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Apes Victorious is a new release by Daniel Proctor of Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future fame. It’s an unlicensed Planet of The Apes RPG with OSR rules and altered fluff. It apparently uses the same rules as Starships & Spacemen 2e. I’ll just lay it out right upfront; there’s nothing in this book that impresses me.
Classes and races use a combination of requirements and ability score adjustments. The classes are Astronaut, Bonobo Agent (spies), Chimpanzee Scholar, Gorilla Soldier, Humanoid (devolved humans), Orangutan Politician, and Underdweller (psychic mutant humans). Aside from Bonobos and Underdwellers these are all too on-the-nose for me. Race-as-class seems to be here just for the sake of race-as-class. Compare this to Terra Primate, which presents the possibilities of chimpanzee soldiers and orangutan merchants in its pastiche of Planet of The Apes. It also generally suggests that gibbons could be an underclass above humans but below the great apes.
Mechanics-wise this is pretty close to Labyrinth Lord. Each class has a static to-hit number based on class; enemy armor imposes a penalty to the roll. For example, any 1-HD character hits if he rolls 12 or more on a 1d20 but gets -2 on the roll if his enemy is wearing kevlar. Wisdom becomes PSI which measure Psionic potential. Psionics are a simple (disappointingly so) point-based system. There aren’t wild talents or psionic combat here.
Lore-wise it does offer some decent new ideas. Bonobos as spies/thieves. Cryogenically preserved humans that escaped the nuclear holocaust of the 1970s. The biggest divergence from the source material is with the Underdwellers. They’re like a bit like Richard Sharpe Shaver’s dero; twisted but brilliant, with incredible technology such as lasers, cloth as damage-resistant as metal, and infiltrator robots with organic ape components (yes, that’s a Terminator reference).
I’ll admit that I might be a little harsh. I’m judging it against Terra Primate, a non-OSR book that tackles the same genre for only 3 cents more. The only thing Apes Victorious has going for it is the OSR/OGL compatibility with Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future. Terra Primate by itself can do everything that Apes Victorious + Labyrinth Lord + Mutant Future can do with the exception of the high-tech Underdweller stuff, which it would need to use the compatible All Tomorrow’s Zombies for.
I’d rate Apes Victorious a 3/5 at best.