There are millions of kami (nature spirits) for almost every animate or inanimate object in the lands of Oriental Adventures.
Nature spirits – kami – embody the essence of certain natural locations, objects, animals, or plants in much the same way as elementals are incarnate elements. Like elementals, they can be wild and dangerous — but they are also generally wise and intelligent, and characters who treat them with respect can win their aid. The life force of a nature spirit is tethered to an object or feature of the natural world — a rock, tree, stream, lake, river, mountain, or island, for example. A nature spirit rarely strays far from this object or place on the Material Plane or the Spirit World. In its natural form, rarely seen except in the Spirit World, a nature spirit looks like the feature it is associated with. These spirits are most commonly encountered polymorphed into an attractive human form. Nature spirits speak Common and the Spirit Tongue.
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.
Unlike oni who are small in number and unique kami number in the millions (perhaps billions) and all kami share certain traits as outlined below and each type of kami tends to be identical mechanically though two different tree spirits may still have different personalities.
KAMI TEMPLATE INFORMATION
This template may be applied to any fey, elemental, plant or beast. The original creature retains its statistics except where outlined below. Any fey creature listed in the Monster Manual (or other monster tomes) could be used as a kami with little modification. Though, as a rule of thumb, I would select good aligned examples of these creatures for kami and neutral ones I would make yokai and evil ones oni.
Kami are a race of celestials who serve to protect what they refer to as “wards”—animals, plants, objects, and even locations — from being harmed or dishonored. All kami possess the following traits (unless otherwise noted in a creature’s entry). More details here. Unlike oni who tend to be unique creatures and are small in number kami number in the millions (billons?) and tend to be the abilities and traits – that is, the same types of kami tend to be mechanically identical – though this does not mean they all have identical personalities. Their character, within the confines of their alignment, are as varied as human personalities.
- Type. All kami have the type Celestial (kami) in addition to the base creatures original subtype. Also, kami sleep, but do not need to breathe or eat.
- Alignment. Kami can be of any good or neutral alignment. Evil kami become oni.
- Size. If the base creature is a beast it increases by one size category.
- Abilities: Intelligence. If the base creature has an Intelligence score less than 10 its Intelligence becomes 10.
- Senses. Kami can see invisible (as the spell) permanently.
- Language. All kami speak Common and Spirit Tongue (Kami) in addition to any local dialect of the area they call home. They also have telepathy out to 50 feet.
- Damage Resistance. acid, fire, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from nonmagical weapons.
- Damage Immunities necrotic
- Condition Immunities enchantment
- Innate Spellcasting. The kami’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 8 + CHA modifier + Proficiency bonus). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
- Local Knowledge. A nature spirit is intimately familiar with the natural world in the area where it lives. A nature spirit automatically has access to the information learned from the commune with nature spell.
- Magic Resistance. The kami has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
- Regeneration. As long as a kami is within 120 feet of its ward, it has regeneration 10 so long as it has at least 1 hit point remaining.
- Ward. Each kami is mystically bound to a natural feature — small spirits to a branch, small stone, or stream, medium spirits to a tree, flower, rock, or bamboo grove, and large spirits to a mountain, boulder, ancient tree, or small island. The nature spirit cannot stray more than 300 yards from its feature. If it does, it becomes ill and dies within 24 hours. If the feature to which it is bound is destroyed, the nature spirit dies. Animal kami can move around freely as they essentially fuse with their animal ward permanently.
NATURE SPIRIT CATEGORIES
These are listed here as guidelines only. I tended to make custom kami as needed.
SMALL NATURE SPIRIT
Small nature spirits include those of small beasts, twigs, small stones, and streams. They are most commonly encountered in the form of a small child. Their mischievous aspects often lead them to play annoying or mischievous pranks. They have no special attacks or qualities beyond those common to all nature spirits.
MEDIUM-SIZE NATURE SPIRIT
Medium-size nature spirits are the most common variety. They are the manifestations of medium beasts, trees, flowers, rocks, and bamboo groves. They usually take the form of an attractive human and often marry mortals (producing spirit folk children). They have no special attacks or qualities beyond those common to all nature spirits.
LARGE NATURE SPIRIT
Large nature spirits—those that inhabit large (or larger) beasts, mountains, boulders, ancient trees, and small islands—are the most powerful of their sort. They tend to be more haughty and irritable than their lesser brethren. Mortals often go to great lengths to avoid upsetting Large nature spirits, presenting them with frequent offerings and consulting shamans before undertaking an enterprise that might anger them. Large nature spirits command greater powers commensurate with their higher status.
Innate Spellcasting. The kami’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 8 + CHA modifier + Proficiency bonus). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
- At will: detect evil and good, detect magic, invisibility, plane shift (between the Spirit World and the Material Plane only), polymorph (self only).
- 1/day: A Large nature spirit can also use any wu jen spell associated with the element most closely related to the nature spirit’s essence. Thus, a mountain spirit can use any earth spell, while an island spirit can use any water spell. A Large nature spirit can use any given spell once per day.
- 5/day: shapechange
- Damage Resistances. cold, fire, thunder, acid, poison lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Elemental Immunity. Large nature spirits are immune to magical attacks that rely on their own elemental nature. Each nature spirit is immune to one energy type appropriate to its environment: fire, cold, thunder, acid, poison or lightning. For instance, volcano spirits are immune to fire.
Design Note: I never really used these
Here is a list of kami I use in my campaign/setting.