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Basic Information

Have you ever gone directly from a brightly-lit area to a dark room and seen weird little black spots on the periphery of your vision that seem to dart away when you try to follow them? You probably thought it was an optical illusion. Or maybe it was the Susuwatari.

Alternatively translated as "soot sprites" or "dust bunnies" (literally "traveling soots") the Susuwatari are shy little creatures appearing in a couple of the films of Hayao Miyazaki. They are small, round creatures, little larger than a golf ball that look like blobs of soot with eyes. They can be a bit creepy when you first encounter them, but they are actually shy and timid. If you crush one, it turns to soot.

They prefer living in abandoned buildings and can be driven away by loud laughter.


2. Movie: My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
3. Movie: Spirited Away (2001)

Game and Story Use

  • They're mostly good for establishing a creepy atmosphere. Describe what the players see when they encounter the Susuwatari; don't tell them what the creatures are.
  • The Susuwatari won't harm the PCs, or even interact with them; but the mysterious glimpses the PCs get of them should keep them guessing.
  • Miyazaki's soot sprites are cute and harmless, but in a darker game they could be more sinister.
    • Perhaps they feed on nightmares and children's fear of the dark; perhaps they are servitors for a more powerful evil being.
    • And don't forget, soot is flammable. (That's why chimney sweeps exist. You have to periodically clean your chimney to avoid burning your house down.) So if the susuwatari-like critters in your game are literally soot bunnies, they might have some sort of fire attack, or bust into flame when they die. Obviously that's a big diversion from the cute little spots in the movies, but that might be fun way to up-end player expectations.
  • If you're running a traditional Gygaxian Dungeon Crawl, don't give the players XP for killing Susuwatari. It's just not worth it. Besides, they're so cute!
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