View Full Version : "There is an enormous monkey in the grove..."

2006-04-20, 12:35 AM


Vanar are a race of monkey-like humanoids who populate islands overgrown with lush vegetation. They are formidable warriors who literally tear trees out of the ground and wield them as oversized clubs.

Vanar are characterized by what is called their "monkey nature." While they are cunning and shrewd, they have somewhat limited attention spans and they tend to be rash. They are quick to both anger and laughter, and they tend to be exceedingly curious. They are often quite generous and loyal to their friends.

Physical Description
The Vanar are quite similar to humans in build and are indistinguishable from humans in many respects. However, they possess long, somewhat prehensile tails of which they are very proud, and their faces have strong monkey-like characteristics.

The Vanar largely maintain cordial relations with their neighbors, but they tend to be somewhat isolationist. Their generosity and curiosity tend to make other races view them as endearing.

The Vanar are overwhelmingly chaotic and tend more toward good than evil. Rare Vanar are neutral or even lawful, but these individuals are few and far between.

Vanar Racial Traits
+2 Dexterity, +2 Strength, -2 Wisdom: Vanar are quick and agile, but their monkey nature leaves them with short attention spans and prone to rash actions.
Medium: As Medium creatures, Vanar have no special bonuses of penalties due to their size
Vanar base land speed is 30 feet. Vanar also have a climb speed of 15 feet and can take 10 on any climb check, even in circumstances where taking 10 is not normally allowed.
Low-light vision
Powerful Build: Vanar count as one size category larger for the purposes of weapon size. They do not count as larger for any other purpose.
+4 racial bonus on Jump checks, +2 racial bonus on Climb, Search, and Spot checks. Vanar are renowned for their prodigious jumping abilities, their monkey nature makes them at home in the trees, they are quite alert, and they are surprisingly thorough searchers.
Improvised Weapon Familiarity: Vanar characters only take a -2 penalty on attack rolls when using improvised weapons instead of the normal -4 penalty. Vanar warriors usually wield tree-trunk clubs in melee combat and hurl rocks in ranged combat.
Spell-Like Ability: A Vanar can use Enlarge Person or Reduce Person as a spell-like ability for a number of rounds equal to his/her character level. A Vanar can only use this ability to alter his/her own size.
Favored Class: Fighter
LA: +2

Vanar Tree-Clubs
Vanar warriors typically wield the trunks of trees as clubs in battle. These tree-clubs count as improvised two-handed weapons (entailing a -4 penalty to attack rolls for all non-Vanar and a -2 penalty for Vanar characters). These weapons deal 2d6 bludgeoning damage, with a critical multiplier of x3.

Vanar Throwing Rocks
Vanar warriors usually throw rocks when they wish to engage in ranged combat. These projectiles are substantially larger than sling stones, dealing 1d8 bludgeoning damage with a critical multiplier of x2. The have a range increment of 10 ft and count as improvised weapons.

So, this is my take on the monkey race from the Ramayana. Please let me know what you think about them, especially on their balance against the other PHB races. I'm particularly curious about the effect their ability to wield improvised weapons might have on balance. What do you think?

As always, I welcome any comments.


2006-04-20, 12:38 AM
Well for a race that rips tree trunks out of the ground to use as clubs I'm pretty suprised they don't get a Strength bonus.

2006-04-20, 12:43 AM
The reason they're able to rip up trees is that, in the poem, they can change in size and become huge, hulking monkey-warriors. The problem is that this isn't really realistic for a player race, and the Ramayana seems populated entirely by high-level characters. They can do some seriously crazy stuff in that poem. Anyway, I hope to represent the tree-wielding further with a PrC (soon to be crafted), but I thought that this was a good enough version for a base race. I will admit that I dislike races with Level Adjustments, but I could see where I'd want to go that route with these guys. Originally, I had intended to give them some sort of polymorph ability as a spell-like ability, but thought that that would pretty much nix them as a player-race. What do you think?


2006-04-20, 12:47 AM
Maby just give them a racial ability to change size once per day? Or the use of the powerful build feature or whatever it's called that lets you treat yourself as one size category bigger with all the benifits and none of the drawbacks? Just don't make it a ability that can be used too long or two often and I don't see a problem.

2006-04-20, 12:49 AM
s'what ECL is for.

if you wanted to keep them without an ECL then yeah.. otherwise, if you want to keep them true to flavor, i'd go for an ECL and more 'true to form' abilities.

2006-04-20, 12:54 AM
Making a PC wait for a PrC in order to use an ability that the race should have to begin with is kind of negating the purpose of having that race as an option to begin with. With all the skill bonuses this race almost merits an ECL adjustment as it is- I'd go the extra mile and give them a Str bonus and the ability to grow and rip up tree trunks once a day (or maybe a number of times depending on HD). And ECL adjustment of +1 isn't going to bother most players.

2006-04-20, 01:02 AM
Edited above. You guys are right. I've given them the ability to use Enlarge Person thrice per day and given them a bastardized version of the powerful build class feature to represent the ability to wield trees.


2006-04-20, 01:38 AM
I officialy like it and would let it be used in a campaign I ran. Good job!

2006-04-20, 12:14 PM
I think they had monkey people in OA are these the from the same RW source?

Grey Watcher
2006-04-20, 01:00 PM
Anyway, I hope to represent the tree-wielding further with a PrC (soon to be crafted)...

I'd actually go with this idea as a more generalized Improvised Weapons Specialist PrC. Tying it specifically to the tree-wielding might be a bit too limiting.

But, beyond that, I really like the race. The LA doesn't bother, because I really like the whole write up on the race. Nice to see my heritage getting it's equal share of being mangled into a gaming thing.

2006-04-20, 01:05 PM
there are a race in OA called Vanara which are very similar they just dont have all the cool abilities.

2006-04-20, 01:29 PM
Uhm, these are kind of cool, if you are into monster races, but that enlargement power is way too good for an LA +2. I wouldn't let it go for less than an LA +6. Large(tall) fighters completely dominate combat.

2006-04-20, 01:38 PM
Thanks everyone for the replies and the feedback. I really appreciate it.

As to the Vanara from OA:

I looked at them after you mentioned them (I have OA but rarely use it), but while their flavor matches what I want for the Vanar, I don't really like the stats, especially now that I've decided to make the base race more powerful (and more like the monkeys in the Ramayana).

I find it interesting (though not surprising) that we both picked the same name. "Vanar" means monkey in Hindi. Crazy coincidence, huh.


I assume that my Vanar and the Vanara from OA are both attempts to translate the monkeys from the Ramayana into gaming terms. It's a really great read if you get a chance to check it out, and the monkeys are among the coolest characters (especially Hanuman, for whom I have recently developed quite a fondness). Essentially, the main character (a prince named Rama) loses his wife, Sita (she's kidnapped by a demon named Ravana), and seeks out the help of Sugriva, the king of the monkeys. Hanuman is Sugriva's advisor, and he becomes quite devoted to Rama. Hanuman achieves such feats as jumping from India to Sri Lanka, finding Sita in Ravana's capitol, wreaking mass destruction on said city, and helping Rama eventually win his wife back from the demons. He and his monkey compatriots are renowned for wielding tree trunks and rocks as weapons and for being able to magically change their size.

Grey Watcher

OK, so the motivation behind this is that I recently finished reading the Ramayana on my own and have been reading about Hanuman in my Hindi class, and thought about how cool it would be to have characters like Hanuman in the homebrew D&D world I'm developing. Thus, the Vanar are an attempt to represent the abilities that Hanuman and Sugriva display in the epic.

As to the PrC, I intend to craft it around improving the characters racial proficiencies with improvised weapons (not just trees and rocks) and their racial size- and shape-changing abilities. I think I'll also add a gradually improving fly speed and a few other assorted abilities. If any of you have read the Ramayan, I welcome suggestions for abilities.

Finally, I hope that I'm (more-or-less) accurately representing you heritage, Grey Watcher. If you have any suggested changes to make it more accurate, let me know. I'm not a scholar of Indian literature by any means, having only dabbled up until now. I'm more of a student of Indian politics (which doesn't help in creating races based on ancient epics ;)).

I've also made some changes to the abilities, reducing their use of their SLA to once per day but scaling the duration to there level, giving them the choice between Enlarge Person and Reduce Person instead of limiting their spell-like ability. It will still be usable only once per day, but they can choose to grow or shrink.

Again, thanks for the input!


2008-10-13, 09:00 PM
"Spell-Like Ability: A Vanar can use Enlarge Person or Reduce Person as a spell-like ability for a number of rounds equal to his/her character level. A Vanar can only use this ability to alter his/her own size."

Would better be written as:
"Spell-Like Ability: A Vanar can use either Enlarge Person or Reduce Person as a spell-like ability for a number of rounds per day equal to his/her character level. A Vanar can only use this ability to alter his/her own size."

2008-10-14, 05:29 AM
Well, they shouldn't be limited to using enlarge or reduce in any given day... they should be able to mix and match up to the limit of rounds I should think... Also specify that the caster level is equal to their character level.