Our natural form is the body of a man with the head of an animal, but we can change this appearance at will.

The ability to change the face, to take on different forms, forms of man and beast, is what humans would say most defines us. Perhaps it is our ability to change our face which so causes men to fear us, dependent as they are on their eyes. Yet, in this we know that men are mistaken. More than any other race, we know that it is not the outward face which matters, it is the heart within. No matter our form, no matter which face we wear, we remain the same.

If we take on the form of the beast we become no more bestial. If we take on the form of a man, we become no more “civilized.” We do not see the ability to change our shape to be our defining characteristic.

It is simply a part of us, like our feet or our tongues.

Rather, what defines us is how we act in the world.

Our reverence for the sacred kami, our loyalty to family, our personal honor, our sense of humor; these are the things that make us who we are.

Physical Description: Hengeyokai are shapeshifting humanoids able to take one of three forms. Their true form is that of a humanoid with the face of an animal. There are many clans of hengeyokai, each associated with a different animal.

When two hengeyokai from the same clan marry, their children are always of the same clan. When two from different clans marry, their offspring can belong to either clan. If one learns how to take a form other than the one to which they are born, they are still considered to belong to the clan to which they were born.

Ecology & Society: For the most part, hengeyokai are a simple people, a people of wood and stone. Their desires are for the necessities of life and the companionship of others. Hengeyokai typically do not enjoy living alone, and generally feel safer when with a group. Superficially, hengeyokai social structure is similar to that of men, though lacking a caste system or a feudal nobility. Instead, the basic social unit is the family and a hengeyokai is loyal first to their family and then to their clan. A typical family has three to five children. Twins and triplets are not uncommon. Most marriages take place within a clan, but there is no taboo against marriage between the clans. For that matter there is no taboo against marrying humans, though this practice is deemed foolish, doomed to end in tragedy.

There are three kinds of henge communities. The most common sort of community is familial in nature. That is, some families maintain their own homesteads, with children building new homes near their parents. These communities can grow quickly from one generation to the next, especially in families with many sons. When such an endeavor experiences true success, it frequently forms the basis for the second sort of community, the clan.

Clan communities are generally comprised of four or five families, with the head of each family, whether a patriarch or a matriarch, serving as one of the village elders. The third sort of community, one in which the clans mix, is the rarest sort, though the oldest and largest hengeyokai villages are mostly of this nature. These villages are also led by village elders, though the elders are selected by reason of age or ability, rather than their position within a given family.

Hengeyokai Clans: Hengeyokai clans are divided as follows based on the clan into which the hengeyokai is born and the animal shape they can take:

Inu Batsu (Dog Clan): The closest thing to a warrior clan amongst the hengeyokai. Possessing a fondness for tales full of noble and heroic deeds, the inu are among the most loyal and steadfast of the hengeyokai. Seriousness, patience and honor are all characteristics one expects to find in an inu. That is not to say they are without humor, but, as a rule, even their jokes are meant to teach a moral lesson and they frown on cruelty for the sake of cruelty. This is not to say they are without faults. As a clan they are very possessive of anything belonging to themselves and can be easily angered if they think someone is trying to cheat them.

Furthermore, inu are known for well intentioned, but impulsive acts which often, it seems, create trouble for themselves and others.

Mujina Batsu (Badger Clan): The mujina batsu are typically thoughtful, and among other henge, they have a reputation for seriousness, rivaled only by the Inu Batsu. Yet whereas the inu are given to impulsive actions, the mujina seldom do anything without a plan. The mujina batsu have a talent in the healing arts and a fondness for religious study and tend to produce many of the hengeyokai priests and clerics. A possible fault of the mujina batsu is their tendancy to hoard, although a mujina would claim that this habit has little to do with greed and everything to do with being prepared for an emergency.

Neko Batsu (Cat Clan): Neko Batsu have a bad reputation among humans. While Neko Batsu claim their poor reputation is all because of a misunderstanding, the neko’s reputation for cruelty is not entirely baseless. More than any other hengeyokai, they are predisposed towards malicious humors and violence. While they can also be affectionate and kind, their capriciousness is such that even a hengeyokai will tread carefully around a neko, lest they find themself a target of a neko’s jokes. While the neko are not exactly greedy, they have a poorly defined sense of property and when something catches their fancy, if it is not obviously and vigorously claimed, they will take it for themselves.

Nezumi Batsu (Rat Clan): Scholarly wisdom is the hallmark of the Nezumi Batsu clan, though they are far from pretentious and seldom derive a living from academic pursuits. Yet, even a simple nezumi farmer is likely to be learned in at least one academic field and more often than not, will have monastic training. Similar to the mujina, the nezumi produce many priests. They also produce a large number of the hengeyokai monks. Despite these achievements, they rarely seek leadership positions and their clan is marked by a general lack of worldly ambition.

Saru Batsu (Monkey Clan): The Saru Batsu is a collection of incorrigible tricksters and practical jokesters. A saru is frequently an annoying, mischief maker, yet, they nonetheless, as a whole, possess a certain whimsical charm.

Despite their cheerful exuberance, the saru are actually slow to make true friends or share their thoughts, even amongst themselves. Lazier than even the neko, the saru are full of grand schemes that seldom come to fruition. This is not to say they are without talent. The Saru Batsu has produced great sorcerers, artists and even adventurers. Their skills, however, frequently need careful management and subtle encouragements to blossom.

Tanuki-Batsu (Raccoon-Dog Clan): Few of the hengeyokai interact with humanity as much as the Tanuki Batsu, much to the chagrin of men. The tanuki are surpassed only by the saru in their love of practical jokes, yet, whereas the capers of the saru are, as often as not, the whim of a moment, a tanuki plans his pranks out, almost as carefully as a mujina. No one is safe from the humor of a tanuki, including their closest friends; but they reserve their largest, grandest efforts for humans. Unlike the saru, for whom labor is often anathema, the tanuki are typically diligent in both play and chores.

There are no henge clans more productive than the Tanuki Batsu and many of the greatest hengeyokai craftsmen are tanuki. Add to this the fact that the Tanuki Batsu is as large as any two of the other hengeyokai clans combined, and one can understand, pranks aside, why the tanuki form the backbone of henge society.

Usagi Batsu (Hare Clan): Quick footed, and quick witted, the Usagi Batsu are renowned travelers and explorers. Even those who have not traveled far are likely to have explored every square inch of their local environment. The usagi are fond of good natured jokes and pranks They are also, as a rule, extremely devoted to their immediate families: their parents, siblings and children. In matters of war, among the henge, the Usagi Batsu is second only to the Inu Batsu. Masters of the bow and spear, a unit of usagi warriors is a fearsome force and many of the henge villages are kept safe thanks to their constant vigilance.

Relations: Amongst themselves, the hengeyokai have few conflicts. What disputes they do have with one another are most often about property, territory in particular. Their wars are brief and seldom lead to bloodshed. In part, this is because of their shared faith and values. In larger part it is because they recognize the threat from men is of such a nature as to make internecine struggles foolish.

Hengeyokai have a much more strained relationship with humans. In some areas, humans fear the hengeyokai, calling them devils and demons and worse. Such humans typically view the hengeyokai as monsters and baselessly accuse the hengeyokai of foul crimes, including eating human flesh and consorting with the oni. Not all men are against the hengeyokai, and the hengeyokai are typically open to such relationships, doing what they can to cultivate these individuals.

Some of hengeyokai actively live among men, using their shapechanging powers to hide in plain sight. The reasons for such endeavors are many. Sometimes, a henge, having fallen in love with a human, marries a human spouse. Frequently, those that do so hide their true form from even their beloved. Such arrangements almost never end well, resulting in heartaches and broken homes. Others live among humans as spies, sending reports on human activities back to a henge village so they might be better prepared to deal with human incursions. Even when hengeyokai do not live among humans, hengeyokai are not completely distant from them. Henge merchants, hiding their true form, sell in the markets of men.

The hengeyokai count the tengu of the mountains as allies, despite their warlike ways. Many hengeyokai weapons and armor are tengu made, and, in turn, the hengeyokai share the bounty of our harvest with the tengu. The kappa are also frequent visitors in hengeyokai villages, though they seldom stay long, preferring, as they do, isolation.

Alignment & Religion: The exact disposition of a hengeyokai changes from individual to individual. It is true that each clan has a stereotypical attitude towards life. The Inu are known to have a very good and upright nature. The Mujina are highly organized in both deed and thought. The Neko, conversely, resent being bound by rules and generally do as they please. The Nezumi, while not as regimented as the Mujina, are nonetheless sticklers for tradition and tend to be kindly. The Usagi are not as freespirited as the Neko, but they strive for as few rules as possible. However, like the Nezumi, the Usagi are also kindly. The Saru are typically chaotic in manners and life. They are seldom malicious, but they are typically thoughtless concerning the feelings of others. Finally, the Tanuki are a mixture of extremes, balancing diligence and sloth, creativity and order in a single package. Though these are the stereotypes, like all such caricatures, they are an exaggeration and there are many individuals within each clan who do not conform to the standard. In meta-game terms, the various clans are inclined toward the following alignments:

  • Inu: Lawful Good
  • Mujina: Lawful
  • Neko: Chaotic
  • Nezumi: Good
  • Saru: Chaotic Neutral
  • Tanuki: Neutral Good
  • Usagi: Neutral Good

Though the disposition of a hengeyokai may vary from clan to clan, one constant among all the hengeyokai is their faith, Yokinto. Hengeyokai worship the kami, praying to the many spirits for good fortune and help in this world. They build shrines near ancient landmarks such as springs, trees, rocks or mountains and within these shrines they build ceremonial homes for the ancient kami. The primary duties of hengeyokai priests, besides religious instruction, is the upkeep and care of these shrines. Hengeyokai worship primarily involves leaving gifts to the kami, though they also engage in frequent festivals and feasts to celebrate the role of the kami in their lives. Hengeyokai typically give little thought to the hereafter, preferring instead to focus on their duties in this life.

Adventurers: Hengeyokai can become adventurers for any number of reasons. They may be on a personal quest or performing an errand for their community. They might be seeking enlightenment or, alternately, just trying to have fun. Regardless of the reason, hengeyokai are well suited to the adventuring life. Their shapechanging ability allows them to easily adapt to both urban and wilderness challenges. Hengeyokai of every clan are well suited for both martial and spellcasting classes. Multiclass hengeyokai are common.

  • Alchemist (Rentanjutsu): Hengeyokai alchemists are exceedingly rare, though some henge will train in the class under the tengu.
  • Barbarian (Emishi): The primitive rage of the barbarian class and the animal heritage of the hengyokai is a good mix. A henge barbarian tends to rely on speed more than brute strength, but his ferocious assaults can easily overwhelm an opponent.
  • Bard (Bakushi): Most celebrations of the hengeyokai are religious in nature and there is not much call for day-to-day entertainment in hengeyokai communities. For these reasons, hengeyokai bards focus on the more scholarly aspects of the class.
  • Cavalier (Hatamoto): Hengeyokai cavaliers are virtually unknown and any that exist have likely been raised by non-hengeyokai.
  • Cleric (Kappa-kannushi): Hengeyokai priests with cleric training are rare, but not unknown. Hengeyokai clerics normally possess the kappakannushi archetype.
  • Druid (Hengekanushi)Every hengeyokai community has a shrine and every shrine needs a caretaker. The druid class is a perfect match for the spiritually minded shapechanging hengeyokai. Such henge sometimes leave their shrines for some spirit quest, taking up adventuring for only a brief while.
  • Fighter (Henge-Bushi): Trained warriors are a valuable asset in any hengeyokai community. In times of relative peace, such combatants often look for opportunities to keep their abilities honed.
  • Inquisitor (Metsuki): Hengeyokai inquisitors are rare and those that exist were likely raised by humans.
  • Monk (Budoka): Both the Nezumi and Saru Batsu have strong monastic traditions. A typical monk “school” is comprised of a single sensai and two, maybe three students. When not training, these students are expected to leave their teachers in order to test and improve their skills against real opponents.
  • Oracle (Miko): Shrine maidens serve alongside the hengekanushi in henge communities. Adventuring miko are rare, but the demands or promptings of the kami sometimes send them away from their shrines, just as they do the hengekanushi.
  • Paladin (Yamabushi): Most hengeyokai paladins come from the Inu and Usagi Batsu. Such warriors tend to travel from community to community, providing assistance, guidance and protection as necessary.
  • Ranger (Henge Matagi): The ranger class is well suited to henge sensibilities and a fair number of hengeyokai warriors are trained as henge matagi. These warriors work diligently to keep the regions around their villages safe.
  • Rogue (Sekko): The stereotypical hengeyokai rogue serves as a scout or spy. These sekko sneak into human settlements and encampments to work mischief and ferret out secrets. Hengeyokai thieves (dorobo) are rare but not entirely unknown. When thieving in a community is discovered, if the offense is serious, the culprits are normally punished with banishment.
  • Sorcerer (Jugondo): Hengeyokai sorcerers tend to possess elemental, celestial or fey bloodlines. Such henge are considered blessed by the spirits and it is not uncommon for them to be associated with a Yokinto shrine.
  • Summoner (Yobukami): Due to cultural taboos, hengeyokai summoners are rare. Summoning and binding spirits is considered impolite to the spirits themselves.
  • Witch (Mahoutsukai): While not common, hengeyokai witches are not unknown and such as do exist can be quite capable. Good-aligned mahoutsukai draw their power from pacts with the kami, evil mahoutsukai from the oni.
  • Wizard (Sen): Both the Usagi and Nezumi Batsu have a small but active tradition of arcane scholarship and while they are willing to teach henge from any clans, most of their students continue to come from within the two clans.

Names: Sharing a common language with humanity, hengeyokai naming conventions are similar. Hengeyokai seldom adopt surnames among the henge own kind, using, if necessary, their clan’s names for formal introductions.

Some common male names include: Akemi, Akeno, Botan, Juro, Keiji, Kukemi, Teijo, and Wakaki.

Some common female names include: Asa, Fuyu, Hanako, Haruko, Kukiko, Matsu, Sukura, and Umeko.

Racial Traits

When creating a hengeyokai, first determine the animal associated with the hengeyokai. Each hengeyokai clan has a different set of ability score adjustments and different racial bonuses.

All hengeyokai have the following traits:

  • Medium: Hengeyokai are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to size.
  • Low-light Vision: Hengeyokai can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
  • Normal Speed: Hengeyokai (except for the Hare Clan) have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Keen Senses: Hengeyokai receive a +2 racial bonus to Perception checks.
  • Multitalented: Hengeyokai choose two favored classes at first level. Whenever they advance a level in either of these classes, they may choose either +1 skill point or +1 hit point.
  • Shapechanger: A hengeyokai’s true form is that of a humanoid with the face of an animal. The animal is that of its clan. A hengeyokai may change shape, appearing either as a human or in the natural form of her clan animal (alter self, beastshape I). A hengeyokai’s human features are always the same, as are her animal features and these features are uniquely hers. That is, a hengeyokai cannot choose to take the shape or form of another person or animal in order to disguise herself without access to other abilities or powers. A hengeyokai can revert to her natural form at will. She may adopt her alternate forms a number of times per day equal to 1/2 her character level (minimum 1).
  • Yokai Traits: Hengeyokai always count Stealth and Survival as class skills.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Hengeyokai are proficient with the great club, long bow, and spear.
  • Hengeyokai Weakness: Hengeyokai are susceptible to cold iron. Cold iron weapons always do +1 damage against them. Moreover, a hengeyokai in an alternate form, when struck with cold iron, reverts instantly to her true shape.
  • Languages: Hengeyokai begin play speaking Common and Sylvan. Hengeyokai with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Celestial, Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, and Goblin.

Random Starting Ages

Excepting the immortal daitengu, tengu live about sixty years. Players may choose a starting age for their tengu character or they can use the following table. Tengu suffer the effects of aging as normal.

Adulthood Intuitive1 Self-Taught2 Trained3
14 years +1d6 years (15 – 20 years) +2d6 years (16 – 26 years) +3d6 years (17 – 32 years)
Middle Age (40 years) Old (90 years) Venerable (150 years) Maximum Age (150 + 2d10 years)

1 This category includes barbarians, oracles, rogues, and sorcerers.
2 This category includes bards, cavaliers, fighters, gunslingers, paladins, rangers, summoners, and witches.
3 This category includes alchemists, clerics, druids, inquisitors, magi, monks, and wizards.

Random Height and Weight

Gender Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight Weight Modifier
Henge (male) 4 ft. 10 in. +2d10 in.(5 ft. 0 in. – 6 ft. 6 in.) 120 lbs. +(2d10×5 lbs.)(130 – 220 lbs.)
Henge (female) 4 ft. 5 in. +2d10 in.(4 ft. 7 in. – 6 ft. 1 in.) 85 lbs. +(2d10×5 lbs.)(95 – 185 lbs.)

Racial Feats

The following feats are available to a hengeyokai character who meets the prerequisites.

Racial Classes, Archetypes and/or Prestige Classes

The following archetypes, classes, prestige classes, and/or other replacement class features are available to a hengeyokai character who meets the prerequisites.

Alternative Racial Traits

You can exchange one or several of your character’s normal racial Traits, but of course you cannot exchange the same racial trait more than once.

As with any alternate or optional rule, you must first get the permission of your GM to exchange any of your character’s normal racial Traits for those listed here.

  • Bestial: The wild animal spirit is stronger in some hengeyokai. Hengeyokai with this racial trait possess a bite attack that does 1d4 points of damage and a claw attack that does 1d3 points of damage. They have -2 Intelligence and suffer a -2 penalty to any Charisma-based skill check.
  • Kami-Friend: Some hengeyokai are more attuned to the spiritual world than others. Henge with this racial trait are able to cast each of the following spells 1/day: pass without trace and speak with animal. Cold iron weapons do +2 damage against these hengeyokai.
  • Natural Hunter: Some henge are naturally skilled at stalking prey. Hengeyokai with this racial trait have a +2 racial bonus to Perception, Stealth and Survival. These bonuses replace all other racial skill bonuses and the 40 foot base speed of the Usagi.
  • Oni Hunters: Oni are the enemy of the kami and some hengeyokai train hard to fight against these foes. Such henge gain a +2 dodge bonus against oni and a +1 to attack and damage rolls made against them. This ability replaces Keen Senses and Weapon Familiarity.
  • Small: The animal heritage of some hengeyokai is seen in their small stature. The natural form (but not the human form) of these henge is Small sized (+1 AC, +1 attack, -1 CMB/CMD). When they move from their natural form to their human form, their possessions do not change size with them.

Favored Class Alternatives

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever he gains a level in a favored class, a hengeyokai has the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending on his favored class(es). The following options are available to all henge who have the listed favored class, and, unless stated otherwise, the bonus applies each time he selects the favored class reward. Fractional bonuses have no effect until enough are taken to form a whole number.

Race Bonus Source
Barbarian (Emishi) Add 1 to the hengeyokai’s base speed. This has no effect in combat until chosen five times. This increase in speed stacks with the barbarian’s speed increase and is subject to the same conditions. RP:ICH
Bard (Bakushi) Add +1/3 to all Knowledge checks. RP:ICH
Druid (Hengekanushi) Add +1/2 to Diplomacy checks made when dealing with creatures possessing the kami, fey or elemental subtype. RP:ICH
Monk (Budoka) Add 1 to the hengeyokai’s base speed. This has no effect in combat until chosen five times. This increase in speed stacks with the monk’s speed increase and is subject to the same conditions. RP:ICH
Mushakemono Add +1/2 to the number of times per day the hengeyokai can use its racial shapechanger ability. RP:ICH
Ranger (Henge Matagi) Add +1/2 to wild empathy checks to influence forest dwelling animals and magical beasts RP:ICH
Rogue (Sekko) Add +1/2 to Stealth checks made out of doors in a natural environment. RP:ICH
Witch (Mahoutsukai) Add +1/2 to Survival checks made out of doors in a natural environment. RP:ICH
Wizard (Sen) Add +1/2 to any Knowledge (nature) checks. RP:ICH
Section 15: Copyright Notice

In the Company of Henge copyright 2011, Steve D. Russell and Michael Tumey. All rights reserved; Author: Jonathan McAnulty.

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