Bakemono is a Japanese word that most literally means "a thing which changes", but in context is usually used as something closer to "little monster". The term is traditionally used to distinguish a kind of yokai, usually in the form of hengeyokai or tsukumogami, but in most /tg/ related media, the term is translated as "imp" or, more frequently, "goblin". Arguably the first appearance of bakemono in /tg/ goes all the way back to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, when they were one of the monsters introduced in the original Oriental Adventures setting, but the term has been used in this sense for years.
Kara-turan bakemono were introduced in the original Oriental Adventures splatbook for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, and were then upgraded to 2nd edition stats in the Kara-tur Monstrous Compendium Appendix. Characterized literally as "Oriental Goblins", bakemono are surface-dwellers with no inherent aversion to sunlight, unlike goblins of their era. It's possible that the race might have a touch of fey ancestry, because they are incredibly mutable; no two bakemono are quite the same, even in size and overall shape. Their skin color varies from brilliant orange to fiery red to deep blue, while their eyes are typically black, yellow, green, or gray. Physical features may include a combination of small stunted wings, stumpy tails, hooves, fur, scales, huge noses, feathers, floppy ears, and hunched bodies. Clothing is similarly varied, ranging from tattered robes to shabby leather armor to filthy, cotton peasant dress, and the need to "adjust" whatever they wear to fit their malformed bodies tends to make it even worse than that. No such explanation exists as to why they are such malignant, lazy, nasty little creatures; bakemono are characterized as being even stupider than western goblins, and goblins in that era weren't exactly brain surgeons.
A typical band of bakemono consists of 20-80 (1d4 ×20) adult males, a number of adult females equal to 60% of the number of males, and a number of children equal to the total number of adults. Such bands are usually thralls to a more powerful master, such as an oni, and those bands without such a master tend to be even more pathetic and dysfunctional than usual. For bakemono, conflict is a way of life. They drift from band to band as the mood strikes them, and accusations of disloyalty and treason often trigger violent battles. When not fighting amongst themselves, bakemono execute loosely-organized raids against human or humanoid settlements, or engage in banditry, preying on travelers and explorers. Neither females nor children fight in battles.
Bakemono steal virtually all their possessions, including weapons, food, and clothing. Except for a few inconsequential trinkets, all treasure items are divided among the lieutenants. Occasionally, bakemono acquire slaves as a result of their raids. There is a 20% chance that a bakemono band has slaves of various races. The slaves usually number 10-40% of the size of the band.
Since bakemono are poor miners, they are not inclined to make their lairs underground as western goblins do. Instead, bakemono typically establish a lair in an abandoned temple or village, driving out the rightful inhabitants if necessary. Bakemono lairs always lie in disrepair, are strewn with debris, and wreak of filth. Many lairs appear deserted as a result. On occasion (40% of the time), bakemono build a wooden stockade around their lair. About 10% of the band mans the stockade at all times, but it is not unusual to encounter these guards asleep, intoxicated, or otherwise neglecting their duties.
Bakemono eat all types of wild game. Although they enjoy cooked meat, such preparation usually requires more effort than the bakemono are willing to spend. They also have a great weakness for strong drink and have been known to engage in brutal assaults on villages for the sole purpose of stealing sake. Aside from their oni masters, bakemono have little to do with other creatures, and openly despise all humanoid races.
In Legend of the Five Rings, bakemono are the smallest and weakest (although still dangerous) of the humanoid denizens of the Shadowlands. They are characterized as vicious, bestial and savage - little more than feral dogs in short but powerfully muscled goblin-like forms. These bakemono were also converted to Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, featuring in the 3.0 Oriental Adventures and the 3.5 Lot5R D20 campaign setting.
In the Mists of Akuma setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, bakemono are a unique race born of the dreaded mists from which the setting gives its name. When insect life is exposed to the spiritual contamination that these mists embody, each individual insect is utterly consumed by it. Insects of a similar nature are drawn together, until their collective lifeforce binds together and the whole swarm is transmogrified into a leering, diminutive, needle-toothed androgynous goblinoid with orange-red skin; a bakemono.
Bakemono are loathed in Soburin for being literal spawn of corruption (the whole "made of bugs" thing probably doesn't help either), although in fairness they are often as greedy and selfish as the stories say. Still, bakemono are not forced to be evil, and they can form alliances, even friendships, with members of other races - in fact, in many ways it's easier for them to get on with non-bakemono than it is to get on with each other. Thusly, whilst most of these goblinoids live in feral gangs or act as muscle for criminals or oni, some do become adventurers. There are no bakemono-exclusive settlements anywhere in Soburin; instead, the race goes where it can and survives as best it can, typically feeding metaphorically if not literally on the detritus of human civilization.
Their racial stats are as follows:
- Ability Score Increase: +2 Dexterity, +1 Constitution
- Size: Small
- Speed: 30 feet
- Darkvision 60 feet
- Bite: You can make a bite attack that deals 1d4 piercing damage.
- Hated: You suffer from the Hated condition - see below.
- Subrace: Choose the Konchu, Kumogatarui, or Mure subrace for your remaining special features.
Konchu are bakemono created from swarms of flies, cockroaches, or other carrion-eating insects. They are visually distinguished by their yellow eyes, alight with madness and deviousness.
- Ability Score Increase: +1 Wisdom.
- Carrion Sense: You can detect any creature that is at 0 HP or fewer within 30 feet as if you had blindsight. This does not apply to undead creatures.s
- Filth: You are immune to diseases.
- Poison Endurant: You have Resistance to Poison Damage.
Kumogatarui' are bakemono created from swarms of poisonous insects, spiders, or centipedes. They are much more slender and light-footed than other bakemonio, with green eyes and blood.
- Acrobatics: You have Advantage on Acrobatics checks and double the distance of any jumps you make.
- Poison Endurant: You have Resistance to Poison Damage.
- Toxin Resistant: You are immune to the Poisoned condition.
Mure are bakemono created from swarms of blood-sucking parasites, such as mites, fleas, ticks or leeches. Spindly-framed bodies and jet-black eyes distinguish them from their relatives.
- Swarm Form: As an action, you can transform your body into a swarm of insects. You have the statistics of an insect swarm, but your hit points do not change and you keep your proficiency bonus and mental ability scores. Reverting to your normal form is a bonus action. Any damage you sustain in your swarm form carries over to your normal form when you revert. If reduced to 0 hit points in your swarm form, you automatically revert to your natural form and go unconscious. You are able to use your swarm form for a number of rounds equal to your proficiency bonus plus Constitution modifier. Expended rounds are recharged after a long rest.
- You have disadvantage on Wisdom and Charisma checks against any humanoid that doesn’t also have the hated condition but you never have disadvantage on Charisma (Intimidation) or Haitoku (Intimidation) checks.