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Tanuki are small magical creatures. They share the appearance of their Earth counterparts, with red to brown fur and dark-brown or black rings around their face and body that give them a resemblance to raccoons. They can grow to be anywhere from 18-28 inches long and are typically only a foot tall, though there have been reports of some up to two feet. They are found in the plains, forests, and mountains of Alluum, as they are hardy creatures and have adapted to multiple habitats. The notable difference between the various adaptations is the thickness and softness of their fur. Mountain varieties have the thickest and coarsest furs. Plains tanuki have the silkiest but thinnest fur, while forest tanuki have denser coats but deeper coloring. All types have been hunted for their fur, but with studies revealing they have nearly humanoid intelligence, the practice of hunting them is being questioned.

Their intelligence is much more complex than humanoids originally assumed. They have the ability to understand entire humanoid languages and while they cannot respond, their system of growls, whines, and hisses changes depending on the language of the humanoids they are confronting. Amongst themselves, they use scent signals to convey overall mood or series of growls and clicks. Tanuki are fairly solitary animals, though they are monogamous and raise their offspring together. The offspring will stay with their parents for a year at most, before running off to create partnerships of their own. Tanuki reach maturity between 8-12 months. Tanuki can live up to 300 years if they hibernate annually and have a strong connection with their nature magic.

Magic

Tanuki possess varying levels of magic. All subtypes have a grasp of nature magic. On the most basic level, their presence encourages new seedlings to flourish. They can learn more, but they are usually passive animals that don’t have much use for complicated techniques. At most, some will learn to manipulate plants to create an ideal nest for their family.

Some also have a handle on rudimentary to advanced healing magic and have been known to “bless” lost humanoids in the woods by healing their wounds. Many small villages take them as good omens, though others that have been exposed to the more powerful subtype might be more wary.

The rarest magical subtype of tanuki have a form of powerful illusion magic. This is only present in a specific bloodline of forest tanuki, known for their trickery. The magic allows for the animal to have up to 8 different forms, though it takes a lot of work and practice to perfect each form. Powerful tanuki have been rumored to have multiple humanoid forms in which they can speak as well. While tanuki can learn to do these things, they rarely do, and their flaw is that they return to their animal state when they sleep. Most tanuki mind their own business in the forests though some live to create local legends and mess with humanoids who underestimate their intelligence.