For the unaware, kenku are awesome crow people except for when they are hawk people , and have an entire weird culture built, on the surface at any rate, around the idea that crows are clever thieves. Kenku are much more than that, and have some pretty great backstory that is modular and capable of fitting into many a campaign. While the imaging of the tengu has changed over the years, the earliest renditions depict them as creatures with both human and avian features. As befits the surrounding lore I will discuss later on, Buddhists considered the tengu to be demons and harbingers of war. This changed over time, as tengu came to be seen as protective, but still scary and dangerous, spirits of the wilds.
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Thread starter JacktheRabbit Start date Oct 8, First Prev 5 of 6 Go to page. MonsterEnvy Adventurer. GlassJaw said:. My initial thought was how the heck do you roleplay that? Can you never offer ideas when making a plan with the rest of the party?
That doesn't sound fun at all. Last edited: Jan 22, Gradine Final Form. I think the idea is that Kenku value synthesis as opposed to genesis. To carry along the "recipe" metaphor, I think that a Kenku might be down with fusion cuisine and might even "invent" a new fusion recipe by mashing two existing recipes together.
They are cultural thieves; taking the pieces that suit them and discarding what doesn't. What it doesn't mean is that they can't come up with plans.
Ravens and crows the inspiration for Kenku are notable problem-solvers among bird species. But a Kenku's solution is going to be a solution they've already learned about, especially if the problem in question is a familiar one. If the problem is novel, the Kenku might try to apply a solution for a similar problem.
A particularly clever Kenku might break apart the novel problem into familiar pieces, and then synthesize a solution together from the familiar solutions to those problems, but they're not going to come up with some new radical, out-of-box thinking.
Terran First Post. Having played a kenku recently and in previous editions, I'd say its relatively safe to ignore the part of the 5e racial backstory saying they have no creativity, which by extension includes the spellcasting issue mentioned here. Creativity is the ability to problem solve as a tool using sentient being.
Using a rope to traverse down a cliff is by definition creative, whereas a bird choosing to fly down the cliffside is not. Kenku are depicted wearing clothes, fighting with weapons, and expertly using crafting tools as well as possessing a human-level intellect via intelligent score. When the author speaks of their lack of creativity, the only logical conclusion is that he is talking about a complete disinterest in creating art for art's sake as long as there is a suitable set of art objects to steal or copy.
Otherwise, we'd be talking about some very scrawny bugbears. I agree, Kenku are cool race with the single worst mechanics in the game. A major disadvantage, and almost pure ribbon abilities for racial traits. I had a kenku in a Dungeons: The Dragoning game. No "can only speak in mimicry" rule, but definitely tended to do that.
Also, if she saw herself in a mirror, she'd stop and say "ooh, who's a pretty bird? I'm a pretty bird. I'ma have a cracker. The entire party was stunned when they found out that the ostentatiously stupid princess was an assassin.
Umbran Mod Squad Staff member. A kenku can read and write - they know language. All they need is for someone to read a dictionary aloud to them, and they have speech.
They may tend to lose inflection, as they are stringing together pre-recorded words. Have a magic teacher speak all the relevant words to them, and they can read a scroll or a spell's verbal component. I would argue that, in order to be able to read, they would need to know what the words they are reading sound like, so they ought to be able to say them out loud.
They're just copying what someone else has written, after all. It might come out sounding like one of those early text-to-speech computer programs, but I'd say they'd be able to do it, since it doesn't involve any original thought on their part. To be honest, it's that last part that I can't get my head around. How do you roleplay something that's incapable of thinking for itself?
And what exactly does that mean anyway? Terran said:. My dog has original thoughts. Crows have. Want to play a kenku? We can homebrew one based on the very well made 4e kenku. GlassJaw Adventurer. They definitely needed some fine-tuning before release. There is definitely some cool stuff in there though and a few tweaks here and there go a long way.
As someone who worked with deaf children, learning to read does not require you to know the sounds. Larrin Entropic Good. I really think the mistake is seeing mimicry as a limitation, rather than a cool flavor. Bad form. Kenku speak using phrases they've already heard. That shouldn't be a super hard limit because by the time someone is even just a teen, they've heard thousands of phrases.
Do you think they hatch from the egg and wear earmuff the first X years of life? Do you think kenku don't talk to each other? I bet they pass down phrases from mother to child, friend to friend, master to apprentice. An uncle has a great joke that he heard a halfling tell, and now everyone in the family can do it perfectly.
The mother kenku's ability to scold has been in the family a hundred years, supposedly from phrases originally heard form a green hag. Highly specific phrases may be a pinch, but you can be creative with that. Otherwise, they can same most anything because most anything has probably been said around them at one time or another.
How, not if, they say it, that's where mimicry should come in. Do you say "no" like an angry orc, or like a stern Nanny. Do you have a collection of 20 "no" voices that you use to fit the situation. Mimicry should be an opportunity, not a shackle. Johnny3D3D Adventurer. Eltab Hero. Balance aside, I don't have too many mechanical issues with races.
What would you change to fix or improve them? Beleriphon Totally Awesome Pirate Brain. Larrin said:. Last edited: Mar 7, Not even a bugbear! Bugbears are fully sapient beings!
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Get to Know the Kenku
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Kenku Lineage (4e Feat)
Possibly based on the Tengu of Japanese mythology, they have taken many different forms over different editions. The original Kenku, as said above, first appeared in the Fiend Folio. Here, they appear as humanoid hawks, having the basic frame of a human, but with bird-like feet, clawed hands, hawk wings sprouting from their backs, feathers covering their skin, and the heads of hawks. They are mischievous, magical beings who have many innate abilities that they develop as they age; alongside random spell-like abilities, they develop the ability to shape-change into a human form, turn invisible, and call lightning.