Kenku are feathered humanoids that wander the world as vagabonds, driven by greed. They can perfectly imitate an
sound they hear.
Kenku wear ill-fitting cloaks, robes, and rags. These garments cover the soft, sleek feathers of their bodies, shrouding their bare arms and legs. They tread lightly when they walk, on talons made for grasping the branches of trees and seizing prey from the lofty skies. Soft as the wind they move, so as not to draw attention to their shameful forms.
Once, the kenku held the wind in their wings, embracing the gusty sky and singing the sweet language of birdsong. Serving a master who’s identity is now lost to their memory, the kenku coveting the glittering baubles of his household, and longed to speak so that they could cajole and swindle others out of such treasures. Stealing the secret of speech from a volume in their master’s library, they disguised themselves in rags to beg for pretty things. When their master learned of their greed, he stripped away their wings as punishment, forcing them to beg forever.
Speech in Pantomime
Kenku can mimic the sound of anything they hear. A kenku asking for money might make the sound of coins clinking together, and a kenku referring to a busy marketplace and reproduce the cacophony of hawking vendors, barking dogs, bleating sheep, and the cries of street urchins. When mimicking voices, they can only repeat words and phrases they have heard, not create new sentences. To converse with a kenku is to witness a performance of imitated sounds and almost nonsensical verse.
Kenku speak to one another in much the same way. Because they are adept in interpreting one another’s glances and gestures, the sounds they make to communicate complex ideas or emotions can be succinct. Groups of kenku also develop secret codes. For example, a cat’s meow might be the secret code for “Prepare to attack!” or “Flee for your lives!”
Their talent for mimicry extends to handwriting, and criminal organizations often employ kenku to forge documents. When a kenku commits a crime, it might forge evidence to implicate another creature.
All kenku pine for the ability to fly, and thus the punishments they mete out to one another often involve false wings, such as heavy wings of wood borne as a mark of shame. As a final, tragic reminder of the wings they once had, kenku carry out executions by hurling their condemned from tall buildings or cliffs.
Members of Society
A lot of kenku find their way into criminal organizations. Some spend their life on thievery or murder by luring unsuspecting people into alleys and then ambushing them.
However they sometimes are employed for their excellent mimicry abilities. Some people or instances hire kenku to relay messages. As kenku can perfectly mimic something someone said they can deliver a message in the voice of their employers.
Some kenku work as entertainers. They tend to work as storytellers telling popular stories with carefully selected sounds. This way the people try to guess what the kenku is trying to say. They also play guessing games where they use sounds to describe famous or well known things and the listeners try to figure out the answers.
Some of the kenku aren’t satisfied with their wingless bodies and yearn for the sky. These kenku are people who spend their lives in the pursuit of flight. Some of the kenku turn to magic while others become tinkerers doing their best on mechanical wings or ways of air transport.
As kenku can’t speak they use names or sounds which they have once heard. A kenku is given a name at birth by its parents which they usually change when they are older. A chosen name is often chosen by the kenku itself. They are also given a name by family, friends, or clan mates. This second name is often a description of their interests, personality or their looks. This way a greedy kenku which enjoys the sound of music might have the chosen name which is a bit of flute music and given name which is the clinking of coins.
This forms a problem with other creatures. Some people try to mimic the name of the kenku, however as most non kenku fail to properly pronounce their names they use, they describe the name of the kenku instead of imitating it. This way they might be called names such as: Murmur, Coins, Shatter, Splash or Rattle.
As a Kenku you get a couple of traits that you share with the others of your kind.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Charisma score increases by 1.
Age. Kenku live a relatively short lifespan, gaining maturity at the age of 10 and living only 70 years.
Alignment. Most Kenku tend to live for themselves. The banishment of their ancestors leaves them bitter giving them a chaotic neutral tendency.
Size. Kenku usually stand a mere 5 feet tall and weigh between 70 and 100 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet.
Ambusher. Once per short rest you can take advantage on an attack on a creature you have surprised.
Mimicry. You can mimic any sounds you have heard, including voices. A creature that hears the sounds can tell they are imitations with a successful Wisdom (Insight) check contested by a DC of 8 + your Charisma (Deception) modifier.
Talons. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes, which deal 1d4 slashing damage on a hit.
Born Tricksters. You have proficiency in the Deception skill
Languages. You speak, read, and write Auran and Common. Auran is one of the four dialects of Primordial. Primordial itself is a guttural language, filled with harsh syllables and hard consonants.