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Skeletons are the most common enemy type encountered in Sea of Thieves. These cursed undead come in many forms, with varying strengths and weaknesses.


Skeletons are undead skeletal remains of cursed Pirate Crews who eternally haunt the uninhabited Islands of The Sea of Thieves ready to take down anyone who dares disturb their rest. The power of the Skeletons rests in their rank. Regular Skeletons make up the mindless dead Crew of their relatively mindless Skeleton Captains who have still managed to retain their name and title. These Skeleton Captains are more powerful than their crewmates indicated by the strength of the curse that binds their Skull and holds both them and their crew stuck in this world. Players who decide to follow Tall Tales may encounter even more powerful Skeleton Captains who are the underlings of a Skeleton Lord and have managed to retain their memory and capability of speech. Skeleton Lords on the other hand are the most powerful of the cursed Skeletons, who have obtained greater destructive powers and the command of other cursed Skeletons.


Where to find

Emergent Skeletons

A group of emergent Skeletons with differing arms.

The most common place to find Skeletons is as emergent spawns on any Small Islands or Large Islands. These Skeletons generally spawn in groups of 1-4 every 1-3 minutes depending on the Island's current Skeleton spawn rate. An Island's Emergent Skeleton spawn rate can be reset if the whole crew leaves the Island's title card range or is sent to the Ferry of the Damned.

Emergent Skeletons vary in difficulty depending on the Crew's active Voyage:

  • Without any Voyages, emergent Skeletons spawn with any possible Weapons. Killing a base-level Skeleton generally takes 3 Cutlass strikes, one close-range torso shot from a firearm, or one long-range shot.
  • The number, health and weaponry of skeletons generated by Bounty Voyages or Gold Hoarder Voyages scale with the level of the Voyage that spawned them, with lower level Skeletons being weaker and spawning without Weapons. Higher-level Skeletons take up to 6-7 Cutlass strikes or 2-3 gunshots to kill.
  • Athena's Fortune Voyages have an increased emergent Skeleton spawn rate that can spawn in groups of up to 5-6. These Skeletons can also spawn with Stronghold Gunpowder Barrels. These Legendary Skeletons take up to 8-9 Cutlass hits or at least 3 Flintlock shots to kill.

Bounty Skeletons

Bounty Skeletons are encountered on Bounty Quests and are distinguishable from regular Emergent Skeletons by their coloured clothing, typically a bandanna or cloth eyepatch. They spawn in waves of 4 or larger and usually have a single assigned type to the whole wave (see Types of Skeletons). After several Skeleton waves are defeated (generally between 0-6 groups of Skeletons), a final wave with the named Skeleton Captains and Skeleton Crew from the Bounty Quest will appear.

Skeleton Captains and Skeleton Crew are beefier than your regular Skeletons and can spawn with any weapon apart from the Eye of Reach. The Bounty Quest Skeleton Captain and Crew will drop a Bounty Skull each upon defeat. Ashen Bounty Skulls are dropped during Ashen Bounty Quests.

It takes about 6 Cutlass Combos to kill a regular Bounty Skeleton.

Fort Skeletons

Large waves of Skeletons (groups of ~10) spawn on Active Skeleton Forts. Like Bounty Skeletons, the Skeletons of a single wave spawn as a specific type (see below). These Skeletons take 6-7 Cutlass hits to kill. After 12 waves of Fort Skeletons are dealt with, Players will encounter 3 Boss waves, each Captain or Lord supported by more Skeletons.

Skeleton Ship Skeletons

Skeleton Ships come with fully equipped Skeleton Crews that keep perpetually respawning once killed. Each Skeleton Ship is helmed by a Skeleton Captain. The Skeletons on the top and bottom deck of a Skeleton Galleon can be of different types from each other. These Skeletons are as strong as Skeleton Fort Skeletons, spawning with any Weapons apart from Gunpowder Barrels (Skeletons on the Crow's Nest have Eye of Reach rifles to snipe players) and take about 6-7 Cutlass hits to kill. Once a Skeleton on the crew is killed, another one will spawn in its stead within seconds. The Skeletons on the Ship's Cannons come equipped with regular Cannonballs and one type of Purple and one type of Green Cursed Cannonball. The Skeletons on lower decks can use Wooden Planks to repair any holes done to the Ship's Hull, however, they cannot bail water, becoming defeated once their Ship sinks.


A Regular Skeleton Captain, wearing fancy clothes.

Emergent Skeletons usually spawn without any clothing on them. However, ordinary Skeletons that spawn during a Bounty Voyage or a Skeleton Fortress raid wear either Brown, Red, Light Blue or Purple Bandanas and Eyepatches.

Different types of Skeletons can spawn as a part of Bounty Voyages, Skeleton Fort or Skeleton Ship spawns:

Gold Skeleton

Covered in gold, these skeletons are resistant to Cutlass strikes and weakened when exposed to water (standing in water, a splash from a Bucket, or Rain). The water causes them to rust up, weakening their defences and slowing their movements significantly for a period of time. This effect is indicated by a creaking sound, and a change of colour from glittering gold appearance to a darker, rusty tone. While firearms are quite effective in combating this type, the more effective route would be to use Firebombs, or simply blowing them up with a Gunpowder Barrel or a Cannonball is also an option.

Plant Skeleton

Overgrown with plants sprouting from their bodies, these skeletons are weaker against Cutlass hits tearing apart their foliage. As a counterbalance, these Skeletons will start to heal rapidly when exposed to any water, making battles during rain more difficult. This effect is indicated by their more vibrant foliage, a "sparkling" sound, and glowworms that start to surround the bodies of the Skeletons.

Shadow Skeleton

These dark, spectral skeletons thrive in the dark when they are invulnerable to damage as attacks pass right through their ghostly form. They become solid and susceptible to attacks if they are exposed to light. This can last a short while if exposed to a raised lantern light. The effect is more permanent during exposure to daylight. They appear to take 33% less damage immediately after they are stunned with the lantern. Shadows of Fate skeletons follow a similar mechanic, but require specific Flame of Fate to be made vulnerable.

Gunpowder Skeleton

These skeletons are the most frustrating of the mix by introducing explosives. They emerge from the ground with a Gunpowder Barrel grasped in their hands and attempt to eliminate you by setting off the fuse of the barrel as they get close. Stronghold Gunpowder Barrel Skeletons can emergently spawn as a part of Athena's Fortune Voyages. Stronghold Shadow of Fate Skeletons can spawn during the last Fort of the Damned wave. A Skeleton with a Keg of Ancient Black Powder is guaranteed to spawn after digging up Treasure during the last Chapter of an Athena's Run of Thieves' Haven. Stronghold Barrel Skeletons move a lot slower than regular Gunpowder Skeletons. The Gunpowder Kegs can be Harpooned from the Skeletons, after which they will immediately die. Gunpowder Skeletons also drop their Kegs if they are killed by Firearms, but only if the bullets don't hit the keg. (Tip: aim for the legs.)

Coral Skeleton

These are colourful glowing skeletons that appear within Siren Shrines and Siren Treasuries, as well as during certain Tall Tales. They appear to have about as much health as normal skeletons but appear in large groups and spawn as long as the Crew is on the Island. The glow effect seems to persist only when players are within a relatively close range.

Gold Hoarder Skeleton

Gold Hoarder Skeletons are Skeletons loyal to the Gold Hoarder Skeleton Lord. They can be encountered during The Art of the Trickster and The Shores of Gold Tall Tales, as well as during Wayfinder Voyages issued by the Gold Hoarders. The Wayfinder Voyage Skeletons have a chance to drop Artefacts on death.

Ashen Skeleton

These Skeletons glowing with burning fire used to appear during some Tall Tales voyages. However, with the Crews of Rage (Content Update), they became the default Skeletons at The Devil's Roar Islands. They spawn both emergently and as waves on Molten Sands Fortress. These Skeletons have a minor resistance to Fire, taking less damage from it than other types of Skeletons.

Ancient Skeletons

This blue and gold skeleton is a rare encounter whose defeat rewards the crew with a bundle of Ancient Coins. Its appearance is signalled by a loud clattering of coins while it digs itself up out of the ground, followed by jovial music as it runs around for a brief period before burrowing itself back into the ground at which point the encounter is over. Players must defeat the skeleton quickly before it disappears to earn a lucrative reward. It has a chance to be encountered on islands in both Adventure Mode or Arena.

Shadows of Fate

Most commonly found as a part of the Fort of the Damned Raid, Shadow of Fate skeletons are similar to Shadow Skeletons, with their invulnerable ghostly form, however, to be susceptible to attack, they must be exposed to a specific Flame of Fate indicated by the colour of their glowing eyes. Players must acquire the corresponding flame (all present during a Fort of the Damned Raid in the main tower), then raise the lantern to the Skeletons to make them vulnerable to damage. They have the same amount of health as regular Skeleton Fort skeletons, taking about 8 Cutlass hits, 2 Pistol shots, 2 Eye of Reach shots or a point blank Blunderbuss shot to kill.

A Green and Red Shadow of Fate skeleton also appear during an Athena's Run of Thieves' Haven. These have a chance to drop a Skull of Ancient Fortune or Villainous Skull of Ancient Fortune.

They were featured prominently in the Fate of the Damned event in which they were found alongside the Ghost of Graymarrow, performing rituals and assaulting islands.

Skeleton Crew

Found on Bounty Quests, these skeletons are functionally similar to Skeleton Captains but without the high-ranking title of "Captain", a distinction important in acquiring The Commendations#Hunter of Cursed Crews commendation.

Skeleton Captain

Main article: Skeleton Captain

Elite skeletons with an authority-demanding hat. Much higher health than its lesser allies, appearing at the conclusion of Bounty Quests and Skeleton Fort raids. They can carry any weapon aside from a Eye of Reach. Skeleton Captains match the type of their current wave, being capable of spawning as a Regular, Gold, Plant or Shadow Skeleton Captain. Skeleton Captains drop a Bounty Skull during a Bounty Quest, or a Vault Key during a Skeleton Fortress raid. As of the Fort of the Damned (Content Update), single Emergent Skeleton Captains of any type can spawn on Island shorelines. When defeated, they drop a Villainous Bounty Skull and a Skeleton's Orders Quest that leads players to a Ritual Skull and other Treasure.

Skeleton Lords

Main article: Skeleton Lords

Skeleton Lords are shrewd commanders of skeletons, cursed from their humanity and full of hatred for other pirates. These foes are usually found as boss encounters in World Events, and are tough to slay.


  • Skeletons can also be found shooting Cannons at the Player's Ship from Forts or Islands.
  • Cannons or Gunpowder Barrels can be very effective against large groups of Skeletons.
  • During the Developer Stream on January 28, 2020 Twitch Streamer Dwag_Dracula asks "Has it ever been explained why Skeleton's can eat bananas?" Game Designer George Orton jokingly replies with "It mushes the banana up and stores it in its skull, and then as the banana ferments it releases gas which builds pressure and it leaks gas and that's the noise that you hear". He also makes mention saying that Mike Chapman isn't in the office so he can say whatever he wants.


Patch history

  • 2.5.3 (June 26, 2022)
    • Island Threat Balancing - Skeletons encountered while exploring islands have had their damage slightly reduced.
  • 2.5.0 (March 10, 2022)
    • Throwing water at Gold Skeletons to rust them now makes them vulnerable for longer.
    • While rusted, Gold Skeletons will take additional damage from all ranged weapons and explosives.
    • Shadow Skeletons exposed to light are now vulnerable for longer.
    • Skeletons should no longer become stuck in the geometry on Shark Fin Camp.
    • Improvements have been made to skeleton navigation on Keel Haul Fort to prevent skeletons becoming stuck within the environment.
  • 2.4.2 (February 10, 2022)
    • Skeleton Ships and skeletons using island cannons should now fire at targets more consistently without long pauses between shots.
  • 2.4.1 (January 20, 2022)
    • While exploring islands, crews who encounter and vanquish individual Ocean Crawlers, Phantoms or skeletons from a group of enemies should find that they call in reinforcements less frequently before the group is defeated.
    • After vanquishing a group of skeletons, crews should now enjoy a much longer respite period before encountering them again on the same island.
  • 2.4.0 (December 2, 2021)
    • Skeletons now have a chance to drop ammo pouches upon defeat, fully restocking all weapons a pirate has equipped and improving the flow of combat against island-based threats.
    • During an Ashen Lord encounter, when an Ashen Lord lunges at a player, they will now animate correctly during the leap.
  • 2.3.2 (November 11, 2021)
    • When Molten Sands Fortress becomes active, skeleton waves will now emerge from the ground together in groups.
  • 2.3.1 (October 14, 2021)
    • Eel-ectric Chain Lightning attacks can now damage skeletons.
  • 2.2.1 (August 17, 2021)
    • Emergent Skeleton Captains should now drop Riddle and X Marks the Spot variants of Gold Hoarders Voyages when defeated.
    • During the Legend of Glitterbeard experience, skeletons should no longer be able to walk above the Hideout.
    • Skeletons summoned by Skeleton Lords during Fort encounters should now be destroyed following the defeat of the Skeleton Lord.
  • 2.1.0 (April 15, 2021)
    • When defeating Skeleton Captain across the Sea of Thieves, players can now find Gold Pouches left among the debris. These can be collected to award gold to your crew immediately.
    • Skeleton Captains encountered during world events, while hunting bounties and even emergently can all now award Gold Pouches.
  • 2.0.19 (October 28, 2020)
    • Skeletons should no longer become stuck when exiting the cave on Ashen Reaches.
    • Skeletons now animate correctly when eating a Banana during combat.
    • Emergent Skeleton Captains, Ashen Key Masters and Ashen Guardians that appear emergently on islands have been reduced in difficulty.
    • Increased the frequency of Ashen Lord encounters in the world.
    • Skeletons will animate as intended when eating a Banana.
    • After becoming a little short-sighted in a previous update, Skeletons wielding ranged weapons can once again hit sprinting players.
  • 2.0.17 (July 29, 2020)
    • Ashen Lords appear for the first time.
  • 2.0.14 (April 22, 2020)
    • Attacking a Gold Skeleton with a Cutlass now causes a stun effect effect on the attacking player.
    • Heart of Fire’ – Skeletons in the combat room located in the right-hand trap run will now always be able to reach players in order to attack.
  • 2.0.12 (February 19, 2020)
    • When arriving on an island, crews should no longer hear a rival crew’s Bounty audio if the skeletons aren’t active. Also, this audio will no longer persist after leaving the island.
    • When arriving at the target island of an active Bounty, engaging the skeletons and leaving without defeating the Bounty target will no longer cause the audio to persist after leaving the island.
    • Commendations for defeating Shadow of Fate Skeletons at the Fort of the Damned now continue to track progress after the second wave is killed.
    • After defeating the Ghost of Greymarrow during a Fort of the Damned run, he should now consistently drop the Fort Key into an area accessible by players.
  • 2.0.10 (December 11, 2019)
    • The Seabound Soul’ - Ambient Skeletons can no longer spawn in the time between starting the Tale and the beginning of the cutscene.
  • 2.0.9 (November 20, 2019)
    • Ashen Skeletons appear for the first time.
    • Ashen Guardians and Ashen Key Masters appear for the first time.
    • [Gunpowder Skeletons have had their movement speed slowed down to be a little more forgiving to those unaware of their presence.
    • Skeletons spawning on Lost Gold Fort should no longer spawn on top of each other in the same spot.
    • Detonating a Gunpowder Skeleton will now chain detonate any nearby Gunpowder Skeletons.
    • The Skeleton Captain on Crow’s Nest Fort will now drop a Fort Key when defeated.
    • Defeating an Ancient Skeleton and receiving the pop-up in German now fits correctly on-screen.
  • 2.0.8 (October 16, 2019)
    • Skeletons Captains now roam islands.
    • Shadows of Fate Skeletons appear for the first time.
    • Destroying a gunpowder-wielding Shadow Skeleton will now correctly destroy the skeleton.
    • Ancient Skeletons’ footsteps are now distinctly heard when spawning alongside many other skeletons.
    • Skeleton navigation improved to prevent skeletons becoming stuck on Hidden Spring Keep.
  • 2.0.7 (September 11, 2019)
    • Ancient Skeletons appear for the first time.
  • 2.0.6 (August 14, 2019)
    • Pirate Legends will now encounter the threat of a lumbering skeleton wielding a devastating Stronghold Keg when tackling a Pirate Legend Voyage.
    • Skeleton Lords encountered during Tall Tales can now use their abilities in sequences to aid them in combat.
    • The Gunpowder Skeleton spawn rate has been reduced while players are out exploring Islands.
    • When freely exploring the world outside the constraints of a Voyage, the difficulty of emergent skeletons has been reduced to ensure newer players have a safer time exploring.
    • On higher-rank Voyages, crews will encounter fewer skeletons with large health pools and instead face off against more skeletons in waves, reducing the frustration of those longer, more drawn-out skeleton encounters.
    • Skeletons should no longer have audible clicks/pops during footsteps and vocalisations.
  • 2.0.4 (June 19, 2019)
    • Skeletons no longer appear to get their weapons stuck in their skulls when switching to a banana.
    • Approaching skeleton camps during Tall Tales will now show subtitles and voices at the same distance.
    • Skeleton Captains and Lords that use combat dialogue should now correctly cycle through a variety of phrases and not repeat lines back-to-back.
    • Skeleton Captains and Lords that use combat dialogue should now correctly stop speaking, screaming or wailing once they are defeated.
  • 2.0.2 (May 23, 2019)
    • Latching on to a Gunpowder Barrel from a gunpowder skeleton will now detonate the barrel on impact.
    • Skeletons will now display the correct VFX in underwater caves.
    • ‘The Art of the Trickster’ – Medallions dropped by the vault skeletons will now be the correct medallions for the vault you have been allocated.
  • 2.0.1 (May 8, 2019)
    • The Shroudbreaker’ – Ambush skeletons should no longer spawn on top of each other.
    • ‘The Shores of Gold’ – Gold Hoarder Skeletons will no longer rudely interrupt the final cutscene if they weren’t destroyed during the encounter.
    • ‘The Shores of Gold’ – Gold Hoarder Skeletons will no longer rudely interrupt the final cutscene if they weren’t destroyed during the encounter.
    • Skeletons that spawn inside the chasms will now automatically attack nearby players to prevent crews from raising the capstans without engaging.
  • 2.0 (April 30, 2019)
    • Coral Skeletons and Gold Hoarder Skeletons appear for the first time.
    • The Skeleton Lords appear for the first time.
  • 1.4.4 (March 6, 2019)
    • Skeleton Captains dropping Skeleton Fort keys should now consistently drop the key onto the fort floor, reachable by players.
  • 1.4.3 (February 6, 2019)
    • Skeletons wielding Pistol, Blunderbuss & Eye of Reach have had their ability to knock back players removed.
  • 1.4.0 (November 28, 2018)
    • Skeletons on Skeleton Ships will no longer occasionally T-pose when moving around the ship.
  • 1.3.2 (October 31, 2018)
    • Explosion VFX correctly occurs when a gunpowder barrel is held by a skeleton and it explodes.
    • Skeletons can no longer shoot through the lower hull of the Sloop and Brigantine.
  • 1.3.0 (September 27, 2018)
    • Gold Skeletons are now appropriately rusted by buckets of water.
  • 1.2.4 (August 30, 2018)
    • Skeletons will no longer dash through and get stuck in walls, causing issues with hidden skeletons in Forts and Order of Souls voyages.
  • 1.2.2 (August 15, 2018)
    • Skeletons killed underwater do not display the death explosion VFX.
  • 1.2.1 (August 8, 2018)
    • Skeletons now spawn as intended.
  • 1.2.0 (July 31, 2018)
    • New Threat - Skeleton Ships: A crew of skeletons sail the seas aboard these grim galleons armed with cursed cannonballs. Skeletons aboard these ships are able to fire cannons, bail water, repair, and will attack nearby players.
    • Eye of Reach Skeletons - The march of war has inspired skeletons to pick up the Eye of Reach, causing them to pose a threat from a longer distance than ever before. Take care across the entire map, these eagle-eyed foes aren't only found in the crow's nest of skeleton ships.
  • 1.1.4 (June 28, 2018)
    • Skeletons can now spawn with Gunpowder Barrels.
    • Skeleton Accuracy - Skeletons wielding a blunderbuss or pistol have had their accuracy reduced.
    • Skeletons at a Fort no longer lose their textures once the Captain is killed.
  • 1.0.8 (May 23, 2018)
    • Improved skeleton movement in Skeleton Forts.
  • 1.0.7 (May 15, 2018)
    • Being on an Order of Souls voyage no longer causes fewer ambient skeletons to spawn.
    • Latency has been improved in skeleton heavy scenarios due to server optimisations.
  • 1.0.6 (May 1, 2018)
      • Skeletons Accuracy - When shooting cannons from islands at long distances, Skeleton accuracy has been reduced.
  • 1.0.5 (April 24, 2018)
    • Resolved issues where Skeleton Fort or Bounty Quest Skeletons failed to spawn correctly.
    • Skeletons should no longer despawn when players climb in and out of the cannon.
  • 1.0.4 (April 18, 2018)
    • Skeleton crews encountered during bounty quests and skeleton forts now have correctly matching attire.
  • 1.0.1 (March 27, 2018)
    • Skeleton movement around slopes has been improved.
  • First Release (March 20, 2018)
    • Introduced.
    • Gold, Shadow, and Plant variants of skeletons are added with release.
    • Skeleton Captains added with release.
    • Skeleton movement no longer appear jittery.