The Hengeyokai of Japan

 Hengeyokai   Korobukuru   Shikome   Spirit Folk   Divinity   Dragons   Oni   Spirits and Undead   Tengu   Bakemono 

'Hengeyokai' is the name given to members of the Oriental animal kingdom capable of shapeshifting into human form. The exact origins of these races are unknown, but the following information has been pieced together by the various sages and scholars who have studied them.

All are capable of assuming either their animal form or their human form at will, requiring a few seconds for the transformation to take place. Some aspect of their animal form is always apparent in their human form's appearance (e.g., cats' eyes for a cat shapeshifter). Hengeyokai dwell alone, away from any other members of their race. This could be due to some racial animosity, or territorial instincts.

Although the following types of Hengeyokai have been encountered, it is possible that other animals have shapeshifters within their ranks. The old legends even give mention of shapeshifting dragons.

One of the most common Hengeyokai, the cat in its animal form is identical to any other feline. In human form, they appear to be slender and extremely agile men and women, with their animal coloring carrying through to their physical appearance. They are quick-witted and highly perceptive people, and this fact coupled with their great agility has led to the occurrence of several Cat Hengeyokai becoming members of the Ninja and Yakuza clans.

Whilst in animal form, the Dog appears to be a huge hound, some the size of small ponies. In their human forms, they are always huge, muscular individuals, dwarfing their human counterparts by at least a head-and-a-half. Bad-tempered and unimaginative, the Dog makes an excellent warrior, but not a great deal else. Their minds are too basic for them to utilize magic, and thus they resort to more physical means to achieve their goals. However, just like their canine cousins they are fiercely loyal, protecting friends or masters with their lives.

Mischievous and inquisitive by nature, the Monkey Hengeyokai normally appear in human form as cheerful, old men - wise and well educated, yet with a definite wild side to their personalities. Out of all of the Hengeyokai, the Monkey seems to enjoy human company the most. Several stories exist, telling of a monkey saving a man from certain death, just to be in his company. However cheerful and friendly the Monkey may be, all have a ferocious temper, greater than that of the Dog, which when raised is a terrifying sight to behold. Fortunately, they seem far too undisciplined to utilize this to any great advantage.

A race of vicious and spiteful miscreants, the Rat Hengeyokai are generally shunned by the other shapeshifters. Physically, they tend to be small and wiry in stature, and stoop when they move, giving them an even more twisted appearance. Their senses of smell and hearing are excellent, ranking them amongst the best trackers known. Totally immoral and corrupt, these untrustworthy vermin are often found working as the minions of demonic entities that play havoc with the world, acting as spies and assassins - jobs they love. The last mistake you will make is to trust a Rat.

One of the rarest Hengeyokai, the Crane is a graceful and caring person in its human form. They often assume the forms of pilgrims and priests, and then travel the lands seeking to help those in need of aid. Pacifistic in nature, the Crane loathes any form of violence, and will always seek to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation, often putting themselves at risk in the process. Whatever form they assume, their features are always smooth with eyes that show great compassion.

The fox has always been seen as a cunning and devious creature, and the Hengeyokai Fox is no exception to this. Sly and quick-witted, the Fox is not an evil being, it just prefers to live its life in as much comfort as possible, often at the expense of others. One of the most adept shapeshifters, it is only possible to identify a Fox Hengeyokai in human form by looking closely at its eyes, which are as black as night. The Fox can often be found working with the Yakuza clans, usually as an informer or spy.

The exact number of these terrible creatures is unknown, but it is thankfully thought to be quite low. Whilst in their natural forms, they appear as huge spiders, the size of a large hound, with glowing red eyes and razor-sharp mandibles. In human form they are coldly beautiful women, highly intelligent and totally ruthless. Solitary creatures, they tend to live in the forests, waiting for unsuspecting victims to come across them. As frightened and helpless maidens in need of assistance, they then seduce their prey. Once in their grasp victims are slaughtered mercilessly. The Spider Hengeyokai is feared, even by the other shapeshifters.


The Dwarves of the Orient are a stark contrast to the Western ideal of these stout individuals. They dwell primarily in jungles, away from the influence of mankind, where they exist as a tribe of hunter/gatherers. They are around five feet tall, with long arms and bowed legs. Their appearance is always unkempt, with unruly, matted hair and beards. Their skin is particularly ruddy and coarse to the touch. Man and the Dwarves seem to have very little time for each other, each considering the other to be primitive. Therefore there is contempt between the two, making Dwarves unwelcome within human society, and vice versa.


Better known as hobgoblins in the West, the Shikome are a barbaric and cruel race of goblinoids. Bloodthirsty and sadistic, they are one of the most warlike races in the Oriental world. Physically, they are slightly taller than the common man, and much stronger, with muscular builds. Their bloodshot eyes are cruel and piercing while their teeth are sharp and jagged. The Shikome have little time for any other activities besides destruction and war. Shikome bandits are common in the mountains, making these areas impossible to travel without a heavy guard.


Not all of the races that live in the Orient are tied to the mortal realms. There are many ghosts and spirits, some good, some evil - who inhabit the world alongside mankind, often without him even knowing. One such group of races are the Spirit Folk, beings from the spirit world who exist in the real world, tied to the mortal plane by their native element. These spirits appear as human and can travel the world as freely as any man, but they can only stay as long as their focus of power (be it a tree, river, or whatever) remains intact. Should any harm come to their focus, they too suffer the same damage. It is for this reason many Spirit Folk do not venture away from their sacred places, for fear of harm coming to them. Occasionally though, one may tire of his solitary existence, and seek companionship among mankind.

River Spirits.
These Spirits have as their focus a river or stream, usually hidden deep within a forest or mountainous region. They are joyful and merry people. Physically, they appear to be completely human, although their skin is slightly translucent. When in water, though, their bodies merge with the element and they all but disappear from view, except for a slight hint of movement where they happen to be swimming. Just like the rivers in which they dwell, the river spirits are ever-changing and free-willed. They do as they please, when they please.

Tree Spirits.
The spirits of the trees are an ancient and wise race. They see all that happens within their woods, and as such are highly regarded as keepers of knowledge and secrets. Their physical form depend mainly upon the type of tree in which they dwell, and even though the tree may age, they remain unchanged. Thoughtful and enigmatic in their reasoning, most tree spirits spend their days in the pursuit of knowledge, often keeping large libraries hidden deep within the roots of their homes (though the books are never made of paper!). Tree Spirits care little for the affairs of men, seeing him as a mere drop in the ocean of life. Mankind will one day die out, leaving the spirits to continue their work.


As such, there are no gods in the Oriental divine hierarchy, although some beings are of sufficient power to be called godly. The spirits fall into several distinct categories, most of which have a closer link to the world than any Western equivalents. Their attitude towards the world is one of interest, and most keep informed of the latest happenings in the realm of mortal men.

The Buddha.
The people of the West often confuse the Buddha as being one entity. In reality there are many. A Buddha is an individual of the Buddhist faith who has discovered the eternal state of enlightenment. Upon becoming a Buddha he has left the world to enter the paradise of Nirvana.

Out of all of the spirits at work within the world, the Buddha have the least contact with man. Their time is spent in a state of deep contemplation, and as such they are not an active force in man's realm.

Not all who discover the stat of Nirvana wish to enter it and leave the world behind. Some decide instead to remain closer to man in the hope of aiding others in their quest for enlightenment.

These beings are known as Bosatsu or Bodhisattva, they are kindly and virtuous and endeavor to teach the people of the Orient the virtues necessary to become enlightened. Out of all of the Buddhist pantheon of spirits, the Bosatsu are the most likely to be encountered.


The Buddhist faith is one of peace and great virtue; its followers are against any form of violence or temptation. The Buddhas themselves are the embodiment of virtue and goodness, yet their nature brings them into conflict with the darker powers at work within the cosmos. Unable to present a show of force to these beings themselves, the Buddhas leave this task to a race of beings known as the Myo-o.

These creatures are great vanquishers of evil, immense in stature and power. It is their task to see that justice is brought to the evil, and to help man avoid the temptations presented by the servants of evil.

Although they have no true form, when they are required to manifest they usually choose a huge muscular form with a scowling face and blazing eyes. In their hands they carry two-handed swords formed of blinding white light. When manifested, they can be anything up to fifteen feet tall, and are capable of tearing trees from the ground or levelling buildings with a single swipe of their powerful fists.


The name Kami literally means superior one, and refers to the great spirits that dwell within and around the Orient. A Kami, unlike the Buddha, is always tied to a specific location, such as a lake, a tree, or even an object such as a sword. Kami can be found almost anywhere, and can take many forms.

There are thought to be eight-hundred myriad of Kami (which translates to some eight million beings). They are spread between the various sites of magical power, as well as being the ancestors of man who have reached the status of Kami.

Some of these Kami live in the celestial sphere like the Buddha and have little contact with mortal man, whilst others are terrestrial spirits who provide support and assistance to the faithful on earth. The Kami are by no means omnipotent or omniscient, yet their powers are far beyond the capabilities of all but the most skilled sorcerers.

A Kami is said to have two souls, unlike man who have just one. The first soul, the Nigi-mi-tama is a benign consciousness, whilst the second, the Ara-mi-tama is, although not actually evil, at least mischievous in nature and intent.

Most Kami are ruled by one or the other of the two souls, depending on their environment and outlook. Celestial Kami are always ruled over by the good soul within them, with the darker soul dormant. The Kami with the evil soul dominant invariably dwell in the Shinto underworld known as Yomi.


As previously stated, there are no true gods in the Oriental mythology, Shinto or Buddhist. However, there are certain individual entities of power great enough for them to be called gods. These beings are the greater spirits of the two faiths, and their names are recognized throughout the land, identifying them from the eight-hundred myriad other spirits. The following list, whilst not a complete catalogue of these beings, gives a number of these greater spirits and their areas of concern.
Name                    Concerns/Titles
Aizen Myo-o
Shinto                  Spirit of Earthly Love
Shinto                  Divine messenger. Usually seen as an emmissary of
                        the Celestial Kami to the Emperor.
Shinto                  The Sun Goddess - Ruler of the Celestial Kami
Shinto                  Heavenly-young-prince - Divine messenger.
Buddhist                Cousin of Buddha - patron of knowledge.
Shinto                  Spirit of Poverty.
Buddhist                One of the Seven Gods of Luck.
Buddhist                One of the Seven Gods of Luck.
Buddhist                One of the Seven Gods of Luck.
Buddhist                Personification of purity.
Shinto                  God of roads.
Buddhist                One of the Seven Gods of Luck.
Shinto                  Spirit of Pestilence.
Shinto                  Lord of Hell, Judge of the Dead.
Buddhist                Spirit of Wisdom and Waterfalls.
Buddhist                Divine Patron of Meditation.
Buddhist                One of the Seven Gods of Luck.
Shinto                  Evil Gods - These tend to have minor concerns, but
                        together become a considerable threat to the world.
                        Fortunately, their ranks are split due to petty
Buddhist                See Five Buddhas of Contemplation.
Shinto                  These are the Shinto incarnations of the great
Gwakko Bosatsu
Buddhist                Moon Deity.
Shinto                  Spirit of War.
Buddhist                One of the Seven Gods of Luck.
Shinto                  Goddess of Rice - Associated with the Fox God.
Shinto                  Spirit of the Seashore.
Shinto                  Male Creator of the Orient.
Shinto                  Female Creator of the Orient.
Buddhist                God of Children.
Buddhist                One of the Seven Gods of Luck.
Shinto                  Spirit of the Winds and Bad Colds.
Shinto                  Earth Deity.
Kobo Daishi
Buddhist                Deified Buddhist Sage revered for his great knowledge
                        and wisdom.
Kokuzo Bosatsu
Buddhist                The only female Buddhist Saint.
Buddhist                God of Roads, and personification of the three mystic
                        apes (i.e., the three wise monkeys).
Shinto                  The only self-created Shinto god. Formed himself from
                        his own willpower.
Buddhist                Goddess of Mercy, capable of assuming several forms,
                        including a thousand-handed woman, a horse headed
                        man, and an eleven-faced woman.
Buddhist                Queen of Heaven (Nirvana)
Monju Bosatsu
Buddhist                Lord of Wisdom
Shinto                  God of Marriage
Shinto                  God of Thunder
Shinto                  The Dragon King
Buddhist                See The Four Heavenly Kings
Shinto                  Brother of the Sun Goddess - Name translates as
                        Impetuous Male. Seen as a major antagonist in the
                        Shinto legends.
Buddhist                God of Calligraphy
Buddhist                Lowest rank of Buddhist pantheon. Female Angels, used
                        by the Buddhas as messengers.
Shinto                  God of earth and food.
Shinto                  The Moon God - Sits back-to-back with Amaterasu, to
                        create night and day.
Shinto                  Goddess of Dancing
Buddhist                The Healing Buddha. Popular deity amongst the poor.
Shinto                  The Serpent God.
Shinto                  The Lady of the Snow.


These seven deities originate from the Buddhist faith, and are probably the most commonly worshipped gods, especially by the poor.

Appearing as a huge-bellied old man, Hotei represente contentment and good nature.

God of longevity. He appears as an old man carrying a staff from which hangs the scroll of the world's wisdom. He is always accompanied by a crane, tortoise or stag. He is known to be partial to Sake, but never becomes intoxicated.

Another God of longevity, this deity also represents wisdom and wise actions. He appears as an old man with a long pointed head.

Bishamon is the strangest of the Gods of Luck, as he represents wealth and warfare. He appears as a mighty warrior carrying a huge spear and wearing full Samurai armor.

Guardian of farmers, Daikoku is a God of Wealth, and possesses a mallet that grants wishes to the pious.

Patron of tradesman and fishermen, Ebishu is the God of luck and hard work.

The only female deity of luck, Benten is the patron deity of the sea, causing her interests to overlap with those of Ebishu. The two can often be found together.


The Go-Chi are the five Buddhas of Contemplation, and although all have other areas of concern and patronage, they are most often thought of as patrons of those striving to reach Nirvana.

Their names are Yakushi, Taho, Dainichi, Askuku, and Shaka.


The Four Heavenly Kings, known as the Shi-Tenno are the four deities whose task it is to protect the four corners of the world from the demons and other unearthly creatures that would otherwise run riot throughout the land. Each lives in a vast palace in the mountaineous regions at the edges of the world. In the east lives Jikoku, in the west Zocho. To the south lives Komoku, and to the north Bishamon, also known as one of the seven gods of luck.


Without a doubt, the most awesome and powerful inhabitants of the Orient, save for perhaps the Great Spirits are the Dragons. The Dragons of the Orient are beautiful creatures, blessed with infinite wisdom and vast knowledge. They are playful by nature, but when enraged are capable of destroying cities with their mighty claws and terrible magic.

The Oriental Dragon is associated with wealth, water and wisdom, three subjects close to the hearts of all men. Even though it is considered impolite to desire wealth, all wish for it. Water is necessary to live, and the search for wisdom is considered of great importance. For this reason, the Oriental Dragon is considered a sacred creature by the religions of the Orient.

Physically, the Oriental Dragon differs in a number of ways from the Western Dragon. Their bodies are long and thin, covered in rainbow-hued scales as strong as steel, yet beautiful to behold. They are rarely winged, but are capable of leaping from the Earth to the Heavens in one single bound. Their heads resemble those of horses more than reptiles, with great billowing whiskers sprouting from their lips. They have no ears, instead hearing through the pair of horns that crown their heads.

When a Dragon speaks, his voice is like the jingling of copper pans, yet possessing a melodic quality unequaled by the musicians of mortal mankind.

The Oriental Dragons are closely linked to the elements of water and air, being born during the creation of the world from the storms that lashed the earth. Due to this, the Dragons are great lovers of storms, and can often be found playing within the great typhoons, their claws lashing the ground along with the lightning that streaks forth from their eyes. When they breathe, great clouds issue forth from their mouths sailing into the sky. Rain is caused by the pressure of Dragons' feet squeezing water from the clouds as they climb into the sky. Even the wind is the passing of their breath as they move.

Dragons are well-known for their wealth, and their generosity. Many tales tell of the Dragons providing kings with vast treasures in return for the freedom to travel the skies.

The Dragons are ruled by Rin-Jin, the Dragon King. He is the greatest and wealthiest of the Dragons living in a vast palace at the bottom of the ocean. His palace of crystal is upheld by great jade pillars, and walls of corals and pearls. Every day precious stones wash down into his palace from the mountains. These stones are so numerous that they pile up like mounds of sand. In addition to these treasures, great piles of magical trinkets and artifacts litter his palace. Rin-Jin is rich beyond even the dreams of the Great Spirits themselves.

The pearl is closely associated with the Dragon. The reason for this is unclear, but they have been known to go to extreme lengths to gain possession of these stones. Many men have gained the help of the Dragons by presenting them with pearls of magical quality.

High up in the mountains of the Orient there is said to be a waterfall known as the Dragon Gate. It is said that any carp that can leap the falls will become a Dragon. This is the birthplace of all but the first dragons.


A multitude of creatures exist in the Orient that can be described as demons. Many are entities of malevolence from other worlds, whilst others are inhabitants of Yomi, the underworld. All are at least mischievous in nature, if not wholly evil.

The Oni are the true demons of the Orient. They range from mischievous imps to black-hearted savages, hell-bent upon destruction and chaosl. As a race, they have no general appearance, with every Oni physically different to the next. Their skin tends to be warty and somewhat slimy to the touch, and is usually brightly colored. All Oni do share one common feature, this being a pair of twisted horns growing from their heads.

Oni are generally malevolent creatures finding pleasure in the infliction of pain and misery on others, especially upon humans, who they consider to be the perfect plaything. This is especially true of human females, who the Oni find considerably more desirable when compared to the horrendous females of their own race.

Many Oni serve in Yomi, the underworld as the minions of the more powerful demons that rule this dark land. Oni are not powerful enough themselves to hold any influence there.

These foul creatures can be found everywhere in the Orient, though they shun areas of religious influence. They can often be found hidden in ruins and abandoned homes, especially in the run-down slums of larger cities. They use these places are lairs during the day, whilst at night they roam the slums looking for victims to play with.


The oceans surroundings the Orient as the property of the Dragon King, given to him by Amaterasu Omikami, the Sun Goddess, when the world was young. All that live within the waters of his realm are subject to his laws, and the majority follow his word. However, there are some who reject his right to rule and do what they please. One such group are the Shojo, demons of the deep.

These creatures live within the vast networks of caves and tunnels that honeycomb the seabed. From these lairs they plot against the other inhabitants of the waters around them. This includes the fishing vessels on the surface of the waters which they consider to be great sport when hunted.

The Shojo are huge, ogre-like creatures with green wart-covered hides and long, red hair, into which they weave seaweed to decorate themselves. Their hands and feet are webbed allowing them great maneuverability beneath the waves. Although suited for the seas, they are also capable of operating on land. Having said this, they must spend at least one hour immersed in saltwater to keep their skins from drying out.

The Shojo are a barbaric race who enjoy the infliction of pain upon others. They delight in attacking fishing vessels with their great spears and nets, and then dragging the sailors onboard down into the depths to watch them slowly and painfully drown. In some coastal regions the Daimyo of the Samurai Clans are known to place a bounty on the heads of these creatures, often bestowing the status of Samurai upon any sailor capable of slaying one.


The Orient is a land plagued by many forms of spirit. Some are simply creatures that choose to dwell in this world; others are the souls of the dead who refuse to go on to their next lives. All of these creatures, although quite different in nature, are considered to be spirits. They vary in power and motive, but all share one common feature - they have no physical body in the way we understand it. Many are little more than free-floating souls, whilst others are capable of manifesting themselves into tangible forms.

The Yama-Uba, also known as the Snow Women, are spirits who choose to inhabit the mountains of the Orient. They appear as hideous crones, dressed in ragged kimonos, covered in a sparkling layer of frost. Their features are twisted and malformed, with crooked noses and rotting teeth.

By nature they are evil, demonic entities. They enjoy nothing more than luring unwary travellers to their deaths among the treacherous peaks of the mountains. Once they have dispatched their victims in the chasms and pitfalls of the mountains, they feast upon the flesh at their leisure. However, the Yama-Uba like nothing more than living flesh to fill their bloated stomachs.

Some of these terrible spirits are known to be spellusers of considerable power, experts in the concoction of poisons and potions. There are some noted cases of these creatures trading their wares to travellers but usually for a price too high for all but the most black-hearted of men. In return for their services, the Yama-Uba will demand a single live human body that they may feast on, and woe betide any man who fails to fulfill such a contract.

The Yama-Uba have excellent senses, which they use to locate their pray in the vast mountain ranges. They can smell human flesh from miles away, and once they pick up the scent they will pursue their prey until the victim is killed or leaves the mountains. For some reason, these crones are unable to leave the peaks.


The Sennin are like the Yama-Uba mountain-dwelling, but they are of a more benevolent nature. They are a form of Ganii tied to their mountain-homes by powerful magic, the like of which was lost thousands of years ago.

They appear to be ordinary men, garbed in rich clothing which seems far too light for one living in such a cold climate. They are in reality immortal spirits held to the mortal world as punishment for a misdemeanor carried out by one of their kind eons ago. They are forever doomed to wander the mountains searching for one who can release them from their bondage.

When encountered, a Sennin will offer the traveller a single wish in return for help in releasing him. This may seem to be a simple task, but to release a Sennin, his soul must be brought to him. The souls of every Sennin reside in a single chamber hidden deep within the realm of Yomi, the underworld.

The Sennin usually ends up disappointed, as none who have tried have ever succeeded in this task. However, being a generous and kind-hearted creature, the Sennin will usually bestow a gift upon the traveller as a sign of gratitude for attempting this feat.

In addition to their ability to grant wishes, the Sennin are also notable magicians. When encountered, a Sennin will usually carry a staff or naginata as a weapon, and if tested will be found to be an expert in its use.


Devourers of evil dreams and nightmares, the Baku are spirits of the dream world. These creatures resembles majestic lions, save for their heads which are those of elephants.

Only ever encountered in the dream world, the Baku search their realm for those suffering disturbing dreams and nightmares. When such an individual is encountered, the Baku will force him to enter into combat with it. In dream form the sufferer possesses all of the abilities and items that he would own in his waking state. If the Baku should win this dream battle, it will take the nightmares and devour them as its prize. Should it lose though, it will never again return to that person to aid his dreams.

The power of the Baku is so great that it is capable of devouring even those nightmares conjured of magic, sent to plague the sleeper by those who wish him harm.


Spirits of the Orient's ponds and lakes, Kappa are another of the land's more malevolent races, being the cause of many drownings.

Kappa stand as tall as a human child, but more broad in body. Their skin tend to be a pale green or brown in color, with warts covering most of their body. Their most bizarre feature however is the bowl-like depression on the crown of their heads, filled with the water from their pool. This bowl is the source of their strength, a fact known to few save the most knowledgeable seers and scholars.

The Kappa dwell in stagnant pools and meres, often in close proximity to human settlements. When potential food approaches this pool (Kappa consider all meat of every description to be food), the Kappa will rise up and then prepare to grapple the victim to the bottom of its lair with incredible strength.

There is only one method to successfully foil a Kappa, and that is to somehow cause the water held in their bowl-like heads to spill. A Kappa who loses the contents of this depression will die within a matter of minutes unless it can be replenished. The most obvious way to cause this is to wrestle the creature and attempt to tip it off balance. This will prove difficult due to the amazing strength the Kappa possesses.

The Kappa does have one weakness though, and that is politeness. If a potential victim should bow to the Kappa, it will always feel obliged to return the bow, and thus empty its reserve of water, crippling it.

However, a Kappa will only fall for this trick once, and after an individual has done this, it will not comply again. Fortunately, the Kappa is not blessed with the most lucid of memories, and will usually bow to a different individual later the same day.


The spirits of the dead usually leave the mortal sphere once free from their bodies. They eventually return in a new life, or are banished to Yomi to pay for their crimes. However, there are those who refuse to leave, and become ghosts haunting the place of their demise.

These spirits often simply wish for the shame that resulted in their deaths to be cleared. Others however, relish their new existences and use their new-found powers to disrupt the lives of those yet to die.

In appearances ghosts resemble mortal men save for the ethereal glow that surround them, and the lack of feet that they have. Ghosts float above the ground, and thus their feet and lower legs dwindle to nothing. They dress either in the clothes they died in, or in flowing white robes that billow around their bodies as if blown by some unseen wind.

These creatures although often tragic in nature are of considerable danger to mortals. Ghosts require the life-essence of the living to remain in contact with this world. To this end, they will select a living victim, and using their powers of illusion, beguile this person into becoming their consort. Every night, as the victim sleeps, the ghost will drain more and more life-essence to sustain themselves. This process will rapidly advance the aging process of the target, who in a matter of weeks will be reduced to a state of old age and senility. At this point, the ghost will dispatch the target and once again search for a new victim.

There are several ways to banish a ghost from the mortal world. Killing them with weapons of magical nature will cause them harm, but will only temporarily destroy them. Exorcism by a priest of the ghost's religion during life will accomplish the task permanently, as will discovering their reason for becoming a ghost and rectifying the situation. Short of these methods, nothing will get rid of a ghost.


Death by hanging causes the creation of these spirits of vengeance. Usually the spirits of criminals executed by the gallows, the Rokiro-Kubi exist only to inflict death upon others in a perverse form of revenge upon the living.

The Rokiro-Kubi appear as gaunt and ragged looking individuals dressed in the rags they wore at their executions. Their skin is always grey and cold to the touch, and their fingers end in vicious-barbed talons, rather than fingernails. The most unearthly features however, are the elongated necks they possess - the mark of those who died by the rope.

Creatures of the night, they prefer to stalk the lands seeking out victims, who they either tear to shreds with their sharp claws, or if possible, they will garotte using the rope that brought them death.

They are mindless and simple creatures, easily tricked and slow to react. However, they spare little time for a polite conversation, so those intent upon beguiling a Rokiro-Kubi must act fast to gain their attention.


Evil spirits of possession, the Gaki are thought to be the souls of those whose bodies were not dispatched in the proper way, as set down by the strictures of the Buddhist religion. Due to this, they manifest themselves as Gaki in an attempt to but their souls to rest.

Gaki appear as dark humanoids, with faintly glowing skin, bloated stomachs and wild eyes. Like many other ghosts, their legs dwindle away to nothing, and they move by simply floating through the air.

Though not actually evil, the Gaki have little regard for any other than themselves and their own personal missions. To this end, they often cause misery and pain to those who they come into contact with, without realizing or caring. This is especially true when they possess mortal minds to aid their desires to put their bodies to rest. When this occurs, they usually kill their hosts through over-exertion and injury.

If prevented from carrying out its mission, a Gaki will invariably become violent, and will attempt to kill all who stand in its way. It will do this either by using its physical host as a weapon, or by leaving the body and attacking using its own powers.

There are known to be other Gaki that simply prefer to live in their spirit states. They use this advantage to bring pain to others in what they see as revenge for the shame surrounding their burials. These creatures roam the lands, looking for victims to torment and eventually kill.


In the Orient, there exists a race of flesh-eating spirits known as the Buso. These are the equivalent to the ghouls of the Middle East, and are thought to be the spirits of those who died by starvation. They now roam the darkest alleys and ruins of a man's cities in search of food, which normally consists of human flesh.

Buso appear from a distance as gaunt and pale humans dressed in ragged and soiled garments of cheap cloth. As one approaches, it becomes more apparent that the Buso are far from human, as their vicious talons and rows of rotting, barbed teeth can be seen.

Lacking intelligence save for a basic level of animal instinct, the Buso care for nothing else than the acquisition of flesh. To this end, they can often be found as the faithful servants of Wu Jen and other dark sorcerers, who feed these ghouls in return for their loyalty.

If without a master, the Buso will roam the streets of towns and cities after sunset searching for some hapless soul ignorant enough to be out alone in the night.


A hybrid of man and crow, the Tengu are spirits originally descended from Susanoo, the brother of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. They resemble winged humans with either beaks or incredibly long noses. Their skin and feathers are usually a dark shade of red, though these are often hidden by the cloaks and small, black hats that they seem to favor.

Fully capable of flight, the Tengu are arboreal creatures inhabiting the upper branches of trees. They prefer colder climates and thus their forest homes tend to be situated near the mountains.

They live in small communities of ten to fifty, with an elected king leading the roost. The strongest of their kind act as warriors and scouts who report all activity in their territory to the King.

The Tengu relish the appearance of humans in their territory, as they consider man to be fair game for the practical jokes and games they enjoy so much. These jokes are never directly harmful, but many often lead to open combat between the Tengu and the men who consider these jokes to be insults or attacks. Aside from these isolated skirmishes, the Tengu live a peaceful existence.

One other habit the Tengu possess that also irritates man, is their fondness for acquiring items of beauty, especially those belonging to others. Inside their treetop homes can be found veritable hordes of jewelry and gems. Occasionally they steal items of enchantment, but only if the item in question is of a visually pleasing nature.

The Tengu are the legendary teachers of the Ninja.


Short, stunted creatures possessing ugly, deformed features and dispositions to mach. These are the goblins of the Orient, twisted and wretched monsters dedicated to causing misery and grief to all who cross their paths.

The Bakemono mostly inhabit dark, dark caves, usually not far from human settlements which they raid regularly for food, and for human women who they value highly as consorts.

Although they are ferocious creatures in numbers, a lone Bakemono is a coward. They require strength in numbers to accomplish most activities due to their weakness, which is roughly equal to that of a child. However, if cornered they become lethal combatants using every method at their disposal to escape the clutches of their opponents. It is usually during these desperate fights that the Bakemono reveals its secret weapon: a set of viciously barbed teeth capable of inflicting terrible wounds to those who get too close.

Apart from a strong show of arms, the best methods for keeping these foul miscreants at bay is to maintain a Buddhist temple close by. Bakemono are terrified of these temples and will not approach any village containing one. Often they will move away from the area if the Buddhist presence is strong enough.

The Bakemono have orange-hued, leathery hides that they often tattoo, though the reason for this remains a mystery. They can be compared to the goblins of Western folklore, except they have little understanding of machination, and prefer to destroy rather than build (even if the constructions are devices of torture!).


Although King of the Dragons and the greatest of his race, the Dragon King is capable of assuming human form when he desires. It is often that he takes on this less reptilian form and chooses to walk the Orient in search of amusement. He has visited many villages posing as a harmless scholar, and has partaken in many celebrations often without the knowledge of his hosts. During these times as a human, the Dragon King also sires many children, most of whom are born totally human, with no trace of their father or his great power.

However, certain blessed individuals sired by him are born with abilities beyond those of mortal men. These are the true Children of the Dragon King, and are in reality physical aspects of his power. All are physically perfect with unblemished skin, sparkling green eyes and flowing black hair, and most show signs of being of a magical nature.