Monster Monday #29: Babi Ngepet
Updated: Mar 4
Is it time for another Monster Monday already? Well I've picked a really fun creature to dive into this week, and I hope you love it! The Babi Ngepet is found in Indonesian Mythology, a popular tale amongst the Javanese people. It is, in essence, a demon that resembles a large boar and is often associated with shapeshifting and black magic. There are many that believe in this folkloric creature even now, and if a boar is seen wandering around at night time in populated areas, many will be wary that it is in fact a Babi Ngepet.
These terrifying creatures are actually humans that dabble with magic - specifically that which will allow them to become rich quickly. Whether they are using it for themselves or selling their services for others to benefit from, this kind of magic requires them to sacrifice their humanity in some way. This could be achieved by allowing a demon to possess their human form for a while, but more often than not, they become a boar-like demon for a set period of time. The Boar Demon will then roam the local village and rub up against houses and huts that it encounters. Many tales involve the Babi Ngepet adorning a black cloak in order to transform into a boar, and when it transforms back the cloak is filled with riches stolen from the houses that it touched. Others also mention that those practicing black magic will light a candle and float it on top of the water, maybe even assigning someone to guard the candle. If the candle dims or begins to flicker while they are in boar form, the Babi Ngepet is in danger. This creature's abilities are often compared to lycanthropy and so has a close association with creatures such as Werewolves as a result! Another comparison is that of the Chort, a Slavic devil with pig-like features that attempts to trick people into making deals for money or power in exchange for their soul.
Finding these particular creatures in modern media is a little harder. The game Dreadout does an excellent job of showcasing Indonesian folklore, and the Babi Ngepet can be found within this as a key element that advances the story. In this interpretation, it appears completely as a boar, though at points has a human face instead of that of a pig. This terrifying demon is also closely associated with the concept of a 'piggy bank' (or Celengan in Javanese, deriving from Celeng which means 'wild boar'), and I actually really enjoy this rather bizarre connection!
So now we can look at some stat blocks. This is actually a really interesting creature to look at in these terms because their folklore is extremely specific in some areas, while terribly vague in others. Lets start with Wizards Of The Coast...
To start with, I'll do what I always do, and have a look at the creature most closely resembled which, in this case, is the Giant Boar (Basic Rules, page 131).
This is a larger, hardier version of the CR 1/4 Boar (Basic Rules, page 120) and pretty much replicates its abilities. It is CR 2 though, making it a much tougher fight for any lower tier party! This for me would represent the Babi Ngepet in its boar form - a wild, monstrous beast and very little more. Its Charge and Relentless abilities make a lot of sense for a boar, as does using its Tusk attack. It being a Giant Boar would make it stand out from its usual form as well, though it has absolutely none of the lore or any abilities that make it particularly interesting beyond that. You could certainly layer on some interesting abilities to change that up however, and change its type to Fiend (Demon) to fit up the folklore a bit better.
Next up, this offering from Wizards Of The Coast is probably the best match to the essence of a Babi Ngepet - the Wereboar (Basic Rules, page 327).
The art here might put you in mind of something a little more brutish than a jewel thief, but in terms of the stat block itself, there is a lot to be gained from the Medium CR 4 Wereboar. Firstly, it is a Shapechanger and can transform into a Humanoid form, Hybrid form, and Boar form (which I would probably change up for the Giant Boar). This matches the Babi Ngepet almost perfectly! This also gives it access to different stats and abilities dependant on its form, which makes it interesting to work with! I would probably change this into a Fiend (Demon) creature type, and replace its Maul (and maybe even Multiattack, as its melee strength would only really apply in Boar form) with some form of spellcasting, as the Babi Ngepet IS supposed to be a caster! Spells that relate to money such as incite greed, or spells that allow it to locate valuables such as locate object would work pretty well here!
So what next? Well Kobold Press had nothing overly specific that related to this creature, but it did have a couple of options that gave me some ideas! Meet the Ghost Boar (Creature Codex, page 169).
While not a Fiend (Demon), this Large CR 3 Monstrosity has a few extra abilities on top of those found within the Giant Boar stat block that would make it a pretty formidable creature to meet. It has Incorporeal Jaunt, which allows it to become incorporeal momentarily. This provides some great ghostly flavour and serves as a reminder that the Babi Ngepet is a part of the Javanese spirit world. It also has a Tusk Swipe reaction, making it a little tougher to face it up close without getting hurt. The Huge CR 6 Elder Ghost Boar (page 169) gives it Ghostly Slip that is a more controlled use of its incorporeal powers, and Spirit Conduit which speaks to the area of folklore in which the human must allow themselves to be possessed and give up an element of their control of themselves in order to be able to practice black magic. I would probably also add on something from the Stormboar (Tome Of Beasts II, page 341) that I LOVED, which was its Iron Scent. While this was clearly meant as a reference to lightning seeking metal objects, I loved the idea of the Babi Ngepet being able to sniff out ore, minerals, and gems to steal and would give it an ability that allowed it to do so.
Beyond what I've presented, I'd probably want to make my own stat block that combined these options? The base abilities of a Giant Boar work well, perhaps mixed up with some of the extra abilities presented in Legendary Bestiary (page 17) to add some interest to the usual things found in a Giant Boar. The Wereboar's ability to Shapechange is pretty key within the lore, but I'd honestly want to give its Humanoid and Hybrid form the ability to cast spells? Even if there weren't many, it's an important facet to the legend surrounding the creature.
So now it is time to pop in some plot hooks, and there are a ton of different routes to go down here!
The party head into a village and discover that over the last couple of weeks a variety of jewels and valuables have been going missing. The villagers are becoming suspicious of and aggressive towards each other and the only clue lies in a strange squealing sound that can be heard during the night.
One of the party members is rewarded with a black, magical cloak that allows them to easily sense the value and whereabouts of treasure such as coins, jewels, and precious metals. As they wear it more often, they are cursed to occasionally become possessed by a demon of some kind, or transform into a boar.
The party stumble upon a child who is watching a candle floating out on a small pond. They are exceptionally protective of it, even going so far as to threaten any party members who want to touch or analyse it. While interacting with the child, the flame will begin to flicker and the child will become exceptionally agitated, claiming that their parent is in grave danger.
As the party stumble upon a remote, isolated hamlet, a swine will approach them cautiously. If the party engage in any kind of check to attempt to befriend or tempt the boar over, it will be easily swayed and begin to rub itself against any members that will allow it. Within twenty four hours, some of their valuables will go missing.
A small gang of thieves are notorious throughout a city, and have earned a reputation for being able to get away quickly. They are in fact a group of Babi Ngepet who are able to shapechange at will. By day they are making money with their 'get-rich-quick' schemes, and by night they are transforming into boars and robbing the local nobility.
I really hope you loved reading about this exceptionally interesting creature! Have you ever heard of the Babi Ngepet? Would you use some in your games? Let me know!