of Aquilonia (probably guarded by the priests of Mitra), another in a remote temple in jungled Vendhya. The third copy was found by pirates on the Nameless Isle, below an idol of the toad-god Tsathoggua, and brought to Thoth-Amon, master of the Black Ring.

Single pages from incomplete copies of the Book of Skelos sometimes also find their way into sorcerers' hands. These usually contain a spell or two, or the true name of a powerful demon. According to Thoth-Amon, at least one incomplete copy exists in Kheshatta, the Stygian City of Magicians.

The Book of Skelos is also referred to as the Iron-Bound Book of Skelos. On a small island in the Western Ocean far to the west of the coast of Stygia, the lore of the Black Coast claim that demons guard the bones of the long-dead mage Skelos.

The Book of Skelos is an artifact. It functions as a Libram of Ineffable Damnation and is known to contain the following spells:

  • Finger of Death (7th)
  • Greater Planar Binding (8th)
  • Gate (9th)
  • Soul Bind (9th)

In addition, recovered fragments of the Book of Skelos have contained the following unique spells:

Sword of Skelos

Level: Wizard 8
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: Special
Range: Touch
Target: An edged weapon
Duration: Permanent
Saving Throw: See text
Spell Resistance: Yes

This spell enchants a weapon, typically a sword, to slay upon command. The casting requires that the weapon is exposed to the four elements: the weapon to be enchanted is covered with Stygian tomb-dust, slashed thrice through the air, sprinkled with water, and thrust into a hot flame. To complete the enchantment, the weapon must be bloodied by human sacrifice immediately after the spell is cast, by using the weapon's new power.

By uttering a command word and poiting at a target, the wielder of the Sword of Skelos causes the sword to fly unerringly towards its target. The range of the weapon is 25 feet + 5 feet/2 levels of the caster. The victim gets a Fortitude save. If successful, the victim suffers 3d6 points of damage + 1 point per caster level; failure causes the victim to die instantly. A target who successfully saves once is immune to further attacks of that particular sword enchanted by the caster. Directing the sword against a target is a full-round action.

Preparing the weapon to be enchanted takes a full day; completing the spell itself takes 10 minutes. Only two Swords of Skelos created by the same spellcaster can be in existence at the same time, for such is the Law of Skelos.

Material Component: A masterwork, jewel-encrusted sword worth at least 500 gp. XP Cost: 2,000.

Undead Gate

Level: Wizard 8
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 6 hours
Range: Special
Target: One portal
Duration: Special
Saving Throw: None

By means of this spell, the wizard can enchant any normal portal (doorway, archway, window, et cetera) to act as a gate for undead monsters. The portal need not be large enough to allow the undead to pass through it, as the magic of the spell causes the undead to appear in the vicinity of the portal.

Once the undead gate has been placed, it cannot be moved. Furthermore, no more than one undead gate can exist in any given square mile area. Any attempt to create more than one undead gate within the same square mile area negates both undead gates. An undead gate remains enchanted indefinitely, but can only be used one time per level of the caster. Thus, a 16th level wizard could use her undead gate sixteen times, after which the enchantment would vanish.

An undead gate registers to detect magic, although this may not reveal the portal's nature. A successful dispel magic rids the portal of its enchantment. The initial range for this spell is touch, but this only applies to its casting.

Once the undead gate is in place, the caster can use it so long as she is within 120 feet of the portal. Upon command, the undead gate will summon a random number of a random type of undead monster. Summoned undead appear anywhere within 120 feet of the portal, as designated by the caster. They behave in a manner consistent with creatures called forth by the various monster summoning spells, remaining until destroyed or for one round per level of the caster, at which point the undead vanish.

The magic of this spell imbues the undead with the ability to understand the caster's spoken commands. To determine the number and type of undead summoned, consult the following table:

d8+d12   Type of Undead          d8+d12   Type of Undead

2        1 Ghost                 12       3-24 Zombies
3        1 Banshee               13       3-30 Skeletons
4        1-6 Spectres            14       2-20 Shadows
5        2-12 Wraiths            15       1-4 Ju-ju Zombies
6        1-6 Monster Skeletons   16       2-8 Giant Skeletons
7        1-6 Monster Zombies     17       1-4 Ghasts
8        1-10 Heucuvae           18       2-16 Wights
9        2-24 Ghouls             19       2-8 Mummies
10       1-8 Poltergeists        20       1-4 Vampires
11       2-20 Animal Skeletons

Undead summoned via an undead gate are standard representatives of their type. They have all the normal strengths and weaknesses, conforming to their entries in the Monstrous Manual. The undead gate does, however, summon only specimens that have a minimum of 5 hit points per hit die.

Material component: The material component for this spell is a mortar and pestle made from human bone. In this grisly container, the wizard, while chanting words of power, spills the heart-blood of a wizard or priest of at least 10th level. The resulting powder is blown at the frame of the portal, thus completing the spell. XP Cost: 2,000.