Kindred of the East: the Song of Lanterns
You came from Hell. Now you’re a walking corpse who must steel the chi from others to survive. You can’t look upon the light of the sun or you begin to rot. Heaven has turned its eye from you. This gives you certain advantages and disadvantages.
First of all, you know there are other supernaturals out there. You call them shen. You know that there are werewolves out there. You know it for a fact. You know it because your teacher told you. You know there are other things out there too. You know because your master told you. And why do you believe your master? Because you went to Hell, and have been given undeniable proof that there’s some heavy shit out there. There are no atheist Kuei-jin.
The disadvantage is that now you’re a walking corpse who must steal the chi from others to survive. A lot of the shen out there don’t like you because of that particular fact. In fact, some of them may try to kill you if they think they can get away with it. May you live in interesting times.
Xiong Ren in China. Hengeyokai in Japan. Imagine a normal guy. You go to feed on him. He turns into a 9’ tall beast, sprouts teeth, claws, and fur, and can move as fast as you can (assuming you have Black Wind). Not to mention he’s strong enough to tear a street sign out of the ground if, for whatever reason, he decides not to get his hands dirty. Suddenly he doesn’t look so appetizing. And not all of them are that small or that weak. That’s the shapeshifters.
Remember the example above? Well, Khans (were-tigers) are usually faster. And much more aggressive about proving they don’t like you.
You may think Nezumi (Ratkin) are dirty, disgusting, lowly, and generally unpleasant. You’re right. But imagine a city the size of Beijing…10 million people. Probably has a pretty extensive sewer system. Imagine how many rats live down there. Now think for a moment…lets say there’s 1 Nezumi for every 1000 rats. That’s a lot of Ratkin. Each one an ninja with a grudge. Nobody picks on my brother but me. Get the picture?Imagine a samurai, one from a long line of samurai before him. Then make him a werewolf. That guy’s equivalent to the first example. Then add a sword. those are the Hakken, the Japanese Shadow Lords. Follow Bushido, and they might let you live long enough to see the next sunrise.
Now imagine a shark dragging the werewolf underwater. And make no mistake, that werewolf started out on land. Those are the Same-Bito. Humans have been dumping, spilling oil, and whaling in their waters for a long, long time. And they’re pissed. Needless to say, there’s a lot of water out there…
Imagine the guy above sprouts 2 more arms and 2 more legs as well as fur. Then imagine it can explode into a million little spiders too. Add a penchant for torture and debauchery, and you have a Kumo, also known as a Goblin Spider.
Kitsune are werefoxes. There not as big as the others, nor as fast, nor as strong. You could probably take one in a fight easy. You could probably kill him. ‘Course all his other shapeshifter buddies (which aren’t necessarily other kitsune) show up and give you a permanent attitude adjustment.
The Tengu are the spies and assassins of the Beast Courts. If you see a big black bird, know that it might report anything you do is being watched and reported upon.
Zhong Lung are the mighty dragon-shifters. They can transform into dragons. Let sleeping dragons lie, or get eaten by a dinosaur.
The hsien are elemental or animal spirits that inhabit the bodies of humans. They are the little gods of the middle kingdom, and there role is primarily to answer the prayers of mortals.
Instead of normal chi, they contain golden chi. Crack is nothing compared to golden chi. Sometimes Kuei-jin will go hunting them for the tasty snacks that they are. Sometimes Kuei-jin don’t come back.
Yama Kings and Akuma
The Chinese have many Hells, and each has a Yama King running it. They are each a different flavor of evil, reflected by the dimension they shaped as their own.
The Akuma are the servants of the Yama Kings. They come from all races, even mortals. They are Kuei-jin without Dharma, Demons among demons. They are hated and reviled, and you should destroy them wherever you find them.
But make no mistake, they are powerful and cunning. It takes that much just to become one, and the “gifts” of the Yama Kings for “services” rendered makes them more so.
The Chin’ta are known also as the Lightning People, and with carefully worded treaties, they have lived in tenuous harmony with the Hungry Dead. However the Zaibatsu, the Japanese branch of the Technocracy, has risen to prominence faster than anyone could have foreseen. As long as they keep out of each other’s way, the Kuei-jin and the Chin’ta will stay in a Twilight War.
The Shi’h are the wandering Demon Hunters. The Kuei-Jin see them as honorable adversaries. Imagine one mortal that can take out you and your buddies single-handedly. With style and a sword. Heaven help you if there is more than one.
Now imagine that sword was replaced with cutting edge technology and a Men-in-Black team of five. And lasers. And Giant Mecha. In Tokyo. That’s Strike Force Zero. Interesting Times, indeed.