My second son, Steven, just turned 8 yesterday. He loves playing RPGs (until his short attention span runs out), and while he is half Korean, he's not too interested in Asian historical or fantastic dramas/movies. There was a Jackie Chan/John Cusack movie on TV yesterday while we were visiting his grandma's house. I watched a bit of it. He had zero interest.
But when I talk about running a new D&D campaign with Asian fantasy tropes, he's down to play a ninja.
Of course, he wants to be a cat-man ninja.
Well, I'm not gonna make a Basic D&D version of the Tabaxi (all the rage in 5E), or make Rakasta a playable race (I think some BECMI supplement did that), but I did take a look at the 1E OA for the Hengeyokai stats, since one of their types is "cat."
And to make my son happy [as I did a few years ago by converting Dragonborn to Classic D&D for my older son], I took a stab at a TS&R Hengeyokai race.
Before I present what I came up with, a few thoughts.
First, I don't need 12 different animal types. Six, one for each of the six ability scores, is enough. Also, I've already got Vanara converted from 3E OA, so don't need Monkey Hengeyokai. I also had cut the Gumiho/Kitsune (fox fairy) race from my previous version, but sort of get that back with Fox Hengeyokai. And I added a Turtle, because TMNT.
Looking at the 1E OA race, they can be Shukenja (8th level), Kensai (6th level), Bushi (unlimited), Wu Jen (9th level). For TS&R, I think I've mentioned that I decided on 8/10/12 level caps for demi-humans to match the Halfling/Elf/Dwarf caps of BX & BECMI. I decided Kensai shouldn't be a standard class for Hengeyokai, and allow them to be Thieves instead.
So in my rules, they can be Fighter (12th), Mudang [shaman/cleric] (8th), Thief (8th), Wu Jen [magic-user] (10th). But each subtype gets either a higher level limit or access to a class the other types can't access. And a small set of abilities that match their animal type.
I removed the ability to turn fully human in appearance. I also changed the transformation ability to match my Druid shape-change. So instead of 1 transformation per level per day, they can transform for up to 1 hour per day, minimum 1 turn per transformation. Quite different from the 1E version, but avoids being a carp hengeyokai who transforms into fish for to navigate that ONE section of the dungeon...only to be stuck in fish form until the next day.
Sticking to the 1E rules, they can only speak to normal animals of their type or other hengeyokai when in animal form, and can't cast spells. In humanoid form, they can understand animals of their type but can't speak to them.
Anyway, without further ado (and remember this is just a first draft which will be tested for balance in play), here are my Hengeyokai for TS&R Jade:
Hengeyokai are shapeshifters that can take on an animal or humanoid form. In animal form, they are indistinguishable from a normal animal of their subtype. In humanoid form, they are human-sized, stand upright, but have animal heads and features. There are six subtypes, each with their own special abilities. Each subtype also gets an exception to the normal class restrictions for hengeyokai.
Minimum Scores: Dog: Str 9; Fox: Int 9; Turtle: Wis 9; Cat: Dex 9; Raccoon Dog: Con 9; Crane: Cha 9
Class: Fighter 12, Mudang 8, Thief 8, Wu Jen 10
Shapechange: The hengeyokai can change into the form of a normal animal for up to 1 hour (6 turns) each day. The hengeyokai keeps their hit points and ability scores, but other stats are as the animal. They may not cast spells while in animal form. They may speak only to animals of their type or other hengeyokai while in animal form, but understand all known languages. In humanoid form, they may not speak to animals of their type, but understand them.
Restrictions: Hengeyokai are shapechangers, and are vulnerable to any magic specific to shapechangers.
Languages: Common, Yokai, animal type
Dog: Track by scent 1-4/d6. May add +4 to hit on a melee attack 1/day. Sohei 8.
Dog Form: AC 11, Bite 1d6, Move 120(40)
Fox: Detect secret doors 1-2/d6, Detect traps 1-2/d6. Wu Jen 12.
Fox Form: AC 12, Bite 1d3, Move 150(50)
Turtle: +2 AC. Hold breath for up to 1 hour. Xia 8.
Turtle Form: AC 16, Bite 1, Move 60(20), Swim 90(30)
Cat: Balance 1-5/d6, Move silently 1-2/d6, Jump 10’ high or long. Yakuza 8.
Cat Form: AC 12, Claw 1d2, Move 120(40)
Raccoon Dog: +4 to save vs poison or petrification. Mudang 10.
Raccoon Dog Form: AC 11, Bite 1d6, Move 90(30)
Crane: Half damage from falling. +1 bonus to Reaction rolls. Kensei 8.
Crane Form: AC 13, Bite 1d2, Move 60(20), Fly 120(40)