The Dragon's Den
Hengeyokai are a race of intelligent, shapeshifting animals native to The Jade Empire that can freely assume human form or a bipedal hybrid form; numerous subraces exist, each corresponding to a different species of common animal. They are the descendants of humans and shapeshifting animal spirits, and as such they have a strong connection to both the spirit and mortal worlds. Unlike the savage and bloodthirsty lycanthropes, hengeyokai are usually reclusive and do not become violent except when no other choice remains.
Hengeyokai live throughout The Jade Empire on the fringes of human society. They are secretive creatures that avoid prolonged contact with other races. Despite their natural reticence, some goodnatured hengeyokai become the protectors of human families or small villages. Scholars believe that the hengeyokai’s supernatural heritage explains this seemingly incongruous behavior, since so many spirits are protective by nature. These creatures receive offerings of food, gifts, and services in return for their efforts, even though most beneficiaries never see their guardian or realize its true nature. For instance, the hare hengeyokai Xax Chung is called the hero of Koje, a small city in central Koryo. He perished defending his adopted hometown from a dragon that had smashed Jisziat’s Tower, a prominent local landmark; until his death, few suspected that the elderly warrior was anything other than human.
On the other hand, evil hengeyokai often prey upon humans. More mischievous than malevolent, these hengeyokai delight in playing cruel pranks on their victims but will deceive, steal, and even kill to get what they want. Typically they extort offerings from terrorized locals, but few are ever satisfied with their gifts, often leading to unpleasant results.