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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, Kodama

This little green humanoid figure stands only three feet tall. Its head is faceless save for two hollow pits for eyes.

Kodama CR 5

Source Bestiary 3 pg. 162
XP 1,600
N Small outsider (kami, native)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +11

Defense

AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 15 (+1 Dex, +2 dodge, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 51 (6d10+18); fast healing 3
Fort +10, Ref +6, Will +4
DR 5/cold iron; Immune bleed, mind-affecting effects, petrification, polymorph; Resist acid 10, electricity 10, fire 10; SR 16

Offense

Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +9 (1d3+2)
Special Attacks distracting gaze, sneak attack +2d6
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +9)
At will—speak with plants (trees only), tree shape
3/day—charm animal (DC 14), entangle (DC 14), tree stride (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only)

Statistics

Str 14, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 11, Wis 14, Cha 17
Base Atk +6; CMB +7; CMD 20
Feats Great Fortitude, Nimble Moves, Power Attack
Skills Climb +11, Escape Artist +10, Perception +11, Sense Motive +11, Stealth +14, Survival +11
Languages Common; speak with plants, telepathy 100 ft.
SQ merge with ward, ward (wild trees)

Ecology

Environment any forest
Organization solitary, pair, group (3–7), or grove (8–16)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Distracting Gaze (Su) Staggered for 1d4 rounds, 30 feet, Will DC 16 negates. This is a mind-affecting effect that requires the kodama to be visible to those it wishes to affect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Description

Revered by druids and rangers for their attunement with the wilds, kodama, known also as tree kami, are the guardians of the wild trees of the forest—they do not protect trees cultivated and grown in civilized areas. (Those trees are protected by different kami, if at all.) A kodama takes a single tree under its protection; typically, all of the trees in a forest that are protected by kodama are clustered together in one particular area.

A kodama in its physical form resembles a barely humanoid creature with only the vaguest of features on its semispherical head. A tree kami is 3 feet tall and weighs 60 pounds. While one might expect the kami of something as large as a tree to itself be larger, the fact that forests are made up of so many trees tends to diminish the singular “presence” any single tree might have. In cases where a tree is particularly ancient or immense, however, the kodama associated with it is much larger—statistics for such rare kodama can be generated by advancing the kodama given here by several Hit Dice and increasing its size—theoretically, a Colossal kodama with more than 20 Hit Dice could exist somewhere in the world. Not all kodama increase in power by gaining racial Hit Dice, though, as some instead progress by gaining class levels, particularly levels of druid, though a rare few kodama kami—those possessed of minds more ordered and structured than is normal for their race—take the path of the monk.

Kodama are more curious about visitors than most kami, and often manifest their physical bodies simply to watch and observe newcomers to their groves. A kodama usually manifests on the far side of its tree, or in the shadows of the undergrowth, so that it can slowly step out into visibility to quietly observe with its distracting, empty-eyed gaze. This gaze can be particularly unnerving. Those who have fallen under its supernatural effects often have different descriptions of how the gaze made them feel (ashamed, frightened, curious, amused, and nervous being the most common reactions), yet the end result is essentially the same. While under observation by a curious kodama, few are those who can continue their actions without being at least somewhat distracted by the kami’s attention.

When a kodama must fight (typically in order to defend its tree or other kami), it moves quickly—kodama work best in groups, and when confronted alone generally use tree stride to travel to another part of the forest to raise a small host of allies to aid it in defending its home.