Kitsune were introduced as a PC option in Dragon Empires (a book I highly recommend and need to write more about) and fleshed out in the Dragon Empires Primer and the Advanced Race Guide. Now that they’ve been properly statted up in Bestiary 4, we finally get to talk about them…and man, do I love these guys.
As PCs, kitsune are awesome for players who like a character who is withholding some secret from the group. Sure, in large doses this can be annoying (the “My character is secretly lawful evil/worships an evil god” trope is kinda old at this point) and even party-destabilizing (see below). But hiding the fact that your nimble thief or arcane trickster is actually one of the fox folk? That’s baller! Especially if it opens up adventure doors that would otherwise remained closed (“The kami won’t let us into the Forbidden Forest? Let me talk to him…”) or lands the party in hot water in a fun way (“Listen, guys, about those ninjas…they maaay have been after me pleasedon’thateme”).
And if you’re really want your kitsune to be one of the magical fox folk of Japanese mythology, ARG’s Realistic Likeness and Magical Tail feats are perfect. How perfect? Given enough feat slots, yes, you can become a nine-tailed fox. Like I said: baller.
As NPCs, kitsune will rarely be the primary antagonists. They’re far more likely to be adventurer sparkers or complicaters—the bard that only reveals hints in riddles, an old fisherman who has a secret, the thieves’ guild that has already made off with the artifact the PCs were planning to steal. That said, when a kitsune is the villain, expect her to always have another blade and another magical ability up her sleeve, as well as two backup plans and three escape routes if her plots don’t go off as expected.
A rollicking band of tanukis settles in a nearby village, bringing lots of good fellowship but also lots of hijinks in its wake. A kitsune oracle fears the presence of so many veiled (and not-so-veiled) tanukis puts her own identity at risk, so she works to drive them out of town. Rather than interrupt their marathon sake binges, the tanukis talk adventurers into sorting out who is behind the trouble. Meanwhile, the tanukis’ presence has also lured a pack of powerful ghouls that plan to turn the village’s revels into a charnel feast.
A black-furred, four-tailed kitsune uses her ability to twist stories to drive human against tengu. She seems intent on harvesting the discord and misery she creates, though by what means and for what purpose is unclear. Given that she has also begun training as a shadowdancer, the Umbral Plane may be involved.
The fanak are the large-eared fox folk of the desert lands. Due to their natural shapeshifting abilities, genies regard them as kin to jann, calling them “the little cousins; free elementals regard them kindly as well. The fanak have little regard for those who would clutter the wild spaces with pyramids and tombs, though, and they feel free to rob these places. Thus tomb guardians like girtablilus and maftets hate them, though sphinxes find their riddles droll.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 4 175
Looking for the killer seahorse? Of course you are. But we covered it back here.
And moving from fox folk to coyote folk, are any of you reading The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw? Because it is awesome.
Why did I add the cautionary note above about PCs with secrets? Because there’s a fine line between a cool backstory and power play. My favorite Vampire campaign nearly went off the rails when one player 1) revealed himself as Sabbat 2) and then turned on the entire party 3) during a Gehenna game. Even with the end of the world at stake, this wouldn’t have been as big a deal as it was except a) he had promised the GM he would not do this when he picked a Sabbat bloodline (which is just really bad form) and b) he kept pushing #2 at every opportunity, no matter how many outs he was give to reconcile with the group and rejoin the plot. It was maddening. Everybody likes his or her player to be a little badass and have some nice cinematic moments, but this was not the way to go about it. (Also, don’t piss off the guy who’s been playing his Tremere character for over a decade—that’s a lot of dots and rituals to go up against. Especially when he’s backed by a Ventrue (yours truly) with a penchant for explosions and who’s gone out of his way to learn Setite Disciplines on top of his Blue Blood ones. We will end you. And the GM whose plot you’ve been derailing will let us.)