"ALERT! ALERT! PREMATURE LANDING!You groggily come back to consciousness after a long cryosleep. Your ship’s warning system is telling you the ship has entered the atmosphere of a planet and is about to crash land under autopilot. Crawling to a seat, you buckle in, joining your fellow astronauts as you quickly check instrument readings.
Through the cockpit window you see a barren, desolate landscape flashing by. The ship skims a large lake before coming to a stop just off the pebble shore. The computer indicates that there is a breathable atmosphere, and after gathering survival packs the crew exits the ship.
“Where are we?” you ask each other, as everyone wades to the shore seeing a wasteland with little vegetation.
“Which planet is this? We must have gone off course on our return from Alpha Centauri.”
Then there is the sound of hoof beats, adding to the disorientation. Hoof beats? Are we on Earth?
Around an embankment comes several riders bearing rifles. As they approach, the sun glares in your eyes and a shot fires; a companion to your left falls to the ground holding his stomach. A large rider stops in front of you, momentarily blocking the sun and providing a clear look at his face.
“An ape! We’re on a planet ruled by apes!”"
Imagine if you could that your PC has woken up from cryosleep and the crewmen around him are all dead except for two or three of his crew mates. Something's happened to the ship & you now find yourselves upon a strange alien world ruled by humanoid apes! No this isn't the latest Hollywood block buster its the Apes Victorious rpg from Goblinoid Games!
Since the game was announced I've followed its development very closely & it follows on the heels of Stars Ships & Spacemen second edition in fact in the footsteps of that system very closely. One might think that this isn't a complete role playing system, dead wrong this is a complete system that can be tacked onto the rest of the Goblinoid games family of products.
I love the set up for the game itself;:"Apes Victorious (AV) is a role-playing game in which players take on the roles of humans (often astronauts) from the past who find themselves marooned on this upside-down world in which apes occupy the highest rung on the evolutionary ladder.
In this setting just prior to when the world was destroyed in the 1970s, humans had made great advances in space travel and cryonics. A space drive that could propel small ships at speeds just below the speed of light had been developed, and scientific crews had been sent to numerous candidate solar systems to scout for habitable worlds." Two things are happening right in the introduction, this is an alternative Seventies where space flight,super science, & more has taken an alternative path in its development.
"Although the continents are still in their familiar positions, weather patterns have changed so dramatically that many places have a very different climate compared to when humans flourished on the Earth. The east and Midwest of the former United States are a virtual desert, with small oases of fertile land.
The Southwest is gradually becoming a fertile water-rich region, while the coastal area in the west is parched waste."
Designer & author NordNordWest map of the United States
This rpg has the pick up & go quality that one has come to expect from Spacemen & Spacemen second edition. This makes an excellent way of picking up the Apes Victorious for both old school players & new players to the table. You can play seven different types of characters:
Astronaut -Astronauts are human space voyagers who either traveled through a warp in time to the Earth of the future, or spent too long in cryosleep before coming back to Earth from a mission.Astronauts are trained for a variety of circumstances, because their missions of exploration may have called on them to defend themselves or learn to survive off the land in alien environments.
Bonobo Agent - Bonobos are the most socially adept of all apes. They have a flair for dealing with others and perceiving the complexities of social and political situations. Bonobo agents serve their local government in the roles of diplomats and spies. Bonobos average about 5’ tall and have hair ranging from pale to dark
Chimpanzee Scholar -Chimpanzee scholars form the intellectual backbone of ape society. All of ape society progresses socially and scientifically due to the achievements of chimpanzees. They are intelligent and generally open minded, and this combination sometimes makes them skirt the edges of acceptable thought.
They average about 5’ tall and have light to dark brown hair.
Gorilla Soldier -Gorillas are the warrior caste of ape society. They are fiercely competitive and aggressive, but they are equally disciplined from the military and have respect for authority and chain of command. Gorillas have black hair and an average height of 6’.
Humanoid -Apes call the native humans “humanoids.” Humanoids are the living descendants of the “fortunate” humans who stayed at the surface of the planet and suffered but survived the effects of the nuclear devastation. Humanoids appear as humans from the past, but with greatly reduced intellect. They are incapable of speech, and cannot even understand speech unless they are aggressively taught for a long period of time. They communicate through gestures and vocalizations, and wear crude furs when they wear anything at all.
Orangutan Politician - Orangutan politicians are a combination of scholars and clergy, with the application of these in governing. They are seldom practicing scientists, but rather set policy and oversight for science. Orangutans have orange to yellow hair and average about 5.5’ tall.
Underdweller- The underdwellers are the descendants of the humans who retreated underground to survive the nuclear war. They remained below through the course of the nuclear winter and the ice age that followed. Now that the climate has begun to warm and the Earth is beginning to recover, their attentions have turned back to the surface. Underdwellers have white, semitranslucent skin. Blue veins can be seen in radiating patterns all throughout their skin. Their hair ranges from white to pale blond, and eyes range from
light blue to pink."
The usual tropes of old school rpgs are going to be thrown out the window for PC's in Apes Victorious. They might be the dashing sword & sorcery heroes in alternative games of Labryth Lord or other old school rpgs. But in a straight Apes Victorious game they're going to be cave men and women running for their lives, resisting the Ape's Earth's masters, trying to survive, and trying to get a leg up in a world gone mad. This is a well developed world with lots of moving parts and pieces with even its own money,currency, and customs and its world that Planet of The Apes fans are going to be familiar with sort of.
Apes Victorious takes its lead from the Planet of the Apes films and cartoon but distinguishes itself & fills in the details. The DM can turn the fantastic science fantasy elements up or down the old school volume control. How? Well let's start with the fact that the world setting for Apes is Earth but there is an emphasis of a future Earth with a weird Pleistocene megafauna sort of creatures scattered throughout the creature section. These are mix in with horrors of the 'Forbidden Zone' all of these can be cherry picked by the DM as they want or need for their campaign. And that's another point of the game, the players and DM are in charge of their own Ape Victorious world sticking to that Goblinoid Games D&D DYI attitude. There are all kinds of mutant and gonzo menaces to stick into your version of the 'forbidden zone' or not from brain dissolving slime to weird reptilian humanoid horrors and even cyborg simians! For psionics Apes Victorious uses the same rules as Star Ships & Spacemen which means that everything is streamlined and works quite nicely. But is Apes Victorious a one trick monkey of a system? Nope not at all, this was one of my biggest concerns about the game.
"One of the challenges of the world presented in Apes Victorious is the fact that the genre is very niche specific. A reader may rightly be wondering how much mileage one can get trying to play out scenarios to depict the strangeness of a post-apocalyptic world where apes run everything, and humans are degenerate slaves" The game has a number of campaign suggestions from having the players play apes hunting humans to Underdweller enclaves being the campaign focus. From trips into the 'Forbidden Zone' to ruin exploration to running medicine to humanoid villages to smuggling super science relics all of this is possible in this game. But PC's better be able to run like hell because giant flightless birds including Terror birds are included in the monster mix.
All though not game art this piece by