Homebrew Request: The Kenku!

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When you make a Kenku search on the online compendium this is what you get:

Backgrounds (0)
Classes (0)
Companions and Familiars (0)
Creatures (8)
Deities (0)
Diseases (0)
Epic Destinies (0)
Feats (0)
Glossary (0)
Items (0)
Paragon Paths (0)
Poisons (0)
Powers (0)
Races (1)
Rituals (0)
Terrain (0)
Traps (0)

Where is the love?

I think we can expand this a bit, don't you?

The kenku is actually pretty solid as it is, but it is completely lacking racial feats, paragon paths and dedicated items.
Let's look at the kenku's features, fix them, improve them, add to them, and make up some fun feats for our feathered friends.  :D

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More links! Qube's Block Builder, Classless D&D and the characters I've created using the classless system.
KENKU

Avarage Height:
5'0'' - 5'6''
Avarage Weight: 110 - 150

Ability Scores: +2 Charisma, +2 Dexterity or +2 Intelligence
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares.
Vision: Low-light

Languages: Common
Skill Bonuses: +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth
Flock Effect: You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls against flanked enemies, and you grant a +3 bonus when aiding another instead of the normal +2 bonus. 
Mimicry: You can mimic sounds and voices. A successful Insight check opposed by your Bluff check allows a listener to determine that the effect is faked. You gain a +5 bonus to Bluff checks made to mimic sounds and voices.
Helping Hands: You can use the Helping Hands encounter power.

Helping Hands        Kenku Racial Power
Encounter
Minor Action
Effect: You aid the another. If you choose to aid an ally's skill check or ability check, the target does not take a penalty if you fail. If you choose to aid an ally's attack or aid an ally's defense you can choose an ally up to 5 squares of you.

PHYSICAL QUALITIES

Despite their birdlike appearance, kenkus lack wings. Kenkus are covered in russet-brown feathers appropriate to a crows from their black beaks to about halfway down their legs, where the feathers give way to scaly, horny skin. Their legs end in crow-like feat, though flatter and broader than normal to allow for ease of walking, and their have strong beaks with a fleshy base nearest the nares, allowing for some basic facial expressions. Most speech actually takes place inside the throat and is shaped by the tongue on its way out, rather than by the lips and teeth as in most other speaking creatures. The kenkus are relatively light for their size, but that is the natural result of their hollow bones.

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Kenku are wingless aren't they?
Well, in their pictures they looked like they had wings... I'm gonna go look it up... Huh, there are two pictures I find, one with winged-kenkus and the other one un-winged kenkus. Guess, they don't have wings (if they can weild weapons, they don't ahve wings)

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Ah I see the problem.

4e Dnd Kenku are based on the winged kenku or tengu of myth, but at some point they lost the ability to fly.  
Great, thanks.
WoTC did "Ecology of The Kenku" in Dragon 329, but I can't find it anywhere

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Many Kenkus revere Pazuzu. Why not give them a racial power from the demonomicon "Pazuzu's Dread Flock" pages. Like the duergar have their power why not the kenku? Maybe we could have it a "when your class grants you a utility power after 1st level you can choose to bla blabla" and let them choose from an array of pazuzu-powers?

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because kenku don't have the unique innate abilities to justify a bunch of racial powers on their own

Racial power lists are for powers every member of the race can use, not for powers representing a special connection to a patron. 

 
Light weight is a non ability.

Your weight is a static number that is largely fluff. Furthermore it has little to do with your actual size. A huge ghost weighs less than a tiny stone golem. 
All right, here's my first attempt interpretation of how Kenku might work as a PC race:





KENKU

Average Height: 5'0" - 5'6"
Average Weight: 110 lb. - 150 lb.

Ability Scores: +2 Charisma and either +2 Dexterity or +2 Intelligence
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Low-light

Languages: Common, choice of one other
Skill Bonuses: +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth
Flock Effect: When you aid another, you grant your ally a +3 bonus instead of the normal +2 bonus. In addition, select one of the following benefits at character creation (this selection can be retrained):
- When you have combat advantage against an enemy for flanking it, you gain a +3 bonus to your attack rolls against that enemy instead of the normal +2 bonus.
- When any of your allies have combat advantage against an enemy for flanking it, you gain combat advantage against that enemy as well.
Mimicry: You can mimic sounds and voices. A successful Insight checks opposed by your Bluff check allows a listener to determine that the effect is faked. You gain a +5 bonus to such a Bluff check.
Opportunistic: You gain the opportunistic power.

Opportunistic (Kenku racial power)
Encounter
Free Action, Personal
Trigger: You make an attack roll against an enemy that has been hit by one of your allies' attacks since the end of your last turn.
Effect: You gain a +2 bonus to the attack roll. If the attack roll hits, then the next attack roll made against that enemy by one of your allies before the end of your next turn gains a +2 bonus.





I was actually pretty torn between whether their third possible ability score bonus should be CON or INT, but considering the flavor surrounding them as sly and secretive and their being based on the cunning raven, I decided that INT would probably be the best fit. Yes, they ended up with an ability score set-up identical to that of the Changeling. No, I do not have a problem with this.

I like Flock Effect, but it was unacceptable that its major benefit was completely useless unless a character were to select a primarily melee class and role. When this is a problem, my typical response is to alter the original effect such that it simply becomes more broadly applicable, but that was next to impossible to do in this instance without dramatically overpowering the ability, so I instead the decided to simply offer characters an alternative racial feature. This alternative option that I provided was based on the Distant Advantage feat.

Mimicry is mostly a fluff feature, but we might as well make it a good fluff feature, so I decided to grant it the same +5 bonus that the Changeling was granted to its own deceptive ability when it made the transition from NPC race to PC race.

Finally, the racial power. I'm still not 100% on whether it's balanced, but I very much like the fluff behind it. The Monster Manual goes on and on about Kenku working well as a flock and being very opportunistic, and so I decided that this would translate well into a racial power. The idea is that the Kenku itself takes advantage of an opportunity opened up by an ally and simultaneously opens up an opportunity for one of its allies to take advantage of as well.

Also, minor nitpick
When you make a Kenku search on the online compendium this is what you get:

Backgrounds (0)
Classes (0)
Companions and Familiars (0)
Creatures (8)
Deities (0)
Diseases (0)
Epic Destinies (0)
Feats (0)
Glossary (0)
Items (0)
Paragon Paths (0)
Poisons (0)
Powers (0)
Races (1)
Rituals (0)
Terrain (0)
Traps (0)

Fixed just to be fair. =)

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
What if we broke up flock effect?

Sneaky (or some other name): When you have combat advantage you gain a +3 bonus to attack rolls instead of the normal +2.

Flock Effect:  When you aid another, you grant your ally a +3 bonus instead of the normal +2 bonus.
When you have combat advantage you gain a +3 bonus to attack rolls instead of the normal +2.

See, that's what I was originally thinking, but because of how easy it is to get combat advantage on pretty much every attack if you try (just ask any competent Rogue), I feel like this would be too powerful as a racial feature.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
What about a damage boost vs creatures your allies have CA vs?
What about this?

???: You gain a +1 on attack rolls vs. creatures that are flanked.

That way it doesn't matter whose doing the flanking. 
What about this?

???: You gain a +1 on attack rolls vs. creatures that are flanked.

That way it doesn't matter whose doing the flanking. 

That sounds fantastic, actually. I really like it. Only thing I would change is to change "creatures" to "enemies" so that you don't end up getting a bonus to attack a flanked ally (e.g. with an area attack).

Flock Effect: You gain a +1 bonus on attacks rolls against enemies that are flanked. When you aid another, you grant your ally a +3 bonus instead of the normal +2 bonus.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Ok then, anything else for the base stats?
Seems to me that the only things Kenkus are good at are being sneaky, being desceptive, working together as a team and utilize their enemies' weaknesses. Can we add some features fromt that. I was also reading over some racial powers, many of them are simply REALLY handy utility powers. I am very bad at making utility powers (that is, utility powers that don't deal damage/ is only useful in combat). What if we break down those few things kenkus are good at and try to brainstorm some features from that?

· Sneaky
"At-will, when you are hidden, you remain hidden until the end of your turn"
"at-will, move action, when you are hidden, your remain hidden during the move"

· Bluffing
"Make a bluff check with a +5 power bonus"
That utility power that allows a PC to "rewrite" someone's memory, if the person's memory is already dodgy
An extended version of "changeling's trick"?

· Teamwork
"You and your ally flanking the target get deal extra 1d6 damage against the target before the end of your next turn"

· Utilizing Combat Advantage:
Encounter power that gives a bonus vs target granting combat advantage that lasts "until the end of your turn" 



Also, Kenkus are live in the "underbelly of society", they are like 99% og all thieves guilds. What kind of a utility power would that give ya?
Just hiked the tallest mountain in iceland, not really feeling productive right now XD 

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Can we add some features fromt that.

We have enough features now. Or is there one that you don't like and want to replace? Because I should warn you that replacing any of their current features entirely would mean that this version of the Kenku made here would end up incapable of at least one of the capabilities of the existing Kenku, and that may not go over very well. Or are you referring to the racial power?

I was also reading over some racial powers, many of them are simply REALLY handy utility powers.

The majority of the good ones are more utility powers, yes. Racial attack powers are very overdone and they tend not even to be done very well. When they can be avoided, I recommend avoiding them.

Also, Kenkus are live in the "underbelly of society", they are like 99% og all thieves guilds. What kind of a utility power would that give ya?

It shouldn't. What you're referring to isn't race. It's culture. Culture should be absent from the mechanics of racial features because it's absurd to assume that all members of any given race will share the same culture.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Also, Kenkus are live in the "underbelly of society", they are like 99% og all thieves guilds. What kind of a utility power would that give ya?

It shouldn't. What you're referring to isn't race. It's culture. Culture should be absent from the mechanics of racial features because it's absurd to assume that all members of any given race will share the same culture.

html_removed

 

Lolth-touched, half-elves' extra language, kobold's extra defenses against traps, dwarven weapon training, eladrin education and eladrin weapon proficiency are all cultural benefits, right?

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I like what you did in your version, giving them "distant advantage" and the +7 to mimicry. All we need is a basic racial power and I think it's solid.

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More links! Qube's Block Builder, Classless D&D and the characters I've created using the classless system.
Lolth-touched, half-elves' extra language, kobold's extra defenses against traps, dwarven weapon training, eladrin education and eladrin weapon proficiency are all cultural benefits, right?

Lolth-touched and Eladrin Education are not cultural benefits, no (though it's easy to make that mistake in the case of Eladrin Education considering the horrible name that they gave to it). Language is a feature that is only capable of existing in a cultural sense, unfortunately, so there's no avoiding that one, but the others are indeed culturally based, yes, which is exactly why they shouldn't exist.

I like what you did in your version, giving them "distant advantage" and the +7 to mimicry.

Thanks, but I actually think that the version of Flock Effect that rampant suggested (+1 attack versus flanked enemies) is simpler and better.

All we need is a basic racial power and I think it's solid.

Not that I'm attached to it or anything, but what's wrong with the one that I came up with? I just ask because if I'm going to come up with more ideas, then I don't want to come up with more idea that have the exact same problem.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Well, it does emphasize teamwork, and I have nothing against it, but I want us to keep trying until we find something that has a more "utility" kind of use. +2 to attack for you and an ally is really conviniet, but If we can find something that can help in and out of combat (like "stay hidden during the move" or like the mimicry feature) I think that is what we should aim for. I'm gonna make a rewrite of the Kenku now

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More links! Qube's Block Builder, Classless D&D and the characters I've created using the classless system.
I like Opportunistic, since we took a bit out of the teamwork side of the kenku by redoing the flock effect feature, I think he really needs a teamwork-based racial power. What else can you guys come up with?

I redid the second post, I want to wait with the racial power for a bit, see what you guys come up with in the meantime  

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Ok not an attack booster, something less overtly aggressive.
Idea:

Once per encounter, you can aid another as a minor action instead of as a standard action. When you aid an ally's skill or ability check in this way, the target does not take any penalty if you fail. When you aid an ally's attack or aid an ally's defenses in this way, you can choose an enemy up to 5 squares away from you instead of an enemy adjacent to you.

In feature form, this could simply be added as a second paragraph to Flock Effect. In power form, this might look like...

Encounter
Minor Action, Personal
Effect: You aid another. If you choose to aid an ally's skill or ability check, the target does not take any penalty if you fail. If you choose to aid an ally's attack or aid an ally's defenses, you can choose an enemy up to 5 squares away from you instead of an enemy adjacent to you.

Important Note: Make sure that you check out the version of Aid Another in the Compendium. It has changed significantly since its original version in the PHB.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I like your brain, Crimson! This is what I'm talking about :D
Why is it "personal" if you aid another? I'll write this up as it is and check aid another when I get home.

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More links! Qube's Block Builder, Classless D&D and the characters I've created using the classless system.
Why is it "personal" if you aid another?

Because it targets and affects you. You aid another. Your ability to aid another is altered. The power doesn't target or affect anybody but you. It just so happens that you target and affect other creatures as part of what the power alters about you, but all of that is already covered by the aid another rules. That's how I see it anyway.

I would similarly suggest that a power version of the Minotaur's Ferocity feature should be Personal, as any further targeting would be covered by the effect of making a melee basic attack and thus referencing those rules, and I would further suggest that a power like the Ranger's Fox's Cunning should be Personal, as further targeting and range (and even whether the attack made can even appropriate be described as having the Weapon keyword to begin with)  would be covered by the effect of making a basic attack and thus referencing those rules.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Point made ;)

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More links! Qube's Block Builder, Classless D&D and the characters I've created using the classless system.
Hmm two gnolls and a kenku would be pretty brutal.
SHould we talk feats and Paragon paths now?
Yes please. Since thei are so cooparative and work so well with groups, i'm thinking of a duo of paragonpaths. On is melee and one is ranged, and both give okay encounter an daily powers, but almost all of them are warlord-esque enabling powers. "And one ally adjacent to the target can..." and such. It's basically just good enough to pass as a good paragonpath, but almost all of its bonuses are aimed towards you allies and you enabling them, rather than enhancing your class. This gives rogues, monks and archers a chance to play warlord. ^^

Feats? Erm.... I have no idea. I'm gonna brainstorm sum and come back later.

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Look at my Playable Illithid, my Monster Generating excel file , my Lifestealer in progresss (Heroic tier almost complete!) , our Improved Orc, our Improving Kenku and our Improving Duergar
Also, take a look at my friend's Improved Minotaur, Gadren's amazing Arcane Archer and of course the Avatar Project
More links! Qube's Block Builder, Classless D&D and the characters I've created using the classless system.
A lot of feats and PP's incorporate cultural elements, allowing you to use them to reflect your character's cultural ties (or lacl, or other).  This would probably be the place to drag in such elements- are there any good references for Kenku culture?
Xenophobic, comunal, and has a complicated relationship with divine figures.
Perhaps add feats the enhance their "aid another" feature based on role? A defender or leader can increase the defenses of the aided target by 1, a striker or controller can add 1/2/3 damage on next damage roll of the aided target. How about a feat that allows a once per encounter reroll on an off-turn attack/skill roll (ally only)?

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Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both orderly and instinctive. I value community and group identity, defining myself by the social group I am a part of. At best, I'm selfless and strong-willed; at worst, I'm unoriginal and sheepish.
Yes some feats to make the aid another action more appealing.
Time to revamp this thing?

Come one people!

We need items, feats, class-feats, paragon paths, epic destinies. Let's make this race appealing!

Go go go go! 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

Look at my Playable Illithid, my Monster Generating excel file , my Lifestealer in progresss (Heroic tier almost complete!) , our Improved Orc, our Improving Kenku and our Improving Duergar
Also, take a look at my friend's Improved Minotaur, Gadren's amazing Arcane Archer and of course the Avatar Project
More links! Qube's Block Builder, Classless D&D and the characters I've created using the classless system.
What about a feat that lets you grant a +5 bonus to a skill assist, but only if you're trained in the skill?
look I'm not gonna write up the full feat if no one likes the idea


What about a weapon feat for .... ok never mind these guys don't really have iconic weapons ... except maybe the sickle and the kama. 
look I'm not gonna write up the full feat if no one likes the idea

What about a weapon feat for .... ok never mind these guys don't really have iconic weapons ... except maybe the sickle and the kama. 



Which ironically are two cultural iterations of the same thing.

Sure though, go ahead and make the feats. They might be pretty interesting.
Master's Assist [Racial]
Requirement: Kenku
Benefit: Whenever you assist an ally with a skill check of a skill in which you are trained you grant a +5 bonus to the assited ally's check instead of the normal +2.

Shadow Talon [Racial]
Requirement: Kenku, weapon focus light blade
Benefit: Whenver you hit a target that is granting you combat advantage, that target also grants combat advantage to the next ally of yours to attack it before the start of your next turn.