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Basic Information

The tuyul is an undead creature from Indonesian myth which is created from the mummified corpse of a baby - usually stillborn or miscarried - by a Dukun (an Indonesian term for a shaman or magician). It is said to look like a hideous baby with greenish skin and glowing red eyes.

A tuyul is usually kept for the purpose of theft and petty sabotage - they are said to lack the strength to do any real harm but are common suspects in unexplained disappearances of small, valuable items, which they are said to be able to see through walls and other barriers.

Tuyuls are traditionally thought of as childlike, needing to be paid with gifts of sweets and toys from their master and, according to some sources, allowed to suckle milk (or blood) either from their master or a female relative. Their utility is also restricted by their playful nature - so that they become distracted by marbles, beads and similar items - and, apparently, a fear of needles. Like many South East Asian undead they also fear their own reflection and can be warded off with mirrors.
When not in use, the Tuyul is stored in a dark place - usually in a sealed urn - possibly because they decay in sunlight or possibly because they 'sleep' in complete darkness.

The childlike nature of the Tuyul is also reflected in the fact that their ownership is thought to be passed on from one generation to the next - unless some action is taken on the death of the current owner, his or her heir becomes responsible for the Tuyul, whether they know of its existance or not. Ownership is, apparently, transferrable (although this may require the assistance of a dukun) and there is meant to be an unbonding ritual as well - an unbound tuyul is little more than a nuisance and will cause very little harm but may wander into people's homes and meddle with unattended objects.

See Also:

Tupilak - also unholy and made by a shaman from infant remains.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • For a high squick variant, try a female villain who has made a tuyul of her own stillborn child and now lives with it in a bizarre form of single motherhood.
  • A PC with the right cultural background could inherit one of these … and know nothing about it until long after stolen goods are found in his possession.
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