Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Strange Kin #4

The Incredibly Overlooked Ape

Is there not anyone else in the world of adventure gam
ing that thought apes should be in more fantasy role-playing settings as Player-Characters? I've read authors striving for non-Tolkien derived campaigns all but stop short. In Glorantha elves are turned into walking vegetables and dwarves into walking stones, and every beasty from a National Geographic documentary on life on the savannah to only baboons to represent the simians, and mostly as an after thought at that. Another came up with space alien-looking things with no mouths and feeding off of sunlight and bragged about having 'No Elves!' And then the scores of D&D renaming of the hobbit, where thieving and craftiness were only rivaled by exceptional irritating portrayals by their players, standing next to no-neck humans with tails or wind-up robot war machines. But had anybody just plopped in Curious George next to Crusty McDwarfy Dwarf, I would've been more impressed.

Maybe we all haven't read The Jungle Book, but everyone had to watch the movie. I know I had to about eight times before i was ten. Didn't Edgar Rice Burroughs have interludes of Tarzan's early family life with his ape family? Haven't we all owed a sock monkey at one point in our life? Didn't even Ronald Reagan make m
ovies with a chimpanzee?

The next couple of days, I go into a couple of the Ape Kindred
races. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by how the ape as a Kin is not obvious. I sent the drawing above that I made during an early 7th edition campaign to an artist who was contributing to my Athebes project but having problems with thinking how to draw an ape. Apparently she'd never seen the movie Planet of the Apes because her snippy reply was not "Which one of these could be an ape? Does it have two arms and two legs and is a bit more hairy than the other humanoids around it, and it didn't have eight limbs?"
No her reply, "There is no ape in this picture."
As opposed to being able to grasp a simian in a FRPG context, I must've been lying.


  1. Well, let's see, now. I am sure that at least one version of "Monsters! Monsters!" had Tarzan style apes; you have mentioned RuneQuest's baboons (who were part of the Glorantha mythos starting with "Nomad Gods", before RuneQuest came out), and there was a wonderful little minatures-bordering-on-RPG game back in the '70s called "Star Guard" that was mostly an effort to game Heinlein's "Starship Troopers", but expanded over time to more interesting things, and included an appropriately sized simian race called the Orilla. There was also an SF anthropomorph game called "Justifiers" that had starts for dozens of base animals, including gorillas, chimps, and generic monkeys.

    So there is some stuff out there, but you are right: Examples are few and far between.

  2. Rogue Space has a free supplement entitled Simian Stars that is a space-faring race of apes. It is heavily inspired by Planet of the Apes, but the Simians have spaceships.

    Check it out, find it at the downloads page:

  3. Yes, but I think the point that the author is trying to make is that as T&T players, can't we do better?

    1. Thank you Cranky.

      Just to be sure you know, these articles are just that. People can feel free to work with it or not.

  4. For some reason apes are all over SFRPGs. I have a theory on that but that topic isn't this topic. I was thinking of an angle to spice up my article here. Let's not get going back and forth when on the difference of a FRPG and SFRPG, as well as the quantitative number of simian species in specifically Fantasy RPGs throughout history. Let's save that for the Halls.
    @Paul, I had forgotten about the ape entry in Mosters! Monsters!

  5. Mars for Savage Worlds has the White Ape Empire. Although arguably Sci-Fi, the Ape Empire is a fine example of what a race of Fantasy ape-men could be.

    For T&T, I could easily see an ape race akin to neanderthals, using wooden, stone, and bone weapons, no armor but possibly helmets and shields of similar materials. I suppose breast plates made of bone or wood could be possible as well. Magic would be available, but in a shamanistic form, probably only rogues, not wizards, and spells would be passed one at a time from shaman to shaman. Most ape-men would be hunter-warriors, most women would be gatherers and child-rearers, but there would be exceptions. Strongest would rule as chief, or possibly a council of elders if you want your apes to be a bit more sophisticated. They would be organized into clans, and clans could form loose tribes segregated by species. Different simian species could make up various tribal kindreds. Clans would be typical of such civilizations in regards to relations with one another, ranging from close allies to bitter rivals. Tribes would each speak their own language, with a possible simian version of common for the various species/tribes to communicate with one another, but intelligent individuals could learn other languages they are exposed to just as any other character. I think that would more or less fit the bill for my T&T universe.

    Monstrum Codex 2 in the Delver's Pack has an Ape-man.

    My copy of M!M! does not include an ape. It is the recent FBI reprint of the one from 1976.

    I'm looking forward to your take on the simian kindreds, should be very interesting.

    1. The Og and piltdowner play the caveman role in my campaign. My apes are as evolved as humans or elves, maybe in a slightly different direction, depending on what I come up with here from my notes in the next few minutes.

  6. One word: "Ewoks". :)

    --The Grand Rascal,
    (a.k.a. "Glarrrn" on Trollhalla).

    1. Two words "Grape Ape. Grape Ape."