Indie2 7

Lorn Song of the Bachelor (2019)

Lorn Song of the Bachelor (2019), by Zedeck Siew and illustrated by Nadhir Nor, is a great example of decidedly non-Eurocentric material I’d love to see more of in RPGs. Published by the Hydra Cooperative, it is an essentially system agnostic scenario, with a little bit of wilderness exploration, a little bit of dungeon crawling and a whole lot of metaphysical strangeness. Oh, and Skullfungus does the maps (is there an indie book where he doesn’t do the maps at this point?).

The titular bachelor is a monstrous crocodile based on the legend of Bujang Senang, from the Iban people of Borneo. A brave warrior is killed trying to stop bandits from murdering his wife. In death, he asks the gods for revenge and they turn him into a gigantic white crocodile. He terrorizes their descendants, Jaws-like, from around 1940 until 1992, when the white croc was apparently shot and killed – not all folklore is old, it seems.

So, in the adventure, the crocodile is magical, a reflection of the land. Wound it, and wound the land. Some of the local villagers believe they can help it transcend into godhood. The regional trading company (an avatar of the very real specter of colonialism in Southeast Asia) wants the croc gone so it stops disrupting shipping. Oh, and the dungeon? It I both an ancient ruin and the insides of the crocodile. And there is a demon made of hands. And golems made of teeth. And a lot of other strangeness.

The region and its factions are arranged in such a way as to guarantee there are no easy solutions to the problem of the bachelor, which means players will likely get in over their heads before they understand the situation and spend a lot of time trying to clean up the mess they made. I love it when that happens.

Nadhir Nor’s delicate art ties everything together and, like the substance of the adventure, offers an aesthetic that is both intriguing and unlike what most audiences are used to in an RPG book. Lovely stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *