Wow! Can you believe that @trayedandtested on Instagram got more than 1,000 followers yesterday? And that’s all because of you, the D&D community. So, as promised, I’ll be making a whole slew of new playable races for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition.
Also, be sure to FOLLOW Felipe 5 Horas who jumped in to offer up artwork, too. His stuff is amazing! Click this link to open your Instagram and follow. You won’t be disappointed.
Here is what is on the slate:
- Half-mindflayers (done)
- Kitsune (this article)
- Robotic Race
The material here is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not refined by
final game design and editing. They aren’t officially part of the game and aren’t permitted in D&D Adventurers League events.
- 12/26/2018 – Fixed some of the wording to make the shapechanging feature a little more clear.
What are Kitsune?
Stories depict Kitsune as intelligent beings and as possessing paranormal abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.
Kitsune are believed to possess superior intelligence, long life, and magical powers. They are a type of yōkai; the word kitsune is often translated as fox spirit. However, this does not mean that kitsune are ghosts, nor that they are fundamentally different from regular foxes. Because the word spirit is used to reflect a state of knowledge or enlightenment, all long-lived foxes gain supernatural abilities.
There are two common classifications of kitsune:
- The zenko (善狐-literally good foxes) are benevolent, celestial foxes associated with Inari; they are sometimes simply called Inari foxes
- On the other hand, the yako (野狐, literally field foxes, also called nogitsune) tend to be mischievous or even malicious.
Local traditions add further types. For example, a ninko is an invisible fox spirit that human beings can only perceive when it possesses them.
Physically, kitsune are noted for having as many as nine tails. Generally, a greater number of tails indicates an older and more powerful fox; in fact, some folktales say that a fox will only grow additional tails after it has lived 100 years. One, five, seven, and nine tails are the most common numbers in folk stories. When a kitsune gains its ninth tail, its fur becomes white or gold. These kyūbi no kitsune (九尾の狐, nine-tailed foxes) gain the abilities to see and hear anything happening anywhere in the world. Other tales credit them with infinite wisdom (omniscience). After reaching 1,000 years of age and gaining its ninth tail, a kitsune turns a golden color, becoming a ‘Tenko’ (天狐 “heavenly fox”/”celestial fox”), the most powerful form of the kitsune, and then ascends to the heavens.
Your kitsune character has certain characteristics in common with all other kitsune.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2.
Age. Kitsune are very long-lived. A Kitsune does not mature until it reaches 100 years of age at which point it gains its first tail. It can then live to 1,000 years, when it receives its ninth tail and changes a golden color, ascending to celestial status.
Alignment. Kitsunes are often good. However, zenko kitsune tend towards neutral good, whereas yako kitsune are usually chaotic and may even be of neutral or evil moral alignment.
Size. Kitsune are usually shorter than most humanoids, standing between 4 and 5 feet tall. They average around 60 to 90 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Shapechanger. You can use your action to magically assume the shape of a fox, or your true form, which is a fox-humanoid hybrid. You can stay in the fox form a number of hours equal to half your class level (rounded down). You then revert to your normal, fox-humanoid hybrid form. You can also revert to your normal fox-humanoid hybrid form earlier by using a bonus action on your turn. And you automatically revert if you fall unconscious, drop to 0 hit points, or die.
While you are transformed into your fox form, the following rules apply:
- Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the fox (see below), but you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. You also retain all of your skill and saving throw proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of the fox. If the fox has the same proficiency as you and the bonus in its stat block is higher than yours, use the fox’s bonus instead of yours.
- When you transform, you assume the fox’s hit points and Hit Dice. When you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transformed. However, if you revert as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to your normal form. For example, if you take 10 damage in fox form and have only 1 hit point left, you revert and take 9 damage. As long as the excess damage doesn’t reduce your normal form to 0 hit points, you aren’t knocked unconscious.
- You can’t cast spells, and your ability to speak or take any action that requires hands is limited to the capabilities of your beast form. Transforming doesn’t break your concentration on a spell you’ve already cast, however, or prevent you from taking actions that are part of a spell, such as call lightning that you’ve already cast.
- You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so. However, you can’t use any of your special senses, unless your fox form also has that sense.
- Your equipment merges into your new form. Equipment that merges with the form has no effect until you leave the fox form.
Once you’ve changed into a fox and changed back, you can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Sylvan, the language of the fey. The language uses the Espruar alphabet and has a melodic, chiming sound to it, akin to choir singing.
Subrace. There are various types of kitsune in the world. The two most common are zenko, the benevolent descendants of Inari celestials, and yako, the clever and cunning field foxes. Choose one of the subraces.
As a zenko kitsune, are you are good-natured and intelligent.
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 1.
Lie Detection. You have advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks to detect lies.
Spirit Guide. You know the guidance cantrip. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for it.
Yakos, also known as field-foxes, are clever, cunning and sometimes malicious kitsune.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
Fast Talker. You are proficient in the Deception and Persuasion skills.
Agile. You can take the Disengage action as a bonus action on each of your turns. You can use this feature while in fox form.
Tiny beast, unaligned
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 3 (1d4 + 1)
Speed 30 ft
Abilities Str 5 (-3), Dex 14 (+2), Con 12 (+1), Int 3 (-4), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 7 (-2)
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +4
Senses passive Perception 13
Challenge 0 (10 XP)
Keen Hearing and Smell. The fox has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +0 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 piercing damage.
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Again, a huge shout out to artist Felipe 5 Horas for chipping in with the artwork for this new playable race.
7 thoughts on “Kitsune Playable Race | New Player Option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition”
I just thought it was weird that Kitsune dont have dark vision because foxes are naturally night time predators. It’s your race just thought it was weird.
I based them roughly on cats which also seem nocturnal (but they’re not). Darkvision is kind of “mythological” and only a very select few creatures in the Beast appendix have it. BUT… if you added it while using it, I don’t think it would break things too bad
I have to say that I searched for a long while for an actually balanced set of D&D 5E rules for the Kitsune race. I have been using this variant of the Kitsune race for around 10 sessions now and it has worked great!
Oh sweet! Glad you like it!
I love it! I’m using it in my Eastern campaign where 90% percent of people are dragon trainers, and it’s very enjoyable. Thanks for making this awesome race.
When will you make this in to a book? Because my dm won’t allow stuff unless it is a book.
We’re jazzed you like the race so much, but this is not slated to be included in any publication any time soon. However, you may want to consider checking out Asian Monsters by Jason Nelson/Legendary Games. It’s a book that should be available through DriveThruRPG or through his website and it includes Kitsune. If your DM will allow you to adapt a monster into a playable race then it might be a resource worth investing in.
Best of luck!
-The DMDave Team