Saturday, July 14, 2012

Flying Monkey as a Monster/Character Class

Flying Monkey

A common species spread across many worlds, flying monkeys are popular retainers for sorcerers of all varieties because of their loyalty, mobility and a certain whimsical flare that a squadron of winged monkeys in heavily braided military coats confer on any tower, cloud castle, carved skull mountain redoubt or over-sized pirate galleon.

No Enc. (6-12) (25-300)
Monkey of the 1st Legion, Reporting!
Movement: (50'/30' flying)
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 2 (rake/bite) or weapon
Hoard Class:III (in medals)/X (encampment)
XP: 28 each

Flying Monkey's are a strange people, clearly the result of magical manipulation and mutation, yet collectively steadfastly denying their artificial origin while remaining in geased subservience to practitioners of magic. They exist in many worlds, undoubtedly transported as servants and soldiers of sorcerers, as Flying Monkeys crave discipline and order, but cannot create it themselves.  If left to their own devices, Flying Monkeys form only small bands, living idyllically in crude huts among jungle or forest canopy, barely able to remember where the best fruit trees are located and spending their days bickering, copulating and feasting but strangely unfulfilled.  A powerful practitioner of magic (clerical or arcane) may easily overawe such Flying Monkeys bands by defeating or charming their leaders and then giving clear and authoritative orders.

Physically Flying Monkeys are large (3' - 4' tall) monkeys or apes that walk with a semi-erect gate - waddling along on two legs but going to all fours when moving at speed.  They are generally muscular and lanky with a 6' wingspan pair of feathered wings growing from their shoulders.  Flying Monkeys usually have bluish skin and brightly colored wings, but, as the genetic playthings of wizards for hundreds of generations, skin, fur and feather colors vary wildly from menacing Jet black with skull face markings to pastels, parrot shades or even peacock patterns.

Under the command of a stern master Flying Monkey's wizardry augmented love of order comes to the fore and their peevishness transforms into a sanguine militarism.  With only the barest instruction and command monkeys will naturally form themselves into squads, platoons and battalions, giving loyalty and obedience first to their overlord and then to almost any subordinates that he sets above the monkey or otherwise. Once "enlisted" Flying Monkeys develop an obsessive fixation on military order, hierarchy and discipline: constantly drilling on foot and in the air, patrolling and constructing (crude) fortifications/barracks.  Monkeys in this state also crave approval and promotion, which to their relatively simple minds is best displayed through the garish use of braid and medals.  Flying Monkeys have an inexplicable love of zig-zags which will appear on almost all Flying Monkey equipment, weaponry and battle regalia.  Additionally they appear to possess some sort of collective ancestral memory, as no other good explanations exist for Flying Monkeys' uniform battle cry of "O-eee-O".

Monkeys have their own set of folk beliefs, insisting (regardless of world) that they are descending from a Monkey King born directly from a magical meteorite and capable of battling the gods themselves.  Higher level Monkeys embrace and emulate this folk character and only through this psychological dodge (believing that the Sun Wuo Kong directs and orders their actions) can they gain the strength necessary to both act independently and not slide into sloth.

Militarized Flying Monkeys will attack in formation wielding weapons, most commonly javelins, tomahawks, short swords, scimitars, fused bombs/grenades and bayoneted carbines or musketoons. Their wild companions have only natural weapons, biting and raking their enemies with their sharp nails, or pummeling them with clubs.  Sometimes wild monkeys will fling rocks and even poisonous fruit at their opponents, but most enjoy melee combat and can rarely keep up missile combat beyond an initial barrage.

All Flying Monkey groups will be led by leaders or Serjeants of 2 or more HD and larger groups will have correspondingly more powerful leaders up to 7 HD for a large encampment.  Militarized flying monkeys love ordinance of all kinds and while they cannot build artillery are quick to learn how to use cannon or catapult, and a savvy master will provide them with these weapons to mount fixed defenses.  For obvious reasons Flying Monkeys do use field artillery and act as light cavalry while on the march.

Flying Monkey's make excellent henchman - lost platoons of Flying Monkeys or bands from defeated armies will sometimes wander into towns looking to enlist somewhere (it takes a few weeks for their military fervor to wear off) and a forceful show of puissance can convince even jungle dwelling Flying Monkey bands to enlist in a wizard's service.  Sometimes individual monkeys end up ostracized from either forest band (having lost some kind of domestic squabble) or military camp (for violations of discipline).  These solitary monkeys are often sad creatures that will leap at an opportunity to join an adventuring party, more for the feelings of comradely affection, then for wealth and adventure.

As adventurers Flying Monkeys are beneficial additions to any party.  Their ability to fly is frequently useful, but their natural ferociousness and nimble dexterity are also a boon as they can take some of the duties of both fighter and thief.  Their true calling among adventuring groups is as scouts, especially in the wilderness.

Flying Monkeys are dexterous, strong, amiable and surprisingly durable.  They are also weak willed to the extreme and often a bit on the dense side.  To reflect Flying Monkey's particular racial character they use the following dice and bonuses to determine their ability scores.

STR 2D6 +4
INT 2D6 +1
WIS 2D6 +1
DEX 3D6+1
CON 2D6 +3

Flying Monkeys attack as Fighters of the same level but use the same table as thieves for saving throws (though at considerable penalty for some kinds of magic - see below).

Class Advancement - Flying Monkey's advance as Dwarves, and gain HP at the rate of 1D6 per level.
Experience Level Title
HD (1D6)
0 1 Recruit
2 Private
3 Zouve
4 Serjeant
5 Calque
6 Kapitan
7 Stone Monkey
8 Kong
280001 9 King Wu-kong
Domain - At 9th Level a Flying Monkey has become a Monkey King, sometimes called a "Wu-Kong" and other Flying Monkeys will look to him or her in awe, seeking guidance and direction in the way normally reserved for magical practitioners.  At this point, such Monkey Kings, tired of serving others, seek out a group of uncivilized Flying Monkeys and mold them into a military despotism in an isolated valley or swath of jungle. Depending on the character of the particular monkey king these small domains (rarely more than a few hundred monkeys - as Flying Monkeys lack all knowledge of food production beyond hunting and gathering) either become lost savage empires, sources of Flying Monkey mercenaries, or fonts of brigandage and vicious flying raiders.   

Mobility - Flying Monkeys are quick little scamperers and move at a base rate of 50' on the ground.  They can also fly, though somewhat clumsily.  While aloft Flying Monkeys flap along at a rate of 30' and have a duration aloft limited by their Constitution.  A Monkey may stay in the air while traveling for a number of turns equal to his Constitution, and then must rest for the same number of turns before flying again. In battle, the constant flapping and Maneuver limits a flying Monkey to a round per Con point, through recovery still takes 1 turn per round aloft.  Flying Monkeys are also expert and fearless climbers being able to cling to almost any outcropping and use their wings to fly up sheer walls that even skilled thieves have difficulty with.

Specialist (Thief Skills) - Monkeys are able to use their nimble fingers and mischievous curiosity to find traps, listen, pick locks and pick pockets as a thief of the same level.  They are forthright fighters, rapid in flight and utterly without magical ability and so have no skills at backstabbing, hiding, moving silently or the ability to read languages or cast scrolls.

Natural Weapons - Flying Monkeys, like their wild wingless counterparts, have teeth and claws capable of tearing flesh.  Flying Monkeys may bite for 1D3 and when flying may attack with both a bite and by raking with their rear claws (also for 1D3).

Flying Monkeys are not without their limitations, they are utterly susceptible to magical attacks and illusions and very very suggestible.  In addition to their low wisdom Flying Monkeys save against charms, hexes, curses and illusion very poorly.  Secondly, Flying Monkeys have some limitations on the armor they can wear.

Mental Weakness - Flying Monkeys are naturally susceptible to suggestion and coercion, especially of the magical sort.  As henchmen they sometimes will turn against non-sorcerer employers without warning when faced with obvious displays of magical power and as characters they save against sleep, charm, hold person, curses, confusion and other mind effecting spells as if they were one level below their actual level.

Light Weapons - Flying Monkeys cannot wield two handed weapons and are generally limited to the weapons available to Thieves.  They cannot use bows or crossbows as these weapons are unwieldy while flying.  Monkeys can use firearms, but cannot reload muzzle loading weapons while flying and are limited to lighter weapons such as pistols and carbines.

Light Armor - Flying Monkeys are limited by weight to armor no heavier than scale or light chain (AC 6) and non-metallic ring/scale mail of horn, boiled leather or shell is typical.  The most ambitious wizards have been known to give their monkeys breastplates of thin steel  to wear (AC 5).  Flying Monkeys can also wear any sort of magical armor, as it is often lighter, but it must be dwarf or halfling sized and the modifications necessary to accommodate a flying monkeys physical differences means that regardless of bonuses such armor will never reduce a monkey's AC below 0 (not including any Dex bonus).  Additionally, consider the  possibility of finding a Dwarf sized suit of magical plate armor with a removable back plate that can have its arms adjusted or modified and its legs shortened for an idea of how rare a plate armored flying monkey is.  While in armor heavier than studded leather a flying monkey will not be able to perform thief functions due to limitations on movement and noise.


  1. Wow, that is detailed, extensive and beautiful.

    I recently wrote to Fight On! magazine a short submission on my take on flying monkeys and approached it at totally different angle as spell that summons swarm of the half hitdie critters and treated them simply as summoned cannon fodder popular among chaotic wizards.

    1. Well cannon fodder popular among chaotic wizards sounds about right to me! I like the spell idea - greater andk lesser flying monkeys does not make confusion!

      Thing for me is I really wanted to play a flying monkey now - I need to find a flailsnails game that'll let me! Flappin' Bobo needs XP! Also thanks for the conpliments!

  2. Sweet Ninja Jesus this is awesome. I particularly like the thoughtful inclusion re firearms. *thumps page with giant 'CANON' rubberstamp*

    1. Glad you like, I played a monkey tonight in a pick up game - he didn't feel overpowered. He felt like a monkey, it was awesome and Brendan was a great sport for letting something so silly roam his swampy halls.

  3. This is wonderful. We're big Oz (Mr. Baum's stories) fans and you really made this work. The special level titles are a real hoot. Great stuff!

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I was aiming for whimsical without being too silly. Certainly Flying Monkeys aren't for a hyper-serious medieval flavored mud and blood re-fighting of the Norman Conquest, but I think they can add something to settings where there's a little gonzo without being too ridiculous.

  4. Replies
    1. My limited play testing has found the Monkey not overpowered if that's any help.