For the item sometimes left behind by butchered or rotting corpses, see skeleton.
| A skeleton compelled to unlife by the exercise of necromancy.
"God save us from the skeleton
Skeletons are the reanimated bones of once-living creatures. They are a type of derived undead, and may be either "small skeletons" or "large skeletons". Either way, they are considerably slower, stupider, and clumsier than whatever they were when they were alive. They take damage from max HP, making them unable to recover from injuries, but on the flip side they do have undead resistances.
Skeletons may appear in the Dungeon as random monsters or be created by players (or other monsters) through Necromancy or the Invocations of certain gods. Note that hostile skeletons can serve as a "preview" of upcoming monsters: since they're weaker than the original, the skeleton version of a monster will often show up a level or two before the live version.
As servants, skeletons are useful for characters who need meat shields (so to speak). Zombies may be more durable, but skeletons let you get both minion and meat from the same corpse: Using Animate Skeleton on a whole corpse will leave the chunks behind, or you can animate a skeleton left behind from butchering. (The former is more reliable, as butchering doesn't always leave a skeleton.)
A newly-animated skeleton will sometimes wield any weapons or armor on the tile it was animated on (usually their old equipment). This is your only chance to equip them, as they won't pick anything up or wield/wear new items. If they should be destroyed later on, you can get this gear back.
One shortcoming of skeletons is that they are unable to use stairs, trapping them on the level they were created, but you can lure monsters up or down stairs to where your thralls are.
Different monsters will leave behind skeletons with differing stats, but Crawl tends to lump them all together, making identifying them at a glance difficult. Console mode will display skeletons as either z or Z, depending on their size. Tiles mode provides different tiles for several different kinds of skeletons, but there are still many different monsters that fall under each type. In any case, if you want to find out exactly what you'll be fighting, simply hit x and highlight the skeleton in question.
Below are all the categories of skeletons in tiles mode: