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Kenku Monk 5e D&D Guide

Kenku Monk 5e D&D Guide

Born with a natural inclination for martial arts and disciplined training, the Kenku Monk embodies the perfect blend of elegance and lethality.

In their quest for enlightenment, Kenku Monks seek a balance between their avian nature and their desire for individuality. 

They strive to break free from the shackles of their ancestral curse to forge a unique voice that speaks of their own stories and aspirations.

Creating a Kenku Monk


Kenku are haunted by an ancient crime that stole their wings, turning them flightless. Now, the flightless Kenku travel the world, often ending up as burglars or vagabonds living at the edges of human society.

Kenku suffer from their sinister reputation, which isn’t particularly unearned, yet they can prove a valuable asset to those in need of a thief or spy.

SkinFeathers cover their skin in colors of Russet-brown, brown, or white (they also have white markings, which Kenku use to tell each other apart)

Rarely, Kenku have Solid black or purple feathers.

Note: Their legs and arms aren’t covered by feathers, resembling thin human arms and legs

HeadThe head of a crow
EyesBeady eyes of Black or red
NoseNostril holes on their beak
MouthLarge, black crow-like beak
FeetLarge talons of a crow
TailA small vestigial tail with long feathers

Note: These features can be slightly changed or modified if some variations don’t fit your character.

Kenku Subraces

Much like their avian brethren, the Aarakocra, Kenku don’t have any subraces. This can probably be attributed to their thin-spread numbers and poor way of life, leading to fewer communities forming.

Monk Class Features

Hit Points

Hit Dice1d8 per Monk level
HP at level 18 + Constitution modifier
HP at Higher levels1d8 (or 5) + Constitution modifier per Monk level after level 1


WeaponsSimple weapons, Shortswords
ToolsChoose one type of Artisan’s tools or one Musical instrument
Saving ThrowsStrength, Dexterity
SkillsChoose two – Acrobatics, Athletics, History, Insight, Religion, and Stealth

Monastic Traditions

Upon reaching level 3 as a Monk, you commit yourself to one of the 10 Monastic Traditions of your choice, each granting you specific features.

Astral Self – Monks of the Astral Self see their bodies as an illusion, finding their ki to be the representation of their true astral self. These monks are trained to either protect the weak or be of service to the mighty.

Ascendant Dragon – Monks of the Ascendant Dragon emulate dragons, making them a more integrated part of its magic and the world.

These monks alter their spirits to resonate with draconic might, augmenting their prowess in battle, soaring through the sky, or bolstering their allies.

Drunken Master – Monks of the Drunken Master tradition are taught to move with jerky movements that are unpredictable, much like that of a drunkard.

Drunken masters are frustrating to engage as they are often seen as incompetent combatants with their unsteady feet, tottering, and sways, but this only conceals their carefully executed dance.

Four Elements – Monks of the Four Elements harness the elements, focusing their ki on aligning themselves with the forces of creation, bending the four elements to their will, and using them as an extension of your physical body.

Members can focus on dedicating themselves to a single element or weaving all the elements together.

Kensei – Monks of Kensei train relentlessly with their weaponry to the point that the weapon becomes an extension of their physical body. Their tradition was founded on the mastery of sword training but has expanded to include many different weapons as well.

Long Death – Monks of the Long Death are obsessed not with death itself but with the mechanics of dying. These monks will capture creatures to experiment on them, recording and understanding the moments of their death.

They use this knowledge to guide them in understanding what creates a deadly fighting style.

Mercy – Monks of Mercy are taught how to manipulate the life force of others in order to give aid to those in need. They are traveling physicians; however, to those beyond their help, they bring a swift end as a final act of mercy.

Open Hand – Monks of the Open Hand are unmatched when it comes to martial arts combat, whether they are unarmed or armed. 

They learn various techniques allowing them to strengthen their bodies through meditation, heal damage using their ki and push or trip enemies.

Shadow – Monks of the Shadow value stealth and subterfuge, often called shadowdancers or ninjas, and serve as assassins and spies.

There are many different monasteries that teach this tradition; some are akin to thieves’ guilds, and others are more like familial clans.

Sun Soul – Monks of the Sun Soul are taught to channel their life essence into searing bolts of light. They teach their disciples that meditation will give them the ability to unleash the indomitable light that resides within every living creature’s soul.

Combining Monk With Kenku

Determining Your Monk Subclass

Choosing your ideal subclass is subjective, but if your objective is optimization, try understanding what your character wants to do and what stats fit best with their subclass.

Way of the Astral SelfStriker/Support
Way of the Ascendant DragonDefender/Striker/Support
Way of the Drunken MasterStriker
Way of the Four ElementsBlaster/Striker
Way of the KenseiStriker
Way of the Long DeathStriker
Way of MercyHealer/Striker
Way of the Open HandStriker
Way of ShadowScout/Striker
Way of the Sun SoulStriker

Optimal Kenku Subrace

Kenku receive a bonus to their Dexterity (2) and Wisdom (1) scores, which are two out of the three attributes Monks make use of the most, and means they have great potential as Monks.

You won’t have to choose between subraces as Kenku have none, meaning what you see, you get.

Luckily, Kenku have some great lore that you can incorporate both into your background and into your class!

Your Kenku Monk Background

Your Kenku Monk needs a unique background that will affect its choices, as well as the way it sees the world and what it wants to achieve.

Start by asking yourself some basic questions: Where were they born, and where did they come from? Do they have any goals, bonds, or ideals, and what are their flaws? Where do they belong in social circles and society as a whole? What inspires them?

Place of Birth

Think of the environment a Kenku Monk grew up in and how it affected them physically and emotionally and eventually shaped their view of the world.

Try to make their place of birth and upbringing correspond with their personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws – this will truly bring their character alive.

Note: The birthplaces of races are usually mentioned in the Player’s Handbook or some of its expansion books.

Characteristics and Personality Traits 

Kenku Monks are extremely rare, and some underestimate them due to their frugal existence, but underneath that illusion lies a deadly warrior.

Kenku Monk Examples:

    • If you need me to do something for you, tell me I can’t do it.
  • I am incredibly slow to trust. Those who seem the fairest often have the most to hide.

Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws

Ideal – Express one ideal that is a driving force in a Kenku Monk’s life – their conviction, ethical principle, and moral standing (probably something about nature).

Chains should be broken, as are those who would forge them.

Bonds – Think of a single bond that your Kenku Monk has to an event, person, or place. Bonds will tie them to their background and can inspire bravery or stimulate memories driving them against their ideals.

I’m guilty of a terrible crime. I hope I can redeem myself for it.

Flaws – Choose a single flaw for a Kenku Monk – their unhealthy compulsion, greatest fear/weakness, or most vile vice.

I judge others harshly and myself even more severely.


Inspiration can be used by the DM to reward you for playing according to your bond, personality traits, ideals, and flaw.

As a Kenku Monk, I have made peace with the fact that I am worthless to others, so all I have left is self-improvement.

Note: If you’re struggling to create your background or just don’t want to think, the Player’s Handbook has well-thought-through backgrounds that you can use for your character or use as a mold.

Supplies and Gear For Kenku Monks

Monks start with the following equipment, together with the equipment from their background. Choosing equipment based on your situation and your character’s proficiencies is the easiest way to go about things.

  • (a) Shortsword or (b) Any simple weapon
  • (a) Dungeoneer’s pack or (b) Explorer’s pack
  • 10 Darts

You can decide how your character came about these goods – whether they stole, inherited, or purchased them some time back – adding to your character’s background.

Note: By using your starting wealth, you can buy your own equipment (5d4 GP for Monks).

Final Thoughts

Kenku Monks might look strange and powerless but don’t underestimate them; they can make exceptional Strikers.

If you ever come across a Kenku Monk, watch your words carefully, as they can cause some serious damage.

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