Friday, June 10, 2016

Ape Apocalypse: Campaign Setting

Ape Apocalypse is a campaign setting for use with the Grit and Vigor Tabletop RPG. It embraces the wild and wonderful genre of the Post Apocalypse. I will be drawing from some of my favorite apocalyptic books, comics, TV shows, comics and cartoons for inspiration. Most of these sources will be drawn from the many wonderful publications from the 50's through to the late 70's, as I find that books on the subject from that time were particularly clever.
How, when or why the world as we know it came to an end is not something that I am going to focus on. Rather the player characters will have grown up hearing all kinds of stories about how THE END came about. As a general backdrop, it will be a mix of Global Pandemics, Nuclear, Chemical and Biological weapons and Environmental Disasters (floods, fires, earthquakes etc) that did it. Now, after the end of the old world, the world has returned to a primeval state.

The World (North America)

A lot has changed since THE END. The seas have risen with melting ice caps, making global temperatures higher by over 42.86°F (6°C). Jungle and dense forest cover formerly temperate zones, while coastal areas are frequently battered by storm surges, category 6 hurricanes and other freak weather events. The heat and past over-farming and unwise hybrid crops has turned the former breadbasket states into harsh desert and scrub-land. Animals roam the once busy streets and highways and make homes in human houses. Cats, dogs, rats, flies, and parasites are the most widespread life. Pigs are a real menace, dwelling in ruins and wilderness. Gene-spliced species are all over the place, but are unstable and often diseased. Aberrations, Undead (ghouls and zombies in particular) and Mutant Beasts haunt ancient cities and poisoned swamps.
So the Earth is a wild, wild place. Haunted by monsters, radiation, toxins and mutated creatures. But life goes on.
CIVILIZATION: With the collapse of the old world and a large die-back of mankind, civilization if very different, not not too unfamiliar. The vast majority of people live in small petty kingdoms, towns and in nomadic bands that can be found thruought the wilderness. Many of these small communities keep mostly to themselves much like the feudal kingdoms of old, but usually with more of a Wild West feel. Hereditary leaders and leading families are the norm, with the top man or woman usually called Sherrif, Mayor, or Governor rather than Baron, Duke or King, but the difference is hard to tell. Several large city-states exist, and are ruled by either a Lord-Mayor, or a Governor supported by a City Council, Sherrifs, and Police. These city-states retain what large industry still exists on Earth, with most having one or more specialties.
The Ape Republic (see below) mostly keep to their sole city-state of Ape City or to plantations owned by wealthy ape landholders. These apes are notorious slavers, keeping humans and humanoids as slaves on their plantations and even in their homes. Technologically the apes are at a roughly medieval level of technology, but can use higher levels of technology.
TECHNOLOGY: The settings technology will be a combination of scavenger world tech and steampunk, mostly due to the lack of the many industries needed to maintain gas production. Most engines are powered by coal, ethanol or liquid methane. Some sources of electrical power still exist, but are usually regional or at least too clunky to keep going. General technology will be early to late 1800's (Wild West) with up to 1830's in the city-states. Anything more than that is up to individual workings of plucky inventors.

Rather than a host of weird mutant races, the world of Ape Apocalypse has Humans, Humanoids and Apes. The really weird sorts of mutants can be created with the Psion Class, Psychic powers and assorted monsters. Really weird and/or gross mutants are considered enemies by ape and man.

Humanity came very close to extinction via the events that brought about THE END, and may yet be doomed. Regardless of the humans origins, all humans are created as standard characters as outlined in Grit and Vigor. However there are many factions and tribes of humankind, and so some thought is called for. Several broad groupings are:
Regular Joes (Humans): These are the regular people created as standard in Grit and Vigor. These are identical to modern humans in every way, though rougher and tougher on average. Human morality of the time is much like that of 1800's America, especially concerning the Industrial Revolution and Wild West elements. The presence of slave-taking apes (and humans) and the many monstrous beasts of the wastelands breed some tough, no-nonsense folks.
Humanoids (New Neanderthals): Barbaric human-kin that have degenerated to their present state since THE END. They now comprise the majority of humans outside of the city-states. Humanoids look like hairy, primitive humans with thick limbs and rough features. They modify their starting ability scores as follows: Str +1, Con +1, Int -1. Humanoids have a knack for survival. Humanoids speak their own unique clan language and might also speak Ape, Creole, English, Mexican or Spanglish. They may dual-class as humans. Neanderthals do not roll on the "youthful experience" chart as do humans (see Grit and Vigor pages 4-5 for details).


Apes or Ape-men are the descendants of genetic experiments carried out on apes during the years prior to the apocalypse. They are a hybrid of humans and apes, with the keen intellect of humans but the strength of apes. Ape civilization is roughly Renaissance level, but they lack creativity and innovation, basing their technology off of old human designs.

Gorillas (Abanu, Gorilloid)
Art by Mentor Huebner
"You know as well as I that the wild humans have raided our farms. That, combined with the crop downturns, will cause starvation. We must invade and take those lands. What could be worse than famine, Doctor?" -General Ursus
Gorillas are the warriors of the apes; burly and brash and easily annoyed. Gorillas are often treated like the "big dumb cousins" of ape society, but many of them are in fact quite intelligent and can be quite gentle towards close friends and family.
Gorillas have a tendency towards "black and white" views on things, and tend to have lifelong prejudices. No gorilla is comfortable under the command of humans, as they see this as unnatural, they will work for pay from humans however. Many gorillas can be found in the ape-military or working as mercenaries in the city-states where they are in high demand.
Gorillas add +6 to their starting strength (max. 24). They modify their starting constitution by +1 and reduce their starting intelligence by 1 (max. 18, min. 3). When not using a weapon, a gorilla can make a claw or bite attack each round, scoring 1d4 points of damage. They are capable of launching into a menacing display of power that forces creatures with 0 HD or less than half the gorilla's hit dice to pass a Will saving throw or be frightened for 1d4 rounds. Gorillas speak Ape Common and might also speak Creole, English, Mexican or Spanglish.
Gorillas are limited to 7th level, except as fighters, at which they can advance to 9th level. They may not dual-class. Apes do not roll on the "youthful experience" chart as do humans (see Grit and Vigor pages 4-5 for details).

Chimpanzees (Chuman, Humanzee)
Art by Mentor Huebner
"Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death." -Cornelius
The chimps are the adventurers and risk-takers of the ape people, always curious and often chattering. They are all curious and interested in learning and exploring, and so are the most likely to communicate with humanity than are other apes. Most Chimps are considered "cute" by other apes and many humans, and so can often get away with indiscretions more readily. Even cross-ape and cross species relationships are not unheard of, though they are still taboo.
Chimpanzees are emotional and intersted in experiencing life, and so many take to the life of the explorer and wanderer. Many can be found in the city-states working in a wide range of positions.
Chimps add +2 to their starting strength (max. 20). They modify their starting intelligence by +1 and reduce their starting wisdom by 1 (max. 18, min. 3). Chimps have a knack for climbing sheer surfaces. In place of a weapon attack, a chimp can make a claw or bite attack that deals 1d3 points of damage. Chimps speak Ape Common and might also speak Creole, English, Mexican or Spanglish.
Chimps are limited to 9th level, except as rogues, at which they can advance to 11th level. They may not dual-class. Apes do not roll on the "youthful experience" chart as do humans (see Grit and Vigor pages 4-5 for details).

Orangutans (Hutan, Pongo)
Art by Mentor Huebner
"You are right, I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand and hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a warlike creature who gives battle to everything around him, even himself." -Dr. Zaius
Orangutans are the "wise old men" of the ape community, bureaucrats, clergy and leaders. Almost as strong as gorillas and deeply spiritual, Orangutans make excellent teachers, scientists and leaders. They are often found leading the Ape Republic, and settle matters via Democratic means.
Orangutans usually keep to Ape City or other Ape settlements, preferring not to mingle with mankind. Still, a few have made their way to the city-states and mingle with humans. Most however distrust mankind deeply.
Orangutans add +4 to their starting strength (max. 22). They modify their starting wisdom by +1 and reduce their starting charisma by 1 (max. 18, min. 3) due their stodginess and superior attitudes. Orangutans have a knack for climbing sheer surfaces. In place of a weapon attack, an orangutan can make a claw or bite attack that deals 1d4 points of damage. Orangutans
speak Ape Common and might also speak Creole, English, Mexican or Spanglish.
They are limited to 8th level, except as scholars, at which they can advance to 10th level. They may not dual-class. Apes do not roll on the "youthful experience" chart as do humans (see Grit and Vigor pages 4-5 for details).


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