Kenku Guide 5e
Published on March 17, 2021, Last modified on May 5th, 2022
Caio Santos - - Kiri the Kenku
What is this guide?
This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the kenku will be right for your 5e character build.
The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your kenku. This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.
- Black is a trait shared by many races and or will not impact the effectiveness of your character build
- Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
- Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise
- Green is a good option
- Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
- Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized
Tasha's Cauldron of Everything Update
Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has added the "Customizing Your Origin" option that may affect the ability score increases, languages, and proficiencies in this guide. To read more about this, visit our D&D Race Guide.
What are Kenku in 5e?
Source: Volo's Guide to Monsters
Kenku are a cursed race of avian humanoids. The curse, brought on by their betrayal of their otherworldly master, has caused them to lose their ability to fly (a relief for any DM) as well as the ability to speak without using their Mimicry trait. Hoping to fly again one day, many kenku have set out on adventures of their own. Masters of stealth and imitation, kenku excel at infiltration and criminal activities.
Kenku are a playable character race found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
Kenku 5e Traits
Ability Score Increase: +2 DEX and +1 WIS is a good combination for several classes.
Size: Medium is the typical size of most races, and is neither good nor bad.
Speed: Kenku have a standard walking speed of 30 feet.
Expert Forgery: This trait is pretty underwhelming. You only get advantage on attempts to create duplicates and forgeries, instead of succeeding automatically. Still, if you need some money, you could always make some copies of valuable items and try to sell them. Remember that you still need to have the appropriate tool on hand for the job (i.e. to attempt a forgery, you need a Forgery Kit).
Kenku Training: Two free skills is fantastic, especially because the skills all work perfectly with a sneaky character in mind. Three out of the four available skills are DEX skills, making them ideal options given the kenku’s +2 DEX bonus.
Mimicry: Mimicry is an extraordinarily unique racial trait and is very difficult to quantify. Kenku can only speak by replicating sounds that they have heard, which could make for interesting roleplay. In the worst case, Mimicry could lead to a huge annoyance at your table. Depending on how you decide to approach this trait with your DM, Mimicry could also be a valuable asset to your party. Mimicking voices can be useful, but Mimicry can also be used to imitate the sound of a door slamming shut or the snarl of a vicious beast. If you want to be sneaky or do some infiltration, being creative when it comes to Mimicry could take you quite far.
Languages: Kenku understand Common and Auran, but the catch with this race is that they can only speak using the Mimicry trait.
Sources Used in This Guide
- Basic Rules
- Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
- Eberron: Rising from the Last War
- Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
- Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
- Fizban's Treasury of Dragon
- Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica
- Monsters of the Multiverse
- Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
- Mythic Odyessys of Theros
- Player's Handbook
- Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
- Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
- Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
- Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
- The Tortle Package
- The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
- Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft
- Volo's Guide to Monsters
- Xanathar’s Guide to Everything