Field Guide to Yokai (2022)

The first Yokai Hunters Society zine contains a handful of famous yokai from Japanese folklore. Their details consist of a (cool) illustration, a one paragraph description and a brief listing of abilities. That’s fine for well-known creatures like Kappa, but for a game as narrowly focused on monster hunting as this, players are going to need a lot more monsters, with a lot more detail. Thus, Field Guide to Yokai (2022).

I love a monster book, and this one is no exception. Yokai are fascinating because there is very little about them that is set in stone. There are broad categories, sure, and general behaviors, but you can never be sure what you’re going to get with a specific yokai. They’re inherently individual, and that is sort of unique and delightful for an RPG to embrace.

By Western fantasy standards, they’re also damn strange. A personal favorite, the tsukumogami, illustrates this nicely — if an object of daily use makes it to 100 years of age, it can sometimes awaken as a yokai. Years of dungeon crawls have done nothing to prepare players for sentient paper umbrellas that enjoy licking people. But you can immediately see the scenario potential of a house full of well-loved tools suddenly coming to life and accidentally troubling a neighborhood (I am getting extreme Real Ghostbusters cartoon vibes, just talking about it). There’s also more menacing creatures, like the skull made of skulls or the human-eating ghosts, the latter is definitely tuned for more traditional monster-hunting scenarios. Then there’s stuff like the Futakuchi Onna, which looks like a typical woman, but has an extra mouth in the back of its head. Mostly it just eats a lot, but that doesn’t stop those strong Junji Ito vibes from creeping me out.

Regardless, an essential Yokai Hunters Society supplement and one of general utility for those not playing that game. If nothing else, Chema Gonzalez’ art is pure delight.

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