Kenku (5e Race Variant)

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If you ever hear a crying baby in Waterdeep, take my advice. Walk the other way.

A race of crow-like, wingless Avians that communicate through their ability to flawlessly imitate any sound they hear. These flightless people often form thieves guilds, referred to as "flocks" in major cities and quite often work as burglars, pickpockets, and assassins.

Physical Description[edit]

About 5'0 to 5'6, and about 90-110 pounds, these crow-like people have avian heads with a large beak and glossy black feathers, which cover the body except for their clawed hands and the skin starting about halfway up its legs. The skin on these areas can range from dark grey to bright yellow.


Before their fall from grace, the kenku served a master whose name has been lost to memory. They soared on wings he had given them, performing services silently in his name. However, they coveted his speech and stole the secret of language from his library, and took this newfound ability to beg and cajole for money. When their master found out they knew his wrath and he stripped them of their wings and cast them down so that they would forever beg in penance for their greed. With their short lifespan and mischievous lifestyles, kenku would often practice polygamy to not only expand their flocks, but also keep their species in wide spread expansion. Each male took about one to two wives, while females would dedicate themselves to one or at most (though very rarely,) two men.


Kenku were first driven to their current state of existence by greed and thievery, and such traits remain in their culture to this day. The Kenku are spread far and wide, operating in small flocks, each one independent from the rest, often acting as thieves, bandits, forgers and other such unlawful practitioners. Nevertheless, each flock has its own laws and codes of conduct. Betrayal of these laws often involve the bearing of large, useless, wooden wings, a symbol of shame of the Kenku's lost grace, and a crime so heinous that calls for execution will end with the offender tossed from a tall cliff, And that makes them lawful or chaotic

Kenku Names[edit]

As kenku have no actual language of their own, their names are composed of a staggering variety of words and sounds they pick up with their mimicry. Names are gender-nonspecific and can encompass anything from the sounds of shouting in the market, to dogs barking, to the sound of a blacksmith's hammer hitting iron, to specific words or phrases. Often kenku take up a name based off of their lifestyle, i.e., a kenku fighter might refer to themselves as the sound of swords clashing or the sound of grunting on impact, thieves and pickpockets in urban areas might be called after the sound of a cat hissing, a baby's cry the clink of coins. Non-kenku refer to them as a summary of the sound, such as Whistler, Sail Snap, Rat Scratch, Hammerer, Basher or Fender.

Kenku Traits[edit]

Kenku have a predilection for thievery, and are often quite dextrous. Their keen eyes are good at spotting potential victims, and their ability to bluff others with their mimicked voices is well-known.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Age. Kenku have shorter lifespans than humans. They reach maturity at about 12 years old and can live to 60.
Alignment. Largely concerned with their own survival and continuing to exist, many kenku are neutral. However, as a race largely consisting of criminals and thieves, many tend to a Chaotic alignment, regardless of individual methods.
Size. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Ambusher. You have advantage on attack rolls against any creature you have surprised.
Mimicry. You can mimic any sounds you have heard, including voices. This talent extends to handwriting. A creature that hears your sounds can tell they are imitations with a successful Wisdom (Insight) check, and a creature that sees your forgery can tell it is a forgery with a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check. The DCs of these checks are each equal to 8 + your Charisma modifier + your proficiency bonus.
Voice of Deceit. You have proficiency in the Deception skill.
Languages. You understand Common and Auran, but can only speak through your Mimicry trait.

Table: Kenku Random Height and Weight
Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight Weight Modifier
5′0″ + (1d6") 90 lb. + (1d20) lb.

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