Continuing our foray into the lands of Oriental Adventures we have the Spirit Folk – a new character race for any Asian Fantasy Setting for D&D 5e.  I was inspired after playing Fire Emblem Fates to re-read all the 1e, 2e and 3e Oriental Adventures material which further stirred me to update some of the races and classes for 5e.   

N.B. Most of the text is lifted directly from the 3e Oriental Adventures manual.  I modified it to include some original 1e text as well as other areas as needed to make it fit with 5e and my own campaign world.  Presenting the Japanese Elf – Spirit Folk. 

SPIRIT FOLK7d4bed9019ca7c5d46b2b53ef71fa640.jpg

Spirit folk are the descendants of humans and various spirits of nature. Spirit folk have three distinct races—bamboo, river, and sea spirit folk. All tie very strongly to the natural world as well as to the society of humans.


Spirit folk tend to be serene and calm, attuned to their surroundings and at peace with the world. Their spirit ancestry gives them an awareness of the spirit world, and they show little desire to manipulate that world through magic. They manifest a love and enjoyment of life that many humans can only envy.

Perhaps because of their strong ties to the natural world, spirit folk tend to seek balance between extremes. They tend toward neutral alignments.

Spirit folk share the religious habits of humans, venerating a host of spirits and Fortunes. They typically venerate their human ancestors as well as their spirit forebears.


Spirit folk look human. Their eyes are slender and their mouths are small. Their eyebrows are very thin and their complexions are very pale or golden. They have no facial or body hair, but the hair on their heads is thick and luxurious. Some have more unusual qualities like golden hair or slightly pointed ears.  They appear in all the diversity of humans, and many come close to the ideal of human beauty in their society.


Spirit folk live among humans, but usually near regions of untouched wilderness — uncut bamboo groves, pure streams and rivers, and deep ocean waters. Unlike hengeyokai, they are more tightly integrated into human communities, bound by family ties. They do not usually join in communities with other spirit folk.

Spirit folk typically live as part of human society and are accepted as equals in human communities, even when their true ancestry is known. They are members of human clans, citizens of human nations, and have blood relations who are entirely human. At the same time, they are part of the spirit world, and never feel completely at home in the mundane life of a human village.

As spirits, spirit folk often get along well with hengeyokai, and they may have friends and allies among other spirit races as well.


Some spirit folk feel their difference from their human neighbours more acutely than others of their kind, and take up the life of an adventurer in order to find their own way in the world. Sometimes, sheer wanderlust drives a spirit folk to explore the world.


Spirit folk usually have human names, though their given names often reflect their ancestry.  They might later assume distinctive names to capture their heritage, such as Lung, Haku, Wave, Moon, River, or Jade.  River spirits will tend to have the same name as the river they are linked to or incorporate it somehow into their name.


These abilities are common to all three subraces of spirit folk.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Age. Spirit Folk mature at about the same rate as humans and reach adulthood in their late teens, however, they live indefinitely usually only experiencing death due to accident, violence or eventually fully passing into the Spirit World.
Alignment. Independent and self-reliant, spirit folk tend toward a chaotic alignment.
Size. Spirit Folk are as varied as their mortal parents but are generally built like humans, standing anywhere from 5 feet to over 6 feet tall. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet
Spirit Native. Spirit folk have the spirit subtype, which means they can be affected by spells that specifically target spirits, such as protection from spirits and invisibility to spirits. Their human ancestry makes them humanoids, however, so they are also affected by spells such as hold person and charm person. If the character ever gains damage resistance it has the additional feature of being pierced by crystal weapons only (DM’s discretion).
Languages. Spirit folk speak Common in their human communities, but can also converse in Kami that is used among spirit creatures.
Subraces.  Spirit folk have three distinct races — bamboo, river, and sea spirit folk

These spirit folk normally live near forests (bamboo or otherwise) or jungles. Bamboo spirit folk have these additional characteristics.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Wilderness Lore. You are proficient in the Survival skill.
Mask of the Wild. You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.
Trackless Step. You leave no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked.
Forest Spirit.  You have advantage on saving throws against spells and effects that are nature related in some aspect (DM’s discretion).
Speak with Animals.  Once per day you can use speak with animals to speak with any animal (but not aquatic life). This ability is innate to bamboo spirit folk. It has a duration of 1 minute per character level (minimum of 1 minute).
Shooting Stars.  Once per day you may turn 1d4 projectiles (usually arrows) into special shooting star arrows.  A shooting star arrow appears normal, but it bursts with bright green light upon impact.  The target creature must make a Constitution saving throw (DC is 8 + proficiency bonus + Wisdom bonus) or become dazzled for 1 minute.  A dazzled creature takes a -1 on attack rolls.
Chikurin.  The life force of a bamboo spirit folk is always tied to a bamboo grove deep within a forest.  If this grove is damaged, the bamboo spirit folk suffers an equal amount of damage.  If the grove is destroyed, the bamboo spirit folk character dies instantly.  When a bamboo spirit folk enters its grove, he is instantly cured of all wounds and diseases.  This grove can never be moved, nor do shoots sprouted from this grove have any special effect.  You always know the status of the grove no matter the distance, even across inter-planar boundaries.  You may always find your way back.

River spirit folk are associated with one particular river or stream and commonly live somewhere near it.  River spirit folk have these additional characteristics.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Amphibious. You can breathe air and fresh water.
Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light.
Swim. You have a base swimming speed of 30 feet.  The equipment you carry also never becomes wet.
River Spirit.  You are attuned to water in all its forms giving you advantage on saving throws against spells and effects that are water related in some aspect (DM’s discretion).
Seafood. Once per day you can use speak with animals to speak with any fish. This ability is innate to river spirit folk. It has a duration of 1 minute per character level (minimum of 1 minute).
Make a Path.  Once per day you can lower water in rivers and streams by a depth of 10 feet, allowing others to cross easily. This effect lasts for 1 minute.
Kawa no kami.  The life force of a river spirit folk is tied to a single, particular river (chosen either by the DM or the player) as it lies in its natural banks.  Water drawn from the river or diverted for irrigation is no longer considered part of the river. Bathing within the banks of this river cures a river spirit folk of all wounds and diseases instantly.  Likewise, changes in the flow of the river affect you. Periods of drought which lower the water of the river also weakens you, temporarily inflicting levels of exhaustion.  Major flooding makes the character wild and uncontrollable (you can the Rage special ability as if you were a barbarian of the same level).  Damming and other engineering changes makes you progressively weaker until you finally die.  You always know the status of your river no matter the distance, even across inter-planar boundaries.  You may always find your way back.

The sea is vast, so of all the spirit folk, those of the sea are the most numerous.  Sea spirit folk have these additional characteristics.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
Amphibious. You can breathe air and salt water.
Swim. You have a base swimming speed of 30 feet.   The equipment you carry also never becomes wet.
Fire Resistance.  You are attuned to the mighty ocean that you seek to quench fire in all its forms.  You have advantage on saving throws against spells and effects that are fire based in some aspect (DM’s discretion).
Weatherman.  Once per day, you can predict the weather for the next 24 hours.  Make a DC 10 Wisdom check, success indicating you succeed (the DM may choose to make this role in secret).
Son of the Sea King.  You are not affected by changes in the sea, nor do you receive healing benefits from it.  Once a year you can receive one favour from the sea — a violent storm, fair sailing winds, rain, the recovery of a particular item from the bottom of the ocean, etc. You must ask for a specific thing.  Should two sea spirit folk ever make opposing requests, neither will be granted and their favours for that year are lost.

Of all the spirit lords, the Lord of the Sea has the most authority and takes most interest in the activities of his kin. If you raise your honour to 20 (using the optional Honour rules in the DMG), the Lord of the Sea bestows a gift upon you.  This may be a valuable treasure from the bottom of the ocean, a special service, or a magical item such as the pearl of rising tide.  This gift is given with no conditions or expectations of repayment.

Call to the Wave. You know the shape water cantrip (Princess of the Apocalypse Players Companion). When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the create or destroy water spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait, and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Banner art by sakimichan.




  1. I really like this as a character concept. I’ll probably introduce it as part of an encounter first, then see if the players want to try creating Spirit Folk characters. Kinda gives me strong recollections of Tom Bombadil.


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