Dungeons & Dragons has a terrific variety of creatures for players to use when creating their next great adventurer. Even classic fantasy beings like humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings can be tweaked with variant options or distinctive subclasses, and there are plenty of oddball options for players too! Cat-people, magic robots, centaurs, fairies, shapeshifters, bird-people, devil-people–there’s something for just about everybody, and it’s a list that keeps expanding! (I’m super psyched for the Owlin coming up in Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos). But there’s one roly-poly folklore trickster spirit that I think would make a terrific player character: TANUKI!
Yeah, my obsession with Japanese monsters absolutely does not end with the gigantic radioactive kind! Tanuki are yokai, and yokai are a “class of supernatural entities and spirits in Japanese folklore.” Yokai include a vast array of ghosts, monsters, demons, spirits, goblins, demoted gods, and people, animals and even inanimate objects transformed by magic, long life or other strange, unknowable forces. There are HUNDREDS of different Yokai, and they range from terrifying, paranormal killing machines to harmless goofball pranksters. Yokai don’t fit neatly into a single category of ghoul or ghost, but I think it’d be pretty fitting to think of them as equivalent to The Fey. The Fey which includes nice-guy Disney fairies like Tinkerbell… but also includes baby-stealing gremlins, undead curse-mongers, tricksters that spoil milk while you sleep, and all kinds of unknowable freakazoids. Tanuki tend to land on the “oafish jokester” end of the yokai spectrum… but if you push these jolly goofers too far they’ll retaliate spectacularly! Sounds like a kick-ass Bard to me! Keep reading to see how I’d use D&D’s existing rules to “homebrew” a playable Tanuki, complete with a Level 1 character sheet!Continue reading