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Note: Throughout the app, and especially the history section, anything written in blue indicates headcanon or individual interpretation of canon facts.
Another Note: This app contains heavy spoilers for books 1-7, although most noticeably for Book 6: Death Bringer. Read at your own risk!
[Name]: Skulduggery Pleasant
[Canon]: Skulduggery Pleasant
[Age]: We're never given an exact age, but Skulduggery mentions once that he's over 400 years old. Popular fandom theory puts his birthday on December 31st somewhere between 1600 and 1610. Sorcerers in Skulduggery’s universe age much more slowly than normal and have a lifespan of around 800 years, so despite being a living skeleton, Skulduggery isn’t actually any older than several of his friends. His year of death isn’t specified either, but I headcanon it to be around the latter half of the 1700s. Canon does say he died on October 23rd.
[Canon Point]: Just before the beginning of the eighth book. It opens with Skulduggery being held by a witch he went to for information – I’m taking him from a day or so before that, while he was still tracking her down.
Basic information can be found here, on the wiki. But it should be noted that some of the information in the pre-canon history has been shown to be factually wrong. For example, it claims Skulduggery was killed in 1862; the author has never confirmed that, and I believe it to be wrong, since Skulduggery specifically tells Valkyrie in the first book that he’s been a skeleton for so long, he barely remembers what it’s like to be human. While this is definitely something of an exaggeration, I don’t believe it’s that much of an exaggeration. The wiki also claims that air is Skulduggery’s most powerful element when it’s more likely water (details in the ‘Abilities’ section), and misunderstands his motivations more than once. I’m going to fill in some of the holes in the history and flesh out the timeline with some headcanon.
It's implied in the first book that Skulduggery was born into a non-magical family and grew up more or less normally. As a child, he had a stutter, which convinced the people around him that he was possessed by the Devil. He had several younger siblings and one older brother. Discovering magic drove a wedge between Skulduggery and the rest of his family – in fact, it didn’t take long for his father to disown him.
When Skulduggery discovered magic, he studied to become an Elemental – a sorcerer who can manipulate the four elements. He also took the new name ‘Skulduggery Pleasant,’ as all sorcerers must do to protect their given names from controlling spells. Canon has never said what Skulduggery’s original name was; I like to think that it was Dillon. It was around this time that he met his good friend Ghastly Bespoke, another Elemental, in a story that apparently involves pirates; and Descry Hopeless, a natural-born mind-reader. It was also around this time that Skulduggery fell in love, got married, and eventually had a daughter. Very few details are given in canon about his family while he was alive; we don't even know what his wife's name was. We know that she must also have been a sorcerer, because magical families rarely keep the same last name and identify themselves, instead, by a crest, which Skulduggery has mentioned he used to have.
It was thanks to Hopeless, and his unique method of gathering information, that Skulduggery became a leader of the rebellion in a war started by the evil sorcerer known as Mevolent. Mevolent intended to bring a race of banished evil gods back into their reality, and while most sorcerers didn’t believe in the Faceless Ones, anyone who didn’t join him found themselves standing up against him. This resulted in a long and brutal secret war lasting over three hundred years.
Nefarian Serpine, one of Mevolent's feared Three Generals, was the one to kill Skulduggery. He did so by springing a 'wickedly elaborate trap,' as Skulduggery would later describe it, killing Skulduggery's wife and daughter right in front of him to blind Skulduggery with such anger that he ignored his magic and reached for a nearby dagger instead. But the dagger's handle was barbed with poison. Serpine spent the next few days torturing him, and eventually killing him. Although he wouldn't discover why for another two centuries, Skulduggery was barred from moving on and forced to watch how his death impacted the war. When Mevolent's men burned his body and stuck the head on a spike as a demoralizing warning to the resistance, Skulduggery saw that his own side began losing ground, and that infuriated him to the point where he managed to regain control of his body. By that point, it was a skeleton. Mevolent's men had stuffed his bones into a sack, and dumped the sack into a river. Skulduggery's consciousness somehow attached itself to those bones; he managed to drag himself to shore and, quite literally, pull himself together. He was found half-mad by Ghastly and Descry, and bit by bit they managed to rehabilitate him back into the war, although he didn’t lead another unit again.
Ghastly, Hopeless, and Skulduggery – later joined by Erskine Ravel – became the core of a unit that would later become known as the Dead Men, because of their tendency to return from suicide missions alive. This group was eventually joined by Dexter Vex, Anton Shudder, Rover Larrikin, and Saracen Rue - Descry’s son, an identity they hid from the world at large to protect both Saracen and his father. The reputation of the Dead Men was such that frequently just the threat of their involvement could turn the tide of a battle.
When Skulduggery came back, the anger and hatred he felt towards Serpine came back with him, and they became a part of his very existence. In his search for answers, he left the Dead Men and fell in with the Necromancer Temple in Ireland, where he very quickly found that he had a natural aptitude for the shadow and death magic they practiced. This was probably due in part to the fact that Skulduggery himself had died, but mostly it was because the rage that can be used as a fuel for Necromancy wasn't simply a feeling to Skulduggery - it was a large part of who he was. Skulduggery grew addicted to the easy power that comes with Necromancy, and fed it so much anger and hatred and grief that the magic consumed him. Skulduggery Pleasant became Lord Vile. While the Necromancers believed that Lord Vile was their Death Bringer - a sort of messiah who was supposed to break down the walls between life and death - Lord Vile quickly betrayed them, becoming the third and most feared of Mevolent's Three Generals.
For five years, the powerful Necromancer Lord Vile would decimate entire armies without a second thought. He killed Ghastly's mother, a kickboxing champion who had taken on the other two Generals at the same time and won. His Necromancy power, housed in a set of medieval armor he wore, was so terrifying that no one stood against him. Ghastly said later that when it came to Lord Vile, you only faced him with an army at your back, and hoped that someone got in a lucky shot.
After killing thousands, Lord Vile was driven insane by glimpsing a Faceless One through a portal he helped open; and while he ended up killing that Faceless One, he then vanished from the war. Skulduggery Pleasant was the one who came back. He hid the powerful armor, buried all his newfound talent in Necromancy, and vowed to atone for all his wrong-doing. He abandoned his family crest, feeling that he had lost all right to claim it.
It was publicly decided that Lord Vile had died. Only a small handful of people know that Lord Vile and Skulduggery Pleasant are one and the same – Auron Tenebrae, the High Priest of the Necromancer Temple; Descry Hopeless, who hid his knowledge even from Skulduggery; Dexter Vex, whom Hopeless asked to do the same; and Saracen Rue, whose specific brand of magic meant he knew almost right away. He was also asked to remain silent by Hopeless. Before the end of the war, Hopeless was killed by Mevolent, and Larrikin was killed by Serpine. With Mevolent’s defeat and subsequent death, and the war itself finally drawing to a close, Skulduggery defeated the second of Mevolent's Three Generals – Baron Vengeous – by throwing lit dynamite at him. The Baron was thrown in prison. But Skulduggery never lost his thirst for revenge, and when he finally had the opportunity to kill Serpine – about seventy years before the beginning of the first book – a treaty was struck between the self-governing magical bodies and all of Mevolent's old followers. Skulduggery's greatest enemy became a protected citizen.
With nothing else to do, and with the realization that evil still rampaged in the shadows and he was in the position to do a lot of good, Skulduggery became a detective. He worked mostly as the Prime Detective for the Irish Council of Elders - the head of the Irish Sanctuary - three powerful sorcerers who had earned Skulduggery's respect, but a lot of his work was and is completely freelance. He worked on his own for the next seventy years, but the books mark when he first meets his current partner, Valkyrie Cain, and the adventures the pair get up to as they solve crimes and save the world together.
Wikia links for the basic plot summaries of each book are as follows:
Book 1: Sceptre of the Ancients
Book 2: Playing With Fire
Book 3: The Faceless Ones
Book 4: Dark Days
Book 5: Mortal Coil
Book 6: Death Bringer
Book 7: Kingdom of the Wicked
Skulduggery is, to put it in a nutshell, an enigma. The rage he felt towards Serpine when he died was the main reason he managed to regain control of his body when he was brought back, and that rage is inextricably linked to who he is now. For most people, rage as strong as Skulduggery's would burn out very quickly – it has to, or else it would burn them up from the inside. Skulduggery no longer has a physical brain or a physical bloodstream, and is therefore free from physical restraints, so he feels that immediate and burning rage all the time. He's learned to bury it deep, cover it with other emotions, and to meditate when events become too hard to handle - a skill taught to him by Hopeless.
The thing is, most people who meet Skulduggery for the first time have a hard time believing he's even capable of anger. Despite his appearance, Skulduggery is very much the honourable gentleman, chivalrous and dapper to a fault. He maintains an annoyingly positive attitude towards most things in life, and he loves to make jokes. His dry, classy sense of humor is one of the things that first draws Valkyrie to him. Skulduggery has a very polite, understated, and sophisticated way of speaking, often using 'big words' that Valkyrie doesn't understand and old-fashioned turns of phrase. This is likely a side effect of living through four different centuries, which has also honed his detecting skills, if not quite his ability – or his desire – to plan ahead. On the plus side, his ability to improvise is unparalleled.
While Skulduggery does see the humor value of being a supernatural skeleton detective, he takes his job very seriously most of the time. He insists on using the language of an old-fashioned private eye - 'clues,' 'hunches,' etc. - and even dresses the part. He introduces himself as a detective before he even thinks to mention the living skeleton part. While he never forgets that he is a skeleton, he does occasionally forget that some people might find it difficult to swallow. Of course, becoming a living skeleton has not killed Skulduggery's sense of fashion in the least. His good friend Ghastly Bespoke works as a tailor, and so Skulduggery only wears the best suits. Although he often has to cover up completely in public – usually with scarves, hats, sunglasses, and outrageous wigs – Valkyrie can't help but think of him as a gentleman from the moment she first hears him speak, due in part to the clothes he wears.
Skulduggery also had a talent during the war for inspiring loyalty and motivation in the troops he led; he’s very charismatic, very charming, and very convincing. Perhaps the most obvious and most endearing aspect of Skulduggery's personality is how impressed with himself he is. He loves showing off his abilities to Valkyrie, and gets genuinely puzzled when people don't seem to like him right off the bat. He takes pleasure in his own wisecracks, exalts his own plans to high heaven, and frequently comments on his own 'natural grace and athleticism.' He does have good reason to brag – not only does he have an impeccable sense of balance, but he also has a very sharp mind that doesn't miss much. He's suave, charming, witty, and pleasantly enthusiastic about many of his undertakings.
On a darker note, Skulduggery is also very aware of the kind of anger he's capable of, and what it can make him do. He's described his nature to Valkyrie as a 'dark and twisted thing.' But it's also made him painfully sensitive to the losses of others, and although he accepts death as a necessary part of his work, he's reached a point where he’ll do everything in his power to avoid it. That isn't to say he won't break rules, though. Skulduggery is not above the occasional bout of crime, trespassing, or otherwise illegal activity – all for the greater good, of course. He admits that he'll go exceedingly far to solve a crime. His judgement, which is usually detached, neutral, and objective, seems to fade whenever something or someone makes him angry. He was willing to go up against two vampires and break into a highly sacred vault - the highly sacred vault of his best friend, no less - just for the chance at some information that might lead him to Serpine.
In the magical community, Skulduggery is not well-liked and not well-trusted, partly because he tends to politely insult anyone he doesn't like, and there are a lot of people Skulduggery doesn't like. Apart from that, many sorcerers won't trust someone whose face they can't see, and whose motivations they can't predict. This doesn't seem to be a big problem for Skulduggery, though. Most sorcerers in Ireland respect him as a detective and an Elemental, and many people will bypass the Sanctuary and go directly to him for help. They know that – despite Skulduggery’s many quirks of behaviour and eccentricities, his infamous legendary rage, his dry sarcasm – when you have a real problem, Skulduggery is precisely the kind of person you want on your side.
[Abilities / Strengths & Weaknesses]:
Skulduggery is an Elemental, which means he has a degree of control over each of the four elements. This goes beyond what other Elementals in his universe are able to do, thanks to a year spent in an alternate dimension with nothing to occupy him but torture and practicing magic. Among his more powerful abilities are walking on water, flying, creating solid walls of air, summoning continuous streams of fire, and manipulating earth as more than just a defensive element. Water is his best of the four elements, as he’s the only Elemental shown to be able to walk on water or to manipulate moisture in the air to such a degree. As powerful as he is with air, none of his abilities in the element are unique – not until he teaches himself how to fly.
He is also what’s known as an ambidextrous sorcerer, meaning that he can wield two disciplines of magic – the second being Necromancy. Necromancy is shadow magic that feeds off death, and Skulduggery’s skill with it is such that during the war, he had the power to take on gods. For that, however, he needs the armour he placed most of his power in. While he is capable of using small bouts of Necromancy without that armour, he actively avoids this branch of magic like the plague. Almost no one in his universe knows about the second discipline, and Skulduggery intends to keep it that way.
Outside of magic, Skulduggery is an incredibly skilled fighter – brutally efficient, rather than showy. He’s also a skilled swordsman, and has near-perfect aim with firearms. He’s keenly observant and highly intelligent, with a tendency to be completely unpredictable.
Skulduggery’s strength is in his detective work and his impartial attitude, but that attitude is occasionally a drawback. He has difficulty keeping friends because he has difficulty knowing when to stop, when to respect another person’s wishes, and when to back down. He’s the one able to make decisions that, while morally objectionable, are made for the greater good. This can mean betraying trust, manipulating people/friends, and sacrificing the safety of individuals to win the bigger battle. Some sorcerers in his world might see that as a strength, but given that it turned him into a psychotic killer for five years, Skulduggery’s learned over the years how to be far more careful.
Only about as much as would stop him from hopping from island to island – which mostly means flying. The manipulation of air in his universe can encompass a lot just short of flying, however, so he’ll be able to do things like hover – or even fly a short distance from ship-to-island and around an island, before his strength gives out. Likewise, he’s capable of barreling underwater at incredible speeds, so the same rules would apply there.
The Necromancy is self-nerfing. He doesn’t use it. It’s likely we won’t even see it in the game, particularly since he won’t have his armour.
[Other Important Facts]:
-He’s a living skeleton, and therefore doesn’t need to eat, drink, or sleep. He does feel pain, and he is capable of falling unconscious, however. So while he can lose limbs and simply pull them back on, he prefers not to.
In place of sleep, he meditates, which has about the same effect as sleeping in that he ‘dreams,’ and he’ll ‘wake up’ feeling refreshed and more in control. The difference is that meditation isn’t required for his overall health - it’s a choice he makes, mainly to pass the time.
-He’ll arrive in the game wearing a nicely-tailored suit that, thanks to a magical tailor, is bullet-proof and weather-proof. He’ll have a revolver in a shoulder holster loaded with six bullets. He’ll also have a phone, though it’ll be useless in the game, as well as the keys to his precious 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental. He’s been known to store things inside his ribcage, but it’ll be empty upon arrival at Isla Empieza.
-He has an Irish accent. (Yes, I felt it necessary to make this a separate point.)
Skulduggery at the Test Sail with Hopeless and Basco. Note that the thread with Descry Hopeless was done before the eighth book came out, so there are a couple of minor discrepancies with regards to Hopeless’s history – most noticeably in how Hopeless died. Also have Skulduggery meeting a teenage sort-of-empath and Skulduggery showing off to a Jabberwock.
Is there a dictation feature on this…? Ah, yes, there we go. Whoever is sailing the ship currently heading towards the island with the large pine tree right in the middle - if you’ll look behind you, you’ll notice a well-built catamaran that, while admittedly impressive, is being attacked by a much larger and slightly more impressive Navy ship. You might be able to hear the explosions. If you could –
[Dictation cuts off for a few seconds, records a shout in a series of ‘aaaaaaaaaa’s, then cuts back in.]
As you can see, or probably hear, we’re in a spot of trouble. My journal is exaggerating how much trouble, but – oh, it italicizes for emphasis. Excellent. If you could turn around and help us fend them off, I’m sure we could arrange a trade of some kind. This might be in your best interests, since I’m fairly sure they’ll go gunning after you once they’re through with us.
[If there’s an equivalent to radio static in handwriting, the journal manages it. It also manages to record a noise of curiosity, presumably in response to said static handwriting, before the post ends.]