Monday, May 20, 2019

The Nameless City of the Man-Apes

I painted up the “Ape Attack” figures from the Bones 4 Core Set. These are three great models: two feral Killer Apes as well as an armored, sword-wielding Ape Lord. I painted all of them with grayish fur so they could be used as either man-apes or hobgoblin war apes. All of the figures fit on a Large base and so could also be used for dire apes.

It is surprising that there are so few plastic gorilla and ape miniatures, especially since apes and dire apes were fairly common summonable monsters in 3e. I think the only other ape figure I have is the were-gorilla from the “Lycanthropes II” pack from the Reaper Bones 3 Kickstarter, which I also painted up using a similar scheme. Unfortunately, he’s quite a bit smaller than the Ape Attack models: a little small for a 2″ base but much too large for a 1″ base. Although it’s a decent enough figure, the difference between old Bones and the newer Bones Black material is pretty noticable in a side by side comparison. I thought the were-gorilla didn’t take paint as well and also had less distinct details.

The Nameless City

The man-apes of the Terrarium wander the jungles, hills, and plains of the demiplane but tend to congregate in the Nameless City, a vast ruin of gray cyclopean stone overgrown by jungle vines. The City is said to be filled with lost treasure vaults and undermined by dark catacombs. While there are several rival tribes of man-apes in the City they are united in worship of their Pallid Queen, a mummified idol said to be enshrined in one of the great echoing mausoleums. The one thing the man-apes fear are the yellow musk creepers that infest the ruins, as these deadly plants have turned many man-apes into mindless servants.

Some ten years ago the Lady Ilsabil, a fighting-woman of great prowess, emerged from the Great Dungeon along with her dwarven companions, the brothers Hagin and Munir. They claimed to have been trapped in the Terrarium for nearly five years. With their wizard and cleric both lost to the demiplane, the trio wandered the jungles until they stumbled upon the Nameless City, where they plundered a forgotten chamber filled with untold riches. Their only proof of this story were pockets and sacks of emeralds and sapphires of the greatest size and quality. Lady Ilsabil used these gems to acquire a holding of her own, where she lives still. Hagin and Munir used their fortune to outfit a mighty expedition to return to the Terrarium. They reentered the Dungeon with much pomp eight years ago and were never heard from again.

The following table for generating random features in the Nameless City is inspired by similar tables in Yoon-Suin: The Purple Land, one of the best setting books I’ve ever read. Yoon-Suin uses random tables to generate background details that pack a lot of flavor and gamability. As characters explore the Nameless City, roll three sets of 2d10, consult the Feature, Condition, and Property columns of the Features table, and then combine the results.

The following encounter table for the Nameless City is designed for 3.5e, but could be modified for 0e or 5e without much work. Most of the entries can be found in the d20 SRD, and for those that can’t I’ve supplied stat blocks below. The “Visions of the Ancient Past” is a non-monster encounter tied to a specific object found in the ruins: perhaps a small idol or artifact. The encounter uses the clever haunt rules developed by Paizo for their early Pathfinder adventures.

The following text is Open Game Content.

Nameless City Features
2d10 Feature Condition Property
2 Palace Water-filled Golden
3 Mausoleum Water-filled Silver
4 Arch Water-filled Inscribed
5 Statue Overgrown Infested
6 Obelisk Overgrown Slimy
7 Canal Overgrown Painted
8 Open Pit Intact Echoing
9 Domed Building Intact Blackened
10 Pool Intact Pearlescent
11 Residence Partially Collapsed Cracked
12 Large Hall Partially Collapsed Blackened
13 Square Partially Collapsed Whispering
14 Tower Leveled Magical
15 Pillars Leveled Defaced
16 Aquaduct Leveled Ornamented
17 Amphitheater Sunken Mold-encrusted
18 Baths Sunken Webbed
19 Fortress Sunken Jade
20 Temple Undermined Bejeweled
Nameless City Encounters
2d10 Encounter Average EL
21 centipede swarm4
31d3 giant lizards (monitor lizards)4
41 giant crocodile4
51d3 shadows5
61 giant constrictor snake5
71d4 guardian man-ape statues (Large animated objects)5
8memory moss [hazard]5
92d4 ghouls6
101 yellow musk creeper plus 1d4+1 yellow musk creeper zombies7
112d4 man-apes7
122d4 deinonychuses7
131 medusa7
141 black pudding7
15Visions of the Ancient Past (see below)8
161d4+2 gargoyles8
171d4 phase spiders8
181 tyrannosaur8
191d3 dire tigers9
201 Colossal centipede9

Guardian Man-ape Statue CR 3

Large animated object

N Large construct

Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen -5, Spot -5


AC 14, touch 9, flat-footed 14 (+5 natural, -1 size)

hp 52 (4d10+30 HD); hardness 8

Fort +1, Ref +1, Will -4

Immune construct traits


Spd 30 ft.

Melee slam +5 (1d8+4)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.


Str 16, Dex 10, Con –, Int –, Wis 1, Cha 1

Base Atk +3; Grp +10

Memory Moss CR 5

Effect Memory moss appears as a 1-foot square patch of black moss. When a living creature moves within 60 feet of a patch of memory moss, it attacks by attempting to steal that creature’s memories. It can target a single creature each round. A targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Will save or lose all memories from the last 24 hours. Affected spellcasters lose all spells prepared within the last 24 hours. (Only those spells actually prepared in the last 24 hours are lost; spells prepared longer than 24 hours ago are not lost.) Once a memory moss steals a creature’s memories, it sinks back down and does not attack again for one day.

Any creature who loses its memories to the memory moss acts as if affected by a confusion spell (caster level 8th) for the next 1d4 hours. Lost memories can be regained by eating the memory moss that absorbed them. Doing so requires a DC 13 Fortitude save, with failure resulting in the creature being nauseated for 1d6 minutes and suffering 1d4 points of Constitution damage.

A creature that eats the memory moss temporarily gains the memories currently stored therein (even if they are not the creature’s own memories). Such creatures can even cast spells if the memory moss has stolen these from a spellcasting creature. Any non-spellcaster that attempts to cast a spell gained in this way must succeed on a Concentration check (DC 10 + spell level) or the spell fizzles away. After 24 hours, the memories fade (including any spells not yet cast). Creatures eating the memory moss to regain their own lost memories do not lose them after 24 hours. Fire and cold kills a single patch of memory moss.

When first encountered, there is a 25% chance that the memory moss has eaten within the last day and does not attack by stealing memories. In such a case, the moss contains 2d4 spells determined randomly. When a living creature moves within 60 feet of a sated memory moss, it assumes a vaguely humanoid form and casts the stolen spells at its targets. The moss casts these spells as a sorcerer of the minimum level necessary to cast the stolen spell (save DC 10 + spell level).

Visions of the Ancient Past CR 8

Caster Level 8th; Effective HD 16

Notice Listen 18 to hear past sounds of the City


Trigger touch (an artifact in the ruins); Reset 1 day

Effect When this haunt is triggered, its effects manifest at initiative rank 10 on a surprise round. All creatures within 20 feet of the artifact can make a Listen check to notice the haunt in time to react—if a character notices it, he may make an initiative check to determine when he acts in the round. Once a haunt is active, a successful turn undead attempt against the haunt’s effective Hit Dice ends it immediately, though the character making the turn attempt must notice the haunt and must act before it in the surprise round it is activated. If the turning attempt results in a destruction result, that particular haunt is exorcised and permanently disabled. Unless the haunt is turned or destroyed, the creature who touched the artifact is overwhelmed by a riotous vision of the Nameless City in its heyday, bustling with man-apes dressed in fine garments and their pitiful human slaves. The affected creature is targeted by an insanity spell (DC 20). While the vision vanishes as soon as the surprise round is over, the insanity effect persists until the creature is restored. The artifact may be handled safely for the next 24 hours.

Yellow Musk Creeper CR 2

N Large plant

Init +2; Senses blindsight 30 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +0


AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 13
(+2 Dex, +4 natural, -1 size)

hp 22 (3d8+9 HD)

Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +1

Immune plant traits


Spd 5 ft.

Melee 2 tendrils +6 (1d8+5)

Ranged pollen spray +3 touch (pollen spray)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Special Attacks create yellow musk zombie, intelligence damage, pollen spray (DC 14)


Str 20, Dex 15, Con 17, Int –, Wis 11, Cha 9

Base Atk +2; Grp +11

SQ rejuvenation

Special Abilities

Blindsight (Ex) The yellow musk creeper has no visual organs but can ascertain all foes within 30 feet using sound, scent, and vibration.

Create Yellow Musk Zombie (Su) A victim reduced to Intelligence 0 becomes a yellow musk zombie in 1 hour under the control of the creeper that created it. If the yellow musk creeper is slain before the yellow musk zombie rises, the transformation can be prevented by the casting of neutralize poison followed by heal or restoration spell.

Intelligence Damage (Ex) As a free action, a yellow musk creeper can insert hundreds of tiny roots into the head of an entranced foe within any space occupied by the creeper. An entranced foe does not resist this attack and does not receive a saving throw to break free of its entranced state. This attack deals 1d4 points of Intelligence damage each round. A victim reduced to Intelligence 0 becomes a yellow musk zombie in 1 hour.

Pollen Spray (Ex) A yellow musk creeper can spray a tiny cloud of hypnotic pollen at a single creature within 30 feet. An opponent hit by the cloud must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or be entranced for 1d4 minutes (as by a charm monster spell). Entranced creatures can take no action other than to move at their normal speed into a space occupied by the yellow musk creeper. An entranced creature resists any attempt to halt its progress. A victim within a space occupied by the yellow musk creeper stands there and offers no resistance to the monster’s attacks. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Rejuvenation (Ex) A yellow musk creeper can be killed only if its root is dug up, then burned, hacked apart, or otherwise destroyed. Reducing the creeper to 0 or less hit points puts it out of commission, allowing excavation of its roots. The main root is a Small object with a hardness of 3 and 10 hit points. The root can be affected by spells or effects that affect an area or targeted by spells that affect an individual target.

Yellow Musk Zombie CR 3

N Large plant

Init -1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +0


AC 15, touch 8, flat-footed 15 (-1 Dex, +7 natural, -1 size)

hp 30 (5d8+10 HD)

Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +4

Immune plant traits


Spd 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

Melee 2 claws +10 (1d4+6), bite +5 (1d8+3)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.


Str 23, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 2, Wis 10, Cha 1

Base Atk +5; Grp +15

SQ link to creator, sprout new creeper

Special Abilities

Link to Creator (Ex) A yellow musk zombie is linked to the yellow musk creeper that created it and can never move more than 200 feet from it.

Sprout New Creeper (Ex) After about 2 months of service to a yellow musk creeper, the yellow musk zombie wanders up to 1 mile away from its creator (the link to creator is broken) and dies. Where it falls, new yellow musk seedlings sprout from its head and the corpse, take root, and within one hour, a new fully grown yellow musk creeper blossoms.


The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved.

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