Monster Analysis: Flameskulls

  • First Appearance: 82 Deadly Echoes
  • Armor Class 13
  • Speed 40 ft flying
  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive 12
  • Resistant to lightning, necrotic, and piercing damage
  • Immune to cold, fire, and poison damage
  • Immune to charmed, frightened, paralyzed, and poisoned
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 40, 54
  • Actual Average HP per creature: 60
    • FS1: 42 taken, 29 finishing blow by Percy
    • FS2: 61 taken, 20 finishing blow by Percy
    • FS3: 74 taken, 36 finishing blow by Vex’ahlia
    • FS4: 79 taken, 20 finishing blow by Allura

Flameskulls are the results of dark experiments, in which a necromancer takes the skeletal remains of wizards and infuses them with necrotic energy. The product is a floating bonehead wreathed in green flame with very little recall of its past life and a dangerous collection of dark magic at its disposal. Their haunting laughter echoes the halls they protect, providing the adventurers they encounter them a brief, sinister warning.

Individual flameskulls are very weak compared to the might of a party consisting of mostly level 16 characters. The enhancements to their HP were negligible, their magic resistance almost didn’t even come into play, and the encounter ended before everyone even took their turn. On the other hand, even though each flameskull only had one Fireball spell a piece, a high initiative and an opportunity for all of the skulls to cast them all at once with the party all gathered in the same radius easily spelled disaster (though only Trinket had to worry about a knockout). Unfortunately, such a setback spent a lot of hit dice that could be useful later on, as well as burned another hour for their draconic quarry to prepare for their arrival.

While it is unlikely to come back to haunt Vox Machina unless they return the way they came, a defeated flameskull is not necessarily a destroyed one. The shattered remains typically require application of either holy water, Dispel Magic, or Remove Curse. Failure to do so within an hour of the skull’s defeat results in the spirit reforming and reinhabiting its vessel.