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A skeleton is a magically animated undead creature that appears in Nethack.

Skeletons have a slowing attack that can remove intrinsic speed; chatting with a skeleton (even a tame one) will paralyze you for a few turns.[1]


Orcus Town is the only place where skeletons are normally generated; polypiling multiple objects of material bone (such as unicorn horns) may also create a skeleton, and they are valid targets for polymorph traps and the summon nasties spell. They have a chance of getting a leather armor (25%), a knife (8%) or a short sword (16%), but no random offensive item.


While skeletons are not a great threat at the point they are encountered, especially given the presence of shades, their ability to nullify speed still means they should not be overlooked.

Encyclopedia entry

A skeleton is a magically animated undead creature. Unlike
shades, only a humanoid creature can be used to create a
skeleton. No one knows why this is true, but it has become
an accepted fact amongst the practitioners of the black arts.