Admiral Vervain of the De Madden Company thought he had a very good idea one afternoon. He had travelled to many lands and heard of the Ironbones and had managed to send an elite Navy unit to capture one of them and bring it back alive and as unharmed as possible for future study. It took many months just to find one of the deadly metallic skeletons and cost the lives of two men and left another maimed, but they managed to chain it up and bring it back to the capital of Banhoesea, where the Sea Wizards worked upon it for over a year whilst negotiations over the cost and the use of such animated undead went on between the Admirals, and even involving the Shogun himself, for more then a year.
It was decided that to avoid unemployment the Ironbones that Banhoesea planned to make would only be used in a battle situation as marines to spearhead the most deadly attacks, since there would be very little opposition to this as it would make warfare less deadly. That was the easy part. The problem was getting the bodies. Some suggested using the Ulmanian bodies from the Isle of the Dead but that would have infuriated the worshippers of Ulmania to the point of civil war. Others suggested the murder of all prisoners of war, but that was ruled out. Not only was it grossly unkind but also when the news sooner or later leaked out then revenge would be meted out brutally on their own POWs in enemy hands.
Still others suggested executing criminals, but the only death penalty offences were murder, arson, mutiny and high treason and nobody really wanted to add more capital crimes just to ratchet up the number of executions. It would spread unrest, ruin morale and cause widespread hatred of the Shogun and his Admirals. Stealing bodies from other countries was impractical and there was no way that they could buy them as no decent country would agree to sell. There was a way found in that many of the Jovian faith could be found who were willing to allow part of the ashes of their dead, for a price, provided the Ironbones would be used in battle and not in menial labour. Yet more study was needed and it was finally found that when a piece of ash was wrapped in amethyst and then in metal and the right spell was said, a full-sized Ironbones would rise.
All was ready at last for the first test when five hundered Ironbones were to rise, and the Shogun and Company Admirals, several Sea Wizards, and enough Company Marines to suppress the Ironbones if they went mad, appeared to watch the occasion.
It worked, but to the horror of Admiral Vervain his Ironbones were not six feet tall but six inches tall instead. It was later found that some greedy Company clerks had embezzled most of the amythest and fled the country on board a Company cutter.
It was not a total disaster however, as the small Ironbones could be used to assassinate sleeping people, unlock doors, spring traps prematurely and if they attacked in mass, were a lot more deadly then they seemed.
The Ironbones are surprisingly intelligent for their size, and anyone who just gets totally overconfident when fighting them and tries to just stamp on them could well find a miniture but razor sharp sword rammed through his shoe or into his foot. Others have tiny bows and the arrows can blind if they hit an eye. One or two are no real threat, but a hundered or more attacking at once can be a menace.
Also they can be used to unlock doors and for other tasks of that nature. And they can be running around in a major battle injuring those who end up on the ground and allready wounded.
A code word is needed to make them rise and another code word controls them-uncontroled ones will attack their summoner.Unscrupulous wizards can sell PCs these without the vital second code word.