In an effort to keep our buffer from being chewed completely to pieces by finals week, we’re going to post some fluff from an old project, Monkeys With Guns, a war game about monkeys scavenging the remains of human machinery and weapons after the apocalypse. Specifically, we’re going to be posting the clan descriptions. Up first: The ape clans.
Before we get into the apes, we need a disclaimer on monkey genetics.
The clan names in these posts are based on, and mostly accurate to, actual scientific classification of the relevant branches of the evolutionary tree. Except sometimes I cheat in order to get a name that sounds better or just because I don’t keep up with the latest in primate evolutionary science.
For example, the apes are actually included in the parvorder catarrhini, but I used that name for old world monkeys exclusively because it sounded better with the new world monkeys’ platyrrhini, and plus the scientifically accurate term for old world monkeys is cercopithecoidea and wow that’s hard to say. Since the game is about monkeys, requiring people to stumble over complex scientific names detracts from the spirit (I still wish I could find something better for the gibbons than Hylobatidae Clan without deviating from the theme of fancy Precursor words for formal clan names). For similar reasons, marmosets are referred to as the Mico Clan even though they’re actually the callitrichidae family, and mico is a specific genus.
Tarsiers are actually closer related to monkeys and apes than they are to lemurs, but the science on that is relatively recent and the websites I used for research didn’t update to account for that until partway through the project. It turns out primates are actually divided up into simiiformes, tarsiiformes, and lemuriformes, which is a cool-sounding dichotomy, except that tarsiiformes and lemuriformes contain exactly one clan while simiiformes cover over a dozen.
The explanation for all this is that monkeys aren’t geneticists and don’t even know that the clan names they inherited from the Precursors have anything to do with evolutionary descent, or what evolutionary descent is.
Anyways, onto the apes.
The apes are the most intelligent of the primates, and are capable of determining how precursor artifacts function, carrying out complex squad tactics, holding sophisticated conversations in sign language, and understanding how working side-by-side with a stranger (say, of another species) is a thing that you can do. This is not why they’re in charge. The ape clans are in charge because they’re led by the gorillas, and the gorillas are the biggest.
Chimpanzees (Pan Clan)
Chimps are clever, work together, and make sure the gorillas don’t go mad with power through the unstated threat of chimp ambush in event of excessive tyranny. As such, even though they’re not a member of the Gorillini Clan, they are pretty important to upholding its most vital traditions. Chimps are also really good at manipulating ape councils, because orangutans don’t like group activities in the first place and it’s easy to convince medium-size monkeys that small-size gibbons don’t count as apes, and that the monkeys should therefore help the chimps keep them busy during council meetings so they can’t show up and vote.
Gibbons (Hylobatidae Clan)
Gibbons are calm, placid keepers of the ancient ways of the precursors. Many monkeys consider them too small to be apes, but gibbons have the backing of the gorillas. Gibbons are masters of writing, meaning that they can copy precursor texts. They, like the other apes, can’t make head nor tail of what any of it actually means, but the orangutans get pretty far by looking at precursor blueprints and copying the pictures, so it stands to reason that if gibbons keep copying precursor words, sooner or later something awesome will happen. When a battle goes well, especially against dire odds, it’s often said that it’s because the gibbons copied their precursor charms correctly the night before.
Gorillas (Gorillini Clan)
Gorillas are the biggest and strongest of any primate, so they run the show. While only one gorilla can be the actual leader of a troop, all of the gorillas in a troop together tend to make an aristocratic upper class. Gorillas aren’t stupid and know full well that other apes, especially chimps and orangutans, are at least as smart as they are, but some of them let the power go to their head anyway and start ignoring their fellow apes. Others maintain the (unenforced and unenforceable) clan tradition of holding council with fellow apes when making important decisions, and deciding in favor of the council majority. Unless of course they’re clearly trying to betray you, which happens sometimes with chimps.
Orangutans (Pongo Clan)
Orangutans are the premier engineers of primate society. Unlike the other apes, and most primates in general, Orangutans are solitary and usually prefer to keep a bit of distance from the rest of their troop and from one another, so often a primate camp will have some orangutan tinker workshops squirreled away into niches and crannies, where the orangutan who built the place will go to be alone and work on his stuff.
As always, if you like our work and you’d like to support us and help us pay for improvements to it, go ahead and give our Patreon a peek. Patrons get to see our content a week early and get other bonuses depending on contribution level, the Patreon page has all the details so click the link for more information.