How do Kenku handle the verbal component of spells?

2 thoughts on “How do Kenku handle the verbal component of spells?

  1. D. Walker says:

    I hate the 5E changes to Kenku. I absolutely loathe them.

    I say that as someone who loves roleplaying weird and challenging characters – like a Cleric who has taken a vow of silence, and a Warlock who has been blind from birth and took on their mentor in hopes of gaining vision.

    The changes to Kenku are utterly nonsensical, and absurdly limiting. Previously, if you wanted to play a crow person who couldn’t speak, that was your choice as a player. You could come up with your own explanation for why you couldn’t speak, and you could devise your own way of working around that limitation.

    Now, it’s no longer an option – it’s a forced outcome. Player choice was thrown out the window. If you want to be a crow person, you HAVE to be mute, you HAVE to be cursed by some unknown master/creator that the books give zero explanation for, and you HAVE to be incapable independent original thought.

    And that last part is particularly glaring. D&D is a game about being creative, and now you’ve added a rule that forces a player to take every creative thought they have as their character and throw them in the garbage. This single rule alone basically reduces Kenku to NPCs.

    You get separated from your party? Well, you’re a brainless automaton that can only follow instructions others give you, so unless they’ve given you express instructions to look for them if you get separated, you just kinda sit around and do nothing, and wait for them to come find you.

    You’re not capable of original thought or creativity, so the moment anything happens which deviates from your plans, you’re left twiddling your thumbs and waiting for other people to give you a new plan to follow. You can act on instinct, you can defend yourself and seek out food, shelter, et cetera, but you can’t formulate plans of your own. You lack problem-solving skills, in a game that’s entirely about solving problems.

    The 5E version of Kenku is summed up perfectly by a line from their entry in Volo’s Guide – “Ideal Minions”. That’s right! In a party of heroes who all have their own individual agency, you’re just a brainless mook who can only ever do what others tell them to do. Doesn’t that sound fun?

    Even the most cowardly and subserviant of sniveling Kobolds and groveling Goblins have more agency and personality! How pathetic is that?

    And all this for a race that is based on crows and ravens – some of the most intelligent, creative, and adaptable creatures on the planet!

    It’s stupid, senseless, and extremely player hostile. And the worst part it, it was entirely out of left field and utterly unnecessary!

    What was wrong with Kenku in their previous incarnations? They were already a rare PC race, seldom played. They were already pigeonholed and made fairly two-dimensional by their attributes, abilities and lore. Did they really need to be made into even MORE limited of an option, and made even LESS accessible?

    I’ve wanted to play a Kenku in 5E since the system first came out, but even though they are now technically playable with Volo’s Guide, I have absolutely ZERO interest in playing a “Kenku” who is just a voiceless, brainless minion to the rest of the party made up of three dimensional characters with player agency.

  2. David says:

    There is a difference in not being able to think and act for yourself, and not having creative thought. It can study some written royal edict and flawlessly reproduce it. But it can’t take the official parts of that document and create a writ of nobility.

    As any humanoid, a Kenku will have it’s own desires. But it will act in the ways it knows to act.

    That’s not to say it can’t learn. Everyone has to learn. Lots of players forget that. When they have a character that acts in a manner he likely shouldn’t because he lacks the experience or knowledge, we call that metagaming.

    Kenku are the ultimate metagaming block.

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