Tanuki, Tea and Sake

“Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain —
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.

-Edgar Allen Poe, “Lines on Ale”

Playtest Version

This material is still in the process of being playtested. It is fully usable as written, but may be refined or changed in later versions. As always, this content should only be used with GM permission.

The Tanuki


The robust shapeshifting folk known as the tanuki bear a resemblance to the ordinary animal that shares their name—a brown and black furred creature related to foxes that also bears a resemblance to raccoons and badgers, sometimes known as a “raccoon dog.” Despite their ability to hide themselves among other folk, the tanuki have a reputation for magical abilities, pranks, and despite the trouble they cause, bringing fortune to those who treat them well. Many think they are only a tale for children meant to teach generosity and hospitality, but in truth, they walk among many societies in secret.

Natural Shapeshifters

Every tanuki has two forms. One is their tanuki form, and the other is that of another sort of medium-sized humanoid. If the tanuki in question has a non-tanuki parent, their guise is usually the same species as that parent. Furthermore, regardless of form, tanuki do not have an inherent sex or gender, and can freely change them as they see fit. The general appearance of either form does not shift radically with such changes, so people may assume the tanuki to be a fraternal twin. Sometimes the tanuki may have even more subtle differences than that when changing sex and/or gender.

Jovial Tricksters

Nearly all tanuki have a potent sense of humor and a fondness for all manner of shenanigans. Most also have a fondness for delicious food and drink—especially in large quantities—for good company, for beautiful vistas to be admired, and for tests of wits or cunning, which is how they generally view commerce and other social interactions with strangers. Wealth is often seen as a prize to be won and then promptly exchanged for whatever brings joy in the moment. With a tanuki’s talents, you can always find a way to get more, after all.

Tanuki Names

Tanuki usually have names like those of the folk they are raised among, though often they will have either multiple names they go by or a unisex name, since they do not have an inherent gender or sex. If raised in a community of tanuki, however, they have their own styles of names. These names list the family name first, followed by the personal name.

Tanuki Family Names: Asano, Baishou, Chiba, Date, Fujimori, Imamura, Kanamori, Matsumoto, Saikawa, Togashi, Uesugi, Yadama, Yutani, Zayasu
Tanuki Personal Names: Akira, Ayumu, Chihiro, Harumi, Hibiki, Izumi, Kei, Kurumi, Makoto, Minoru, Nagisa, Ren, Shizuka, Tomomi, Yuu

Tanuki Traits

Your tanuki character’s innately magical nature grants them several abilities.
    Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
    Age. Tanuki reach maturity at the same rate as their non-tanuki form would naturally, but they usually live to about 500 years old.
    Alignment. Tanuki usually have an element of neutrality in their outlook, but their playful instincts lead them to generally slightly favor good and/or chaos.
    Size. Tanuki, are usually just slightly shorter and chubbier than a human in their natural form, typically from five feet to over six feet tall. Their guise form is generally a height and weight typical for that species, although possibly on the end of the range closer to their natural form’s height and weight. Your size is Medium.
    Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
    Guise. You have a specific humanoid appearance that you can adopt. This form is typically human, but may also be an elf, a dwarf, or another medium sized player character race. As an action, you may shapeshift to change your physical sex, and/or change your appearance to or from that of the chosen race. This is not an illusion but an instantaneous physical change, and it does not modify your clothing, attribute scores, or abilities. Changing the physical sex of your kitsune or humanoid forms does not radically change appearance beyond the specific physical traits modified. Skin color, tattoos, fur patterns, hair color, length, and style, and other such traits remain similar. The true sight spell or other abilities that can detect shapeshifters will show your tanuki form, and if you die you will revert to tanuki form if in humanoid guise.
    Tanuki Magic. You know the dancing lights cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the purify food and drink spell. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the alter self spell once. Casting these spells in this way does not expend a spell slot, and you regain the ability to cast these spells this way when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice, typically one that is often spoken by their guise race.
    Subrace. There are two varieties of tanuki, and which a child is born as is independent of the parents. Choose one of these subraces.

Masu

Masu tanuki are usually boisterous, uninhibited individuals who can handle truly astonishing amounts of alcohol. In addition to their fondness for strong drink and company, they tend to be easily excited by bold new business or financial ventures, some of which might even be entirely legal. Some tales say their involvement will bring good luck to such endeavors.
    Iron Stomach. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance to poison damage.
    Party Animal. You have advantage on all ability checks using Charisma while you are intoxicated.

Chawan

Chawan tanuki are typically more reserved and traditional than their masu siblings, but they are just as fond of good living. They value their privacy quite strongly and their talents make them excellent at evading pursuers. Those chawan tanuki who seek law-abiding professions frequently become priests, herbalists or makers of exceptional teas.
    Stone Form. You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured, if you are in a place where a statue or large rock would not seem out of place, by remaining completely still and altering your coloration as well as that of your gear to resemble stone.
    Stealthy. You gain proficiency with the Stealth skill.
    Ventriloquism. You are able to mimic voices and sounds that you have heard. A creature that hears your mimicry can tell they are imitations if they are successful with a Wisdom (Insight) check opposed by your Charisma (Deception) check. You can cause these sounds to originate from any place within 30 feet of you, and you can use this ability without disrupting your Stone Form.

Random Height and Weight

Base Height Base Weight Height Modifier Weight Modifier
4’7″ 120 lbs +2d10 x(2d4)

New Feat


Quick-Change

You have a habit of preparing in advance to disguise yourself on the fly, using reversible fabrics, lightweight accessories that are easy to add or remove, straps for changing the length of garments, wigs, collapsible hats, and the like. You gain the following benefits:

  • Your Charisma or Wisdom score increases by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency with Disguise Kits. If you already have proficiency with Disguise Kits, you gain proficiency with your choice of either Cobbler’s Tools, Jeweler’s Tools, Leatherworker’s Tools, Tinker’s Tools, or Weaver’s Tools.
  • As an action, you can swiftly and dramatically change your appearance even without access to a Disguise Kit or prepared disguise. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus before you must prepare new materials during a long rest. You cannot impersonate a particular person with this ability, only to change your appearance enough to look like you are not the same person.
Legal Appendix

Legal Appendix

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System Reference Document 5.1 Copyright 2016, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell, Chris Sims, and Steve Townshend, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Tanuki, Tea and Sake Copyright 2019, Malachite Idol; Author Patrick Johnson.

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