"For everything you take, give back something of equal value. For every prank you play, help in equal measure. For each favor you receive, repay it as soon as you can. This is the Law of Equivalent Exchange, which forms the basics of Reciprocity. It will keep you safe in an existence where you have to take from others to live."
Sexes: Male, female.
Height: Ranges from 4'5" to 6'3".
Weight: Ranges from 88lbs. to 176lbs.
Hair: Various shades of yellow are most common, followed by orange, red and black. Grey and silver are rare, but exist. White is evidence of being high nobility; being either from the head or main branch families of the twelve Divine Houses.
Eyes: Kitsune have slitted, vulpine eyes with black pupils. Green, blue, brown and gold are the most common colors encountered. Red irises and white pupils are uncommon and considered attractive.
Ears: Two vulpine ears atop head, with some variation of size and shape. Often highly sensitive; in certain individuals, can be erogenous.
Lifespan: 80 to 150 years. Kitsune with more tails tend to live longer. Those particularly favored by Keros can have much longer lifespans.
Maturity: As per humans, 18 years.
Most kitsune look much like the average catfolk does, perhaps easily mistaken for one at a distance. Fox ears sit on top of their heads; these are capable of independent movement, and often continually twitch and swivel without any conscious input on their owner's part. Combine that with the fact that all of them have at least two fluffy fox tails, a number that only increases with age and ability up to a maximum of nine, and they tend to look not that much different from the races of beast-kin which inhabit Savarra.
Kitsune tend to be diminutive and feminine in appearance — at least, when compared to the races of the Marches. Males can easily tend towards being androgynous at best; their women tend to be slender, agile and finely formed rather than voluptuous, and while A-cup angst is uncommon, most don't go above a high B, with the exception of den mothers/matrons.
Kitsune tails are long — generally as much as their owner is tall — prehensile, and often stronger than their actual limbs. They're not just extremely sensitive, but feel intensely good to pet and fondle on the part of both giver and receiver due to how fluffy they are. Tail number is a shorthand for one's age, experience, power and favor with Keros; the more one has, the higher one's standing in kitsune society. For example, a newborn fox kit might be expected to have two tails, a young adult three or four; most don't reach the upper limits over the course of their lifetimes.
Most kitsune are similar to humans when it comes to breeding — sex followed by twelve months of gestation, which in turn is usually followed by a single kit. Like harpies, kitsune are dominant breeders, with their children being full-blooded kitsune instead of half-breeds — this allows for their race to propagate without excessive inbreeding despite comparatively small numbers. Kitsune kits are quite proportionally large in the womb compared to other races, especially considering the generally petite nature of their womenfolk. While not usually dangerous, the rare occurrence of multiples can be considerably draining on a mother's body; most will choose to sleep away the latter stages of their pregnancy and be doted on by their family.
Most kitsune consciously limit their breeding, careful not to outstrip their food supply. Most families often have two kits, and sometimes three is warranted in populous areas. Wanton breeding by commoners is often met with social disapproval.
Den mothers are an exception, though. These women are reputedly directly descended matrilineally from Keros' twelve concubines — of which one of their tasks was to bring forth the kitsune race as a people. These gifted individuals are practically kit factories, having gestation durations of one and a half months and a host of other idiosyncrasies suited to producing and raising kits. Obvious to say, den mothers are extremely rare, form the base of the twelve Divine Houses, and there have been no more than twelve at any one time in history. The capability to become one is passed on from mother to firstborn daughter; new bloodlines only arise through direct divine intervention. Being as they are in this day and age, though, they usually don't exercise their capabilities any more, or at least as egregiously as they could have otherwise even if they have bigger families than most.
According to their own tales, kitsune were fashioned by their patron deity Keros, in the early days when the gods first walked freely upon the world. Curious and partly inspired by the rather vigorous activities of Lumia at the time, he made for himself a wife and twelve concubines in his image; according to legend, it's from this first harem that the Imperial Family and the twelve Divine Houses claim descent. Other kitsune came later, the trickster god's hands moulding foxes of the field into human shapes, but only the first thirteen can claim to have been fashioned from nothing but sheer divine intent and a few strands of tail fluff.
Satisfied that his efforts were sufficient, Keros placed his creations on a fairly remote island chain, stepped back and watched them bumble and mess about trying to go about their lives. According to the deity himself, this has been an endless and fascinating source of entertainment ever since.
In that time, they've developed something approaching a civilization in accordance with their nature and environment. The tanuki, the other major culture inhabiting the same island chain, has integrated with the kitsune over generations to form a mutually beneficial social contract which has lasted for centuries, if not longer.
After the Godswar, a fresh surge of emigration from the Old Country occurred, spurred on by several happenstances:
Firstly, Kitsune who represented Keros' involvement in the wars and were sent abroad to support the larger forces belonging to Sorra and Lumia decided they liked these new lands and sought to settle down in unclaimed territory. The Cherry Blossom Throne was more than willing to lend imperial support and funding to the colonization efforts.
Secondly, the acquisition, duplication and refinement of Estelore's warpstone technology made crossing the great distances over the ocean much easier.
Thirdly, Kitsune who desired large families, but who were unable to do so without meeting social disapproval decided to head for the frontier where there was supposedly plenty of "food" to be had from numerous robust natives.
Finally, the islands of the kitsune homeland have no tin to make bronze with, and what iron there is to be had is of poor quality. With iron largely overlooked by the bronze-using natives and imperial edicts promising material wealth and precious social status to those who are able to discover and exploit the metal, many have gone abroad in search of valuable hematite.
The ultimate end result is that despite being thoroughly foreign in nature, there are several kitsune dens scattered about the Marches and other places around the world, each populated by a small number of expatriates.
Society & Culture
Most Marcher kitsune still adhere to the culture of their homeland in dress, mannerisms and architectural style, partly due to the isolation in which they live their lives. Some adaptations do occur to better suit life in foreign lands when they move, but by and large the vast majority of their style remains unchanged. In their own homeland, they live as much as other races do; it is, after all, a place where their natures are considered everyday and humdrum. Even in the Old Country, though, they are not alone or even the dominant group by way of numbers; kitsune share their society with tanuki and other races in the position of a dominant minority. In foreign lands, they are often considered more akin to monsters than civilized peoples by the native folk, and much energy and concern is directed towards getting sustenance without provoking the locals into driving them out.
Kitsune social organization is generally a theocracy centered around their patron deity Keros, with those involved with clerical magic given great reverence; claiming direct patrilineal descent from Keros himself. The God-Emperor is viewed as a living divinity in the Old Country, and all authority and power flows outwards from him. The oddity of the Imperial Family aside, kitsune are matriarchal in nature, in keeping with the twelve concubines Keros kept in addition to the wife he made for himself.
Due to their natures and the need to keep themselves in check, their culture is highly rigid and hierarchical, obsessive about etiquette in the only way that bloodthirsty vampires who need to live peacefully together can effect. Everything from how to address another of the same, lower or higher station, to which napkin to wipe away spilled water during the tea ceremony is designed to smooth over potential arguments that could turn ugly.
Most kitsune enjoy many hobbies and artistic pursuits originating in their homeland ranging from poetry, scroll painting, flower arrangement, music and martial arts. Instruction and education are often the function of the priests and priestesses of Keros when they are not otherwise occupied.
Kitsune who have moved away from the Old Country can feel awkward, especially later-generation immigrants. While isolationism does help, the culture of their parents can easily come into conflict with the expectations of the local culture of wherever they're living. It is the challenge of individuals to find ways to cope with their situation of being split between worlds.
Kitsune are the closest and foremost servants of the trickster god, possessing a metaphysical connection with him inasmuch as treants do with Velun, harpies do with Sorra, or valkyries with Lumia. As such, they possess a strange resistance to corruptive influences. Their deity's direct patronage also means that they can't hold extreme artificially-induced changes to their physiology, nor are there half-breeds of any sort. It's a strange state of affairs, but other such favored races like harpies do exhibit similar traits, so it's not without precedent.
The biggest quirk of being a kitsune is their vampiric nature; each kitsune must periodically drain life-force from other sapient beings. Regular feedings would be considered two weeks or less apart, a frugal lifestyle might be once a month, and bare survival might be a single feeding every six to eight weeks. While one can subsist on mundane food much like other races, going too long between feedings is exponentially detrimental to one's physical and mental health; gnawing hunger easily causes one to snap long before the body gives out, leading to potentially dangerous situations.
Copulation is the most common method of soliciting vitality from others — travelers will speak of being lost in the woods, coming across strangely attractive foxy men and women, and being dragged into extremely exhilarating orgies from which they emerge considerably drained. Keros' teachings on such are extremely strict: reciprocity — for what you take, always give back something of equal value, and sustainability — never drain someone to death, so they keep coming back for more. Those who wantonly and unabashedly flout this divine law are declared renegade and outlaws, and hunted down by their own kin without mercy. Sex is the simplest way to offer payment for vitality taken, so many resort to such; other kitsune may offer favors or goods in equivalent value to what they take from another.
It is possible, but undesirable at the least for one kitsune to drain another; doing so is much akin to eating another's vomit, being highly distasteful both physically and socially. Parents will feed their kits what they need to keep them going, but it is otherwise largely unheard of. One does not need to engage in sexual activity to feed; simple physical contact is enough, and the trained can even rip at another's energies from a distance.
It's said that kitsune can transform themselves into actual bestial foxes, but no one has yet to give a proven account of such. What is known is that they're inherently magical creatures, with a particularly affinity for fire magic. As opposed to the staves, wands and totems of the Frost Marches, Kitsune favor specially prepared scrolls for working magic, although the basics of magic do still require the presence of a focusing gem somewhere, which is traditionally set on the scroll rod(s).
Only one of the conditions below must be met to unlock the Kitsune Codex entry:
- The Champion may permanently transform into a kitsune at the cost of their soul by making a deal with Keros at the Kurokawa Kitsune Den