Kenku in 4E/Nentir Vale?

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baticeer
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Kenku in 4E/Nentir Vale?

Post by baticeer » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:14 am

So, I know that Kenku were in the Monster Manual 2 for 4E, but their description was quite basic (even though they got a player race write-up too), just along the lines of "they are scavengers and thieves that live on the fringes of society". So, my first question: is this the only 4e setting appearance of Kenku? Do they show up in any other 4E sourcebooks, adventures, articles?

I'm trying to come up with an interesting way to merge the 5E kenku lore with the 4E setting. For those who don't know, their race's history in Volo's Guide to Monsters is basically: The kenku were originally servants of some powerful entity, it's not known which one (the book suggests Graz'zt or the Wind Dukes of Aaqa as possibilities) but they grew covetous and turned on their master, trying to steal something from them. As punishment, the master stripped the kenku of their wings, the ability to speak, and the power of creativity. So now they can only mimic others, and always wish to regain the power of flight.

What I'm thinking is to make Kenku natives of the Shadowfell. They have that creepy yet tragic flavor that makes them fit right in, the Shadowfell could use some more native races (shadar-kai are fine, but there's room for more), and .... they are anthropomorphic corvids, so tying them to the Raven Queen seems like a total no-brainer. What I'm torn on is how to work that into their existing story... I don't know if their former god should be the Raven Queen, to me she doesn't feel quite that vindictive, and I would like if kenku still followed her today ("the raven people hate the Raven Queen" seems counterintuitive). Maybe they used to serve Nerull, and he was the one who punished them, and then the RQ took them under her wing so to speak? Is there another power of the Shadowfell that would work well for their story? What do you folks think, and has anyone else done anything with Kenku in the Nentir Vale?

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Zeromaru X
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Re: Kenku in 4E/Nentir Vale?

Post by Zeromaru X » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:20 pm

You can check about kenku in the Nentir Vale setting in the article "Winning Races: Kenku" that was published in Dragon 411. The article provides a lot of stuff for using kenku as player characters, so feats, racial powers and that stuff, plus background ideas, including an "origin" story that tie the kenku race with the Raven Queen.

Long story short: the kenku of the Nentir Vale believe themselves the first creations of the Raven Queen, who created them by ascending a flock of normal ravens as her first action after she ascended to godhood. However, at some point in the past these first kenku betrayed her by agreeing to steal her True Name on behalf of Pazuzu, the Demon Prince of Flying Creatures. This plot was foiled, and the kenku were afflicted with a terrible plague; it killed many of them, and cursed all of their hatchlings to be born without wings—the stories differ on whether this plague was unleashed by the Raven Queen herself for their betrayal, or if Pazuzu unleashed it for their failure and the Raven Queen allowed it to happen to show she had forsaken them in turn.

This gives you a lot of room to develop your kenku. Yeah, there will be kenku who hate the Raven Queen, either because they believe she cursed them or because she did nothing to stop the curse. But other kenku clans would be very fanatical of her, trying to make amends with the goddess so she can restore the gift of flight. In fact, there is a tribe of kenkus in one novel that are pretty much this. They thrive in cold climates, and their shamans, called "winter bringers", can magically create unnatural winter conditions on any battlefield, if given enough time. They dislike other races, but dislike even more kenku that aren't from their tribe, because those are traitors that do not worship their creator as they should.

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Re: Kenku in 4E/Nentir Vale?

Post by baticeer » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:55 pm

Ooh, thank you so much! That article is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for, I don't know how I missed it when I was searching!

I guess the "punished for stealing from a god" background was not in fact wholly new to 5E, but was actually based on this Dragon article, with some details changed so that it's not tied to the 4E setting. I really like the ambiguity about how their loss happened, where some of them might resent the RQ and some of them still worship her. I think I will definitely stick with that background in my game, and also keep my idea that they're usually Shadowfell natives.

Out of curiosity, which novel is that?

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Re: Kenku in 4E/Nentir Vale?

Post by Havard » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:54 pm

baticeer wrote:Out of curiosity, which novel is that?
I think Zeromaru is referring to Last Garrison by Matthew Beard. I know that Last Garrison has Kenku in it.

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Re: Kenku in 4E/Nentir Vale?

Post by Zeromaru X » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:54 pm

Yeah, its the Last Garrison. IIRC, that novel is the first product that tie the Raven Queen with the kenku, and the Winning Races article expand on the idea.

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Re: Kenku in 4E/Nentir Vale?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:27 pm

baticeer wrote:SI'm trying to come up with an interesting way to merge the 5E kenku lore with the 4E setting. For those who don't know, their race's history in Volo's Guide to Monsters is basically: The kenku were originally servants of some powerful entity, it's not known which one (the book suggests Graz'zt or the Wind Dukes of Aaqa as possibilities) but they grew covetous and turned on their master, trying to steal something from them. As punishment, the master stripped the kenku of their wings, the ability to speak, and the power of creativity. So now they can only mimic others, and always wish to regain the power of flight.
If you are looking at the 5th Edition Realms lore for kenku, you might as well have a look at the earlier Forgotten Realms canon for kenku, to see if any of that is useful to you. :)
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