Kenku: Quit Copying Me!

If you hear a baby crying in an alley, walk the other way. That’s my advice to you.

Endroth Knag, City Watch Corporal in Waterdeep

Well. That’s a surprisingly creepy tone-setter.

Lore: Banished From the Sky

Wandering vagabonds, the kenku exist purely to sate their greed. They move as silently and softly as the wind and dress in unassuming rags to hide their true forms. Once, they flew upon the wind they emulate, serving a master whose name has been lost to time. Once their thieving ways were discover, their master cast them out, depriving them of the power of flight.

Unable to speak properly, a kenku mimics various sounds and sentences to get its point across. Conversing with one is a wild game of matching sounds and voices to meaning. Groups of kenku often develop secret codes between them, allowing for more coordinated efforts. They can even copy handwriting. Often times, they’ll frame another person for a crime they themselves committed.

Even now, the kenku yearn for the skies. To punish each other, they’ll often force false wooden or metal wings upon them. If they need to execute one of their own, they’ll fling them off of a cliff to give them one last taste of the wind.

There’s a surprising amount you can do with that! Maybe an NPC gets framed by a kenku and the party needs to solve a mystery to find the true culprit! Or maybe a kenku comes to them searching for a way to fly! You could put on your imagination cap and create an identity to their forgotten master and do something with that! These little dudes are packed with potential!

Design: Crow-Man

Ah, my favorite superhero. Crow-Man. Or is it Raven-Man?

Tiny bird, but still bigger than normal bird. Medium bird?

This is a fun design. You can tell immediately what this dude is about. He’s a tiny thief with a lust for gold and, likely, your blood. From the hood to its dark body, you can tell this is a creature that resides in dark alleyways.

It isn’t an especially creative design. At least in comparison to some of the other monsters higher up on the list. But it’s still a fun and effective look. It’s distinctly fantasy, and distinctly Dungeons and Dragons. I really like it.

Stats: A Basic Starter

Unsurprisingly, this isn’t a strong monster. Thing is basically made of paper, with how low its AC and HP are. And its two weapons, a shortsword and shortbow, don’t do much damage.

It isn’t totally generic, though. With Mimicry, it can copy any sound its heard. Only with an Insight check of 14 or higher can one determine it’s a ruse. Should they fail to do so, they’ll likely be lured into an ambush. Which puts the kenku at an extreme advantage; with Ambusher, it gains advantage on attack rolls thrown on the first turn, so long as the targets have been surprised. If your low-level players have bad luck, they could quickly be overwhelmed by a kenku ambush.

But that’s about it. Once you get past the ambush, they make for a straight-forward low-level fight. Hit them until they die. Then move on.

Placement

The kenku are surprisingly great monsters! Their lore is strong and full of potential and their designs, while simple, are fun and distinct. Their stats can make for a pretty good starting battle, or a surprise encounter for newbies, but that’s about it. Still, a strong monster overall.

With all that in mind, let’s put the Kenku on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Dragon Turtle
  4. Green Dragons
  5. Red Dragons
  6. Blue Dragons
  7. Black Dragons
  8. White Dragons
  9. Silver Dragons
  10. Couatl
  11. Behir
  12. Aboleth
  13. Sea Hag
  14. Bronze Dragons
  15. Brass Dragons
  16. Copper Dragons
  17. Gold Dragons
  18. Chuul
  19. Gibbering Mouther
  20. Intellect Devourer
  21. Chimera
  22. Death Knight
  23. Fomorian
  24. Bone Devil
  25. Dracolich
  26. Faerie Dragon
  27. Kenku <——————
  28. Hobgoblins
  29. Night Hag
  30. Green Hag
  31. Ankheg
  32. Hook Horror
  33. Storm Giant
  34. Hill Giant
  35. Empyrean
  36. Efreeti
  37. Grimlock
  38. Dao
  39. Cloud Giant
  40. Drow (all four of ’em)
  41. Shadow Demon
  42. Marilith
  43. Drider
  44. Aarackockra
  45. Azer
  46. Demilich
  47. Spectator
  48. Hydra
  49. Marid
  50. Harpy
  51. Werejackal
  52. Half-Dragon
  53. Cambion
  54. Fire Giant
  55. Animated Armor
  56. Banshee
  57. Basilisk
  58. Yochlol
  59. Bulette
  60. Cloaker
  61. Darkmantle
  62. Doppelganger
  63. Ghoul and Ghast
  64. Ettin
  65. Pit Fiend
  66. Erinyes
  67. Chain Devil
  68. Bearded Devil
  69. Barbed Devil
  70. Spined Devil
  71. Ice Devil
  72. Djinni
  73. Nalfeshnee
  74. Glabrezu
  75. Chasme
  76. Grell
  77. Barlgura
  78. Horned Devil
  79. Balor
  80. Shadow Dragon
  81. Vrock
  82. Dretch
  83. Gnolls (all three)
  84. Goristro
  85. Hezrou
  86. Manes
  87. Frost Giant
  88. Duergar
  89. Quasit
  90. Dryad
  91. Flumph
  92. Goblin
  93. Githyanki
  94. Planetar
  95. Imp
  96. Clay Golem
  97. Flameskull
  98. Displacer Beast
  99. Carrion Crawler
  100. Githzerai
  101. Grick
  102. Invisible Stalker
  103. Rug of Smothering
  104. Bugbear Chief
  105. Bugbear
  106. Flesh Golem
  107. Vine Blight
  108. Twig Blight
  109. Needle Blight
  110. Bullywug
  111. Hellhound
  112. Ettercap
  113. Gas Spore
  114. Cockatrice
  115. Lemure
  116. Homonculus
  117. Solar
  118. Deva
  119. Gorgon
  120. Hippogriff
  121. Griffon
  122. Cyclops
  123. Centaur
  124. Ghost
  125. Fire Elemental
  126. Water Elemental
  127. Air Elemental
  128. Stone Giant
  129. Deep Gnome
  130. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  131. Iron Golem
  132. Stone Golem
  133. Earth Elemental
  134. Galeb Duhr
  135. Helmed Horror
  136. Flying Sword
  137. Crawling Claw
  138. Violet Fungus
  139. Shrieker
  140. Gargoyle
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