Scourge of the Tikbalang

By Zzarchov Kowolski
Self Published
Level ... 2?

A vicious Tikbalang has been reported in the area and it is terrorizing the village. The townsfolk are too frightened to attempt to hunt down the beast and the village elder is cautious about emptying  the town of defences, since there are pirates in the neighbouring village. A heavy reward in golden  treasures is offered if the rumours can both be proven true and solved by bringing the head of the beast to the elder. If the beast is not slain, the villagers may need to kill those it assaulted, lest they give birth to more Tikbalang. It is hoped that, if the original beast is slain, the children will be born as normal human children.

This sixteen page adventure describes a simple situation in a small primitive village. It’s got that air of believable humanity that Kowolski excels at, while also being a bit simple for the page count.

You are summoned to small primitive fishing village. A young maiden has been attacked in the jungle by a tiklabang and is preggers! All is lost unless you kill the best so her child will turn out human and not tiklabang!. Her fiance came upon her just as the beast disappeared. Another young lady has been attacked also. A local hunter has seen tracks in the forest of its hooves. The wise woman has has a vision of it. Oh, uh, her fiance didn’t actually see the beast. And he thought the sounds he heard sounded good, not like an attack. The other chick needs to be te center of attention. The hunters brother is sweet on the preggers chick. And the wise woman is VERY senile. Yuppers. The headman is trying to keep a bunch of people from getting killed, especially the first chick and the hunters brother. Cause the fiance is a corn fed lad in his 20’s with a fucking machete, leader of the village militia. A good example of what Truth s in an adventure, I’d say. There’s something going on, but its not exactly what the surface might appear to be and the party is going to have to dig a bit to get there. A far cry from the very earnest villagers we find in nearly every other adventure. This is the way the world actually works, people doing their best with all of the pettines and greed seeping through where possible if they think they can get away with it. The party isn’t so much heroes as much as cleaning up a fucking mess that is dumped on them. This is life. And, the mess can be cleaned up by grabbing a horse head … the only one of which is available is in the next village, 2km away, which is currently occupied by pirates! The journey is the destination in man Zzarchov adventures, just as it is here.

There’s this air of believability, of relatability, in the adventure. The hulking young man with the machete, ready to kill his fiance if she cheated on him. The actual lover, who goes crazy is confronted too hard, attacking the party against all odds, with a small iron knife. The  entire thing comes across as imagined first. “This is the what could happen, this is the way life works” and then put down on paper and turned in to an adventure. The concept not constrained by the game system. And these are, i think, some of the best adventures. 

This is a sticky adventure. It’s a relatively simple one, so its got that going for it, and the concepts and people involved are easy to remember and run. One quick read-through and you don’t really need the book anymore. Which is a kind way of me saying that you can’t run this at the table using the book. It’s just free form paragraph formatting. That;s not reference material you can use at the table. But, making the content sticky is a valid methodology as well and it works here, partly because it IS such a simple adventure. 

A few more villagers would have been nice. And, the attack on pirate village is not really detailed. No map. No events. Just a note that the captured villagers wont be happy to see the party either, for fear of being blamed for the horse theft. 

I’m going to regret this. Like Old Bay, this thing is going to stick around with me forever. As a side trek one pager it could be great and I’d think of it that way. Not really verbose, not really wasting words, but, the stickiness of it makes the book not needed once you know it. And while you COULD run it based just on my review, why not buy it, since it’s a charity adventure?

This is $4 at DriveThru.

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6 Responses to Scourge of the Tikbalang

  1. SargonTheOK says:

    This sounds very expertly done, but I’m still going to hard pass. I run a lunch-break D&D group at work, and there is just enough of a chance that even the implications of a Tikbalang would get me reported to HR… Normally “content warnings” just induce eye rolls (treat us like adults, please) but with this one I’d have to be very picky about where and for whom I run it.

  2. Gladwain says:

    The set-up for this adventure sounds like the DM—unless they have a group of LG heroic-types—is going to find it difficult motivating the players to risk their lives for these peasants. How much of a reward could a primitive village offer, anyway?

    Since they have been called here to deal with this threat, my players would assume no one in the village is a credible threat, so they would likely smack down the headman for daring to “summon” them to this shitburg and then sack the village for anything of possible value (including that bitchin’ machete) before returning home.

    My players are a-holes, though.

  3. Prince says:

    Zzarchov Kowolski is underrated AF. I highly recommend checking out anything by him that you have not reviewed yet. I found this to be one of his weaker ones, but that says more about his general expertise then the adventure itself.

    • PaMar says:


      I used to kickstart two different campaigns, and if I ever happen to GM another fantasy campaign there are pretty good chances I will use it again.

    • Bailey says:

      What’s the one thing i should run (not read) if I’m on the fence? Gem Prison of Zardax is shit, absolutely terrible in actual play. I regretted running it. Gnomes of Levnec might play better than it reads, and maybe I should have run it by now, but the read through didn’t leave me wanting to run it. Borderline LotFP vibe, which I have run but a little goes a very long way. “Every GM who runs it will have to work up the same map and material,” as in the adventure under review, is a deal breaker for me even if the rest is good.

      And yet, I’ve heard he’s good before now so I assume there’s something there.

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