Friday 15 March 2013

K is for Kenku

"Check it out, Pa - I'm gonna be a god!" 

Kenku are naturally drawn towards thievery, forming underworld gangs within the larger cities of the world.  These crafty birdmen earn their living through rigged card games, confidence scams and backstreet ambushes, sometimes using their talent for disguise to pose as humans (though their "telltale large noses" give them a mere 50% chance to pull it off). Infant Kenku quickly mature into criminals, with the younger members of the gang carrying out the most daring and audacious plots (such as "posing as a god"). Gold given by a Kenku crumbles into dust soon after it's received, and their advice is always misleading. A gibberish language of chirps and squawks masks their true method of communication: telepathy.

Kenku often feature in Far Eastern adventures, as they're loosely based on Japanese folk spirits called Karasu-Tengu: a race of mystical birdmen who supposedly taught martial arts to man. Interestingly, traditional Japanese depictions of Tengu have become less and less birdlike over the years, ultimately ending up as angry red-faced men with really long noses. I wonder if that's why the D&D Kenku disguises itself as a man?

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