Menu Close

Shan Sao

Continuing to complete 1e AD&D Oriental Adventures conversion of monsters.  Mostly for completeness sake.


Small fey (yokai), chaotic neutral
Armor Class 14 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points 31 (7d6 + 7)
Speed 20 ft.
STR      DEX     CON     INT      WIS     CHA
15 (+2) 10 (+0) 12 (+1) 11 (+0) 10 (+0) 8 (-1)
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +6, Survival +4
Condition Immunities Frightened
Senses Darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Common, Sylvan
Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Innate Spellcasting. The shan sao’s spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 10). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

  • 3/day polymorph (bird only)
  • 1/day: conjure animals (tigers only, duration 1 day)

Friend of the Animal Court. The shan sao can communicate with beasts  as if they shared a language. When speaking to felines they have advantage on Charisma (Diplomacy) skill checks.


Multiattack. The shan sao makes two attacks with its uchi-ne.

Uchi-ne (Javelin). Melee Weapon or Ranged Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30/120 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.

Cause Disease (1/Day). The shan sao points at a target within 10 feet. The creature must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or contract a random disease.


The shan sao are a race of tiny humanoids who live in woodland hills. Fearless and

AD&D 2e, (c) TSR

private, they have little contact with the outside world. 

Shan sao stand about 1 foot tall, and resemble humans with squat, plump bodies. Their skin is deep orange or dark brown. Unruly mops of brown or blonde hair tumble about their shoulders. They have broad noses, slightly pointed ears, and oversized feline eyes, which are green, blue, or golden. Males and females alike wear long cotton smocks, which are gathered at the waist with rope. Their clothes are clean but poorly made; the smocks often hang over their feet and drag along the ground.

Shan sao speak their own tongue (Sylvan), the trade language (Common), and that of the animal court, including the language of tigers.


Though small, shan sao are accomplished fighters, quick to take offense and equally quick to return it. They are apt to pursue fleeing enemies rather than permit their escape. Shan sao have no tolerance for trespassers or disturbances of any kind; loud noises especially annoy them, particularly the sound of bursting bamboo.

An average shan sao force is armed as follows: short swords (60%), darts (25%), and uchi-ne (15%).

Three times per day, shan sao can polymorph into the shape of a bird.  They usually assume the forms of crows, ravens, or other common birds native to the immediate area. Once per day, they can summon tigers. The animals fight for the shan sao and can understand the feys desires and needs. The tigers remain with the shan sao for up to a full day, although they will leave earlier if no longer needed.

A few shan sao (5%) may cast the spells of a wu jen. These tribal shamans have a spell casting level is 3rd. Typical spells in this fey’s arsenal include fiery eyes, hail of stone, magic missile, ventriloquism, read thoughts, fog cloud, pyrotechnics, stinking cloud, hold person, and suggestion.

All shan sao are immune to all types of fear.


Shan sao dwell in the hearts of thick bamboo groves. They live in simple, thatched houses, centered around a communal cooking pot. A settlement comprises 3-30 (3d10) males, and half as many females. The number of children equals 25% of the total number of adults. Some settlements (10%) are guarded by 1-2 tigers, which share the humanoids’ lair.

A shan sao force encountered away from its settlement is always male. Responsibilities of hunting and defense fall mainly on the males, but females will fight to the death to defend their homes. Females have 1 Hit Die, but otherwise their abilities equal those of males.

One adult male serves as king, with absolute authority over his settlement. Once a year, the shan sao summon their tiger allies and discuss the king’s accomplishments during the previous twelve months. If the tigers agree that the king has performed adequately, the king will continue his leadership for another year. If the tigers feel the king’s performance has been less than satisfactory, they will nominate a new member of the tribe to take his place. Shan sao always accept the tigers’ recommendations. If the tigers nominate a new king, the old king graciously steps down.


Shan sao can eat just about any type of fruit, vegetable, and grain, but they prefer the special stew that brews continually in their communal cooking pot. The stew includes a variety of herbs, spices, fruits, and meats. It has a distinctive aroma, combining the strong odors of onions, cherries, and cinnamon. In spite of its unusual smell, it is delicious and nourishing. One ladle of the stew will fortify a human for a full day. Wealthy gourmets with a taste for exotic foods have been known to pay as much as 1,000 ch’ien for a flask of shan sao stew.


Banner Art: “Cologne” from Ranma Anime

Posted in 5e, Dungeons & Dragons, Monstrous Compendium, Oriental Adventures

Leave a Reply