Monday, April 15, 2013

Hengeyokai, or the Those With Two Skins

Text in normal font is stolen from AD&D Oriental Adventures. Modifications are in this font. For clarity's sake, some of the stuff in the original has been just left out.

Hengeyokai are intelligent, shape-changing animals. Several subraces exist, each a different type of animal. They are found throughout the Oriental world, usually on the fringes of human-settled lands. In the west they have no collective name and are referred to simply as "a crow that walks like a man" or by local misnomers such as "fey animals", "dopplecanthropes" etc. The elves call them Eithed-Aethe or Those With Two Skins.

A hengeyokai can be a shukenja, kensai, bushi, or wu jen. He can never be a samurai or ninja, since he is not human. any class except a druid or cleric (the connection of the natural world in the religious sense understood by these classes being strictly a construct of humanoid culture) and paladin hengeyokai are always animals sacred to the PC's god, so, for instance, a hengeyokai paladin of Vorn would be a boar or crow and a hengeyokai paladin of Set would be a snake.
Most hengeyokai are chaotic, although player character hengeyokai can be lawful or neutral. Various animal types must be good or evil, as noted on the table above. The alignment tendencies of the various animals are well known by humans, who will treat hengeyokai accordingly. A badger hengeyokai, for example, will be shunned by humans because they assume know it is evil.

In general, the hengeyokai are a secretive race, preferring to avoid prolonged contact with humans. They have little desire for land or position and can never establish families or strongholds even if their chosen class allows this.

A player who decides to have a hengeyokai player character must have the minimum required scores for the race before modifications for animal type play a standard-race PC for a while first, then have that PC die. That's life. Then s/he must choose his character's animal form.  S/he rolls stats by any ordinary method germane to the campaign, but should be allowed to arrange the stats to match his/her conception of the animal in question.  The traditional Eastern forms are carp, cat, crab, crane, dog, drake, fox, hare, monkey, raccoon dog, rat, and sparrow, though PCs may take the form of any animal in that size range (and no, the dog is not a great dane).

A hengeyokai can assume any one of three two shapes: its animal form, and its human form, and a bipedal form that combines both animal and human features . This ability is limited, however. The number of times a hengeyokai can change forms in one day equals his or her level. Thus a 1st-level hengeyokai can change from human to animal form once in a day. S/he then has to remain in animal form until the next day, when s/he can change to human or bipedal form. A 3rd-level hengeyokai can change form three times in one day. The hengeyokai must sleep in animal form.

Changing form requires one complete round during which the character can do nothing else. Armor and equipment do not change form along with the hengeyokai. The character must make provisions for the storage or transportation of his equipment in some way.

In each form, the hengeyokai has certain advantages and disadvantages. In all cases, however, the character's level and ability scores are unchanged. In addition, a hengeyokai can speak the language of hengeyokai in all forms.
Animal Form

When in animal form the hengeyokai is virtually undetectable from normal animals and have the same physical and charisma stat. Since the change of form is real and not an illusion, it cannot be detected by spells that reveal illusions. While in animal form, hengeyokai have the movement abilities, armor class, and damage range shown on the table above. However, real animals not of their type will avoid them. Druids, and, to a lesser degree, rangers, may realize something's up.

Hengeyokai also gain infravision and the power to speak with normal animals of their kind when in their animal form. Infravision has a range of 120 feet. Conversations with normal animals are usually quite simple and basic, depending on the level of cunning and wit possessed by the animal.

Hengeyokai also have several disadvantages while in animal form. They cannot use any weapons, armor, or equipment, making it possible for them to be mistaken for (and even hunted as) normal animals. Hengeyokai with magical abilities cannot cast any spells in animal form, nor can they speak any languages other than those of the hengeyokai and the normal animals. They can understand any language they know, but may not be able to reply.

The hengeyokai has fewer hit points in his or her animal form than in either of his/her other forms. Hengeyokai in animal form have only one-half their normal number of hit points (rounded up). Hit points lost in one form are carried over point-for-point to the new form. Thus a hengeyokai with 23 hit points in human form has only 12 hit points in animal form. If the character is wounded and loses 8 hit points, he has 15 hit points remaining when in human or bipedal form, but only 4 in animal form. A hengeyokai cannot change to animal form if this would leave him with 0 or fewer hit points.

When a hengeyokai character reaches 0 hit points in any form, s/he is slain. A hengeyokai in human animal form with 0 hit points left does not instantly changes to animal one of his other forms.

Human Form

When in human form, a hengeyokai looks like a normal human being. However, s/he always retains some distinctive feature of his/her animal form. A raccoon dog hengeyokai may have a silver stripe through his hair. A sparrow hengeyokai may have an unusually sharp nose. The choice of the exact identifying feature is left to the player and the DM.


  1. A raccoon dog hengeyokai may have...well, huge testicles. Really that would be the defining trait, don't you think?

    1. i guess you're interested in different things than me


  3. Thanks Girdanisti! Awesome link. Swiss-army testicles.

  4. Rules Question: So a Hengeyokai with more than 1/2 it's hp in damage in human form can't sleep, since a) it can only sleep in animal form and b) changing to animal form would reduce it to 0 or less hp so it can't change to animal. So is it them doomed to wander the earth until it finds a cleric/druid/other to heal it's wounds? Also would that mean Wizard Hengeyoki are boned by not being able to get their sleep in to re-memorize spells?

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