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Kami

Source Bestiary 3 pg. 159
Kami are ancient, mystical, and otherworldly spirits created eons ago by the gods. Originally intended as guardians of those parts of nature that could not protect themselves, kami have proven remarkably adaptive. As the nature of reality changes, so do the kami.

There are countless species of kami—in theory, every type of animal, plant, object, and location could be served by its own type of kami. These are collectively called “wards” by kami, who often think of them similar to how a human might think of a young child placed into his or her care. In practice, there are far more wards in creation than there are kami. As such, all kami seek to reproduce and thus expand their influence—the more kami, the more wards what benefit from their protection. Accordingly, kami influence is usually regional in nature—the kami simply aren't numerous enough yet to protect all of creation.

Further complicating attempts to catalog and categorize kami is the fact that there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what sorts of wards get specific types of kami. The jinushigami, for example, are a race of kami that associate with all manner of regions, while the kodama concern themselves narrowly with the protection of specific trees. To the kami, these apparently arbitrary classifications make perfect sense, and their attempts to explain the reasoning to others generally result in confused listeners and frustrated kami. One thing that does remain constant, though, is the relationship between a kami's size and the import of its ward. A kami associated with a knife, frog, or single pebble in a stream would generally be quite small and unimposing, while a kami associated with a mountain, redwood tree, or elephant would be proportionally larger and more powerful. Of course, even here there seem to be exceptions, and frustrated scholars often wonder only half-jokingly whether the gods themselves vary these rules only to cause scholastic arguments and frustration.

Kami come into existence either as a spontaneously manifesting spirit or as the reincarnation of a particularly noble soul. Souls of creatures who died to protect an element of nature are particularly prone to returning to life as a kami. In this latter way, many kami arise from the souls of dedicated rangers or druids who perished while defending their homelands, or monks who spent a lifetime meditating on the serenity of nature. Once reincarnated, however, few kami remember any of their former lives, and their forms never resemble their former bodies. The rare kami who do recall their prior lives are the kami most likely to become more than mere guardians—these kami often take class levels and grow quite powerful.

Kami exist as ever-morphing spirits rather than souls trapped in concrete forms. Most exist to watch over a single tree, stone, or bend of a stream, and can have no more influence on the world than a single insect. A kami spends the majority of its existence merged with its ward—in this shape, it has no ability to interact with the world at all, but it can observe its surroundings with ease. There is no reliable way to determine whether an object, plant, animal, or location is protected by a kami, so those who travel or live in regions where kami are common generally assume that everything has a kami guardian. The kami do little to dissuade this, since the belief that kami are present is often just as potent a protection as having a kami in the first place.

All kami can assume physical form. Most somewhat resemble their ward, but again, in apparent eagerness to baffle and frustrate scholars, this is not always the case. When a kami assumes physical form, it always initially appears adjacent to its ward, manifesting suddenly as if teleporting. It is considered impolite by kami to pop into view, though—most prefer to manifest bodies while hiding, such as behind a tree, then step out of hiding to reveal themselves to those they wish to speak to.

Kami are generally a peaceable race, cohabitating with friendly fey and other magical beings that reside in natural environments. Dryads and treants alike find the company of kami to be quite favorable, as these noble spirits are willing to defend their lands to the death. Being more destructive, troublesome fey find themselves unwelcome in lands overseen by kami, who use the power of nature itself to obliterate intruders who make a nuisance of themselves. Kami's peaceful nature never vanishes more quickly than when they face oni, however, for no other creature is as hated by the kami as these. Kami view oni as defilers of the natural world and monsters whose goals and actions are in direct conflict with those of the nature spirits. When oni are spotted in areas guarded by kami, all kami alert each other to this intrusion, and band together to root out the dark presence. The fact that when a kami falls from grace it runs the risk of becoming an oni has much to do with this hatred—essentially, kami see oni as physical proof of their race's capacity for failure and shame.

While kami are rarely evil, they place the protection of their wards above all else. Often, this puts them at odds with other creatures, and as a result, many tend to view kami as troublemakers at best and outright monsters at worst. The kami have little care for how they are viewed by non-kami, of course—what matters to them is the safety of their wards.

The most powerful kami are known as kami lords. These mysterious and unique creatures are fantastically powerful, often on par with demigods or greater entities.

Creatures in "Kami" Category

NameCR
Dosojin7
Dunagh4
Fukujin3
Jinushigami20
Kaminari17
Kodama5
Shikigami2
Suijin14
Toshigami15
Zuishin10

Kami, Fukujin

This diminutive humanoid looks like a truly ancient but proud old warrior. A tiny tree branch juts from the top of his head.

Fukujin CR 3

Source Pathfinder #52: Forest of Spirits pg. 84
XP 800
LN Tiny outsider (kami, native)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +12
Aura aura of luck (15 ft.)

Defense

AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +2 size)
hp 30 (4d10+8); fast healing 3
Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +7
DR 5/cold iron or evil; Immune bleed, mind-affecting effects, petrification, polymorph; Resist acid 10, electricity 10, fire 10

Offense

Speed 30 ft.
Melee short sword +7 (1d3+1/19–20)
Special Attacks precise attacks
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +6)
Constant—speak with plants
At will—mending, purify food and drink
3/day—detect snares and pits, remove sickness
1/day—delay poison, goodberry, soften earth and stone

Statistics

Str 13, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 11, Wis 17, Cha 14
Base Atk +4; CMB +5; CMD 16
Feats Alertness, Improved Initiative
Skills Appraise +7, Bluff +9, Diplomacy +9, Knowledge (nature) +7, Perception +12, Sense Motive +12
Languages Common; speak with plants, telepathy 100 ft.
SQ merge with ward, ward (bonsai trees and small plants)

Ecology

Environment any
Organization solitary, garden (2–4)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Aura of Luck (Su) A fukujin brings good fortune with it wherever it goes. Any allied creature that begins its turn within 15 feet of a fukujin gains a +2 bonus on skill checks.

Precise Attacks (Su) A fukujin can detect weak points in a foe’s defenses as an immediate action by succeeding at a DC 15 Perception check. Once these weak points have been determined, a fukujin gains a +2 bonus on attack rolls to confirm critical hits against that creature for 24 hours. A fukujin can inform a single ally within 30 feet of its findings as a swift action, granting that ally the same bonus. This bonus cannot be granted to more than one creature, even if a fukujin attempts to point out a weakness to another.

Description

Spiritual guardians of ornamental shrubs and miniature trees, fukujin are highly regarded among Tians as bringers of good fortune and sound wisdom. Fukujins are thought to only come to goodhearted and devoted bonsai gardeners, and since bonsai plants are often only cultivated by astute and aesthetically minded humanoids, the kami are usually of a similar nature, speaking to mortals rarely and always cryptically. Regardless of how much of their coveted knowledge they impart upon favored mortals, however, fukujins always bring with them a sense of hope and good luck, and almost all within close proximity of the kami feel an instant sense of relief.

Fukujins resemble humanoids with tree branches protruding from their bodies, most often their heads, and some fukujins possess leafy hair or treelike limbs. A fukujin in its physical form is only as tall as its bonsai ward—usually only a foot or two—and weighs less than 30 pounds.

Ecology

While many see the art of bonsai gardening as humanoids’ attempts at controlling or forming nature, fukujins ref lect the practice’s virtues of patience and nurturing. Fukujins maintain that a moment of patience and study can reveal multitudes more than years of trial and error, and the diminutive beings spread this knowledge wherever they go. While kami do not reproduce in any typical sense, fukujins are known to sow seeds of bonsai plants in the wake of their footsteps, further delighting communities that appreciate such f lora. Though assignment of kami remains up to the mysterious will of the gods, fukujins do their part in creating numerous hosts for these spirits.

The health and strength of the tree branch protruding from a fukujin’s head is often said to be a good indicator of the skill of the warded bonsai tree’s caretaker. While the aesthetic values of bonsai trees are often completely subjective, the kami spirits are evidence that there is perhaps a series of core doctrines bonsai farmers should adhere to when taking care of their plants—ideals that a gardener can strive toward to ensure he achieves success in his maintenance of the small tree. A poorly trimmed bonsai plant may sicken the spirit for a time, for instance, while expert grafting can result in a strong or knowledgeable kami. In most cases, however, a kami will almost always leave its ward if a bonsai gardener neglects the plant long enough or effectively ruins the effort, for though fukujins are patient, they have little tolerance for the virtues of negligence and wastefulness.

While nearly all fukujins are calm, collected, and patient spirits, the beings are by no means all the same, as their physical appearances, predispositions, and demeanors are just as often ref lections of the particular bonsai plant that they watch over. Fukujins who reside within the hearts of deciduous trees, for example, tend to be of lighter color as well as more airy and spirited than the hardy and resilient fukujins of coniferous shrubs, who take on a red, earthy hue. Plant type can also hint at particular magical qualities the spirit might have—white-trunked trees tend to attract gaunter, more fatalistic individuals, while plants with brown or ebon bark inspire kami that are more attuned to the energies and mysteries of magic. The tree branch that sticks out of a fukujin’s head while the spirit is in its physical form is often of the same variety as the bonsai tree that the kami protects, though exceptions have been known to exist among particularly dual-natured spirits.

Habitat & Society

Since their wards are by nature the direct result of humanoid intervention, fukujins are naturally social creatures, and most seek to assist their humanoid partners in not only cultivating beautiful plants, but in all spheres of life. Many bonsai gardeners are often content to live in a permanent home, establish a family, and live a life of tranquility, and fukujins happily provide all manner of advice regarding these domestic issues. In other instances, however, fukujins have been known to travel alongside particularly adventurous cultivators, humanoids who keep the shrubbery and kami spirit in safe and comfortable packs or pouches and consult them for wisdom in circumstances both dire and unusual. The miniature kami’s insights and good luck prove as useful in the heat of battle as in the hearthstone, and so humanoids from nearly all walks of life seek the favor of these beings.

Bonsai trees are delicate plants and their kami reflect this fragility. What they lack in physical defenses, however, fukujins make up for in grace and keen insight, using their natural acumen to avoid and deter hazards before they’re even encountered. Some might mistakenly see this expert passiveness as a manifestation of fukujins’ philanthropic ideals and good intentions, but more often than not their flightiness is simply what they deem to be the wisest course of action. In situations where violence is inevitable, fukujins seek the aid of stronger individuals to help protect them, true to the tradition of their wards’ reliance on humanoid intervention and maintenance. Rather than view this reliance on humanoids as a weakness, however, most fukujins accept it as part of a long-lasting transaction between the two forces, each providing unique benefits to the other throughout the relationship. To bolster this partnership, fukujins harness healing powers as well as the strength of their insight, ensuring that their caretakers remain healthy and able to protect the kami and their wards.

While they almost always possess pertinent and useful advice, fukujins are known for being reserved under most circumstances, sharing what knowledge they have only when it is absolutely necessary, and they never share wisdom superf luously. Fukujins are normally individualistic and solitary like the plants they watch over, and when they interact with one another they usually do so telepathically. What people often perceive as the luck of fukujins is often merely the result of wise advice garnered from the spirits, though when asked if the kami really are bringers of fortune, fukujins are known to remain even more tight-lipped than usual.

Occasionally one might encounter a fukujin in the wild, in lands far from the societies and plants where they commonly make their homes. In such cases, these miniature kami often claim shrubs, young plants, and even whimiscal-looking mushrooms as their wards, grooming nearby groves and glades into quiet meditation gardens or into artistic shapes, inviting visitors to rest and reflect.