|Location||Prime Material Plane|
A cloaked humanoid clings to the shadows. It has birdlike talons instead of hands and feet, and beneath the cowl of its robe you can discern avian features -- beady black eyes, a black beak, and russet-brown feathers.
Kenku are bipedal, humanoid birds standing about five feet tall and weigh roughly 75 pounds. Despite their birdlike appearance, kenkus lack wings, instead having human like arms, with talons in place of feet. They have a vestigial tail of longer feathers although its scrawny arms and legs remain bare. They have small black or yellow beady eyes and black beaks, but have a relatively humanoid build. Though more agile than humans, they tend to be physically weaker as well. Kenkus are covered in russet-brown, brown, or white feathers with white markings. It is sometimes difficult for non-Kenku to tell individuals apart, but to a Kenku variations in color and marking pattern are as distinct as eye and hair color to other races. Very rarely, a Kenku will be born with a coat of solid black or purple feathers. Kenku consider these strange colors to be a sign of great import and a powerful omen. As a kenku ages, its feathers begin to whiten, starting near the beak, such that the oldest kenku are completely bone-white in color.
Kenkus commonly wear dark robes, often black, gray or brown held in place by a sashes of the same color. Kenkus often conceal weapons beneath these robes.
Kenku have few true friends, though none pass down one's help. A kenku is usually rather prudent, as they like to think in the long-term - often straight to the final end. This is certainly considered morbid by other races - and that's just how the Kenku like it. When a Kenku does make a true friend, they are loyal to the end - Kenku see it as an investment; the longer they are friends, the longer each has an ally in his endeavors. Kenku value both individuality and the community - in fact, the entire philosophy behind kenku life is to improve their own lot while within the mortal coil. Where others might quibble or take advantage of others, Kenku work together for mutual benefit.
Kenku are an elusive race. Little is known about them directly, and what is known is a jumble of fact and fiction. Second and third-hand tales depict them as a playful and mischevious. They enjoy puzzles and word-play, with riddles being a special favorite. Kenku often play tricks on travellers through their territory, but rarely does this lead to conflict. Most often, when the Kenku decieve someone it is to teach them a valuable lesson or deliver important information. Contrary to popular depiction, they do not "play tricks to play tricks."
Kenku often travel in “flocks” and rarely alone. They get around in caravans that tend to be dressed up in bright multi colored silks that are draped with all manner of strange fetishes and trinkets.
Rouge kenkus typically work as gangs in large cities, where they gather riches through theft and robbery. They are not particularly strong, and therefore tend to use cunning rather than force. Due to their penchant for shady ventures, they are often employed as thugs, thieves, spies, and assassins.
Younger kenku are reckless and prone to audacious plans. They have been known to pass themselves off as gods and collect the worshipers' offerings. Older kenku are more reserved and cunning, preferring to kidnap wealthy humanoids as a source of revenue.
Domestically raised kenku are prized as servants. Kenku eggs are commonly sold. However, this is a form of slave trade, with all the attendant complications. If a kenku discovers captive kenku, it will attempt to secretly rescue the captive and, if possible, kidnap the slave trader or owner. They will avenge slain kenku.
Arts and CraftsEdit
Technology and MagicEdit
Magic is an essential part of the Kenku, both culturally and physically. Magic literally courses through their bodies, extending their lives far beyond human expectancy. Many Kenku learn to harness this force and channel it outward, becoming powerful sorcerers. All things are connected, and by changing themselves the Kenku spellcaster changes the outside world as well. Many Kenku are spellcasters, seeking to enhance their understanding of the world through spell, spirit, or word.
Always the enigmatic race few people really notice the effect magic has had on the kenku. The kenku see magic as both a way to make their traveling ways easier and an opportunity to enhance their performances. Kenku have taken to the school of illusion as a fish to water. They love to create illusions of both image and sound. Truly skilled kenku artists usually mix bardic ability with illusion magic to truly grand effect. Whole orchestras or grand plays all from a single artist. They constantly gather and share their craft amongst each other, and with a choice few outsiders.
The Kenku are not a violent people.
The kenku believe that the body is just a vessel for something greater. They believe that once a person dies their spirit has moved on and the body is no longer that person. As such they have no problem salvaging trinkets and on rare occasions even meat from their fallen comrades. It is not any great honor or event to eat the body of a fallen friend, but instead it is usually an act of necessity.
Society and CultureEdit
The actual structure of kenku society is elusive. The kenku themselves either refuse to comment or lie. Those kenku lairs that have been encountered tend to be small underground chambers or cave complexes. It is believed that large caverns deep underground may hold sizeable kenku communities.
Rulers and TraditionEdit
Amongst themselves, the Kenku have a loose heirarchy based on experience and wisdom. The oldest Kenku have been around for many years, and in that time have amassed quite a store of knowledge. Kenku are very reverent and respectful of these elders and treat them with great deference, but they are not servile. The elders, in turn, realize that though their guidance may be appreciated, they should not expect obedience in all things. An elder's word carries extra weight, but ultimately it is up to the individual to decide the best course of action.
Kenku reproduction is similar to that of large birds. The female lays a clutch of two to four eggs that hatch after 60 days. New hatchlings are featherless and helpless. Hatchlings grow swiftly, becoming adults at age nine. Within six to eight months they have adult feathers and are able to function independently. At this point they begin to learn to use the skills they need as adults (thieving, fighting, disguise). If a hatchling is captured, it either lacks this training or has whatever minimal skills it acquired before capture.
Unless one has done something to truly upset the bird people, anyone is welcome at the fireside of a kenku. They welcome travelers of all race and creed.
Most kenkus worship the demon prince Pazuzu
Kenku religious leaders have taken on a far more literal role since magic returned. It was always said that a Kenku priest would shepherd his flocks souls to the afterlife, but now it is literal. When kenku die, most pass on without issue. Though, those of a particularly strong will and love of life remain on the mortal coil. Kenku priests must ferry these poor souls to their final destination to be judged and passed on.
History and FolkloreEdit
Kenku have many festivals and share these joyously with the other races of the world, though many do not know what the significance of the festival is they do know that there is much fun to be had at a Kenku gathering. Kenku festivals differ from event to event but usually there is music, food, games of chance and performances galore.
The kenku do have their own language known as kenku consisting of complex series of chirps, clicks, whistles and twitterings. Most other races find this language difficult to understand and almost impossible to imitate. Non-kenku speakers of this tongue are exceedingly rare. However, the kenku are capable of learning and speaking many other humanoid languages. The alphabet of the kenku language reflects its complexity. Social literacy is about 60%. Most records and histories are written. Literature and poetry are common. Art tends to be very visual in nature. Kenku music consists of rapidly played single notes that greatly mimics birdsong.
Though they have no true homeland to call their own, Kenku exist on the outskirts of just about every society on the planet, whether they are wanted or not. They can even be found in the depths of the elven forests or at the borders of the theocracy.