[Swords & Wizardry] New Monster: Apefolk



The jungle seemed to come alive, and it was angry. Plagues of biting and stinging insects seemed to swarm over the explorers. Three hirelings had already expired and the elf was looking a bit weak.

Then one night there was a chorus of howls in the jungle that unsettled everyone because it was obvious that these sounds were a form of communication, and they were drawing nearer. Then leering faces could be seen peering from the trees, and these visages were a strange mixture of man and ape. They stepped into the light of the campfire, apes that stood as men, and just as tall, bearing ragtag armor and weapons, they advanced.

Only I escaped to tell the tale. And to this day I cannot even bear the sight of the monkey that damned spice merchant downstairs keeps. Every time I look into its eyes I swear, it knows.


Hailing from distant islands and steaming jungles, the apefolk are a feral race of humanoids that often pose a threat to settlers, explorers and others that they see as encroaching on their territory. Apefolk look like an odd mixture of man and ape and are rumored to have been the result of strange alchemical experimentation gone awry many eons ago. Of course they do not believe this themselves and see their race as a gift to the world, presented by their pantheon of odd gods. While they may indeed have been created by an arcane mishap there are gods that heed the call of their witchdoctors and shamans. Druids are somewhat common among this race and their druids often haunt jungle groves and swamps, causing no end of misery and madness for interlopers.

Apefolk: HD 2+1 AC 7[12]; Atk Weapon (1d8), Bite (1d4) or Punch (1d6) ; Move 9 ; Save 12; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Climb:Apefolk are superb climbers, able to scale trees and walls easily (+3 to any climbing related rolls), Strong: Apefolk have great upper body strength, effectively around 13-15 for an average adult, thus granting them a bonus in grappling and hand to hand combat. Exceptional individuals will be able to cast spells, most commonly divine or druidic.

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9 Responses to [Swords & Wizardry] New Monster: Apefolk

  1. Lizardfolk says:

    Honestly, not the strongest you’ve posted (because, yeah, we expect gold every damn day! Hehe), though certainly nothing wrong with the apefolk. I just think they rather lack a major hook, at least to me. From a tactical standpoint they’re going to be a fighter’s bane and a wizard’s target practise, heh. Climbing foes always are if they won’t stick in melee.

  2. bat says:

    Brendan, thank you for the comment. Some days you get a bit of copper or brass because of things like misplaced notes or other distractions, but I like the fact that you rooted this one out. I went from zero to “Publish” in 15 minutes with this one, inspired by remembering that ape-thug in the old Conan story that figured on the cover of the old Lancer books. Frazetta painted gold on that one and I ended up with a bit of tarnished brass.

    They could be used as low-end thugs or alternatives to orcs in jungle or ancient Conan-esque games, something somewhere between man and ape. I will jazz it up a bit for the print version.

  3. sean wills says:

    *Phew* glad you wrote this one up – as I’d forgotten to include a bonus to climbing for my Mythic India apemen, the Vanara.

    Yep, I’ll use these instead of Orcs. Climbing foes = death from above.

  4. bat says:

    Sometimes lemons do make a bit of lemonade, if pulpy (pun intended).

  5. Lizardfolk says:

    Hey, there’s nothing bad here, and the Conan-style pulp ape-men are never unwelcome… I think maybe what’s “missing” from this monster (and maybe an idea for another day?) is to make them a playable race… They’re close enough to qualify I figure, and could easily translate across the R.E.Howard’s ape-men of Almuric too!

  6. Timeshadows says:

    These look like a solid example of their kind.

  7. bat says:

    Maybe I can offer them to Matt for Knockspell #3 as a player race. I do want to give a shaman variant for a nasty surprise.

  8. Kilgore says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what to do about ape-men in Forbidden Jungle (which is eeking along ever so slowly these days). Because, come on. Every forbidden jungle has ape-men (well, and elephant graveyards).

    Not sure if I want a monster along these lines or a character race akin to half-orcs. Or something else. This will be in the back of my mind as I decide. Thanks.

    One thought had been to take orc stats and add climbing (so as to keep the combat machine available to PCs against howling hoards of the things), but I’m wondering if I need baboon-men AND something bigger. 1HD seems too little for ape-based creatures, and your write-up is about gnoll-level, so maybe this is the route to go for the heavies. Another approach would be to make most of them 1HD monsters but allow for leveled fighter types for leaders and champions, etc.

    As Sean mentioned, this sort of thing is a perfectly acceptable replacement for typical fantasy humanoids. No reason for every creature to be a stunning stand-out. The forces of Chaos need footsoldiers, too. I’m curious to see the S&W Monster Book (I already ordered one) and am hoping to see a good selection of mundane-type monsters in addition to esoteric special types.

  9. bat says:

    I made these 2HD monsters taking into account the upper body strength of a primate compared to a human. In the Conan story Thak, the inspiration, was considered very strong, but not exceptionally bright, he was somewhere out there between apes and humans, therefore I didn’t know if people would want to play these things as a character race and I didn’t really want to get a Planet of the Apes thing going because to me that looks a bit cheesy. However, I do want to make some type of primitive spellcaster for the apefolk, with a few spells.

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