The stars of Pash-Mara
Haunted by an ancient crime that robbed them of their
wings, the kenku wander the world as vagabonds and
burglars who live at the edge of human society. Kenku
suffer from a sinister reputation that is not wholly unearned,
but they can prove to be valuable allies.
AN ANCIENT CURSE
· The kenku once served a mysterious, powerful entity on
another plane of existence. Some believe they were minions
of Grazz’t, while others say that they were scouts
and explorers for the Wind Dukes of Aaqa. Whatever
the truth, according to legend, the kenku betrayed their
master. Unable to resist the lure of a beautiful sparkling
treasure, the kenku plotted to steal the item and escape
to the Material Plane.
Unfortunately for the kenku, their master discovered
their plan before they could enact it. Enraged, the entity
imposed three dreadful curses upon them. First,
the kenku’s beloved wings withered and fell away from
their bodies, leaving them bound to the earth. Second,
because their ingenuity and skill had turned toward
scheming against their patron, the spark of creativity
was torn from their souls. Finally, to ensure that the
kenku could never divulge any secrets, their master took
away their voices. Once the entity was satisfied that they
had been sufficiently punished, the kenku were set loose
on the Material Plane.
Since then, the kenku have wandered the world.
They settle in places that accept them, usually bleak
cities that have fallen on hard times and are overrun
DREAMS OF FLIGHT
Above all else, kenku wish to regain their ability to fly.
Every kenku is born with a desire to take to the air, and
those who learn spellcasting do so in hope of mastering
spells that will allow them to fly. Rumors of magic items
such as flying carpets, brooms capable of flight, and
similar objects provoke a great desire for the kenku to
acquire the items for themselves.
Despite their lack of wings, kenku love dwelling in
towers and other tall structures. They seek out ruins
that reach to the sky, though they lack the motivation
and creativity to make repairs or fortify such places.
Even so, their light weight and size allow them to dwell
in rickety structures that would collapse beneath a human
or an ore.
Some thieves’ guilds use kenku as lookouts and messengers.
The kenku dwell in the tallest buildings and
towers the guild controls, allowing them to lurk in the
highest levels and to keep watch on the city below.
As, a r~sult of their lack of creativity, kenku function
comfortably as minions of a powerful master. Flock
leaders enforce discipline and minimize conflicts,
but they fail at effective planning or crafting longterm
Although unable to speak in,their own voices, kenku
can perfectly mimic any sound they hear, from a halfling’s
voice to the noise of rocks clattering down a hillside.
However, kenku cannot create new sounds and
can communicate only by using sounds they have heard.
Most kenku use a combination of overheard phrases
and sound effects to convey their ideas and thoughts.
By the same token, kenku have no ability to invent new
ideas or create new things. Kenku can copy existing
items with exceptional skill, allowing them to become
excellent artisans and scribes. They can copy books,
make replicas of objects, and otherwise thrive in situations
where they can produce large numbers of identical
items. Few kenku find this work satisfying, since their
quest for the freedom of flight makes them ill-suited to
settle into a routine.
Kenku gather in groups called flocks. A flock is led by
the oldest and most experienced kenku with the widest
store of knowledge to draw on, often called Master.
Although kenku can’t create new things, they have a
talent for learning and memorizing details. Thus, ambitious
kenku can excel as superb spies and scouts. A
kenku who learns of clever schemes and plans devised
by other creatures can put them to use. The kenku lack
the talent to improvise or alter a plan, but a wise Master
sets multiple plans in motion at once, confident that underlings
can follow orders to the letter.
For this reason, many kenku make an easy living
serving as messengers, spies, and lookouts for thieves’
guilds, bandits, and other criminal cartels. A network of
kenku can relay a bird call or similar noise across the
city, alerting their allies to the approach of a guard patrol
or signaling a prime opportunity for a robbery.
Since kenku can precisely reproduce any sound, the
messages they carry rarely suffer degradation or shifts
in meaning. Human messengers might switch words
or phrases and garble a message inadvertently, but the
kenku produce perfect copies of whatever they hear.
Kenku adventurers are usually the survivors of a flock
that has sustained heavy losses, or a rare kenku who
has grown weary of a life of crime. These kenku are
more ambitious and daring than their fellows. Others
strike out on their own in search of the secrets of flight,
to master magic, or to uncover the secret of their curse
and find a method to break it.
Kenku adventurers, despite their relative independence,
still have a tendency to seek out a companion to
emulate and follow. A kenku loves to mimic the voice
and words of its chosen companion.
Given that kenku can duplicate any sound, their names
are drawn from a staggering variety of noises and
phrases. Kenku names tend to break down into three
categories that make no distinction between male and
Kenku thugs, warriors, and toughs adopt noises made
by weapons, such as the clang of a mace against armor
or the sound made by a breaking bone. Non-kenku
refer to the kenku by describing this noise. Examples
of this type of name include Smasher, Clanger, Slicer,
Kenku thieves, con artists, and burglars adopt animal
noises, typically those common in urban settings. In this
manner, kenku can call out to each other while those
who overhear them mistake them for common animals.
Non-kenku use names that refer to the sound made or
the animal a kenku mimics, such as Rat Scratch, Whistler,
Mouser, and Growler.
Some kenku turn their back on crime to pursue legitimate
trades. These kenku adopt noises made as part of
their craft. A sailor duplicates the sound of a fluttering
sail, while a smith mimics the clanging of a hammer
on metal. Non-kenku describe these folk by their trade
sounds, such as Sail Snap, Hammerer, and Cutter.
Your kenku character has the following racial traits.
Ability Scare 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. Kenku are chaotic creatures, rarely making
enduring commitments, and they care mostly for
preserving their own hides. They are generally chaotic
neutral in outlook.
Size. Kenku are around 5 feet tall and weigh between
90 and 120 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Expert Forgery. You can duplicate other creatures’
handwriting and craftwork. You have advantage on all
checks made to produce forgeries or duplicates of existing
Kenku Training. You are proficient in your choice
of two of the following skills: Acrobatics, Deception,
Stealth, and Sleight of Hand.
Mimicry. You can mimic sounds you have heard,
including voices. A creature that hears the sounds you
make can tell they are imitations with a successful Wisdom
(Insight) check opposed by your Charisma (Deception)
Languages. You can read and write Common and Auran,
but you can speak only by using your Mimicry trait.
ROLEPLAYING A KENKU
If you’re playing a kenku, constant attempts to mimic
noises can come across as confusing or irritating rather
than entertaining. You can just as easily describe the
sounds your character makes and what they mean. Be
clear about your character’s intentions unless you’re deliberately
aiming for inscrutable or mysterious.
You might say, “Snapper makes the noise of a hammer
slowly and rhythmically tapping a stone to show how
bored he is. He plays with his dagger and studies the
Lords’ Alliance agent sitting at the bar.” Creating a vocabulary
of noises for the other players to decode might
sound like fun, but it can prove distracting and could slow
down the game.