D411: WR: Kenku: So who's a smart little birdie then?

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Cha|Int/Dex, a new racial power and some utilities bring the avian Kenku into the flock of PC races! And they still get their Polly-wanna-cracker mimicry abilities too.

2cp for your thoughts?
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I like them. They're not anything to write mom about, mind you.

At first glance I really loved the L2U, but it's not quite as good as I thought it was. I was thinking for Killswitch, but it forces them to be closer to you at the end of the shift, otherwise it would be freaking fantastic. Aid attack as a minor 1/e is an interesting option.

The main problem is that other races are just better at most of this stuff. I do like that one of their racial abilities is basically Ghost Sound without being 1/e. Pretty neat. I'd love to see an all Kenku melee party, just for fun.
Pretty neat. I'd love to see an all Kenku melee party, just for fun.



That'd be murder to DM.
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Pretty neat. I'd love to see an all Kenku melee party, just for fun.



That'd be murder to DM.



Can't tell if awesome pun is intentional.
On this board, probably.

On a side note, Cha+Int are great for Warlocks.  Cha+Dex is great for Desert Wind Monks.

Did you note the L6 utility that allows you to make a stealth check to hide, provided you are adjacent to an ally and no enemy is adjacent to you.
They will always be below Eladrin and Genasi for Int/Cha classes. And probably worse than pixies too.
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Pretty neat. I'd love to see an all Kenku melee party, just for fun.



That'd be murder to DM.



Can't tell if awesome pun is intentional.



Completely intentional. :D
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Sounds amusing.  I've always kinda liked kenku as a race, but never felt like playing one.  This may change.
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Cool. It reminds me of Changelings with all their "screw over the DM with their awesome racial stuff". 

Not a lot for optimisers though, unfortunately. 
How thrilling.
One racial feature is pretty much worthless to ranged characters, and the other feature, while certainly flavorful, still manages to be underwhelming. They couldn't even be bothered to include a +5 racial bonus to the check? That would at least have been similar to what Changelings got when they became a PC race.

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!
That'd be murder to DM.


It would certainly be an unkindness to bring such a party to the table.
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You're more inclined toward the role playing side of the equation and less interested in numbers or experience points. You're quick to compromise if you can help move the story forward, and get bored when the game slows down for a long planning session. You want to play out a story that moves like it's orchestrated by a skilled novelist or film director. Storyteller 92% Tactician 83% Method Actor 75% Butt-Kicker 67% Power Gamer 67% Specialist 58% Casual Gamer 8%
How thrilling.
One racial feature is pretty much worthless to ranged characters, and the other feature, while certainly flavorful, still manages to be underwhelming. They couldn't even be bothered to include a +5 racial bonus to the check? That would at least have been similar to what Changelings got when they became a PC race.


Oof, that would make it impossible to beat if the player put any kind of effort in boosting their Bluff. Also a reason why most people don't play Changelings, I think, because it's a little too easy to screw around with your racial ability.
Oof, that would make it impossible to beat if the player put any kind of effort in boosting their Bluff.

I've had plenty Changeling players. They're pretty popular in groups that I've played with. Changeling Disguise is certainly nice, but it's certainly not "impossible to beat". It's pretty much impossible for low-level commoners to be, but it should be pretty much impossible for low-level commoners to beat. And this Kenku feature isn't nearly as versatile or otherwise useful as the Changeling feature.

Also a reason why most people don't play Changelings, I think, because it's a little too easy to screw around with your racial ability.

Could you reword this? Because I have no idea what you're trying to say.

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've had one player who put effort into boosting his Bluff checks (background, skill training) and he just manhandled my plots with his shapeshifting. After a while, quests in city environments weren't much fun anymore because he could just shapechange his way through them. He also acknowledged this, and changed his character accordingly. 

And that's basically what I meant with that second remark. Because playing a Changeling is really just D&D on easy mode, I think that's a reason for a lot of people not to play one. At least, in my area it is.
That sounds like you're discouraging creativity. My DM positively encouraged me to change shape as often as I liked (even during combat - didn't require the minor action).
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Actually, I think Changelings themselves discourage creativity. They can just shapechange into the one of the most powerful figures of each particular area and walk in, gathering information all the while. This goes double for Changeling Assassins. Why bother infiltrating the BBEG's castle when you can just walk in looking like a guard/servant/his wife, hide in his bedroom and murder him in his sleep? That gets really old, really fast. 

Also doesn't make the game much fun for the rest of the party, since the Changeling can just solo some, or even most quests. 
FWIW, that 'Mimicry' ability is something I'd (as a DM) allow any character who is trained in Bluff to attempt anyway. The alternative would imply that nobody other than a kenku could ever successfully impersonate another person's voice, which seems obviously laugh-out-loud absurd to me. Professional impressionists like Jon Culshaw, Debra Stephenson and Greg London are very talented people, but I'm pretty sure they're still just humans.

So, to me, that ability is similar to the shade's racial power: as written, it would give no actual advantage at my table, and implies that (at least some of) the designers have a very "stay inside the box" view of what PCs should be allowed to do. I don't think I'd want to play with a DM who (as is pretty much necessary to make the shade racial power actually do something) strictly enforces the stealth rules outside of combat encounters (including 360 degree facing), or forbids characters from even attempting to do things like impersonate somebody's voice without a power or ability that explicitly says they can do that.
"There's an old saying that all it takes for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing. I've always had a problem with that. If you do nothing to oppose evil, then how are you 'good'? To turn aside and allow evil to flourish is to collaborate with it. You ask for mercy. You claim you have done nothing. That 'nothing' is why you deserve no mercy." - Lorian Karthfaerr, drow paladin of Avandra Robin Laws says I'm a Storyteller:
Show
You're more inclined toward the role playing side of the equation and less interested in numbers or experience points. You're quick to compromise if you can help move the story forward, and get bored when the game slows down for a long planning session. You want to play out a story that moves like it's orchestrated by a skilled novelist or film director. Storyteller 92% Tactician 83% Method Actor 75% Butt-Kicker 67% Power Gamer 67% Specialist 58% Casual Gamer 8%
Kinda underwhelming for a race that has such fans... Revenant/Kenku taking the level 6 utility is a neat idea for stealth builds, but I see little reason to be a Kenku in and of itself, especially when what it tries to do with flavor is done so much better by Changelings (not to mention the sweltering population of Dex/Cha/Int combo races in the game already). I'd rather of had a winning races for Gnolls, or maybe even Bugbears, before the Kenku.
Actually, I think Changelings themselves discourage creativity. They can just shapechange into the one of the most powerful figures of each particular area and walk in, gathering information all the while. This goes double for Changeling Assassins. Why bother infiltrating the BBEG's castle when you can just walk in looking like a guard/servant/his wife, hide in his bedroom and murder him in his sleep? That gets really old, really fast. 

Also doesn't make the game much fun for the rest of the party, since the Changeling can just solo some, or even most quests. 


I know this is the all RAW all the time forum but this is just silly to me. It seems to be a typical example of a DM giving a power way too much oomph just because the RAW fails to provide countermeasures.
The BBEG has no people that know him well enough to see beyond the shapechange? Note the differences in behaviour? Speech paterns? Non verbal communication? And when chapechange is so prevalent and powerfull in the world, the BBEG has been hiding under a rock and thus is unaware? And has not ensured detection mechanisms? Fooling that random commoner? Absolutely. But fooling the master deceiver grand vizier BBEG? Hell no. 
There is nothing overly powerful about shapechange that a very very minor amount of actual Dungeon Mastering can't fix. It allows for very creative actions from players, but requires work on the DM side. But without that kind of work being done, there is no more DM-ing. Only judging which is a totally different ballgame. 

But anyway, back to the RAW

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I'm not overwhelmed, but it's certainly better than the old Kenku.

I have to agree that Mimicry is something I'd allow anyone to do with a decent bluff check.  As a DM, I'd probably give the Kenku a bonus to the check.

Things like the Beak Mask utility bug me a little too.  It's like a power tax to be able to walk through a town, which a human could do for free.  The flavor encourages a world where Kenkus want to hide, and have to spend resources to do so, which only puts them further behind other races that already have better support.

Still, this is a race that people choose for fluff, not power.  And I'm glad it's got more going for it now.
I'm not overwhelmed, but it's certainly better than the old Kenku.

I have to agree that Mimicry is something I'd allow anyone to do with a decent bluff check.  As a DM, I'd probably give the Kenku a bonus to the check.

Things like the Beak Mask utility bug me a little too.  It's like a power tax to be able to walk through a town, which a human could do for free.  The flavor encourages a world where Kenkus want to hide, and have to spend resources to do so, which only puts them further behind other races that already have better support.

Still, this is a race that people choose for fluff, not power.  And I'm glad it's got more going for it now.



And wearing heavy robes is cheaper than giving up your utility or feat slot.
I've never seen a player 'abuse' shapechange, two changelings i've seen were one with multiple personalities and a form for each one, and one that was a warlock that didn't really do any shapechanging cause he considered it useless (because he'd have to get the outfit to pull it off, and if he got caught he'd probably end up dead).


The race seems okay, I must say I miss racial paragon paths. 
Yeah, the missing racial paragon paths bother me a little, even though I have never actually played one.

I am more bothered by the lack of good racial feats since I have used a lot of those.

The racial utilities are good overall which is nice.  I would be willing to play a feylock or similar class as one and they could make a fun artful dodger race.
I like the U10. Encounter-long flight is nice in some encounters.The kenku probably isn't going to be a ranged character, since super-flank is what they really have going for them, so flying up and being a floating artillery platform isn't going to work. But when there's trails of slime and lava all over the ground, or you need to get up and stab the monster floating artillery platform....it's nice to have.
LFR shut down in my area ages ago, but this definitely makes me want to dust off my Kenku Nightstalker Spiked Chain wielder.
I'm not overwhelmed, but it's certainly better than the old Kenku.

I have to agree that Mimicry is something I'd allow anyone to do with a decent bluff check.  As a DM, I'd probably give the Kenku a bonus to the check.

Things like the Beak Mask utility bug me a little too.  It's like a power tax to be able to walk through a town, which a human could do for free.  The flavor encourages a world where Kenkus want to hide, and have to spend resources to do so, which only puts them further behind other races that already have better support.

Still, this is a race that people choose for fluff, not power.  And I'm glad it's got more going for it now.



And wearing heavy robes is cheaper than giving up your utility or feat slot.

Yeah, I guess you could drape a heavy robe over the huge two foot beak sticking out of the middle of your face.  You'd blend right in.
I'm not overwhelmed, but it's certainly better than the old Kenku.

I have to agree that Mimicry is something I'd allow anyone to do with a decent bluff check.  As a DM, I'd probably give the Kenku a bonus to the check.

Things like the Beak Mask utility bug me a little too.  It's like a power tax to be able to walk through a town, which a human could do for free.  The flavor encourages a world where Kenkus want to hide, and have to spend resources to do so, which only puts them further behind other races that already have better support.

Still, this is a race that people choose for fluff, not power.  And I'm glad it's got more going for it now.



And wearing heavy robes is cheaper than giving up your utility or feat slot.

Yeah, I guess you could drape a heavy robe over the huge two foot beak sticking out of the middle of your face.  You'd blend right in.



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A Beginners Primer to CharOp. Archmage's Ascension - The Wizard's Handbook. Let the Hammer Fall: Dwarf Warpriest/Tactical Warpriest/Indomitable Champion, a Defending Leader. Requiem for Dissent: Cleric/Fighter/Paragon of Victory Melee Leader Ko te manu e kai i te miro, nona te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai i te matauranga e, nano te ao katoa. It's the proliferation of people who think the rules are more important than what the rules are meant to accomplish. - Dedekine
Hmm. So goblins, kobolds, and kenku have all gotten the full PC race treatment, huh? I wonder if they'll extend the favor to the rest of the MM-only races over the next few months? I'd like to see hobgoblins, full-blood orcs, and githyanki get some more love. And I'd laugh like hell if bullywugs actually became decent.
Hmm. So goblins, kobolds, and kenku have all gotten the full PC race treatment, huh? I wonder if they'll extend the favor to the rest of the MM-only races over the next few months? I'd like to see hobgoblins, full-blood orcs, and githyanki get some more love. And I'd laugh like hell if bullywugs actually became decent.



Let us hope so.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.

Seconded.
 
 I await the day when a player or friends asks if they should be a bullywug and i do not have to advise them to choose gnoll and reskin it as a bullywug. It sure does have a lot of potential.
 
 On the note of Kenku, the write-up is slightly disappointing but is a lot better than the old one, obviously. My Raven-Queen fanatic player will die to give this race a real run.    

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Come to think of it, what happened to that Bladeling write-up that we had coming?  Is that supposed to be coming in the next month or so?
I don't like this write-up too much. As has already been said, that flanking bonus won't apply to many characters, and when I read that Mimicry ability, I was waiting for the bit that made it different than what anyone else could already do.

As it stands, PCs can already impersonate someone's voice convincingly with a Bluff check (Hard DC). And since Mimicry mentions nothing about DCs or opposed rolls, I guess it would work the same way for Kenku as it does for everyone else. So really the only thing the ability gives to a Kenku is the ability to mimic sounds. But... I don't see why anyone couldn't do that with a Bluff check either, even though it isn't specifically mentioned in the Skill write-up. The Bluff skill says that you can use it to fast-talk a guard, con a merchant, gamble, pass off a disguise, fake a piece of documentation, or mislead in some other way.

It seems to me that Mimicry is redundant. It should probably grant a bonus, or maybe reduce the DC to Moderate when impersonating voices, or something to actually count as a racial feature. And if Flock Effect's wording were changed from as a result of flanking it to as a result of flanking I think it would then at least work with Distant Advantage, which would make it useful for those ranged characters that rely on that feat for CA.

At any rate, can anyone point me to where I can find lore on the Kenku outside of this article, or where they originated? I'm curious about them now .

 The kenku started out as a monster race in previous editions, originally published in the old AD&D Fiend Folio book. They're loosely based on the karasu tengu of traditional Japanese mythology/legend. I don't know if there's any 4e lore on them outside of the article except whatever might be in their MM writeup...

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may i ask where is the article/sourcebook that turns goblins and kobolds into full-fledged races? i am searching and i dont seem to find such an article..............
Goblins, kobolds, and svirfneblin will all be in the Dungeon Survival Handbook; wizards.com/DnD/Product.aspx?x=dnd/produ...

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