The hsien, or Shinma, are the "little gods" of the Middle Kingdom. Once servants of the more powerful gods in the Celestial hierarchy, they were responsible for answering the prayers of mortals in accordance with the wishes of their superiors.
In the Fifth Age, however, the hsien are cut off from much of their power, unable to enter the spirit realms, and must cloak themselves in the flesh of mortals (through a process similar to, but distinct from, the Changeling Way). They are thus superficially similar to the Kithain, some of whom believe the Shinma to be long-lost Asian kith, but the Shinma have no connection to the Dreaming and know little of the Kithain.
Factionalised and uncertain, some seek to answer mortal prayers without the aid of the bureaucracy of heaven, while others seek selfish dominion over humans or even to destroy the world, allying themselves with the Yama Kings as an act of revenge for their exile.
The five noble Kamuii are aligned with the five elements:
The five commoner Hirayanu each transform into a certain type of animal:
- Fu Hsi (snakes)
- Hanumen (monkeys)
- Heng Po (fish, particularly carp or catfish, or dolphins)
- Nyan (cats)
- Tanuki (badgers)