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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, Suijin

This massive, serpentine carp explodes forth from the water, its rainbow-colored scales gleaming in the sunlight and glossy eyes bright with good-natured intelligence.

Suijin CR 14

Source Pathfinder #52: Forest of Spirits pg. 88
XP 38,400
N Large outsider (kami, native, water)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +27

Defense

AC 30, touch 12, flat-footed 27 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +18 natural, –1 size)
hp 207 (18d10+108); fast healing 7
Fort +17, Ref +15, Will +12
DR 10/cold iron and evil; Immune bleed, mind-affecting effects, petrification, polymorph effects; Resist acid 10, electricity 10, fire 10; SR 25

Offense

Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (perfect), swim 60 ft.
Melee bite +24 (2d8+7/19–20), tail slap +19 (1d8+3 plus grab)
Space 10 ft., Reach 10 ft. (15 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks breath weapon (80-ft. line, 9d6 bludgeoning damage plus push, Reflex DC 25 for half, usable every 1d4 rounds), constrict (1d8+3), whitewater barrier
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th; concentration +22)
Constant—freedom of movement, speak with animals
At will—control water, create water, greater dispel magic, modify memory (DC 18), slipstream
3/day—aqueous orb (DC 17), quickened telekinesis (DC 19)
1/day—break enchantment

Statistics

Str 24, Dex 15, Con 23, Int 18, Wis 22, Cha 19
Base Atk +18; CMB +26 (+30 grapple); CMD 39
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Flyby Attack, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Lightning Reflexes, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (telekinesis), Stand Still
Skills Bluff +25, Diplomacy +22, Fly +29, Handle Animal +25, Intimidate +22, Knowledge (nature) +25, Perception +27, Sense Motive +27, Survival +27, Swim +36
Languages Aquan, Common; speak with animals, telepathy 100 ft.
SQ merge with ward, ward (small body of water)

Ecology

Environment any water
Organization solitary
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Breath Weapon (Su) When a suijin uses its breath weapon, it unleashes a pressurized blast of water that knocks over and soaks everything in its line of effect. Any creature that is struck by the blast and fails its saving throw is pushed back 10 feet as though bull rushed. For every 5 by which a creature fails its saving throw, it is pushed back an additional 5 feet. This effect also extinguishes any normal fires within the line of effect, as well as magical fires, which are dispelled as though by greater dispel magic. A suijin can choose to have its breath weapon deal nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage before using this ability.

Whitewater Barrier (Su) Three times per day as a standard action, a suijin can create a wall of turbulent water. A suijin can make this barrier however long it wishes, up to a maximum length of 180 feet, and the wall is 20 feet tall. A whitewater barrier acts as a sheet of stormy water, and any Large or smaller creature that attempts to pass through the barrier must succeed at a DC 26 Swim check or be rushed to the top of the wave and pushed back to the side it started on, taking fall damage as appropriate. It is possible to create cylindrical or square whitewater barriers to enclose specific points. This effect acts like wind wall in regard to how ranged missiles, breath weapons, gases, and creatures in gaseous form interact with it. The Swim DC is Constitution-based.

Description

Suijins are the kami of lakes, ponds, springs, and wells. When they are not merged with their wards, these spirits of nature resemble giant carp or sea serpents, usually beautiful specimens with rainbow scales. While they are as benevolent and well meaning as all other kami, suijins are often mistaken for beasts of the waters they inhabit, and are thus feared by superstitious or simple-minded creatures. Those who encounter suijins know better than to believe such unfounded fears, however, as the kami often only emerge from their wards in order to protect innocent creatures in trouble near its waters. Considered reclusive even by other kami, a suijin usually tries to protect creatures within its wards by covert means if at all possible, slowing the f low of its waters’ currents or pushing struggling creatures to shore via magic. Suijins are infinitely patient, and though most enjoy helping creatures, those in more remote regions are just as content to simply exist among their waters, protecting their wards from those who would seek to defile them. The general attitude among most suijins is often one of simple acceptance of things as they are, based on the belief that all things are f luid and subject to change; even the largest lakes are bound to recede or expand, and even the most eternal kami are not entirely permanent, a point proven by the vicious oni.

In its true form, a typical suijin is 15 feet long and weighs about 1,200 pounds, though numerous rumors suggest that lesser and greater suijins do exist in some parts of the world, typically residing in bodies of water that are proportionate to the kami’s size and power.

Ecology

A suijin’s particular ward is usually a good indicator of its temperament. A suijin residing in a secluded and placid mountain lake is often more calm and forgiving of trespasses than one dwelling in the heart of a turbulent river, and though all suijins typically mean well, those with more tumultuous wards are generally less tolerant of intruders within their domains. For instance, a suijin protecting a natural whirlpool within a larger body of water may not help a passing boat of traders that happens to start sinking into its depths, viewing the ship as a disturbance to the forces of nature. Those suijins who are used to seeing their waterways casually abused by the forces of civilization—as almost all cities in some way impose upon or corrupt the rivers and streams that f low near them, and even farming communities may pollute with manure and runoff— can be much more hard-hearted.

Suijins in isolated areas care far less about the mortal world than those who interact with it on a daily basis, so the attitude of a suijin dwelling within a mountain stream is often far different than that of one residing in a regularly visited pond. Travelers can earn the approval of a suijin by placing minerals or gemstones within its ward, and those who pollute the waters or use it for evil (such as by executing innocents via drowning) are quick to encounter a normally calm suijin’s fearsome wrath. Unusual f loods and droughts are both signs of a suijin’s displeasure with a nearby development’s effects on the surrounding waters, and wary villagers are careful to appease a suijin and change their destructive ways, lest they feel the full brunt of the powerful water kami’s righteous wrath.

Those suijins who continually fail to protect their waters from troublesome residents or visitors are often quick to fall out of favor with their kindred, and the wards of these kami often become treacherous during the time in which a corrupted suijin makes its gradual transition toward becoming an oni.

Habitat & Society

A suijin can occupy virtually any body of water, whether it be a stream up to several dozen miles long or a lake no more than a single mile in diameter. A particularly social suijin might choose to occupy the aqueduct of an urban development if the inhabitants are especially conscious of their impact on the surrounding environs, and such settlements recognize and appreciate the blessing of the benevolent resident, as a suijin cleans and purifies the waters it inhabits.

Suijins are solitary kami, and rarely go out of their way to band with others of their kind, preferring instead to protect isolated bodies of water. This form of aloofness isn’t out of fear of or apathy for other kami; instead, suijins merely adhere to a loosely established territorial pact, knowing that their powers are more valuable when spread throughout regions, rather than concentrated on particular bodies of water. When suijins do interact with one another, they do so at points where two bodies of water meet, such as estuaries and deltas. If two connecting bodies of water are especially healthy and the suijins residing in them are entirely undisturbed by forces of corruption, it is said that the water kami celebrate nature in a sort of bonding ritual. The rare event can be seen as motes of blue and green light whirling in the shallows of the adjoining water, and scholars speculate that this event may symbolize the creation of a new suijin.