Kenku Warlock Build for D&D 5E | Pros, Cons, and Roleplay Tips

kenku warlock 5e

Birds of a feather fly together, the Kenku say… Mostly because they heard it from somewhere else and are just mimicking it. The Volo’s Guide to Monsters released quite a few monster races for players to make characters with. One of the most unique races provided are the Kenku, a race of crowlike people who can perfectly mimic the sounds around them. Plagued with an ancient curse, they can only speak through mimicry. As such, they are destined to be considered as less than sentient, easily controlled by people who offer a bit of pity, wishing that their curse be lifted so they can fly again. Until then, they make for amazing roleplay experiences. And their demeanor goes quite well with one class tied to curses and becoming a minion of a greater being; The Warlock. Check out our Kenku Warlock build below. 

Kenku Warlock 5E Build

Kenku Statline:
  • Stat Bonus: +2 Dexterity, +1 Wisdom
  • Lifespan: Adult at 12, Life Expectancy of 60
  • Normal Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: 30 ft
  • Expert Forgery: You gain advantage on forgeries or making duplicates of existing objects.
  • Kenku Training: Proficient in your choice of two of the following skills: Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, and Sleight of Hand.
  • Mimicry: You can mimic sounds that you’ve heard. Requires an Insight check, opposed by your Deception, to figure out it is mere imitation.
  • Languages: Common and Auran, but can only speak in Mimicry

The Pros

Dexterity can be a powerful stat for a lot of casters, the Warlock being no different. Without access to heavier armors, Dexterity is required for armor class. It’s also a boost to Reflex saves, an important save type. Same with Wisdom; a good boon for Perception and Insight, with a huge benefit for Saves, since Wisdom saves are the most important.

Expert Forgery is an incredibly strong ability for remaking weapons or ammunition, which would mostly help party members…, But could help a warlock who uses a bow or crossbow as a backup weapon. Kenku Training helps Warlocks deal with their rather low amount of natural skill proficiencies. And Mimicry is based on a Deception check, so if you really want to mimic voices or important noises, the high Charisma of the class will be useful for you.

Not to mention the flavor of a Kenku – a member of a cursed race – asking a Fey or Demon for help is rather flavorful. Don’t forget, you can also rely on our guide to the Best Warlock Spells to flesh out your character. 

The Cons

Not having a bonus to the casting stat of a caster is always rough; The extra Wisdom is nice for saving throws, but for not much else. Warlocks tend to prefer Charisma and Constitution for their characters, most of the time. The only real option for a Kenku is the Blade-Pact Warlock which, while good, suffers a bit from Warlock’s low hit dice.

The stats are the really big problem, but some of the abilities can be a bit of a hindrance. Expert Forgery would be better in the hands of a crafting class; a Ranger making new traps based on his old ones, for example. That’s not to mention that Mimicry is a somewhat hindering ability for making plans with allies, unless you determine a system of planning things beforehand. This is only somewhat of a con, but in-game, plans to ready actions can fall apart with a Kenku.

Roleplaying a Kenku Warlock

By itself, Mimicry is an amazing ability that many people cannot get over. Try to avoid making the “dictionary of things my character can say,” because that can be slow and frustrating for other players. Volo’s Guide puts this well;

You can just as easily describe the sounds your character makes and what they mean. Be clear about your character’s intentions unless you’re deliberately aiming for inscrutable or mysterious.

It’s a really fun ability, but it can be fun without being distracting or annoying.

Other than Mimicry, remember that you’re playing a race whose ancestors could fly and were cursed to never truly have their own voice or identity. And now you’ve thrown in with a Pact of some variety. What kind of identity crisis is this humanoid crow having? How do they deal with it? If you pick a familiar, is that familiar something that the Kenku commands to say things, so the Kenku can get a “voice?” How does it effectively communicate with their Patron?

While this is not the most efficient Warlock build, it is immensely entertaining to roleplay. Consider it if your GM plans on having a laid-back campaign, and watch your interactions with your party, GM, and character flourish.

That wraps up our Kenku Warlock 5E Guide. Need another build idea? Check out our Tabaxi Rogue build!

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