Wednesday, 22 July 2020


CW: Mind control, cannibalism

Before you continue, please read Arnold Kemp's glog class the baboonist because you should.

It has been mentioned that there's no manifestation of the archetypal spirits of apes, since like humans they are intelligent creatures with their own ambitions.

This does not mean that every ape (nor their monkey cousins) encountered is mundane encounter.

Far from it.

What follows is a list of five simians that might be encountered in the primeval world of PARIAH.

Monkey—a former familiar

Sorcerers, wisewomen and witches sometimes like to bind a spell-spirit to an animal to create a familiar: a loyal but sometimes frustratingly stupid servant. Monkeys are often favoured for their prehensile hands, and their binocular vision (when peering through your familiar's eyes, it's nice if those eyes are familiar).

When the sorcerer dies, the spirit returns to their realm of origin. However, there exists fates worse than death, and while these can be a living hell for those that befall them they likewise leave their familiar spirits stranded in the Here & Now.

HD: 1/2| HP: 1 | Att: claw or bite for 1 hp dmg (att value 9) | Def: 15 (v. fast)|
Mv: 40' | Ml: 5* | Size: small

This creature is immune to all damage inflicted by mundane weapons (except metal weapons).

This particular monkey-familiar finds itself without a mistress, and will attach itself to any magically inclined party member, demonstrating obedience and rudimentary intelligence.

Its worth will be underscored by an uncanny ability to detect magical objects.

It does have an ultimate agenda, however: somewhere out there its former mistress—the only one capable of freeing the familiar spirit from its current state—is likewise trapped, neither alive nor dead. It will attempt to lead the PCs to her, possibly over a period of many months.

* Morale counts as 12 if  its mistress' well-being depends on it.

Trrrau, Orangutan Shaman

All orangutans are intelligent, that goes without question. To the people living on the fringes of their lush tropical forests they are revered as forest guardians, working for the Great Forest Spirit to maintain balance.

HD: 4 | HP: 20 | Att: slam or staff for 1d8 hp dmg (att value 15) | Def: 12 | 
Mv: 30' | Ml: 9 | Size: medium

Trrrau is ancient and revered even amongst her own people, and is this reverence which is said to keep her magnificent coat still rich and red, in spite of her advancing years. She walks upon a heavy stick which she wields as a weapon if her or her charges are threatened.

The stick is also a staff to which she has bound three dawn spirits, and she will use them to create illusions and charms to beguile her way out of an insurmountable conflict. When outnumbered she can call upon a random animal spirit for aid: they will arrive in 1d3 rounds.

Trrrau does not speak the common tongue, but she is able to communicate with all the animals and plants of the forest, so they might intercede as interpreters should efforts at communication go awry. Given the opportunity she will take great pleasure in drawing, though her efforts are somewhat untutored.

In addition to her magic staff Trrrau carries a pouch of shaman shrooms and sorcerer's sage.

Skek, the Mandrill Magician

When Skek was born the other mandrills knew he was special.

This was not good for Skek.

Being special is not considered agreeable in mandrill society.

HD: 3 | HP: 19 | Att: 1 club/1 bite for 1d6/1d4 dmg (att value 12) | Def: 13 |
Mv: 40' |Ml: 9 | Size: medium

Skek's curiosity and intelligence led to him being outcast as a kind of primate pariah. During his wanderings the young Skek came upon the an aged sorcerer, who attempted to bind a a spirit to what he thought was a dumb beast, creating a familiar.

Skek's intelligence meant that the spirit was bound in service to him, and the first mandrill sorcerer was born. He was clever: he did well to not disclose his true nature, and studied the rituals and ways of the sorcerer for as long as felt necessary.

Satisfied with the knowledge he had acquired, Skek murdered his master in his sleep, returned to his own troop and destroyed the alpha mandrill with his magic. Having achieved his life goal, he now ponders where to direct his ambitions.

Any mandrill loyal to Skek and within sight of their leader behaves as though they have a morale of 12, such is the fear Skek inspires in his subjects.

An ebony wand he carries at all times contains 1d4 bound spell-spirits. It can be activated only by uttering Skek's secret command word. Additionally, he carries 2d4 stones, each one creating a random spell-effect when thrown onto the ground (one use only). One of them will summon a powerful (5 HD) elemental, which may or may not be inclined to do its new master's bidding.

Fat-Head, the sort-of Gibbon...

Fat-Head is a very stupid gibbon, but he used to be a very stupid human.

HD: 1+1| HP: 6 | Att: claw/bite 1d6/1d4 dmg (att value 12)| Def: 12 (16 in trees) |
Mv: 40' (50' [150'] through the trees) | Ml: 6 | Size: medium

Fat-Head's former tribe lived on the outskirts of the great forest far to the north. Part of their complex covenant with the Forest Spirit that permitted them to stay there was a powerful taboo around the eating of gibbons. Over many generations Fat-Head's tribe came to consider this practice a form of cannibalism.

The young Fat-Head lived up to his moniker, however, and his curiosity around this taboo got the better of him. One day while out hunting he captured a juvenile gibbon and decided to eat it.

It was delicious.

Realising he would be punished if he brought the remains of the carcass back, he tried to bury it in the soft loam of the forest. A crow came and warned him that the Forest Spirit would find it if he just left the carcass there, and She would be very angry with all of Fat-Head's tribe, not just Fat-Head.

Fat-Head would have to eat the whole thing.

Fat-Head gulped it down as quickly as he could, but his belly was soon bloated. A gibbon is almost as big as a small human, and he had lots of meat to eat. Nonetheless, he persevered, and feeling sick to his very stomach, he eventually manage to consume all of its flesh over a period of several days.

Crow asked him:

"What of the gristle?"

Fat-Head whined, but knew crow was correct: he chewed and chewed and chewed until his jaw ached, but eventually the gristle was gone.

"What of the bones?"

Fat-Head nearly cried, but knew the bird was right: he boiled the bones up in soup and drank it all down, then crunched the soften bones piece by piece.

"What of the teeth?"

Fat-Head ground them up into a powder and snorted them.

"What of the fur?"

Fat-Head spat at Crow, and stuffed the bloodied gibbon-pelt into his travel-sack, sprinting back to where his band were camped.

Crow laughed, and muttered a curse under its breath.

Having been gone for several days, the elders were happy to see him alive and in one piece.

"Where have you been? We have been worried... but lo! You have been hunting! Fat-Head brings something in his sack for tribe!"

"Ah... it is just... just a pelt..."

"But of which beast? It's fur looks so curious, let us see!"

Fat-Head attempted to resist, but ultimately acquiesced to their demands. He pulled the pelt from his sack and draped it over his head as though it were a cloak.

The elders blinked.

"What witchcraft is this? A gibbon has replaced our Fat-Head?"

...for a gibbon Fat-Head had become, and it was not long before the elders realised what fate had befallen him. The hapless boy-become gibbon was banished from his village.

* * *

Fat-Head has given up all hope of reuniting with his tribe, and has been accepted by a shrewdness of gibbons. If he happens upon a group of humans not associated with his tribe he will attempt to join them, voicing his enthusiasm in the crude language of the lesser apes.

Consider allowing a player to control Fat-Head as a character.

Consider adding the gibbon as curse template to those who eat primate meat.


Eating primate flesh bestows an affliction, re-roll repeats. Afflictions manifest after a night's rest. When a pariah gains all afflictions they become a gibbon, either as an NPC or remaining under pariah control.

Canines extend and jaw grows stronger: can inflict an additional bit attack in melee for 1d4 damage.
Hair grows longer.
Arms extend: can now swing at walking pace through the canopy of dense forests.
Legs shorten, but become more powerful: walking speed reduces but may leap further than before.
All body hair falls out.
Finds animal flesh distasteful: save vs poison or suffer nausea. Does not apply to insects.
Loses power of speech: can only produce a limited range of distinct howls, growls and whoops (if still intelligent, may construct language...).
2d6 permanent intelligence damage (may go no lower than 3 but remain no higher than 9).

Forest Child (Nehemomet)

As has been mentioned once or twice, primates are considered sacred by forest peoples due to their close resemblance to people. The tribes close to the forest of the galago or night monkey treat this little creature with especial reverence, likening its large gentle eyes to those of an infant and referring to them as forest children. If an orphaned galago is discovered, it is expected that a tribesman raise it as though it were their own child.

HD: 1d2| HP: 1 | Att: claw or bite. Does 1 hp dmg only on  a crit (att value 8)|Def: 13
Mv: 30'|Ml: 4*|Size: tiny

This particular little forest child is seriously bad news.

For reasons unknown, a fierce spirit of the beyond Nehemomet has been imprisoned in the form of a bush-baby.

Nehemomet has great ambitions: to worm its way into the societies of the settled peoples, to construct great cities of stone and glass and to subjugate all seven realms of reality to its fierce will, and ultimately collapse all of reality into chaos.

For the time being, however, it remains imprisoned in the form of a bush-baby.

This galago's only power is to call out plaintively into the night, reminding PCs of a child that has lost its mother. A save vs spells is required by all who hear its cries to avoid being charmed. Those who fail will treat this bush-baby as their own child: they will care for it and will not do anything to bring it to any harm, directly or indirectly.

Once attached to one or more pariahs the galago will begin the next phase of its plan.

On a moonless night when the South Star is visible it can whisper into the ear of its bedfellow (for what heartless parent would leave their infant to sleep alone?) of things spoken of only in the hell beyond hells, the indigo void between the stars, the Aberrant Beyond.

The nightmares that this induce will be powerful enough to inflict 1d8 permanent wisdom damage.

If over a period of time that individual reaches 0 wisdom, the creature known as Nehemomet is able to control them like a puppet, and can begin their nefarious schemes to destroy reality.

It's ever so cute though.


  1. These are some really cool story hooks! I particularly love Fat-Head's story; it feels just like an old myth/Grimm fairy tale. Of all these characters, I'd probably use the former familiar - it has an agenda, but a subtle one that can easily fit into any campaign of substantial length.

    1. Thanks! I knew I wanted to have at least one former human in the mix (glad I went for just one in the end) and as I started writing it just came out in this aesop format.

      You're probably write about the familiar: in addition the others are probably too setting specific (Trrrau, Fat-Head) or too BBBEG (Skek, Nehemmomet . the familiar probably the easiest to re-skin for other campaign worlds. (NB. I do not condone monkey skinning)

  2. love it so much, only one issue here: the orangutan you posted a picture of here is clearly biologically male, orangutans are heavily sexually dimorphic and female orangutans don't have flanges on their faces. unless Trrrau is trans? which I am 100% here for, trans orangutan shamans ftw, but I feel like that at least ought to get a mention in her writeup lmao. what do queer identities even look like in a species with as much sexual dimorphism as orangutans? does she practice some sort of paleolithic shamanistic HRT? I have so many questions.

    1. That's totally fair! I'll confess I didn't know enough about primates (specifically orangutans) to make that distinction. Maybe I just thought the flanged ones were a subspecies? Glad to be educated on sexual dimorphism in one of our nearest genetic neighbours!

      All the same, I think I'll leave things as they are. Maybe in the world of the PARIAH male and female characteristics are reversed (in orangutans). Maybe Trrrau really is transgender: I'll leave it up to everyone else how to interpret it in their head canon or respective games tables.

    2. Oh and a reverse image search tells me that this particular orangutan was Chantek: a male orangutan who spent his entire life in captivity, he was also one of the first apes to learn ASL. So not only do I stand corrected, I also owe it to his memory (he died at the age of 39 nearly 3 years ago) to mention his achievements and his correct biological sex.

      > what do queer identities even look like in a species with as much sexual dimorphism as orangutans?

      This is both a) a fucking interesting question and b) waaaayyyy outside my area of expertise and one I'm going to leave to others to address in other spaces than this comment section!

  3. As if monkeys weren't terrifying enough...

    1. I adore primates but I don't think I've ever had a positive experience with one whenever I've encountered them in the "wild".