How to Finish Skeleton Forts in Sea of Thieves

Learn how to clear a skeleton fort, and how to get the treasure to port.


Skeleton forts are the Sea of Thieves version of raids: massive islands heavily defended by skeletons and with loads of rewards for those who can brave the challenge. If you and your crew want to claim the chests, skulls, and trinkets, you’re going to need to know how to finish skeleton forts. Come prepared, because it is not an easy fight.

How to Finish Skeleton Forts

Skeleton forts are massive looming fortresses that are dotted throughout the world of Sea of Thieves. These forts will usually be empty or have only a few skeletons milling about trying to attack passing ships. But sometimes you’ll see a skull cloud in the sky and it’ll be time to change course and see if you can withstand the waves of skeletons and claim the rewards.

To do skeleton forts in Sea of Thieves, start by locating an active skeleton fort as signalled by a huge, floating skull cloud. Sail toward this cloud until the skeleton fort below the cloud comes into view. Be careful, because each one of the cannons on the island will be manned by a skeleton looking to defend their treasure.

In order to avoid having your vessel sunk (causing you to have a respawn point far away) focus on taking down the skeletons operating the cannons. There are a few ways to do this: send a crew member to land with the express goal of killing any skeletons using cannons, fire upon the cannons using the cannons on the ship, or take aim with an Eye of Reach and blow the skeletons away from a distance. Set your ship in a safe location, and make landfall.

When you arrive in the heart of the skeleton fort, the goal is to kill every single skeleton. The skeletons will spawn in waves with the only goal to rid the island of human inhabitants. Use the surrounding environment to your advantage by kiting the skeletons into easily-managed groups. There are also explosive barrels around skeleton forts that can be used to clear large groups of enemies.

Keep your wits about you, as there are multiple types of skeletons that can appear on a skeleton fort. Gold skeletons become weaker when covered in water and ghost skeletons have their own little tricks.

If you run out of ammo while fighting the skeletons, return to your ship to resupply or locate one of the many ammo chests on the fort. It’s a good idea to always carry a cutlass, even if two guns is the preferred setup, that way it’s easy to defend against a skeleton even when out of ammo.

You will need to defeat a dozen or so waves of skeletons before the skeleton captain will appear. This captain bears resemblance to the captains that appear as part of the Order of Souls voyages. Attack the captain skeleton, making sure to manage the waves of normal skeletons, and when the captain falls, it will drop the skull key for the skeleton fort’s treasure trove.

Pick up the skull key and head to the locked door located somewhere in the skeleton fort. This door is typically found below the main fortress on the island. With the skeleton skull key in hand, interact with the locked door to open it, revealing a vast stockpile of treasure. You thought defeating waves and waves of skeletons was tough, this is where the real challenge begins. Now it’s time to ferry the rewards back to the ship or as much as possible before another player sails by and attacks.

It can be a good idea to take a moment every trip to scan the horizon and see if there are any other ships nearby. If you see a ship heading straight to you, grab the most expensive items and then the rest behind. Unless of course you are confident your crew is able to battle another ship and sink them. Because there is a lot of loot below the fort, picking the most expensive can be challenging, but there is a quick list of the items you should prioritize:

  • Stronghold Skull
  • Stronghold Chest
  • Villainous Skulls
  • Crate of Exotic Silks
  • Hateful Skulls
  • Captain's Chests
  • Marauder's Chests

Travel to a nearby outpost and deliver the haul as fast as possible or send a player with a chest over the side of the ship for a quick drop-n-run. If the closest outpost has a ship, divert immediately and locate another outpost. Keep your eye on the horizon and if you see a sail, travel the opposite direction. At this point, your goal is to avoid unnecessary confrontation. When you do find a safe outpost, get the items delivered and enjoy your rewards. Depending on the value of your loot, you should net at least 9,000 gold and a lot of reputation for each company.

With the skeleton fort raid finished, it’s time to begin other adventures in Sea of Thieves. Be sure to check out our Sea of Thieves guide for more helpful tips and insight in the game’s various mechanics.

Guides Editor

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler brings a bit of the southern hemisphere flair to his work. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and entering the video game industry, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can message him on X: @SamuelChandler 

Filed Under
Hello, Meet Lola