Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Racial Class: Kitsune

This blog isn't pink and gay enough, right?

To-Hit and Hit Dice: As Rogue
Save: As Elf
XP per Level: As Elf
Prime Requisite: Charisma 13

The kitsune probably need no introduction; they are Yokai from Japanese mythology; tricksters, fox-spirits, shapeshifters, with many tails. And everyone does them wrong. Literally everyone. I hate it.

Kitsune live forever, and have a tail for every one hundred years of life, gaining their final ninth tail when they are 900 years old. It is possible for a kitsune to gain tails early for major promotions of gaining great magical power. For gaming purposes, Kitsune PCs are exceptional enough that their magical growth gives them a new tail every two character levels, just like a wizard gets access to new spell levels due to obvious implications.

To elaborate on kitsune tails, the number of tails a kitsune has is about equal to their power. For simplicity, the number of tails a kitsune has is equal to the level of spells they can cast. A nine-tailed kitsune is able to bang out 9th-level spells. This also increases their needs when they magically drain; A kitsune cannot regain spell slots simply through rest like a mortal wizard; perhaps they could if they were mere spirits, in the spirit world, only affecting other spirits. But in the material world, they must drain to fuel their magic and their existence.

Chinese and Japanese mysticism broke the world into different elemental affinities than the familiar four Greek elements, and of particular interest was the existence of thirteen lower elements, which almost all yokai spirits fell under. These elements were Wind, Earth, Fire, Rivers, Heaven, Thunder, Mountains, Void, Spirit, Time, Forest, Ocean, and Music. Heaven could be understood to be the sky and celestial forces, the Void to be darkness and emptiness, Music to encapsulate all 'good sound', and Spirit to be the invisible forces of magic, spiritual influences, and invisible beings.

In the case of kitsune, they had powers influenced by their element. A Fire Kitsune would be immune to fire damage, and have greater aptitude at fire magic, etcetera. We'll elaborate more on this later.

Additionally, kitsune were divided into something similar to Seelie and Unseelie Courts; kitsune are meant to serve Inari, God of Rice (and thus the patron god of all human life in Japan), and were not unlike his/her angels. These 'Myobu' kitsune were meant to refrain from manifesting directly in the world without permission to satisfy some task, and were cut off from the pleasures of the world (for good reason, as we'll discuss later). Wild foxes, or 'nogitsune', were willful, independent, pleasure-seeking foxes with wanderlust, and are thus what a PC is assumed to be. A Myobu kitsune is always Lawful, and a Nogitsune is always Chaotic.

The kitsune is a spirit, and physical existence is not natural for them. A kitsune can appear directly in the physical world, but this is disruptive of nature, and as kitsune are nature spirits, there are consequences. When a kitsune manifests, it drains energy of its respective element from the environment. A fire kitsune kills flames and drains heat; a music kitsune kills sound, drains the beauty out of voices and music, and turns song into wretched noise. More on this below.

A kitsune can avoid this issue by possessing a person, instead. This is done by invading a subject's dreams and draining their willpower. A possessed person is not aware of their possession state, and remembers none of it. Possession is not usually long-term, as in this state a kitsune can be banished by Turn Undead and any other exorcism effects, and in addition their shapeshifting is limited (see below).

A third option is to possess an unborn child, and to effective reincarnate as a human. We'll call this the avatar method. An avatar cannot be banished or exorcised, but while they retain their long-life, they must eat, drink, sleep, and suffer the ravages of disease like any other living being. A physically manifested kitsune is also totally susceptible to vice; a kitsune is totally vulnerable to all pleasures and indulgences, such that they need to make a saving throw to not indulge in any slight temptation.

Kitsune are, fundamentally, a sort of vampire or succubus-like creature, and this must be kept in mind. When they physically manifest directly, they must feed on their element or, more daringly, on actual people and their souls. The amount of energy to manifest physically is extreme. A kitsune possessing a host still needs to feed for their magic, and must drain the host or another human to maintain the possession, but an avatar needs to drain only for the use of their magic. For all intents and purposes, they are part of the physical world as long as their avatar lives.

If a kitsune wishes to feed off of a person's soul, they must first touch them. This is only for the first time; after that, a link is maintained. A soul only gives energy if the subject is willing; for a willing subject, the experience is pleasant, and so many kitsune disguise and establish their feeding via sexual intercourse. The more a subject willingly gives, the more pleasure they feel, and the less severe the drain on their body. Essentially, treat this as a succubus' Energy Drain, except that in the case of genuine love, this drain is purely temporary.

As a general rule, a kitsune has to drain one level per HD to exist physically/maintain a possession, AND one level per spell-level to regain those spells. To clarify, to recharge your 9th level spells, you need to drain 9 levels to charge all of your spells of that level, not 9 levels per 9th level spell slot.

Or, actually, if you want to do it that way, be my guest, that's metal as hell. Tamamo-no-Mae, one of the most famous and wicked nine-tailed foxes, literally had to drain a thousand people to death to enter our world.

Either way, translating this into elemental feeding is trickier. How many HD does a river have, or a song? The point is that a kitsune is an environmental, elemental blight that causes major suffering, disparity, and ugliness in the world. A GM has to account accordingly and really sell this in the story. The effects of a drain should never be anything that can be turned to a boon, like a Sound Kitsune letting their friends be silently sneaky; attempting to drain the sounds of a thief makes them cacophonously loud and disruptive, in a way that pleases no one's ears.

On the matter of kitsune reproduction, since kitsune have a lot of sexual intercourse; a kitsune only conceives a child when it consciously wishes for it; the child can be a fox or human regardless of the form the kitsune is currently in, but in any case the child is actually a kitsune with its own avatar by default. If a kitsune is possessing a human, they cannot control their fertility and their children are not kitsune, but their children often have innate magical powers like a third edition Sorcerer. A kitsune can choose to do this on purpose instead of having avatared kitsune kits, as well.

Elemental Properties:
Wind - Feeding from the wind would leave stale, unhealthy air. This would be hard to breath, and would be sort of a 'pocket', remaining in an area until a stronger, fresh wind could dissipate it. Think of more of a 'dead zone' in the spirit world, that needed to be swept away. This would tie in well with the legend of Tamamo-no-Mae, where when she transformed into a stone, anything that approached her died or withered.

Earth - Feeding from the earth would allow kitsune to draw from the stones, and from the soil. This would more than likely kill most crops, as the land becomes cracked and blighted.
Fire - Feeding from fire would snuff the flames. Note that most kitsune create foxfire, so this most likely would be a common form of feeding.

Ocean - The kitsune could draw nourishment from the oceans, the waves, and from the sea creatures found there. This would leave behind still, flat water, with no wind or sea life to be found in the vicinity.
River - The river kitsune would feed from the riverside and brook, leaving tainted water, dead fish, and possibly a dry riverbed at the most extreme.
Forest - These kitsune would wither trees, feeding from the wood and the plants around them. Animals in the vicinity would weaken.
Time - Time kitsune would feed on the lifespan of the things around them, aging them at an unnatural rate. Time might seem to slow around them as they feed, making tasks seem longer and harder than expected.
Void - These kitsune could feed from the marshes and swamps, leaving stagnant, poisoned waters and dead creatures. They could also feed from the shadows around them, stealing the shadow of people, or making the darkness seem more bleak.
Heaven - These kitsune feed from the essence of magic and the heavens. This includes drawing from sorcerers if they can, or ley lines. They would also feed from knowledge, like books or from stories told. This would make the books harder to read or remove the words, or could cause a person to forget what had been said, or what they were saying. (And this does seem to be a trick some kitsune do..) These kitsune would also feed from starlight, or if bold enough, from the warmth of the sun.

Mountain - These kitsune can feed from rocks and stones and precious metals and gems. Such things would crumble or become fragile after. The mountain ranges and hills the kitsune fed from could transform into barren wastelands and jagged rocks.
Thunder - These kitsune feed from the storms and harsh weather around them. This quells the storm eventually, after producing a stale, lifeless rain.

Spirit - These kitsune feed on other spirits, hunting them and devouring them. They would leave weak, lifeless spirits in their wake, if anything at all. These are also the ones most likely to harm people they fed from.
Music - The kitsune can feed from music, poetry, and the feelings connected to this. It can leave a musician without inspiration or skill, or leave the music lifeless and dull.

Abilities & Weaknesses:

Kitsune have a number of weaknesses. As explained before, kitsune are vulnerable to spiritual wards, exorcisms, Turn Undead, etc. when in spiritual or possessing forms; but the Men of the Cloth are their bane in general. Someone who has genuine faith (Clerics, Druids, Paladins, extremely, notably religious NPCs, etc) are practically toxic to a kitsune. They cannot see a kitsune's illusions whatsoever, and automatically dispel them when touched; they are also capable of breaking a kitsune's connections to a feeding victim with an opposed saving throw, and roll with Advantage to see through a kitsune's shapeshifting. Finally, they cannot be drained, themselves.

Kitsune have a large number of abilities. They cast spells as illusionists of their level (If your game has no Illusionist spell list, just restrict them to the illusion and mind control spells of the Magic User), with the exception that for a kitsune, their illusions are reality. When a Kitsune disguises themselves as a human, they ARE human and can even sire human children. If a kitsune disguises a staff as a snake, that snake can move, bite, and kill. If a kitsune disguises the sky with night, vampires may walk even if it's afternoon teatime. If a kitsune makes a wall invisible, they can walk through it. You get the picture. However, as established before, people of faith cannot see their illusions, and automatically dispel them on contact. The psychic shock of this always drives a kitsune into temporary insanity, as their sense of reality is broken and needs to rebuild itself. Illusions based on that kitsune's element are slightly more real, and everyone rolls with Disadvantage on their saving throws for those effects.

In fact, their ability to fool reality is so powerful that at name level, a kitsune is capable of producing a functional pocket dimension, capable of even controlling its planar traits and time dilation.

Kitsune can shapeshift, outside of their spellcasting. All kitsune, save for possessors (they must use illusions), can shift between fox, human, and anthropomorphic forms. They can also shift into anything else that could be encountered in the natural world, including other people. They do not gain the abilities or powers implied by these forms, though if the form is related to their elemental affinity, people roll with Disadvantage on saves or checks to notice the deception. This is because when a kitsune shapeshifts, their tails are always visible, EXCEPT in their Avatar form, or in a form related to their element.

A kitsune can also produce foxfire, ghostly white balls of flame created by rubbing their tails together. These free floating, heatless orbs radiate a pale and clear light, and move as a kitsune mentally directs. They are lanterns and toys, as if they were an at-will Dancing Lights, but they can also be thrown as simple, burning weapons. This is not Magic Missile, and thus still be aimed, but a Foxfire ball can be thrown for 1d4 damage.

A kitsune in a possessed or avatar state has a white ball called a Kitsune Ball. It looks like a simple toy ball, to all respects, is one. It doesn't even produce a magical aura. However, when manifested in a proper body (either theirs or otherwise), a kitsune must store the majority of their power in a kitsune ball. It is, effectively, their soul. If stolen from them, a kitsune can be trivially bound by the right spirit-binding magics, and they are unable to use any of their kitsune powers except for vampiric draining. Even a simple peasant can magically bind a kitsune to perform three services in exchange for their ball. You should probably make sure one of them is "Don't kill me and everyone I've ever loved."

Kitsune, depending on how they have manifested, can be harmed in different ways. A physically manifest kitsune cannot be harmed by normal weaponry, only blessed and magical ones. However, even when they are, they have prodigious regeneration, capable of healing damage through their vampiric draining. If a kitsune is harmed, they can drain a level from the environment or a person to effectively cast Cure Light Wounds on themselves. Possessing or Avataring Kitsune do not have this ability.

However, a Possessing kitsune is safe; what happens to their host does not matter to them, as they will just escape into their spirit forms. An Avatar Kitsune suffers damage like any other mortal, but has no special spirit-based weaknesses.

As a reminder, a kitsune does not have access to the memories, knowledge, or special powers of a subject they possess either.

When a kitsune is killed, they are banished back to the spirit world. It is here they must be defeated to be permanently slain. Unless in the case of a possessing kitsune, their powers are effectively stripped of them; a kitsune in this state cannot cast spells or use any of their abilities save for their vampiric draining, and all their existing links to mortal souls are broken. Regaining their abilities requires them to drain levels equal to their Hit Dice, every day for a year and a day. This can be hastened by ritualistic offerings, which shave off a week for every day they are performed. The kitsune must still drain during these times. If these ritual offerings involve human sacrifices, they shave off a week per HD/level of the sacrifice, in addition to the normal benefit.

Finally, a kitsune can sacrifice one of its own tails to immediately revive itself when it is killed, effectively burning off its own levels to fuel its own resurrection. Due to all the above, it's no surprise that the most powerful kitsune are generally all horrible monsters.

As a final note, any Magic-User spells that can be associated with a kitsune's element should be added to their spell list. These are not illusions, and are genuine changes to the world. A Time Kitsune can cast Time Stop and Haste; a Music Kitsune can create genuine sounds and Power Words.

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