Below is a collection of Chinese mythical life forms that could provide varying degrees of danger to adventurers and general populace. The author wishes to re-emphasise that that this is basically a translation and compiling exercise, not a creative one.
Each life from entry below would contain the following sections:
Special Properties: traits from which interactions with PCs could arise (optional depending on whether the original source details them or not)
Lore: Mythical origins/how they are incorporated into Chinese culture (optional depending on whether the original source details them or not)
Translation Quirks (optional): alternative ways of translating/interpreting particular sections and other things I want to provide notes about including particular Chinese terms, other bits about Chinese culture and potential translation inaccuracies (feel free to skip this section if uninterested).
Blue Snake (aka Southern Snake)
A fairly normal snake (further details unknown)
Its head contains a strong poison but its tail can serve as a poison antidote.
It was said that people living south of ancient China* has managed to create a very strong poison known as the Blue Poison made from the head of the Blue Snake and other ingredients that is fatal minutes after ingestion. The only antidote for this poison is the tail of the Blue Snake.
*Possibly, the reference is to the area now known as the Yuan Nan province where reputedly a minority tribal society of people known as the Miao specialises in creating poisons and worms that allow them to control other people. Note that this is the author’s own speculation, the online Wiki did not specifically mention this point.
The characters for “blue” and “south” are quite similar in pronunciation, whether in Mandarin or Cantonese.
Pillage Ape (aka Jia Guo or Horse Deriative)
A monkey-like creature, about 170cm in height, that can walk upright like humans
Said to be able to distinguish human genders through their body smells and be capable of stealing beautiful women without people noticing. Since there are no Pillage Apes of the female gender, these stolen women became the spouses of these apes and were held hostage until they borne it a son at which point these women would be returned back to the woman’s family to raise up its off-spring. When born, these off-springs look no different from normal humans and remain so when grown up. If such off-springs are abandoned, then the woman will die so all ‘returned’ women raise their children with the Pillage Apes dutifully out of fear for their own lives. It was said that all such off-springs have taken the surname Yang*. For childless women who are never returned to human society, they become lost forever in ten years’ time. It is said that by then, they will have not only become similar in physical form to these Apes, but also fallen in mind and would no longer have the desire to go back to human society.
* This is not the Chinese character in the term Yin-Yang. This surname is the name of a deciduous (meaning leaves fall off at maturity) flowering plant genus- Populus that includes poplar, aspen and cottonwood etc.
Said to be dwelling in mountains of high altitude in the Sichuan area in China.
A more literal translation of its name is “Grab Ape” (the actual character describes an action of grabbing and holding onto to it). I discarded this literal translation because well, it just sounds too “translated”.
Shen (pronounced shun)
A massive clam although there is also an alternative version in which it is said to be a water Dragon
Its breath is said to be able to spawn mirages
The Chinese term for “mirage” can be literally translated as “The marketplace at sea and the structure spawned by the Shen”
A black bird with red eyes and feathers of a green purplish colour
Its feathers are reputedly poisonous due to its main diet of poisonous snakes
There are references in ancient texts of its feathers being made into a poison and given to other people or taken for suicide
A duck-sized bird with a bee-like shape
Its sting will kill other birds and beasts as well as withering plants.
A golden fox with a white face and nine tails (in its nine-tailed form), otherwise much pretty a normal fox
It was said that once a particular member of this species has developed nine tails, it becomes immortal and can spit out fire.
It was said the tail is where this species of foxes store spiritual energies and that once it has attained a certain amount of such energies, its tail will split in two and this process goes on until it has developed nine tails.
In addition, folklore and novels often detail Nine-tailed Foxes as being able to shape-shift into beautiful women who seduce human men in order to suck their life-forces to quicken their own evolutions.
Lung Ji (pronounced Lone Zi)
A fox-like creature with nine heads and nine tails and claws like those of a tiger’s.
Its call is that of a human baby’s and it eats humans.