Tengu are humanoid creatures with many avian features, including wings and beaks. Now, this is a problem when it comes to disguises.

Disguises in this setting work by covering one's body in utility fog, which can accurately mimic just about any common material, as far as shape, texture and feel goes.

The problem with utility fogs is that they're additive, and so, you can't subtract from a collision mesh (the object), only add to it (disguises are also called container meshes for this reason). This is especially painful for a tengu who tries to make a human disguise, since if they're found out, well, humans don't tend to be kind towards tengu kind.

So, how could a tengu's human disguise hide away the beaks and wings without exposing any of the collision mesh while also minimizing the risk of failing when closely observed?

The setting is feudal japan, tengu are flesh and blood, not yokai, there's no other magic or anachronistic tech besides these utility fog "container meshes".

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    $\begingroup$ Close observation ruins most strategies. At a distance and with enough computing power, you can cheat depth perception enough to modify appearance in just about any way... people do that with chalk/paint on walls after all (at least with small numbers of observers). The best bet is for the utility fog to simply "paint" the human head in front of the tengu's own, and rely on adjusting its position so that it always occludes the tengu's own head. This limits it to a single observer though, and risks detection for anything other than the briefest contact. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Mar 11, 2020 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, metamaterial-type cloaking? That would be a blatant violation of "can't subtract from a collision mesh" though. Honestly, if their beaks stick out a bunch, I think you're going to have trouble... (Disguise it as a giant nose? But even that might be "obvious".) $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Mar 11, 2020 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't doubt a very dedicated Ninja would be willing to mutilate themselves to blend in and accomplish their mission. How dedicated are your Tengu? $\endgroup$
    – Muuski
    Mar 11, 2020 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Muuski One is a jumpy, but curious scholar, the other needs her beak intact as well, so no self-harm, please. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2020 at 23:27

2 Answers 2



Disguising features as clothes could work, until humans find out and every person with heavy clothing and masks/really big noses became immediatly suspicious. The only way to overcome this is mutilating the beak and wings. Of course not many tengu would do this, only those dedicated to espionage.


Disguise the beak and wings as clothing.

Simply put, if these disguises are only additive, then just use them to layer clothing over the top of your inhuman features. Your beak becomes a mask with a really long nose. Your wings become a cloak or really baggy sleeves.

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    $\begingroup$ In tradition another common depiction of tengu have human faces with very long noses instead of beaks. $\endgroup$
    – jaskij
    Mar 12, 2020 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ While this is the obvious answer, if the average person knows about Tengu, anyone disguised in this manner is going to be nearly as recognizable as with no disguise. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Mar 12, 2020 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ "Man, I wonder why all these plague doctors are in town..." $\endgroup$
    – Harabeck
    Mar 12, 2020 at 21:22

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