Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Oriental Adventures in Kara-Tur, the Eastern Realms.
The Book-House: Find Kara-Tur products.

Moderator: Cthulhudrew

Post Reply
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 26671
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Big Mac »

I'm looking at the rules for Hengyokai in the 3rd Edition Oriental Adventures book, but I want to use it in Kara-Tur (as I said in my How easy is it to use Kara-Tur with Oriental Adventures? topic).

So I'm going to refer to 3e OA, but also look back at 1e OA (for additional information).

And I want Kara-Tur to be part of Toril, so I might also look at the 3e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting or Player's Guide to Faerûn to see if a hypothetical 3e Player's Guide to Kara-Tur would have done any Realms-specific stuff, like Regional Feats, where Crab Hengeyokai could presumably choose between the nation of Kara-Tur that they were born in...or a "Crab Hengeyokai Region" (I put that in quotes as races are not really regions - but 3e FR treats them that way) that might tie into some sort of racial Feat that gives a crab PC a crablike thing they can do.

The problem is, I'm coming up against the wall of thinking: "So my PC is a crab. What the heck am I actually supposed to do that is going to give everyone epic memories in the game?"

So let's step back a bit and explain what the rules are. The Hengeyokai has three forms:
  • Human forum
  • Hybrid form and
  • Animal form
I say the hengeyokai, but there are 13 subraces, one of which is the crab subrace.

3e OA lets Hengyokai change forms level+1 times per day, while 1e OA only lets you change 1 time per level per day. (So 3e gives you one extra per day over 1e here.)

But I also see this, in the Level Adjustment section:
3e Oriental Adventures page 11 wrote:Level Adjustment

Hengyokai is a more powerful race that the others listed here and in the Player's Handbook. You need your DMs approval before playing a character of such a race. To maintain the balance of power between player characters, adjustments have to be made to hengeyokai characters so that the game remains fair and enjoyable for all.
My Crab Hengeyokai PC gets +1 natural armour and +4 Swim, in hybrid form. And it looks like they can talk to crabs and use human equipment. So i can see that is a +1 LA thing. But when I switch to my animal form in a dungeon, I'm literally a normal looking crab that can scuttle around on the floor and talk to other crabs.

Here are my D&D stats, as a crab:
3e Oriental Adventures page 12 wrote:Table 1-3: Hengeyokai Animal Forms

Crab - Size: Diminutive - Speed: 15ft - AC: 18 (+4 size, +2 Dex, +1 natural) - Damage: 2 claws 1d2-5 - Strength: 1 - Dexterity: 17 - Constitution: 10
I don't actually understand what "1d2-5" actually means, as 5 is more than 2. If I subtract 5 from a d2, I'm always going to get a negative number. And if I do a minimum of 1, I'll always do 1 damage. (Maybe there is errata for this.)

And as you can see, my PCs strength changes to a lowly 1. So I'm not going to be able to pick up anything heavy. I'm probably limited to scuttling around and looking for stuff, and picking up useful information from NPC crabs in the area.

Is that going to happen that much? Or am I pretty much going to be a human that can change into a crab...but who never does?

3e OA gives me the D&D stats for a crab (if you need to include crabs in your D&D games, it's on page 12). I'm going to go out on a limb...or a claw ;)...and say that the D&D crabs in Oriental Adventures are not unique to Kara-Tur. (So if a Crab Hengeyokai PC goes to Faerûn or Realmspace or another D&D world, they should be able to talk to all other crabs and those crabs should be statistically identical.)

I don't know how hengeyokai are supposed to reproduce, but it should be possible for them to live anywhere on Toril. I don't know if their human apperance is locked into forms similar to the Fantasy Asian humans they live around or if hengeyokai that moved to live with other races would have children that looked like elves or dwarves or Al-Qadim humans or anything like that.

I've got a bit of detail on Hengeyokai lands, but it's generic to all Hengeyokai:
3e Oriental Adventures page 10 wrote:Hengeyokai Lands: Hengeyokai do not have lands of their own. They live - alone or in small bands - near human communities usually on the edge of civilisation near regions of unsettled wilderness. Given their strong chaotic streak, hengeyokai are frequently on the move, particually when the advance of civilisation turns their wilderness retreats into bustling metropolitan areas.
So it looks like I'm a ranger who turns into a crab...or maybe I'm a crab that turns into a ranger. I'm not sure.

The 3e OA says that "Hengeyokai are not found in Rokugan", so this is a hold-over from Kara-Tur. Maybe they also exist in Mahasarpa, and maybe I'll be asking a similar question in the Mahasarpa forum (oh hang on, we don't have one yet) but I want to stick with Kara-Tur for now, because that's where this came from.

Let's see if the 1e Orietal Adventures gives me any clues on where "Aragon the Crab" comes from. Hmm. I can't find anything in the Hengeyokai section.

So, I don't know if there is anything about this later, but I have no idea where I would be locating the homeland of a Crab Hengeyokai PC. I suppose it could be close to a fishing villiage, but if that was the case, wouldn't the fishermen be eating all of my crab friends?

I don't even know if there are freshwater crabs...and if real-world Asia has crab infested rivers that might imply that the Kara-Tur nations that are inspired by real world Asian countries with a "high crab population" are more likely to have Crab Hengeyokai who live in that country and who look like those particular humans, while in human form.

So the Classification section of the Crab article at Wikipedia tells me that there are 6,793 species of crab. So maybe there could be some Asian crabs in there that can at least give me some sort of clue for building up Crab Hengeyokai into something that is more than a set of stats for a shape-changing crab-ranger.

I did find Hemigrapsus sanguineus, which is also called the Japanese shore crab. So there should be Crab Hengeyokai around Wa and Kozakura. I don't think I could even say: "Hemigrapsus sanguineus" without struggling, but I have to say that that fairly small Wikipedia page gives me more inspiration on translating a Japanese crab into a Fantasy Japanaese crab person than two different versions of Oriental Adventures.

Has anyone seen any Asian legends or stories involving people that turn into crabs...or crabs that turn into people?
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

User avatar
night_druid
Radiant Dragon
Posts: 6892
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:08 pm
Gender: male

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by night_druid »

I imagine crab hengeyokai would make natural fishermen. Probably not the heroes of epic tales, but more local folk tales of that mysterious individual who saved the fishing village from starvation due to poor catches. Or rescued the crew of a fishing vessel from drowning when their ship capsizes in the middle of a typhoon.

That said, I imagine crab hengeyokai to be more an NPC than PC option, really. I have to think PCs would gravitate to more "attractive(?)" hengeyokai options such as cat, dog, fox, tanuki, and maybe hare or rat.
Moderator: Spelljammer, Kingdoms of Kalamar. My moderator voice is green

User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 26671
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Big Mac »

night_druid wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:12 pm
I imagine crab hengeyokai would make natural fishermen. Probably not the heroes of epic tales, but more local folk tales of that mysterious individual who saved the fishing village from starvation due to poor catches. Or rescued the crew of a fishing vessel from drowning when their ship capsizes in the middle of a typhoon.
That's certainly a possibility.

I wish that TSR (and then WotC) had given me a bit more about what the hengeyokai is supposed to be.

I did just notice this on page 10 (of the 3e OA):
3e Oriental Adventures page 10 wrote:Hengeyokai are intellegent, shapechanging animals able to shift freely between human and animal forms, as well as a bipedal, animalistic form. Several subraces exist, defined by the kind of animal form they can assume. They are typically found on the fringes of human-settled lands, where they can mingle in human form but retreat to solitude when they desire. Hengeyokai are not found in Rokugan.
So essentially my PC is not a human who can turn into a crab. They are a crab who can turn into a human. That kind of makes their crab form their normal form.

And I guess that, an intelligent crab is kind of a bit like a treant that lives in the woods...only it is a crab instead of a tree.

I wonder why they are limited to taking human form. I think the idea of them having a fixed form is logical, but I would have thought that if you have a baby hengeyokai crab that grows up near a korobokuru villiage, they would look more like a korobokuru, than a human. If they transform into a human, when they have never met one, all the korobokuru would be suspicious.

I do like the idea of them turning specifically into fishermen, instead of just humans that hang about doing nothing in particular. The human body would allow them to catch plenty of food and be more successful than when they remain as a crab. So there is some sort of point to these crab spirits bothering to mimic humans.

There are supposed to be some epic periods of piracy and strong navies in the history of Japan, as well as some epic periods of defence against pirates and ship attack, from some of the other countries in that area. That doesn't seem to have been translate into Kara-Tur, but the Don't Stop Talking videos suggest adding that element of real-world Asian cultures.

A crab that fights pirates...or a crab that is a pirate...might well be a more exciting character concept. And just imagine a pirate who is a spirit creature, who can transform into crab form or hybrid form and dive down to locate sunken ships. They could literally find treasure that other seafarers would be unable to locate.
night_druid wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:12 pm
That said, I imagine crab hengeyokai to be more an NPC than PC option, really. I have to think PCs would gravitate to more "attractive(?)" hengeyokai options such as cat, dog, fox, tanuki, and maybe hare or rat.
It does seem more like they threw it in as an NPC option. It didn't have enough detail for 1e and it still didn't have enough detail for 3e. There is no art, except for the hybrid form of a female badger hengeyoki.

I kind of don't like the idea of being "sold an unplayable race" so I want to give this enough of a boost that it doesn't make me think "Meh!"

There is a problematic article on Forgotten Realms Wiki called Yurian. (It's problematic as there is an editor debate suggesting that the Yurian, Aldani and Crabfolk (three different D&D monsters) have been incorrectly turned into one article. The editors are proposing that it is split into three different articles for humanoid crab creatures. It looks like Aldani might be lobster people, rather than crab people.)

Anyhoo, the 3rd Edition Yurian, has art and that might be what the hybrid form of the crab hengeyokai should look like.

The other thing that kind of sucks a bit, is we have a crab spirit creature that gets good D&D stats in humanoid form, but pretty low stats in animal form. It would be nice if a hengyokai could somehow add a "Level of Crab". I wonder what that would actually do. :lol:
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
Posts: 4637
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Gender: male
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Cthulhudrew »

Yokai is the name for various types of spirit creatures or monsters in Japanese mythology. Hengeyokai, as it looks like you discovered, are animal creatures that have the ability to take the shape of a human. Hence, why in 1E they are described as only having human forms; they were taking the mythological stories literally. I don't think it would be any problem at all to say that they can take a different form (such as a korobokuru), though I would limit them to a single, specific form. There isn't much precedent- based on my admittedly limited knowledge of Japanese mythology- for having them capable of taking multiple different humanoid personas/forms.

A good sort of comparison might be the BECMI version of the wererat (which is a rat that turns into a human, as opposed to other lycanthropes) or the AD&D jackalwere (a jackal that turns into a human). I'd even posit that the latter creature is probably the same stock/race as hengeyokai, just found in more "westernized" lands. I do not know of any canon to support this claim, however. Just personal preference.
Big Mac wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:49 pm
I don't actually understand what "1d2-5" actually means, as 5 is more than 2. If I subtract 5 from a d2, I'm always going to get a negative number. And if I do a minimum of 1, I'll always do 1 damage. (Maybe there is errata for this.)
1d2-5 is the literal combination of their damage die (1d2) modified by their Strength penalty (-5 for a Str of 1). It's one of those oddities where you might sincerely say "why not just label it 1 point of damage" like would have been done in earlier editions of the game, but because 3E and later editions were proponents of a system whereby PCs and NPCs used the same game creation rules, you would get strange things like this pop up. The only way it is going to make any sort of mechanical difference is if the crab hengeyokai crab has some other modifiers (magical "claw bracers +5" or attack enhancements for magic spells, etc.).

*Note that yokai are, as I understand things, more traditionally spirit creatures or ghosts in Japanese folklore than they are physical creatures. There is some suggestion that the hengeyokai may have actually been a combination of yokai with some other lycanthropic sorts of creatures from myth. I don't know the extent to which this may be true, but there are a lot of elements of 1E OA that were not accurate representations of asian folklore as we understand them today (after many more decades of mutual study and understanding). And many of those elements were carried over into later editions of the game in spite of better knowledge, simply because they were sort of legacies of the game.
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.

User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
Posts: 3577
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:51 am
Gender: male
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Tim Baker »

Big Mac wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:49 pm
My Crab Hengeyokai PC gets +1 natural armour and +4 Swim, in hybrid form. And it looks like they can talk to crabs and use human equipment. So i can see that is a +1 LA thing. But when I switch to my animal form in a dungeon, I'm literally a normal looking crab that can scuttle around on the floor and talk to other crabs.
I'm not particularly well-versed in 3rd Edition, but that seems quite underwhelming for a +1 LA. I'd imagine that dwarves or elves have more impressive racial abilities without the +1 LA. Is there some way to go back and "check the math" on that?

Alternatively, how flexible is your DM? Could your crab form be, say, a giant crab? A medium crab might make a worthwhile tradeoff for the +1 LA.

User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
Posts: 4637
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Gender: male
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Cthulhudrew »

Tim Baker wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:04 am
I'm not particularly well-versed in 3rd Edition, but that seems quite underwhelming for a +1 LA. I'd imagine that dwarves or elves have more impressive racial abilities without the +1 LA. Is there some way to go back and "check the math" on that?
As a general rule of thumb, just the +1 natural AC bonus was worth a +1 LA in 3E (ref. Savage Species), and they probably figured with other abilities (such as the admittedly weak shapechanging) kept it around the same level.

I tend to agree with your assessment, Tim, that this doesn't look like it warrants a +1 LA at all, particularly as that +1 natural AC gets less useful as the PCs level up, while that LA gets more and more onerous when compared to other PCs and monsters that the group would be facing. (It's arguably not even that beneficial at low levels).

The designers seemed to be much more aware of and capable of balancing LAs as 3E matured into 3.5 (and later versions); in early 3E they just tended to slap an LA on for any little thing.

One thing I'd wonder about- and would have to check against my own version of OA- is whether the hybrid form gets a natural attack (man-sized claws) or if it is considered to have hands and just a crablike head?
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.

User avatar
Isuru
Ogre
Posts: 299
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:26 am
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Isuru »

Regarding strength and damage (1d2-5). They do minimum 1 damage, so about as rough as a real world crab pinching you and maybe drawing a bit of blood. Some of the bigger ones can probably break a finger if you're not careful. If a party member were to buff the crab character with strength or damage enhancing spells, then it have to overcome the low strength just like normal. Not useful or useless, just going by the rules as given.

The hengeyokai are an ambitious catch all for all the various types of nature spirits/phantoms/demons. The hengeyokai of D&D could probably be split into its component races, kitsune, tanuki, nekomata, etc. Note the incorporation of the term yokai: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C5%8Dkai) and this wiki explains in detail more about this "classification" of creatures. There are many kinds of yokai, some of the most famous include the kitsune (fox), probably followed by the tanuki (badger-dog) and kumo (spider), the neko (cat) due to modern popularity, tengu (bird), and so on. Some yokai aren't even animal in inspiration, thus why even the translated term is sometimes spirit, sometimes phantom, sometimes demon. Also this term yokai (妖怪) directly translates in Chinese to yāoguài, same/similar thing and likely there are strong analogous concepts in various neighboring cultures.

The crab hengyokai is probably based on the kani oni yokai: (http://matthewmeyer.net/blog/2018/10/19 ... -kani-oni/)
Which is likely based on this actual species of crab, Heikegani: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heikegani). They look so unique (there are monsters in d20 games based specifically on this crab).
I also found this, the Amikiri, a serpent/bird/lobster with crab/scorpion features: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amikiri)
Seems some of the later ones were just invented by artists and writers to tell interesting stories. The idea is certainly not new and has been floating around in folktales for centuries if not more.

Shapeshifting folklore characters are quite common in most of mythology and is probably derived these concepts from shared roots in shamanic and animist traditions. For instance, the famed Monkey King has 72 transformations in his repertoire. Also, reference one of the most famous folktales from China, Legend of the White Snake (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legend_of_the_White_Snake) and it's variations throughout history (there have also been Japanese adaptations of this story). There was an animated "prequel" a few years ago that made it to western markets last year: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCY7E0oHW6Y). It's a fun speculative interpretation of this story with modern visuals to show what settings like Kara-Tur could be.

The hengeyokai of D&D is an extrapolation like the goblins of D&D are very different from the goblins of myth and legend. Goblins of legend probably align closer to Dobby the Elf from the Potter-verse, but in D&D they are little green bandits. Naturally, by extrapolation and extension, the hengeyokai of D&D would developed their own specific magics (and classes) to enhance their animal-forms. That same crab hengeyokai could eventually develop their abilities to become a giant crab (med -> large -> huge). Perhaps one with a supernaturally hard shell that resists damage or magic, and pincers that can snap metal weapons in two and wound magical defenses. Or add in sea-based powers, water manipulation, crab swarm companions, storm calling, etc.

* Seems I cross posted with several others, I let the post sit half done when I went to dinner. Apologies if some points were already addressed.

The Dark
Hill Giant
Posts: 532
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:05 pm
Gender: male

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by The Dark »

The other advantages are low-light vision in hybrid and animal form and immunity to spells that target humanoids (such as charm person or hold person).

Dragon #318 updated them from Shapechanger to Humanoid (shapechanger), removing the spell immunity and eliminating the LA.

User avatar
Isuru
Ogre
Posts: 299
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:26 am
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Isuru »

Rereading the wiki on the Heikegani again, I'm pulling portions of it and highlighting what I feel are relevant portions.
Wikipedia: Heikegani (as of June 2020) wrote: Heikegani (平家蟹, ヘイケガニ, Heikeopsis japonica) is a species of crab native to Japan, with a shell that bears a pattern resembling a human face which many believed to be the face of an angry samurai hence the nickname Samurai Crab. It is locally believed that these crabs are reincarnations of the Heike warriors defeated at the Battle of Dan-no-ura as told in The Tale of the Heike.
...
The Battle of Dan-no-ura was preceded by an immense struggle between the imperial rulers of Japan, the Taira clan (also known as the Heike), who the Heikegani crabs are named after, and the Minamoto clan (Genji), who were fighting for control of the throne at the end of the 12th century in the Genpei War (1180–1185).[5]

On the 24th of April, 1185 AD, two powerful Samurai clans fought to the death on the Dan-no-ura bay of Japan's Inland Sea. The ruling Taira clan (Heike) was led by their child-Emperor, Antoku, and his grandmother, Tokiko Taira. The Heike had ruled Japan for many decades, but now, massively outnumbered, they faced defeat at the hands of the Minamoto.[5]

During the battle, Tokiko took the seven-year-old Emperor Antoku and leaped with him into the water in the Shimonoseki Straits, drowning the child emperor, rather than allowing him to be captured by the opposing forces, and most members and generals of the Taira clan followed them in despair. Antoku came to be worshipped as Mizu-no-kami ("god of water").

This crucial battle was a cultural and political turning point in Japanese history: Minamoto Yoritomo became the first Shōgun, or military ruler, of Japan. Dan-no-ura marked the beginning of seven centuries during which Japan was ruled by warriors and Shōguns instead of Emperors and aristocrats.
This holds massive historical and cultural significance, so much so it still resonates nearly a thousand years later. It was the start of a pattern of rulership that lasted for 700 years and only broken in the modern era (Meiji era, start 1868) when the shogunate system ended. The crab, more specifically this Heikegani crab, is seen as an incarnation of the lost warriors and generals of the Heike clan. This is mythic level stuff worthy of epics, and it is. The article for The Tale of the Heike also notes it is often compared to The Illiad as far as epics go.

This is also why one of the Great Clans of the Legend of the Five Rings (Rokugan) is the Crab Clan. It is why they are trusted with the most vital task of maintaining and manning the Kaiu Wall (also Great Carpenter Wall) against the corrupting power of the Shadowlands. Despite all the bickering and in-fighting of the Great Clans (and the Crab Clan does partake sometimes), the crab is trusted to be the icon of tenacity, duty, and sacrifice.

Yeah, don't underestimate the crab.

We're also looking at a rules expansion that hasn't seen much updating and expansion in nearly 20 years. We tend to get a rehash of the same starting point every edition, but not much beyond that. There-in lies the problem for these sort of expansions, we can see the company knows how to start things up, but they see little reason (market-wise) to carry through with more support to develop these ideas further.

User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
Posts: 3577
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:51 am
Gender: male
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Tim Baker »

Isuru wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:14 am
Rereading the wiki on the Heikegani again, I'm pulling portions of it and highlighting what I feel are relevant portions.
Awesome posts. Thanks for sharing this insight. I really enjoyed reading these.

User avatar
Cromstar
Ogre
Posts: 203
Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:58 pm
Gender: male

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Cromstar »

"You're a crab, Harry"

To answer the 'what do you do as a crab?' I honestly see some real dungeon-crawling potential (...pun not intended). Scouting ahead, avoiding traps, possibly scuttling under doors, and so on. I mean, who even notices a crab?

User avatar
night_druid
Radiant Dragon
Posts: 6892
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:08 pm
Gender: male

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by night_druid »

Cromstar wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:30 pm
I mean, who even notices a crab?
Hungry kobolds. ;)
Moderator: Spelljammer, Kingdoms of Kalamar. My moderator voice is green

User avatar
Cromstar
Ogre
Posts: 203
Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:58 pm
Gender: male

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Cromstar »

night_druid wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:35 pm
Cromstar wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:30 pm
I mean, who even notices a crab?
Hungry kobolds. ;)
Let's see...crab gets 2 attacks per round, kobolds have a 1/2 HD, so 1-4 HD...1-2 rounds to kill a kobold? (2e; do kobolds have more HP in other editions?) If the hengeyokai keeps his HP across all forms, that's actually an EASY fight IMO.

Bring on the kobolds!

User avatar
Isuru
Ogre
Posts: 299
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:26 am
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Isuru »

Now the hunters have become the hunted. :lol:

User avatar
night_druid
Radiant Dragon
Posts: 6892
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:08 pm
Gender: male

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by night_druid »

Cromstar wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:48 pm
night_druid wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:35 pm
Cromstar wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:30 pm
I mean, who even notices a crab?
Hungry kobolds. ;)
Let's see...crab gets 2 attacks per round, kobolds have a 1/2 HD, so 1-4 HD...1-2 rounds to kill a kobold? (2e; do kobolds have more HP in other editions?) If the hengeyokai keeps his HP across all forms, that's actually an EASY fight IMO.

Bring on the kobolds!
See, that's when the DM brings out his "Tucker's Kobolds". Who proceed to have crablegs for lunch :mrgreen:
Moderator: Spelljammer, Kingdoms of Kalamar. My moderator voice is green

User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 26671
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Big Mac »

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:55 am
Yokai is the name for various types of spirit creatures or monsters in Japanese mythology. Hengeyokai, as it looks like you discovered, are animal creatures that have the ability to take the shape of a human. Hence, why in 1E they are described as only having human forms; they were taking the mythological stories literally. I don't think it would be any problem at all to say that they can take a different form (such as a korobokuru), though I would limit them to a single, specific form. There isn't much precedent- based on my admittedly limited knowledge of Japanese mythology- for having them capable of taking multiple different humanoid personas/forms.
I wouldn't say that I "discovered" that about hengeyoki. It's more that is what Oriental Adventures says and I'm trying to work out how to use it (in a RPG context). I didn't really get into Kara-Tur, when I first read it. I've been trying to give it another go, and I've been looking at critical things (like the Re: Kara-Tur videos from Don't Stop Thinking) and I'm starting to see more things that I would have to address to make me feel like they would be fun to play (this being one of them).

What might be nice is something like an "Ecology of the Hengeyoki" article, that covers one type of hengeyokai in detail.

PRE-POST EDIT: Looks like Ecology of the Hengeyokai was in Dragon Magazine 404. I'll have to go look that up.

As well as the Dragon Magazine article, I also found the Hengeyokai article on Forgotten Realms Wiki. They don't have articles for everything in the FR subsettings, but it looks like this got added in 2014 and some people have put a lot of effort into making this better. There is a redlink to a "Crab hengeyokai" article (meaning that one hasn't been made yet) but three of the other articles for hengeyokai types have been created.

It looks like there is a lot of hengeyokai content in 1e, 2e, 3e and 4e form. It looks like the hengeyokai types have been boosted to 24 over the years (with most not getting any artwork). There is only one mention of the word "crab" in the article, so it might be that all that other content applies to different hengeyokai types.
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:55 am
A good sort of comparison might be the BECMI version of the wererat (which is a rat that turns into a human, as opposed to other lycanthropes) or the AD&D jackalwere (a jackal that turns into a human). I'd even posit that the latter creature is probably the same stock/race as hengeyokai, just found in more "westernized" lands. I do not know of any canon to support this claim, however. Just personal preference.
Thanks. I already realised this was the same sort of idea as a reverse lycanthrope (without the ties to the phases of the moon).

But that could tie into D&D stats.

Sadly, I don't think I've seen any content on warecrabs. ;)
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:55 am
Big Mac wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:49 pm
I don't actually understand what "1d2-5" actually means, as 5 is more than 2. If I subtract 5 from a d2, I'm always going to get a negative number. And if I do a minimum of 1, I'll always do 1 damage. (Maybe there is errata for this.)
1d2-5 is the literal combination of their damage die (1d2) modified by their Strength penalty (-5 for a Str of 1). It's one of those oddities where you might sincerely say "why not just label it 1 point of damage" like would have been done in earlier editions of the game, but because 3E and later editions were proponents of a system whereby PCs and NPCs used the same game creation rules, you would get strange things like this pop up. The only way it is going to make any sort of mechanical difference is if the crab hengeyokai crab has some other modifiers (magical "claw bracers +5" or attack enhancements for magic spells, etc.).

*Note that yokai are, as I understand things, more traditionally spirit creatures or ghosts in Japanese folklore than they are physical creatures. There is some suggestion that the hengeyokai may have actually been a combination of yokai with some other lycanthropic sorts of creatures from myth. I don't know the extent to which this may be true, but there are a lot of elements of 1E OA that were not accurate representations of asian folklore as we understand them today (after many more decades of mutual study and understanding). And many of those elements were carried over into later editions of the game in spite of better knowledge, simply because they were sort of legacies of the game.
Ah right, I've got you.

That means if I have a crab hengeyokai in crab form and they somehow get +4 to their attack rolls...they still do 1 point of damage every combat round.

Clearly the designers don't want you to fight things in crab form (especially as they steal half your hit points in crab form).

It looks like 4th Edition might have used the Spellplague as an excuse for the animal forms of hengyokai to become as strong (at least in some ways) as their human and hybrid forms.

I'll have to check that out.

I wonder if 5th Edition would be reversing that and making the animal forms super feeble again.

I think 4e logic was that Abeir had access to Primordials. So I don't know if the spirts in hengeyokai are supposed to be related to Primordials. I know that hengeyokai believe that they are equal to spirts, rather than worshipping spirits, and that they work in partnership with them.

(That might actually make for interesting ways for crab hengeyokai to be members of divine character classes, but it would be a bit better if it was less wishy-washy and more descibed. I'll have to go look for other sources.)
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
Posts: 3577
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:51 am
Gender: male
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Tim Baker »

Big Mac wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:49 am
It looks like 4th Edition might have used the Spellplague as an excuse for the animal forms of hengyokai to become as strong (at least in some ways) as their human and hybrid forms.

I'll have to check that out.

I wonder if 5th Edition would be reversing that and making the animal forms super feeble again.

I think 4e logic was that Abeir had access to Primordials. So I don't know if the spirts in hengeyokai are supposed to be related to Primordials. I know that hengeyokai believe that they are equal to spirts, rather than worshipping spirits, and that they work in partnership with them.
Here's what I found in Dragon 404 regarding the hengeyokai's connection to the Spellplague:
Dragon 404 wrote: Following the Spellplague, the connection grew much stronger between Sheng Ti and the portion of the spirit world that Faerûnians would call the Feywild. Though empowered by these events, the hengeyokai and spirit folk inhabitants of the province remained loyal to the Emperor and helped him restore order.
So it appears that it was the closer connection between Toril and the Feywild that boosted the power of the hengeyokai.

It's interesting to note that the crab hengeyokai's move speed on land is just 5ft in 4e (as opposed to 15ft in 3e). It gains a swim speed of 35ft, though.

Its strength is the equivalent of a human's in crab form, so a hengeyokai would do 1d4 + STR, and STR would be unlikely to be lower than –1. It's still a very small amount of damage, but I guess it could be helpful in a pinch (sorry, I couldn't help myself).

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 21706
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Havard »

I could see benefits from behind small such as sneaking around or getting into hard to reach places. Also you word have water breathing.

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 21706
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Havard »

Havard wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:56 pm
I could see benefits from behind small such as sneaking around or getting into hard to reach places. Also you would have water breathing.

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
Posts: 3577
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:51 am
Gender: male
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Hengeyokai: So I'm a crab - what do I do now?

Post by Tim Baker »

Havard wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:56 pm
I could see benefits from behind small such as sneaking around or getting into hard to reach places. Also you word have water breathing.
I agree. I was surprised that it cost a +1 LA, considering what it offers, though. I'll admit to only knowing enough about the 3e mechanics to be able to do some thought-for-thought conversion work, but that felt like a big expense for relatively little value.

Post Reply

Return to “Kara-Tur”