Kenku on Athas. Wings and mimicry

Apparently Kenku in the Dark Sun setting have wings. Which to me makes me think that they were not under the same curse as Kenku in other settings, possibly because whatever deity that cursed them did not have access to Athas at the time, after the Grey sealed Athas off.

I am wondering if their mimicry trait should be changed as well, because I think that was also part of the curse put on Kenku in other settings.

I added Kenku to my campaign last session, the players encountered them as random nomadic traders, but I used mimicry instead of allowing them to talk as normal. One player had Speak with Animals ability from his Barbarian subclass, Kenku are technically humanoids, but because they speak more like birds I gave him advantage on persuasion rolls if he used his ability to communicate with the Kenku. It’s a little homebrew that seemed right in the situation. I was wondering though afterward if their speech is even affected by the curse, or if it is just a common trait that all Kenku have no matter the setting.

How would you do it?

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I like to think of kenku as a cursed tribe of aarakocra. Punished by their brethren long ago for some horrendous atrocity.


You can take inspiration from kenku of previous editions.

Cool article. I prefer the earlier editions, the lore seems more interesting, but the part about the so called gods messing with them would have to be absent from Dark Sun. So that confirms my theory that they could actually speak and not use mimicry… The players in my campaign already have a sense that they can’t speak very well, so I will have to keep that, but perhaps I can expand the Kenku vocabulary if they run into them again.

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You could also have it be a tribal quirk that their dialect relied much more heavily on mimicry as an element of their language. I recall it being mentioned that the language of Athasian halflings involved quite a few animal noises. Perhaps Kenku do something similar but with mimicry in general.

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Kenku have wings in the DS setting? Where did you see this information? I will read this entry again, because Kenku in my game don’t have wings. Wings???

I liked the 2E version where Kenku eggs were bought and sold by unethical people to raise as servants and slaves. It’s particularly suited to the Athasian milieu.

You have to ask why Kenku make such good servants/slaves. Possibly because they have inborn loyalty to whoever raised them, similar to dogs and other creatures.

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I’m not sure in 2e material, but 3e Faces of the Forgotten North has a kenku assassin and a kenku wilder both with fly speeds (40 ft).

2e adventure Black Flames has a kenku encounter that references to use the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two as stats for the kenku if the PCs decide to attack. MCV2 kenku stats includes a fly speed.

Adventure Black Spine also includes an encounter with several Kenku. All of them list a flight speed as well. Pg 27 notes that “if the PCs find the kenku and threaten them, the kenku simply fly away”

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Quite a few places in the lore they do have wings. One of the key characters in my campaign is a Kenku that transforms into an old hag, so she can speak more easily, which the players have gotten information from for the main plot going on right now. She lives in an old lighthouse as her roost with 3 cats, and a few barrels of rats, that she uses as food. It’s been a fun encounter while the players figure out just who she is.

3.5 Monster Manual 3 states:

Kenkus evolved from avians, although they no longer possess wings or the ability to fly. Soft, dark feathers cover a kenku’s head and torso, although its scrawny arms and legs remain bare.

They also speak Common and their Mimicry ability lets them “perfectly mimic sounds, voices, and accents”

That link that Redking gave goes through all of that.


Thanks. I hadn’t followed it yet. I’ll give it a look

Great article.

It looks like from 3e on they were cursed with the inability to wear pants as well. shrug

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