"Hai. I live a life of passion and laughter. Anything else would be dangerous."
Trickster Sei (Fae) of Japan, the Hengeyokai are in many ways the cousins of the western Pooka. However, whereas Pooka are Fae 'humans' who can attain animal form, Hengeyokai are Fae 'animals' who can attain human form. Also, while fond of illusion and trickery, the Hengeyokai are not pathological liars.
Prone to passion and a penchant for falling in love, many Hengeyokai tried to live human lives, but were strongly persecuted for their audacity of taking human form by the Shinto and Taoist faiths. To such faiths, an animal taking the form of a higher being (Man) was sinful and vile.
Although mischievous, most Hengeyokai are of Kagayaku (Radiant) aspect, akin to the Seelie of western kithain. Rarely are their pranks harmful. Few are of Kage (Shadow) aspect.
By far the most famous of the Hengeyokai, the Kitsune (fox) and Tanuki (raccoon-dog) originally inhabited the mountainous regions of Japan, but the Kitsune in particular have migrated to many of Japan's great cities, attracted by the bright lights and entertainment. The streets however have become the beloved home of the Nezumi (rat) Hengeyokai. Other common Hengeyokai 'breeds' include the Usagi (rabbit) and Inu (dog). Rarely interacting with other Japanese Sei, they have a few dealings with the Tengu, and are the Sei most likely to have dealings with the Fushigi-na Itoko ('strange cousins', referring to western kithain). The Hengeyokai survived the Shattering by blending their souls with both humans and animals, with Hengeyokai hailing from both lines. Given their penchant for love, the Hengeyokai are warm passionate lovers, forever seeking that one true love. Those Hengeyokai who merged their souls with human lines have essentially assumed the human form as their 'natural' one.
They have an affinity with either the Nature or Actor realms, depending on whether or not they come from the animal or human lines respectively.
Appearance and Lifestyles
Hengeyokai (with the exception of many Nezumi) are typically beautiful and charismatic in either form. Much like Pooka, their transformation isn't fully complete, and their Sei seemings always retain the animal tail. Only the tail remains unchanged, not the ears as well, unlike Pooka. Even in their animal form they possess a notable glint of intellect. They tend to enjoy dressing in clean, fashionable clothes, the Kitsune in particular being notorious shoppers. Nezumi dress as street people and gang members, unconcerned with the triviality of high fashion.
Kodomo Hengeyokai are playful, living a life of fun, trickery and intense curiosity. They are often a little too wide-eyed and innocent, not fully comprehending the dangers of life. Only the Nezumi are cynical beyond their years.
Sozoshii Hengeyokai are romantic and humourful, pledging undying love to their companions, revelling in music, jokes and laughter. Many join Japanese youth gangs, and their usual attractiveness is the envy of their colleagues.
Toshi-ue no Hengeyokai settle down a little, often enjoying successful careers as actors, models, movie stars, and entertainers. Nezumi on the other hand become crime lords and gang leaders, often part of organised syndicates such as the Yakusa.
Birthrights and Frailties
As with any Kith, Hengeyokai have a few traits exclusive to them.
Shapechanging: Identical to the Pooka birthright, the hengeyokai can assume a different form depending on their heritage. Those of heritage can assume their 'animal' form, while those of 'animal' heritage can assume 'human' form. When totally alone, they may change in one turn. It costs one Glamour point to transform but reversion is free. No roll is necessary.
Deceptive Maho (magic): Hengeyokai are justly renowned for their aptitude with illusions and trickery, gaining an extra success with any Chicanery or Legerdemain majinai (cantrip). They never botch such majinai (cantrips). This doesn't give them an automatic success but increases those they have.
Bane of Faith: Hengeyokai fear the priests and monks of their native religions with good reason. They suffer a +2 difficulty penalty for any action, majinai etc involving such individuals.
Lost Forever: After their Sei nature is awakened, the Hengeyokai must take extreme care never to lose it again. If they ever revert to a normal and banal nature, they can never again resume their Sei existence. They become utterly normal humans or animals.
Views on Other Kith
As with all Japanese Sei, the Hengeyokai have only really met the Eshu.
Eshu: Their stories can fill the heart with wonder, uplifting the most banal heart.
Fantastic and friendly hosts. I plan on returning there very soon.
Kappa: Brutal and ugly Sei. Avoid them at all costs, and prank them if you can get away quickly.
Gahh! Weak and annoying!
Oni: Powerful and terrifying. They seem content enough, but I'm relieved we rarely meet.
They understand the respect and fear that is our station in life.
Tengu: Powerful in their majinai, the Tengu actually enjoy a good prank, unless of course, they are the victim.
Pranks should be used to test people, not merely annoy them.