In ancient times, the land lay covered in forests, where, from ages long past, dwelt the spirits of the gods. Then, man and beast lived in harmony, but as time went by, most of the great forests were destroyed. Those that remained were guarded by gigantic beasts. . . who owed their allegiance to the Great Forest Spirit, for those were the days of gods and demons.
—Hayao Miyazaki (adapted into English by Neil Gaiman), Princess Mononoke
Avatars of the Spirits
Yōkai, or mononoke, are spirit beings manifest in mortal bodies. Unlike the quiet spirits, which remain invisible and ethereal, the yōkai interact with the human world, choosing to be born in mortal form. These spirits range from the malevolent to the mischievous. Some are animal spirits, mysterious creatures or demons, spirits of relics, or manifestations of an aspect of nature. Yōkai are Chaotic creatures, mischievous at best and malicious at worst. Humans therefore treat all yōkai accordingly, if their identity is discovered.
Yōkai do not truly die, but are reborn countless times into a different vessel. As a result, they have the memories of many lifetimes. Their ferocious spiritual energy generates special powers known as kotodama, or spirit wyrds. These wyrds alter the basic fabric of reality around the yōkai; the solid substance of the world melts and runs around them. . Silver and iron burn the yōkai
Taking Human Form
Yōkai can shapeshift into human form, but always bear some characteristics of their original form (a kitsune, or fox yōkai may have red hair when in human form). In human form, their eyes are large and their mouths are very small. Their eyebrows are very thin and their complexions are very pale or golden. They have no facial or body hair, but the hair on their heads is thick and luxurious. They appear in all the diversity of humans, and many come close to the ideal of human beauty in their society.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Age. Yōkai understanding of adulthood goes beyond physical growth to encompass mortal experience. For a yōkai, the closest approximation to adulthood begins when it manifests into physical form, and if unharmed by the mortal world, can live a thousand years or older if it doesn’t grow bored and fade away.
Alignment. Yōkai love freedom, variety, and self-expression, so they lean strongly toward the gentler aspects of chaos.
Size. In human form, yōkai range from around 4 to 5 feet tall and have slender builds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 40 feet.
Lowlight Vision. Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, you can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light.
Keen Senses. Your ties to nature grant you proficiency in the Perception skill.
Spirit Ancestry. Your features resemble the form of your subrace. You gain advantage on saving throws against being charmed.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write the Trade Tongue and the language of your spirit race.
Subrace. You are a spirit that can manifest into natural form. You can choose one of two subraces: Hengeyokai, animal spirits, or Kami, a nature spirit that manifests in human form.
Hengeyokai (animal spirit)
True Form: When an attack renders you unconscious or reduces you to 0 hp, you immediately transform into your animal form.
Shapeshifter: You are considered a shapechanger for the purpose of effects that relate to those creatures.
Hengeyokai Shape: You gain the Hengeyokai Shape ability.