Shadowed Autumn Leaves
Kaomasen no Oni
“Have you ever thought you saw a monster in your peripheral vision, but when you turned to see, it was a normal man? I can assure you it was no normal man…”
Appearance and Behavior
A man, unremarkable, with a plain face, passes you in the streets. His clothes, muted in color, are vaguely unfashionable, but not offensive to the eyes. He stands at an average height, at an average weight, and his hair is worn no differently than any other who passes you on this road. There is a faint smell of brimstone, a sulfurous miasma. Your nose scrunches up in mild disgust just as the oni’s blackened claws wrap around your neck. – This is the extent of most samurai’s interactions with the Kaomasen no Oni, the faceless skinwalker. An insidious infiltrator and assassin, this terrible creature hides in plain sight, nearly invisible in the sprawling crowds of the Rokugani cities it stalks. Though on first look it appears to be a normal and completely unremarkable man, upon closer inspection its true nature comes horrifyingly to light. Peering directly into its facsimile of a face is the only known way to pierce the demon’s powerful obfuscation. Its true form is that of a slender black humanoid with flesh covered in armored scale-like barbed quills which bristle and shift as it moves. Its gait is jerky and unnatural. Where its face should be there is nothing but a white amorphous blob, with a row of gnarled yellow shark-like teeth affixed to a massive jaw where its neck ought to be. In its presence there is an offal and sulfurous smell, which heightens as its excitement for a kill rises.
Known Abilities and Weaknesses
Possessing deadly sharp blackened claws nearly the length of a samurai’s wakizashi on the ends of its spindly arms, and with a strength much greater than its wispy frame would suggest, the Kaomasen no Oni is a fearsome opponent in melee combat. With a slimy armored carapace of shifting and bristling quills, the creature’s hide is hardly affected by blades and arrows. Though the true horror of its protean anatomy is its ability to swallow up and subsequently issue forth a facsimile of the weapons wielded against it from its own disgusting mass. Its impressive skill in stealth combined with its ability to blend into crowds allow it to follow and track its prey with impunity. To make matters worse, the faceless skinwalkers are maho-tsukai, especially delighting in cursing victims with foul magics from the complete obscurity within the crowd. The Kaomasen no Oni is not invulnerable, however. Its fearsome armored hide does not cover its faceless head, and as such it is vulnerable to attacks there. In addition, the Magistrates have been advised that Jade should make short work of the beast’s carapace. Another comfort is that such monsters are rare and seem to possess only a base animal intelligence.
Servants of the Master of Pain
Susumu Mogai, the Master of Pain, showed clear favor for this demon, and summoned many from the depths of Jigoku which served his dark ends in Broken Wave City. Though it has not been confirmed, Agasha Ryunobu has suggested that the skinwalkers called forth by Mogai himself are more powerful, and show increased cunning and intelligence than other Kaomasen. Now, with their master’s death at the hands of Bayushi Shinichiro, an unknown number of these empowered demons run free in the vast crowds of the City of Salt and Storms.