Monday, May 13, 2013

DFM1 Giant Apes hurling Rocks

I love giant apes. So naturally, when it came time to write GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1 I was all over writing up my game's giant apes for the book.

One criticism I've heard of the giant apes in that book is that, well, they're just big physical unarmed attackers. If you aren't making rules to ease the problems with unarmed strikes, they can get hurt when attacking. Their defenses aren't terribly high, either. So they are a physical threat but can be diced up by a prepared party (or even a prepared warrior). This isn't really a crushing flaw, though - they aren't really meant to be a "boss" monster unmodified, not against a supernaturally-assisted party of adventurers. For that you need Prefixes and Suffixes, like "Ghostly" or "Juggernaut" or ". . . from Hell" and the like. Still, it does mean they look tougher than they really are much of the time.

One thing they could really use is a way to reach out an touch someone unwilling to come into their (pretty substantial) reach, or who is flat-out dangerous to touch. They've got IQ 6, they're not so dull they can't figure out not to touch the guy in spiked armor or keep trying to punch Mr. Stabby the Swashbuckler. Giving them a tree branch to whack people with can help with the melee part, but what if they want to deal with pesky Scouts and flying Wizards?

I say throw some rocks.

So let's see how heavy of a rock they can hurl at their foes.

Throw Rocks

Giant Apes have ST 43 and Arm ST +2, for a new ST 45 for throwing and BL 405. What can they hurl at you, usefully?

The sweet spot of throwing is just above BL/2, so you do thrust +1/die and get good range. So this is a rock (or tree trunk) of about 205 lbs (more than 202.5, to be exact).

With a smaller rock, say 102 lbs (over 101.25, or BL/4) damage is lower but range is better.

They don't have the skill now, but that's easily solved - give them Throwing-14 if you're doing to have them use it in combat.

Giant Ape hurling Rocks
Little rock or tree branch (51 lbs.): 5d-5 crushing, Range 90 yards
Small rock or tree branch (102 lbs.): 5d crushing, Range 51 yards
Large rock or tree branch (205 lbs.): 5d+5 crushing, Range 34 yards

To just be mean, allow a thrown tree branch to be treated as a throwing stick and do swing damage. An SM+4-sized throwing stick does sw+2 crushing, weighs 25 lbs, Acc 1, ST 30, and range x4/x8.

Throwing stick: 7d+3 crushing, Acc 1, Range 180/360

How about the big guys?

A King of the Apes has ST 65 and Arm ST +2, for a net 67 ST for throwing and BL 898. In that case:
Little rock or tree branch (113 lbs.): 7d-6 crushing, Range 134 yards
Small rock or tree branch (225 lbs.): 7d+1 crushing, Range 80 yards
Large rock or tree branch (450 lbs.): 7d+8 crushing, Range 53 yards

And the SM+5 throwing stick?

Throwing Stick: 9d+5 crushing, Acc 1, Range 268/536

Sure, with Throwing-14 (and Thrown Weapon (Stick) if you go that route) they won't have a great chance to hit, but it's good enough for harassing fire, and if they hit, you really do need to get out of the way.

Adding the rocks above just makes "I back up faster than he advances shooting him" or "I hover out of range and shoot him" to be a bit riskier. It also makes possible what my extensive video game research tells me is an common ape tactic: standing on top of scaffolding hurling barrels at you as you approach.

* And by the way, if you choose to treat unarmed strikes as a BL/20 weapon instead of ST/10, ape punches and grapples are 20.25 pound weapons, making most SM+0 sized weapons risky to parry with. Stomps should be be treated as a whole-body attack like slam, and thus 43 lbs. For a King of the Apes, it's 44.9 lbs and 65 lbs. Good lucky parrying those with almost any weapon.


  1. Great addition to the Giant Apes! I used a similar thing with some Rock Giants I had used a while back. Statting up 3 different sized objects to throw was very helpful as well!

    1. I'm glad it's useful.

      I always do 2-3 sizes because there isn't one size that's both "best range" and "best damage." Sometimes you need to wing it far, sometimes you need to squish someone close by.

    2. I think the closer ranges are obviously more useful, cause those range penalties can stack up. Those large stones are being tossed 34 yards, plenty far enough!

    3. My Stone Giant was only ST 30, though, not ST47, but could still throw 3d rocks up to 24 yards. Not too shabby.

    4. No, not too shabby at all. I got similar results with a giant I statted up here:

  2. I just note that this can be used effectively unmodified for hill giants.

    1. Big ones, anyway. ST 45 for throwing purposes is a lot!

  3. Would be interesting to treat the thrown stick as an area attack, too.

    1. I'm really bad at figuring out how big objects are by weight. It would be nice to threat a thrown rock or branch as an area attack. Even without the "throwing stick" angle, just a wide branch hurled by the giant longways to make it hard to avoid would be awesome.

    2. Most rocks are on the order of about 5500 lbs per 35 cubic feet (2750 kg per cubic meter). So about 160 lbs per cubic foot.
      Side Length
      Lbs Cu Ft Inches feet
      20 0.125 6.0 0.5
      30 0.1875 6.9 0.6
      50 0.3125 8.1 0.7
      70 0.4375 9.1 0.8
      100 0.625 10.3 0.9
      150 0.9375 11.7 1.0
      200 1.25 12.9 1.1
      300 1.875 14.8 1.2
      500 3.125 17.5 1.5
      1000 6.25 22.1 1.8
      1500 9.375 25.3 2.1
      2000 12.5 27.8 2.3
      3000 18.75 31.9 2.7

    3. (crap. That looks terrible posted. Stick it into excel.)

    4. It's readable enough, though. Thanks Doug!

  4. A 200 lb tree branch is ~3-4 cubic feet of tree, depending on the density of the wood. Visualizing this as a 6" thick branch, it'd around 17' long - or about 4' log for a 1' thick branch. I'd be pretty comfortable calling a 4' long, 1' thick branch an area attack, and possibly would let him attack multiple people (Wall area attack?) with a 17' long branch.

    1. 17' by 6" is big but I'd have a hard time justifying it as doing so much damage - maybe spread amongst the people it hit, almost like doing a Twofer from GURPS Martial Arts.

      The log, yeah, 4' long, 12" diamter, that's like a one-hex cone attack. You'd need to get out of the way to avoid that sucker.

  5. Ah, and think about the possibilities of throwing a handful of "gravel," e.g. cobbles from a riverbank or stream bed, for a shotgun-like effect. Kinda like the one of the alternate ammo options for ballistas in Low-Tech - which has its own set of fun possibilities (e.g. a ballista trap loaded with "shot" for clearing out a corridor). Fun times for all. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how exactly one would stat that out for a giant ape.

    1. I'm not sure how one would throw a handful of rocks and get real damage, but if you really wanted to try, you could stat up a bunch of small rocks, and let the ape throw them like you let ninja hurl handfuls of shuriken.


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