Monday, 11 December 2017

It's 4 am and I'm supposed to be writing a paper but I'm thinking about gorillas instead

I saw something stupid on Facebook.

To be clear, not my own Facebook wall, just something shared to a group. And that sent me spiralling down a fucking hole of trying to determine how strong a gorilla actually is. The answer is, obviously,  really fucking strong.

"The strength of a silverback gorilla has never been measured, but it should be sufficient to say that anecdotal evidence of animals observed almost casually bending and snapping objects such as tempered steel bars (2 inches thick) and giant bamboo stalks, suggest that the gorilla has the muscle power of between 8-15 men and possibly more. Jersey Zoos Jambo was observed to hang from one arm (he was over 400 lbs) while methodically ripping over 200 ft of inner ceiling planks from the roof of the new gorilla house with his other arm (the planks were securely screwed and nailed), simply because he didn't like them. No other animal outside of the great apes has such a combination of strength and dexterity. The fact that gorillas don't use their strength to attack other animals in the manner of chimpanzees or baboons means very little as they are by their very nature, peaceful animals. Gorillas also have one of the most powerful jaws of any animal, which they use to get to the piths of various trees and plants. They can also use them in defense, and can inflict serious wounds with their bites if they so wish. Stories of their ferocity are largely unfounded, and when left alone, gorillas will never attack humans."

Of course you couldn't beat a gorilla bare handed. You couldn't even beat a chimp bare handed. 

But I don't think you could beat a gorilla one on one with weaponry either. Look at how thick that skull is. Even a gun, you'd need something really high caliber and a few good precise shots. And that's assuming it's not angry and charging you, which I mean they're gorillas so probably not but if they were in this situation (i.e. a fight) then yeah you probably wouldn't take it down before it reached you.

A dude with a sword in some armour would just get absolutely demolished. Just one swing would dent platemail which is enough to pretty much kill someone. Even if you got some swings off, it would probably only just annoy the gorilla. There was that chimp, Travis, who mauled a woman's face a few years ago and he was stabbed a bunch of times to pretty much no effect. If you had a spear you could maybe get it through the face, but then the forward momentum would probably get the animal right to you and crush you in its death throes.

A wild animal will literally throw 100% of its resources into a fight, it's just instinct. A human being would never reach the same phase unless they were literally in a state of severe psychosis.

What are the D&D stats for this thing? Taking 5e as an example:

Ape (Monster)
Medium beast, unaligned
Armor ClassHit PointsSpeed
1219 (3d8 + 6)30 ft., Climb 30ft.
16 (+3)14 (+2)14 (+2)6 (-2)12 (+1)7 (-2)

Athletics +5, Perception +3
Senses: passive Perception 13
Languages: -
Challenge: 1/2 (100 XP)


Multiattack. The ape makes two fist attacks.
Fist. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage.
Rock. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 25/50 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage.

Strength 16? CR 1/2? Really?

Honestly how the fuck could you even kill a dragon.

I mean obviously D&D stats aren't proportional but I feel like "how does your campaign handle gorillas" could be a benchmark for the way combat is run.


  1. This was important work and I also wish to make that mma guy try and knock out a gorilla

  2. Tired: Turning "I have insane speed and reflexes similar to my speed." into a copypasta.

    Wired: Whatever this blog post is.

  3. That gorilla doesn't even lift!

    I think animals have been getting understated in D&D for a long time for mythic storytelling reasons - but then humans have been wiping out megafauna more dangerous then the gorilla with little more then sharp rocks since the paleolithic. We even did in the Neanderthals who seem like folks you wouldn't want to scrap with.

    The space of apes specifically in D&D and popular culture is pretty fascinating - they were a fairly popular foe (the "white ape") in early adventures and a staple of pulp adventure stories, maybe based on that weird 19th century delusion that gorillas liked stealing away fainting blond women in nightgowns. Now not so much - who wants to murder a gorilla?

    Animal stats have always been weird though, and the killer ape gets less love then it should, In B/X tigers have 6HD and bite for 2d6 - they are about as dangerous as a white dragon. The ape is an outlier though. The sad sunshine deprived white ape (even in B/X D&D avoids stating gorillas...) is almost equivalent to a black bear (it does less damage and has one less attack) and the grizzly bear is the equivalent to an owlbear. Big bears (polar and cave), like big cats, are near dragon equivalents.

    I think the poor ape got lost because it wasn't D&Dified by having a level progression? Like if B/X had a stat box with: Rock Ape, Gorilla, Cave Ape & Giant Ape they might end up topping out at 8HD?

    At least in the AD&D monster manual a gorilla gets a bite attack and is the equivalent of a 4th level fighter? There's also a gorilla level up in the form of the carnivorous ape - cause it eats steak and lifts?

    1. Re: megafauna though those were co-ordinated practices requiring entire tribes, and usually against herbivores. Very different from a combat scenario.

      I think comparison of monster stats across editions and relative to PCs could be a whole thing, though you are right that it is a little too simulationist vs "mythic storytelling reasons"