View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next D&D 53 Half-Kenku race. Looking for feedback.

2016-08-25, 03:45 PM
I am looking for input on the following new race. This is my first attempt at creating a race, and I am fairly new to 5e.

Half Kenku

Half Kenku are corvid-like, and quite cleaver. Their bird-like appearance, however, gives them predatory features and an inability to make a wide variety of facial expressions, lowering their charisma. Favorite classes for half-Kenku are Bards and Rogues.

Half-Kenku have slightly shorter life-spans, on average, than humans. Instead of hair they have feathers, and their fingers and toes are more pointed and talon-like than a normal human’s. In addition their eyes are set further apart, and they do not have external ears. They tend to be short. A 5’4 half-Kenku would be the equivalent of a 6’5 human in terms of rarity. They are even lighter than they look due to their hollow bones.

Half-Kenku have high metabolisms and move in a twitchy bird-like way, quickly cocking their heads one way and then another. Their heads rotate on their necks about 170 degrees in order to look nearly directly behind themselves (this is about 180 degrees less than an owl).

Half-Kenku tend to care a great deal about grooming. Though they cannot fly, their avian ancestry drives them to keep their feathers immaculately clean. Half-Kenku are, of course, are highly varied psychologically so there may be exceptions to this general rule.

In terms of alignment the average half-Kenku bend’s toward the chaotic.

Half-Kenku are rare. 90% of half-Kenku are unable to produce offspring themselves. There thus is no real half-Kenku culture. They cannot effectively interbreed and become a true off-shoot species. They tend to be wanderers.

Int: +1
Cha: -1

Skilled: Half-Kenku, much like humans, are highly adaptable, clever beings. They can gain proficiency in any one skill.

• In additional all Half-Kenku receive persuasion as a bonus skill.

Varied: Half-Kenku are varied beings. They get a +1 in any single stat of their choice. They can undo their -1 charisma with this bonus or raise int to +2 if they wish.

• A half-Kenku could sacrifice both this +1 stat increase and the +1 intelligence bonus to receive a single feat (assuming the DM is playing with feats).

Mimicry: Half Kenku have eidetic memory for sounds and are excellent mimics. Any perform check to imitate a sound receives a +5 in addition to any standard proficiencies. Half-Kenku can also make sounds that might simply be impossible for other creatures to make. They can produce simple chords, for example. Thus, they are one of the only creatures that can actually sing in such a way as to harmonize with themselves.

• Half-Kenku tend to have higher voices than humans. They thus have difficulty making sounds that are too low of a register. DM discretion. A half-Kenku bard should probably not be a baritone.

o This is both an advantage and disadvantage from a role-playing perspective. A half-Kenku can make sounds that are too high pitched for normal humans to hear (think dog-whistle). They could not, however, perfectly imitate the sound of a very deep voice—the GM should give a disadvantage to such performance checks.
• Ventriloquism: A half-Kenku has a beak, not normal lips. It can quite naturally, therefore, make sounds with minimal mouth movement. (Performance check +2). This does not magically produce sound in another location (it is not an illusion spell)—it simply means that the half-Kenku can produce sounds without appearing to do so. A cleaver half-Kenku could make such sound realistically appear to come from a distance or sound muffled. The GM may decide to impose appropriate penalties.
• Voice as a weapon: Half-Kenku can use the bard cantrip vicious mockery as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to their level as if they were a Bard of that level. These uses are renewed with a long rest.

Keen day vision: +1 to perception checks (in daylight equivalent luminosity only).

• Additionally A half-Kenku, when she focuses, can see distant objects as if through a moderately powered spyglass. The DM can interpret this as she will.

Either Natural singer (this option replaces natural orator below):

• A half-Kenku has advantage on all performance rolls that involve singing.
• As a bard, a half Kenku has advantage on bardic Song of Rest rolls.
• As a bard, a half Kenku produces superior bardic inspiration. Each bardic inspiration die has a +1 but cannot exceed the die maximum on a roll. So, a roll of 5 on a D6 becomes a 6, but a roll of 6 does not become a 7.
• Shatter glass: This is just for fun and has little practical value. A half-Kenku can hit notes that can crack or shatter glass. This takes a sustained note for 18 seconds, and the glass must be within level*2 feet of the half-Kenku. This is just meant for flavor. A half-Kenku could break a wine class to show off at a fancy tavern, but is not going to be able to break out of a crystal prison with this ability.

Or natural orator (this option replaces natural singer):

• A half Kenku has a +1 to deception checks. [Must be in a circumstance where the character is attempting to deceive through speech.]
• A half Kenku receives +1 to intimidation checks. [Must be in a circumstance where the character is attempting to intimidate through speech speaking.]
• A half Kenku can, at the DMs discretion, receive a +1 when performing an insight check when trying to determine whether or not an NPC is lying. Said NPC must be lying via speech (as opposed to telepathy or deception through action) since this is meant to simulate the half-Kenku analyzing the vocal stress of the NPC.

Disease resistance but poison susceptibility:

• As a result of their distance heritage, half-Kenku have advantage on all rolls to resist disease.
• As a result of their metabolism, when a half-Kenku is poisoned roll the damage twice and use take the higher of the two rolls.

Shiny, shiny: half-Kenku have a penchant for finding and collecting curiosities. A half-Kenku begins the game with fun but largely useless item that possesses a magical quirk. This should be mostly for flavor and have no real battle potential. It could be a ring that produces a soft glow and constantly changes colors, or a small pebble that when dropped into plain water makes it taste like tea, a single copper coin that always returns the day after it is spent, or something else that the PC suggests which can be fun but which has very little monetary or strategic potential. This should be a role-playing/character-development opportunity, not a power-play.

• Every few gaming sessions the DM should consider having the PC stumble across another such item. The PC might spot such an item in a shop and purchase it from an owner who does not recognize its properties, or might simply stumble upon it on the beach or between the crevices of a rock. Eventually a half-Kenku will have a sort of horde of such items. If a half-Kenku is role playing she will not be attempting to sell these for money unless in absolutely dire straights. These are her treasures!


• Hollow bones: Half-kenku are very light. An adult can weigh as little as 60 pounds. Any time a half-Kenku takes knock-back damage, it is knocked back an additional 5 feet.
• Hollow bones 2: A half-Kenku is at disadvantage for all grapple checks as they can be easily lifted and pinned by opponents.
• Poor riders: A half-Kenku’s anatomy does not allow it to easily straddle a mount, and horses do not like them. A half-Kenku can never take any riding feats. A half-kenku can never fight or cast a spell while mounted. If anything might dislodge a half-Kenku from a saddle a half-Kenku is at a disadvantage on any dexterity check to stay mounted.
• High metabolism: A half-Kenku must eat half again as much food as a normal human.

Argument for balance: I argue that this is a fairly balanced race when set side by side to a variant human for comparison, but I would like to know what others think.

• The -1 cha and +1 int are numerically a wash, but technically a disadvantage since the favored classes for a half-Kenku would naturally be a Bard (or perhaps a rogue). I deliberately included the -1 cha so that half-Kenku bards would not be OP.
• Mimicry and Natural singer would both be, in my view, equivalent to moderate feats.
• Hollow bones I view as an anti-feat disadvantage.
• Poor riders: Less severe anti-feat since it is so situational.
• The half-Kenku only has a +1 to any stat instead of +1 to any two stats, as does a human.
• The half-Kenku has a few other minor advantages, but most of the rest are flavor or highly circumstantial.
• Disease resistance vs poison susceptibility.

As noted, this is my first attempt at race creation and I am pretty new to 5e so I am looking for input. Compared to a variant human, does this seem overpowered? Underpowered?


2016-08-25, 05:03 PM
A lot of this doesn't quite mesh with 5e's design philosophy. As a whole, 5e tends to avoid racial penalties and +1/+X bonuses, instead focusing on racial bonuses and things like proficiency and advantage.

Overall, I'd say your race is best described as overly complicated, more in the style of a 3.X race, rather than over or underpowered. To simplify things, and make it more in line with other 5e races, I'd have it be something like this:

+1 Dex, +1 Int (Lightweight avian race; makes sense to buff Dex, and you stated a preference for Int buff)
Can add +1 to any score of their choice.

Proficiency in 1 skill + persuasion

Mimicry (Same as written, only with advantage instead of +5 to mimic, no bonus +2 to Ventriloquism, and no Vicious Mockery)

Keen Vision (Spyglass range only)

Masters of Sound (Advantage on Performance (Sing), shatter glass, advantage on Insight to determine lies through speech)

Disease Resistant (As written, but no susceptibility to poison)

Shiny, shiny (As written)

I feel that those changes would keep this race on par with other races, without affecting playstyle or flavor, or deviating from 5e philosophy.