Roleplayer #17, November 1989


A New Race for GURPS Ice Age (and other games)

by Steve Jackson

Giganthropus is an extinct hominid race which is, at present, still unknown to science. It lived in Africa between 1 and 2.5 million years ago, and thus was a contemporary of Homo habilis and Homo erectus. It is quite possible that specimens survived into the days of Neanderthal man and even Cro-Magnon.

Giganthropus is an omnivore, but has a distinct taste for raw meat. To an early hominid, or even a true man, the giant man-ape would have been an ogre indeed. A messy eater, Giganthropus consumes everything but bones and offal, and cracks the bones for their marrow. This is one reason no fossil remains have been found. The creatures also eat their own dead!

The average size of a Giganthropus is seven feet for males, 6 1/2 for females. However, they are not stocky, like a gorilla, but rangy and muscular. The body is sparsely covered with reddish or black hair; the skin is medium brown. The forehead is low and sloping, but the jaw is very heavy, with pronounced canine teeth and incisors. The arms are long and the hands are strong.

Giganthropus is a tool user, although its only tools are crude clubs of wood and bone; it does not work stone. It hunts by chasing down herd animals or smaller primates; it can run after a victim and smash it with the club, or just walk tirelessly after it until the prey collapses from exhaustion. The man-ape can throw stones to knock prey out of trees, and may carry one for the purpose, but does not understand the concept of "container," so depends mainly on what missiles it can find.

A tribe of Giganthropus may number anywhere from four to a few dozen. Males hunt cooperatively. When they move into new territory, their first target will be the other near-men who might compete with them for game. "Peaceful coexistence" is not in their vocabulary; they will kill and eat their competitors, treating females and young as especially tasty tidbits.

They will take prisoners, but only in order to eat them later. A lone Giganthropus might be captured and subdued, or a young one raised by another species, but a tribe of giant man-apes makes a very dangerous neighbor.

A Giganthropus has ST+6, average DX, IQ-4, and HT+2. They have the advantage of Alertness. They have the same disadvantages as the gracile australopithecine: Short Attention Span, no Mathematical Ability or Magery, and no language skills over 8. Bad Temper, Berserk and Gluttony are all appropriate disadvantages for members of this greedy, combative race.

They are mature at ten years; they are considered old at 20 and must begin rolling for attribute loss. At 25, they roll every six months; at 30, every month.

Cost to be a Giganthropus is 35 points. This could be reduced for a Giganthropus PC in (for instance) a Neanderthal campaign. The man-ape could be the property of a tribe member, raised from a cub, and therefore have a tribal Status of -3 or so. Playing a character who thinks that Neanderthals are powerful, mysterious geniuses is not for the faint of heart.

Giganthropus can be used in other genres. In a science fiction game, it can be the monstrous, hairy primitive race of a jungle or glaciated world. In a fantasy campaign, it can become an ogreish horde that intimidates even the orcs. In a 1930s game, it can be the vicious "lost race" discovered by African or South American explorers. Or in a futuristic scenario, the man-apes can become mutant scavengers . . .

For another giant hominid race (even bigger, but with a very different personality), see the Titanthrops in GURPS Riverworld.

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