Jump to content

Adventure! RPG - Pithekosopolis - The City of the Apes


Recommended Posts

Prompted by a question in the "A! Horrific elements" thread, here's the lost city of Pithekosopolis from my Adventure! game notes. I run my game in the 1990s, so the dates don't mesh perfectly with a 1920s A! game, but feel free to adapt it however you need to.

Pithekosopolis is on a small, unknown island in Polynesia or Micronesia or wherever you need it to be. It could even be found in mainland Africa or India if you want. In my game, it's on a small island near Tahiti. The island is longer than it is wide, and Pithekosopolis is on one end of it. The other end is home to a bunch of Tcho-Tcho cannibals that think of the apes as "demons" and attack them whenever they can. The natives tend to attack unarmed apes or those that are alone or working in the fields, as the ape army is able to defeat the natives pretty easily.


The primary founder of Pithekosopolis (The City of the Apes) is the Ourang-Outang from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” In the 1830s, this creature of remarkable intelligence was taken from Borneo to Paris as the captive pet of the Maltese sailor. During his imprisonment in the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes, he was the subject of several years of research at the hands of an early English primatologist who named him Epicurus and tried to teach him the English language. Epicurus was more intelligent than he ever let on, and when he had tired of the human’s silly games, he let himself out of his cage, stowed away on a ship bound for the East, and headed back towards Borneo. Epicurus was marooned on this island when the ship was scuttled by a tropical storm.

Epicurus joined the native population of orangutans and began to raise them out of their ignorance by teaching them to speak, as well as sharing with them many of the qualities of human civilization that he had learned. By the 1920s, the descendants of Epicurus had built an advanced community of intelligent orangutans. At the heart of his thinking was a copy of Plato’s Republic, and the resultant community was built around a Platonic ideological model.

That community was disrupted in the mid-1920s by the appearance of a group of comparably intelligent African gorillas fleeing a civil war among their tribes in the Congo. Although the group did not include Enkidu (Adventure!, p. 83), they were fleeing from the same “evil tribe.” The newly-arrived gorillas brought a defensive, militant attitude that permeated the Pithekosopolitan culture.

Whatever harmony may have existed in Pithekosopolis was disrupted with the coming of human explorers in the early 1930s. Human explorers abducted one of the pre-eminent gorillas from the island and took him to the United States to display as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The captured gorilla was named Kong, and whether he is or is not actually 50 feet tall is a matter of intense debate among the apes. The gorillas had a slight understanding of Christianity that they’d picked up from missionaries in Africa, and the gripping tale of their leader’s abduction and death at the hands of the humans evolved into the Cult of Kong.

The latest wave of simian inhabitants arrived in the 1950s after escaping from an Army lab. This group consisted of a number of chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys, and gibbons that had been subjected to a regimen of drugs and training to make them into completely disposable soldiers and production line workers. They ended up as commandos and intelligent laborers, but (like their simian brethren) chafed at the idea of slavery.

The three main groups (orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees/rhesus monkeys/gibbons) have not integrated particularly well. The orangutans are staunchly conservative about being the founders and maintaining rule over the community. The gorillas continue their warlike disposition, but obey the orangutans for the most part. The real political agitation comes from the ranks of the chimpanzees that see themselves as the intellectual equals of the orangutans and have a fairly progressive agenda of liberation.


The government and customs of Pithekosopolis are modeled on Plato’s Republic (which is also the model for Pierre Boulle's Planet of the Apes), and as such are rife with double standards and opportunities for manipulation. The orangutans see themselves as the Golden Pelts and believe that they are more intelligent than the other apes (which is actually true). They believe that they are entitled to rule, and towards that end, have formed the Golden Chamber. The Golden Chamber is a council of five leading orangutans: Adeimantus, Arete, Menesthes, Kephalus, and Radamanthos. Adeimantus, Arete, and Menesthes are usually in agreement, with Kephalus and Radamanthos standing in conservative opposition. The Golden Chamber has all of the power of legislation in the city, and while it pretends to listen to the other apes, it really only reflects the interests of the orangutans.

The second rank of the apes' culture is the Silverbacks (the gorillas). The gorillas are not as intelligent as the orangutans, but they are strong defenders of the Cult of Kong and of the Pithekosopolis. The field command structure of the army is made entirely of gorillas, although they take their orders from the Golden Chamber. A gorilla (Kalchas) is allowed to sit in on the Golden Chamber meetings and argue the gorillas’ position, but he does not vote.

The third rank includes all of the other apes. They’ve been excluded from most activity because they are new to the island (relatively) and because they have obvious uses as craftsmen. The orangutans call them the Bronzebacks, but most of the chimpanzees, gibbons, and rhesus monkeys object to that. The chimpanzees are comparable in intelligence to the orangutans. A spokesmonkey for the Bronzebacks (Glaucon) is allowed to attend the Golden Council meetings and to speak, but not to vote.

One of the most obtrusive double standards in the ape culture is that while the Golden Pelts and Silverbacks are allowed to take monogamous wives, the Bronzebacks are not. Another point of serious contention is that several of the chimpanzees are familiar with political theory other than Platonic communism, and they want political enfranchisement.

Military tactics use all of the abilities of the apes. A common form of attack (or defense) is to rain on the enemy from above with a hail of arrows from chimpanzee archers and then beat them into submission with gorilla ground troops. Orangutans do not fight. The apes have leather armor and Stone Age weapons. They're smart enough to use Steel Age or even more advanced weapons, but the ore-poor island lacks the natural resources to make them. The apes believe in the Greek concept of "blood guilt," and they will not kill except in self defense for fear of incurring the curse of Kong.


The story behind the 1933 film King Kong lies at the heart of the Cult of Kong. In the minds of some followers, Kong was a godlike gorilla, and the literalists even believe that he was 50 feet tall, although the more moderate believers argue that he was just a very large gorilla, but the human filmmakers had to make him bigger to explain how he could beat them. In the mythology, Kong was taken away by humans to display in their carnivals and circuses. He escaped their bonds, stole their woman, and climbed their Empire State Building, only to give his life defending the rights and freedom of the great apes. The believers also hold that Kong promised to return as he was taken away from the island, and they expect a messianic gorilla savior to return to them soon.

Although only gorillas may join the priesthood of the Cult of Kong, any ape may worship in the temple. It’s the only religion on the island, but not every ape is a believer. The complication that this religion provides is that Thrasymachus may come to see a female PC as his Ann Darrow and then abduct her.


The population of Pithekosopolis is up to the GM, but I recommend a 1:1:2 or 1:1:3 ratio among the orangutans, gorillas, and the other three major species. That is, if you have 100 orangutans, there should be 100 gorillas and 200 or 300 chimpanzees, gibbons, and rhesus monkeys. There are also quite a few tarsiers or langurs if the city is set in Polynesia, although they don't factor heavily into the politics and they aren't very smart. Those numbers are part of the political structure and the approximate birth rates among the populations. It's in the best interests of the orangutans not to allow for anything resembling a direct democracy, since they'd be outvoted.


Adeimantus — Golden Council leader. Adeimantus has been removed from the island not too long ago (early 1980s) but has recently returned to infuse the population with a more modern technological skillset. He was taken from the island by sailors and sold to Frenchman Phillipe Laborteaux in early 1980s, but after Phillipe’s death he fled Europe. Adeimantus is bilingual in English and French. Adeimantus is more keenly aware of the ability of the outside world to find the island, and he fears what might happen if it does. He is the same orangutan that appears in Clive Barker's short story "The New Murders in the Rue Morgue."

Arete — Arete is the wife of Adeimantus. She is a powerful leader and a member of the Council. She and her husband are usually in agreement on issues, but not always.

Kephalus — Golden Council member. Older and more conservative than Adeimantus. Kephalus is an adherent to the Cult of Kong and he hates humans. He wants to kill them, but he is kept from doing so by Adeimantus’ influence in the Council.

Xanthippe — Wife of Kephalus. Xanthippe is a crafty and conservative manipulator. She’s not on the Golden Chamber, but she is still influential, especially among the female orangutans.

Polemarchus — Son of Kephalus. Like father, like son.


Kalchas — Gorilla High Priest of the Cult of Kong. Kalchas is a religious fundamentalist that firmly believes that Kong died for your sins and that there is an impending ape-ocalypse that will bring doom to the island any day now. To this end, he’s been grooming Thrasymachus to step in to the role of the Returned Kong. Kalchas is psychic (Brain Skimming, Inspirational Aura).

Thrasymachus — Gorilla General. Always wants to fight. Speaks in short answers and grunts. Thrasymachus is positively huge for a gorilla. He’s a descendant of Kong, almost twelve feet tall, and weighs in excess of two thousand pounds. He’s also Inspired (One-Man Army, Enhanced Impact).

Chimpanzees, Gibbons, and Rhesus Monkeys

Glaucon — Chimpanzee spokesman. Glaucon has the potential to disrupt the society, as he is both a charismatic speaker and a keen political thinker.

Phidias — Chimpanzee sculptor. Phidias is an artist.

Helen — Chimpanzee beauty queen. Helen is stunningly attractive by ape standards, even to the non-chimpanzees. She’s only recently come of mating age, and the competition to be her first mate is rigorous.


The architecture of the city is that of the medieval southeast Asian Hindu cultures, and the capital building and temples of the city are modeled on Angkor Wat or Borobudur, although the Hindu reliefs have been replaced with Kong-related images. The principle buildings are stone, and the houses are wooden tree houses with mud-brick outbuildings and granaries. The technology is mostly Stone Age, but that's because the apes have limited natural resources available to them. If you decide to give them access to ores or other raw materials, there's no reason they couldn't have Bronze, Iron, Steel, or even Plastic Age technology. If the Adventurer!rs make technology available to them, most of the apes can use it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love this! ::tongue

Having just finished reading 'Congo' I'm in the mood for some monkey madness! Great little setting, especially the 'Kult of Kong' bit - brilliant!

Do you have any further plans for Pithekosopolis? If you do, put them up!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you read Terra Primate from Eden Studios yet Arcanum?

Not yet, but that's because I haven't found the book at deeply discounted price.

Do you have any further plans for Pithekosopolis?

That depends on what the players want their characters to do. Right now, they're concerned with getting off of the island. They've been there for a couple weeks living with the Tcho-Tcho, and now they've just learned that the apes not only stole all of their navigation and communication equipment, but also threw it into a volcano. Half of them are enchanted with the idea of intelligent apes, half of them are mad as hell that the apes would like them to die, one of them desperately wants a monkey knife fight, one of them was sizing up Thrasymachus last time we played, and one wants a monkey butler. All of them are concerned that pretty soon the Tcho-Tcho will attack and the island will turn into a massive primate vs. savage bloodbath.

On my end, I plan the following events:

* Introduce Prometheus, a new chimpanzee that's the father of the children that one of the PCs rescued from the Tcho-Tcho last time we played. He'll be grateful for the rescue of his children, and he'll offer them a way off the island. He knows about an old WWII base on the other side of the island, and the gadgeteer will be able to build a boat. . . or a gyrocopter. . . or who knows what else? He'll also be a political hothead, because he's read Atlas Shrugged and he's a covert capitalist that longs to go to America. They'll probably take him and his two kids off the island and hire him as a monkey butler.

* A romance between Helen and one of the PCs. One of the PCs is an exXxtreme athlete/fashion model (think xXx's Xander Cage + Zoolander's Hansel -- he's so hot right now!) that's as dumb as a post and already accidentally married to the daughter of the Tcho-Tcho Chief. It shouldn't be too hard to persuade him that Helen is a hottie even by human standards!

* A "romance" between Thrasymachus and the female PC. The female PC is blond and fairly attractive, so he'll grab her up just like Kong grabbed Ann Darrow. He might even climb to the top of a stupa until the PCs figure out how to knock him down.

* A monkey knife fight. You know a monkey knife fight would be cool. Don't kid yourself.

* A religio-political explosion among the apes between the Kong fundamentalists and the moderates, probably triggered by Kalchas and Thrasymachus.

* In the long run, the apes could send an assassin into the world to kill Prometheus.

Of course, my players are really good at coming up with ideas I never considered. They've already fundamentally changed the Tcho-Tcho culture by teaching them how to make better weapons and armor and trying to get them to quit eating each other, so breaking the monkey culture hasn't been ruled out.

Also, the idea of a group of intelligent monkeys getting their paws on a big, fast hydrofoil and becoming pirates entertains me. The story was originally meant to be a one-shot, but it could turn into something else. ::biggrin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A monkey knife fight. You know a monkey knife fight would be cool. Don't kid yourself.

Too right! ::thumbsup

and one wants a monkey butler

Sounds like my friend Al. There's one in every group!

Keep us informed!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now I've read Terra Primate, and I'm glad I got it for less than retail off of eBay. It's not a bad game, but it's just not very useful to me right now. The game system is Eden Studio's Unisystem, which I don't find particularly original or interesting, although it does convert easily into Adventure! since the stats are about the same. The last half of the book is pretty good if one doesn't have a lot of the original materials (like Planet of the Apes films and the novel or other resources) lying around or if one wants a ready-made setting. I find it amusing that they too use the words "Ape-opolis" and "Ape-ocalypse." All in all, I'd recommend it for an Adventure! reference.

My Adventure! game plays this Saturday, so we'll see what the PCs do to the poor apes' society!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find it amusing that they too use the words \"Ape-opolis\" and \"Ape-ocalypse.\"

Cool! Inspired by this thread, I went to the video store and rented out 'Congo'...

...As good as I remember!


How did the PC's do?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The PCs did pretty well, although since the story was supposed to be a shorter one-shot we kind of hurried through some things. After the PCs had been introduced to the Golden Council, they adjourned to a beauty pageant/banquet in town. They saw the stunning chimpanzee Helen and one of the PCs (the exXxtreme athlete/model) even flirted with her a bit. Then all of the gorillas got up from the tables and left, so some of the always-inquisitive PCs followed them.

But not very well. The gorillas heard the PCs and since one of the following PCs was the female one, things worked out quite nicely for me. I'd originally intended for the Cult of Kong to abduct one of the female NPCs accompanying the PCs, since I don't like to put PCs in the position of having to be rescued by the other PCs. That whole "your character gets to be the hostage" thing isn't much fun! Anyhow, she put herself in danger, so one of the gorillas snatched her up and ran off with her to the hidden Kong Temple.

The other PCs got together to rescue her. They got past the guards (including a spectacular monkey knife fight, only the "monkey" was a gorilla!) into the Kong temple, which is a large cave with construction in the middle of it. The gorillas were building a big tower in honor of their god, and it also happened to have scaffolding all around it with plenty of barrels to throw down on the PCs. Thrasymachus and Kalchas were at the top of the tower, and the PCs endeavored to rescue their comrade.

Much battle ensued, and it ended it up with one PC (a candy-raver martial artist) delivering a punishing kick to Thrasymachus's head and simulataneously being fatally thrown into the middle of the cave. The exXxtreme athlete (who has Might) bashed Thrasymachus with several hundred pounds of building stone and then locked into a struggle with him. The female PC (a bookish librarian) finished off Thrasymachus by stabbing him in the leg with a hoe (Beauty killed the Beast!) and the mighty gorilla messiah toppled to the ground below.

Then the PCs were taken out of the village by sympathetic chimps and a friendly orangutan and led to an abandoned WWII airbase. The gadgeteer put together bits and pieces of several bomber fuselages and they all returned to Tahiti in their makeshift hydrofoil (because just building a boat wasn't good enough for him!). They were accompanied by one of the chimps and his children, so there's a real possibility that they'll end up with that monkey butler.

Adventure! is soooo much fun.

Now they're on their way to Russia, where they'll do something in an ice hotel (I'm still planning this) and discover how the Machinatrix can use alien technology to become Baba Yaga.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...


I want you to be my GM!


I love the Donkey-Kong barrel thing too - excellent! Plus you had a monkey-knife fight in your finale! Ace! Now I just have to find a believeable excuse (yes, excuse, my players are not all into ape-antics) to fit as much of this into my Planescape game as possible. Hmm...

Thanks, let us know how the ice-palace thing goes too - I'm enjoying this!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Just trying to keep this alive - any updates on the way?



Not really. We've been busy with other things, so we haven't gamed that much recently.

In our last session, we wrapped up one or two loose ends in Tahiti and decided that, for now at least, Prometheus and his kids would stay with a zoologist contact of one of the PCs. She's raising the PC's pet snake that came from an Egyptian underworld and might be magical, intelligent, or Inspired, so a talking chimpanzee isn't too unusual for her.

Most recently, the PCs are in St. Petersburg for the 1998 TES.S.ERA.C.T. convention (Nikola TESla Scientific ERA Conference on Technology), where there is an exhibit of scientific "Hoaxes, Humbugs, and Heresies" featuring silly scientific dead ends like perpetual motion machines, table-top fusion generators, and the like. In the middle of the night, the hotel was rocked by a huge explosion. The PCs got downstairs and investigated to find a huge hole blasted in one wall of the convention center and one of the exhibits missing. Some footprints have led them to believe that robots were involved in the theft, and a local homeless lady provided them with a Vodka-soaked description of what caused the explosion that opened up the hotel: Baba Yaga. According to the witness, Baba Yaga flew her invisible mixing bowl up to the hotel, blasted the hole, and then some domovoi (dwarves) ran into the hole. They came out, got back in the mixing bowl, and flew away.

"Baba Yaga" is really Hephaestia Geary-Wexler, only no one knows that yet. She's been hiding out in Russia for the last couple decades or so administering over her technological utopia somewhere in Siberia. In exchange for some technological breakthroughs and some cash, the USSR turned a blind eye to her little project and even gave her some "disappeared" political prisoners to experiment on.

Her "mixing bowl" is a recovered UFO that she acquired when the Soviet Union collapsed and sold off some military hardware, including some of the stuff hidden in Zhitkur (Zhetiqara), the Soviet equivalent of Area 51. It was originally a Kath-Yal Saurian corvette, if you're familiar with Conspiracy X.

Her "domovoi" are short robots like Twiki from the old Buck Rogers in the 25th Century TV series. Later on (when she needs some heavy artillery to battle the PCs), she'll get out her her "Ro-Bears," cyborg bears that look like the ape-robot from Robot Monster, only they're bears.

Just to complicate things, a recurring NPC mastermind modeled on Marvel's Kingpin, The Maltese Falcon's Kaspar Gutman, and Zoolander's Mugatu is involved, and he's sending his own team of Inspired investigators to look into the Mystery of the Missing Motor. I'm still working on them, but so far they're a team of four investigators with a dog and a tricked-out van:

Federico -- An Italian ex-LeMans driver and daredevil stuntman.

The Dauphine -- A French femme fatale model-martial artist.

Wilhelmina -- A German gadgeteer/chemist/mad scientist.

Jaeger -- A psychotic German bodybuilder/brawler with an equally psychotic dog.

SchlactHund -- The equally psychotic dog, a Rottweiler. I'm not fully satsified with the name yet.

Just to liven things up, there may be soe Russian mafioski around to complicate things, probably led by a big thug named Ivan the Terrible.

I'm still working on how to get them all to a nightclub made from ice so we can have a really cool melee and possibly destroy the building.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cool! Literally!

We've not played in a while either, easter break see. Got a D20 Modern game on sunday though. Have to come up with a character.

A nightclub made of ice; why not have the PCs battle and move it into the club, where a certain 80s rap-star-u-like is doing his thing, a-la Ninja Turtles II? ::tongue I can see it now, brilliant! Even better if each of your 'churman' scooby doo guys is colour co-ordinated...

Thanks, as always,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Create New...