Best Classes for Kenku in Dungeons & Dragons

Best Classes for Kenku

You have a wide variety of class options to choose from, but what are the best classes for kenku in Dungeons & Dragons 5e? Each class offers unique abilities and strengths that can help you in your adventures. But some classes amplify the kenku’s strengths while others make your little bird person’s existence more difficult.

And difficult ain’t a bad thing. I like introducing artificial challenges into my characters for more flavor. But you’re here for THE BEST classes for kenku, so let’s focus on that.

In this article, I break down the best classes for kenku that create the best tabletop chemistry with the race. We’ll discuss why each class is a strong choice for your kenku and how you can make the most out of your kenku’s abilities and strengths (and compensate for their weaknesses).

Everything about the kenku is built for the rogue, so it’s the easy and obvious first choice. But you’ll be surprised by how well other classes suit the kenku.

If you want the cliff notes, here are the best classes for your kenku in alphabetical order:

  • Fighter
  • Monk
  • Ranger
  • Rogue

If you’re ready to choose the perfect class for your kenku hero and playstyle and take your adventure to the next level, read on!

Best Classes for Kenku—Skip the following section if you're already familiar with the classes in 5e

What are the different classes in D&D 5e and what do they do?

  • Artificers are the engineers and inventors of D&D. They use their intelligence, creativity, and magic to create powerful objects and amplify the abilities of existing objects.
  • Barbarians are rage-fueled melee fighters who can deal massive damage, shrug off damage, and even heal themselves.
  • Bards are versatile jack-of-all-trades with powerful magic abilities and a wide range of skills.
  • Blood Hunters are warriors who use their own blood to fuel their magic and abilities.
  • Clerics are divine spellcasters who can heal the party, buff their stats, and even raise the dead.
  • Druids are nature-based spellcasters with the ability to transform into animals, control the weather, and summon nature spirits.
  • Fighters are versatile melee combatants with a wide range of specializations and abilities.
  • Monks are martial artists who use their body as a weapon, with the ability to fight unarmed and with special monk weapons.
  • Paladins are holy warriors dedicated to fighting evil in all its forms. They have powerful spells and abilities at their disposal.
  • Rangers are nature-based warriors who specialize in tracking and ambushing their foes.
  • Rogues are stealthy melee combatants with the ability to backstab and poison their enemies.
  • Sorcerers are spellcasters who draw on their inner power to cast spells, with the ability to choose from a wide variety of spells.
  • Warlocks are spellcasters who formed a pact with an otherworldly being, giving them access to powerful spells and abilities.
  • Wizards are scholarly spellcasters with the ability to learn and choose from a wide range of spells.
Best Classes for Kenku—First, which class sounds the most fun?
Best Classes for Kenku—The goal of D&D is to have fun, so go with the class that sounds the most fun!

How do you choose the perfect class for your kenku hero?

The number one goal of Dungeons & Dragons is to have fun. So my first recommendation to choose the perfect class for your kenku is:

  • Which class sounds the most fun to you?

If that question solves your dilemma, you’re welcome. Thank you for stopping by NERD NIGHT NEWS and I hope to see you again!

For everyone else, let’s get a feel for the kenku and see what classes create the best chemistry.

To determine the best classes for kenku, let’s start with their strengths:

  • Dexterity ability score +2
  • Wisdom ability score +1
  • Expert Forgery: As long as you have a Forgery Kit you can copy another creature’s writing and craftwork. You have advantage on all checks made to produce forgeries or duplicates of existing objects.
  • You are proficient in your choice of two of the following skills: Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, and Sleight of Hand.
  • Mimicry: You can mimic sounds you have heard, including voices. A creature that hears the sounds you make can tell they are imitations with a successful Wisdom check opposed by your Charisma check.

The kenku’s Dexterity bonus benefits every class because Dexterity is used in determining:

  • How soon you can act in battle
  • Your chance to land an attack
  • Whether or not you can disable a trap
  • Your ability to escape restraints
  • If you can craft a small or detailed object
  • Armor Class (depending on the armor you’re wearing)

A Dexterity check may represent any attempt to move nimbly, swiftly, or quietly, as well as preventing slipping on difficult ground.

Wisdom also benefits every class because Perception and Insight checks are useful for being aware of your surroundings and understanding whether someone is hiding their true intentions from you.

Based on the racial strengths of the kenku, we’re off to a great start if you want take an action-oriented character to the next level. And if you’re looking to level up your kenku roleplaying, we’ve got you covered.

So, what are the strongest class choices for the kenku then?

Best Classes for Kenku—First up, the fighter
Best Classes for Kenku—Fighter

Best Classes for Kenku—Fighter

Fighters are masters of weaponry and armor who show no fear in the face of death. They love combat, but tend to approach it from a tactical perspective vs the bloodlust of barbarians.

Fighters use violence, or the threat of violence, to solve problems. You do not want to engage a fighter head-on unless you are confident in your own martial prowess.

A fighter is one of the best classes for kenku because, unlike the barbarian, your kenku doesn’t need to worry about Strength.

Create a kenku fighter who uses finesse weapons and ranged weapons exclusively. This allows you to excel at ranged combat and melee combat with only your Dexterity ability modifier. In addition, the fighter can choose from 4 different skills that benefit from the kenku’s Wisdom ability score bonus.

Constitution is important for the fighter because you need to be able to take hits and keep fighting if your kenku is jumping into the fray. However, Constitution isn’t as important if you make a ranged combat specialist.

Best Classes for Kenku—Choose Your Fighting Style: Archery, Dueling, Two-Weapon Fighting
Best Classes for Kenku—Choose Your Fighting Style

Choose a fighting style perfect for your kenku fighter

Fighters select from a handful of fighting styles to amplify their effectiveness in combat. So if you’re going for a Dexterity-based fighter, I would recommend choosing one of the following fighting styles:

  • Archery—You receive a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons. This makes you even deadlier if you want to stick with a ranged fighter build.
  • Dueling—When you have a melee weapon in one hand (and no other weapons), you receive a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon. This is even better because shields don’t count as weapons so you can equip a shield for an increase in Armor Class.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting—You can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack. This can be a confusing ability (because technically everyone can fight with two weapons) so I put together a guide to two-weapon fighting with an improved version you can present to your DM.

Which skills work best for a kenku fighter?

As a fighter, you can choose to be proficient in two of the following skills:

  • Acrobatics (DEX)
  • Animal Handling (WIS)
  • Athletics (STR)
  • History (INT)
  • Insight (WIS)
  • Intimidation (CHA)
  • Perception (WIS)
  • Survival (WIS)

If you want to take advantage of the kenku’s racial strengths, you have plenty of options. For example, you can create an Archery-focused fighter proficient in Acrobatics, Stealth, Insight, and Perception.

This translates to an agile kenku capable of taking accurate shots with a longbow while hopping around the battlefield with ease. This kenku also moves silently through the shadows to reach the perfect vantage point and take out the leader of a rebel force giving a speech. And with your increased Insight and Perception, you’ll be aware of your surroundings at all times and better able to uncover a sly creature’s true intentions.

If you want something different, create a Two-Weapon specialist with Animal Handling, Deception, Sleight of Hand, and Survival. This kenku relies on a small animal companion like a monkey to distract her enemies before she goes in for the kill. Or maybe you and the monkey fake an argument in a crowded tavern with hoots and howls (put that mimicry to good use) and pick pocket distracted onlookers when you bump into them. Work with your DM on how to handle a trained animal companion.

Best Classes for Kenku—Next up, the Monk
Best Classes for Kenku—Next up, the Monk

Best Classes for Kenku—Monk

Monks transform their bodies into living weapons by harnessing the energy flowing through them. They can utilize this energy in offensive ways like rapid-fire attacks and defensive ways like effortlessly evading attacks.

That means we have another combat specialist that can take advantage of your kenku’s Dexterity bonus. And since the monk is a combat specialist, make sure you don’t neglect your Constitution ability score. Lastly, compared to the fighters, monks benefit even more from the kenku’s +1 Wisdom ability score bonus.

Monks can harness the mystic energy of ki, which you can spend to perform sick monk abilities like Flurry of Blows, Patient Defense, and Step of the Wind. Some of the abilities require the target to make a saving throw to resist the effects. And that saving throw DC is calculated using your proficiency bonus and Wisdom modifier.

  • Ki save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier

Make your Wisdom ability score higher and you increase your chances to:

  • Disable someone with Stunning Strike
  • Decimate your enemies with Breath of the Dragon
  • Prevent someone from lying to you with Extort Truth
  • Instill overwhelming fear in the enemies around you with Hour of Reaping
  • And those are just a few of the abilities you learn depending on the path you choose as a monk

First of all, HOUR OF REAPING?! Give me a little kenku monk dressed in black tattered robes and a hood over his eyes with the ability to instill terror in my enemies on command, PLEASE!

Test your might with one of the best classes for kenku

When it comes to putting your kenku’s Dexterity to the test, monks have a variety of features that benefit from a high Dexterity score:

  • Martial Arts—You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons. Monk weapons are shortswords and any simple melee weapons that don’t have the two-handed property or heavy property. This means most simple melee weapons are considered finesse weapons for the monk! Give your monk a sickle or a spear for a change of pace.
  • Deflect Missiles—You can use your reaction to deflect or catch the missile when you are hit by a ranged weapon attack. The damage you take from the attack is reduced by 1d10 + your Dexterity modifier + your monk level. If you reduce the damage to 0, you can catch the missile if it is small enough for you to hold in one hand and you have at least one hand free. And then you can throw it back in the same reaction!
  • Evasion—Your agility lets you dodge out of the way of certain area effects, like an explosive trap or a fireball. If you succeed on a Dexterity saving throw against an effect that allows you to take only half damage, you take no damage if you succeed, and only half damage if you fail.
Best Classes for Kenku—Be a dope Monk

Which skills work best for your kenku monk?

As a monk, you can choose to be proficient in two of the following skills:

  • Acrobatics (DEX)
  • Athletics (STR)
  • History (INT)
  • Insight (WIS)
  • Religion (INT)
  • Stealth (DEX)

If you create a monk to take advantage of the kenku’s racial strengths, choose two of the following: Acrobatics, Insight, and Stealth. (Remember, you also get racial proficiencies so you can have all three.)

Imagine a monk straight out of an anime who can run up walls and hop silently from rooftop to rooftop. He uses keen observational skills and agility to avoid being seen or heard. When he’s ready to strike, he drops down onto his enemy without a sound, knocks him unconscious, and ties him up for interrogation later.

For a more roleplay-focused monk, go with a higher Intelligence ability score and take History and Religion. This allows you to create a monk well versed in the ancient texts and legends of her people. Maybe your kenku became a monk in order to track down the being responsible for the kenku curse. And don’t forget to use your kenku’s Expert Forgery skill to earn some coin copying religious texts for churches and monasteries as your party travels from town to town.

If you want to dive deeper into the roleplaying possibilities of the kenku, I put together a list of simple tips to make your kenku roleplaying experience amazing.

Best Classes for Kenku—Ranger

Rangers are deadly hunters who thrive on the outskirts of civilization. They are generally lone wolf types, which clash with the kenku’s need to be part of a group for safety. But this is Dungeons & Dragons, so come up with a cool backstory for your unbelievably brave kenku and roll with it (pun intended).

The fighter and monk showcased how effective the kenku can be at range and up close. So the same can be assumed for the ranger. Ideally, focus on Dexterity and wield finesse weapons and ranged weapons if you want to get the most out of your kenku’s racial bonuses.

Constitution is important if your kenku ranger gets up close and personal, but less so if you plan to pepper the enemy with arrows from afar.

Wisdom, however, is crucial for rangers because they rely on their Wisdom to cast spells. This is great because kenku receive a bonus to their Wisdom ability score. Unfortunately for kenku, learning new spells is not as simple as it is with… every other race.

The challenge in playing a kenku ranger

The ranger class introduces the first major hurdle for us to overcome as a kenku: how they communicate.

Don’t get me wrong, mimicry is a phenomenal ability. Especially as a ranger. If you spent your whole kenku life living in the wilderness amongst animals, your repertoire of animal sounds would be vast.

Mimic the roar of a bear or growl of a jaguar to scare enemies away who don’t know where you are. Mimic the sounds of different birds in the area to find out if danger is nearby. If there’s no response to your calls, the birds might have been scared away by said danger. If you fail a stealth check and a guard hears you (but can’t see you), mimic the sound of a cat hissing and running away.

The possibilities are endless.

Best Classes for Kenku—Learning new spells as a Kenku Ranger is not as easy as it is with other races
Best Classes for Kenku—The tricky nature of learning magic as a kenku

So what’s the problem if this is one of the best classes for kenku?

All spells require some combination of three components to cast:

  1. Somatic—A forceful gesture or a complex set of movements
  2. Material—Specific materials, a spellcasting focus, or component pouch
  3. Verbal—Most spells require the chanting of mystic words.

Let’s say you’re a kenku spellcaster and you learn a new spell that has a verbal component. How are you going to speak the verbal component if you’ve never heard anyone say it before?

Luckily, this is Dungeons & Dragons so we can come up with unique solutions to problems like this. Pick your favorite question below to come up with a workaround you can bring to your DM:

  • Can you make contact with a fey creature that appears in and out of your kenku’s life from time to time, who has a long-standing relationship with you?
  • Is it possible that a minor nature deity took pity on you and steps in to teach you how to say the verbal component when you learn a new spell?
  • If one of the other players is a ranger, can that ranger be like a mentor to you and recite the verbal component for you to learn? Kenkus naturally seek out companionship so this would make for a great roleplay scenario within the party.

I appreciate fun opportunities to weave character progression in with roleplay so leveling up isn’t something that only happens on a character sheet.

With that said, if you don’t want to play by the rules, ask the DM if your kenku can just use the new spells when your kenku learns them.

But where’s the fun in that?

Best Classes for Kenku—Choose Your Fighting Style: Archery, Dueling, Two-Weapon Fighting
Best Classes for Kenku—Choose your Fighting Style

Choose a fighting style perfect for your kenku ranger

Like fighters, rangers also select from a handful of fighting styles to amplify their effectiveness in combat. So if you’re going for a Dexterity-based ranger, I would recommend choosing one of the following fighting styles:

  • Archery—You receive a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons.
  • Dueling—When you have a melee weapon in one hand (and no other weapons), you receive a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon. This is even better because shields don’t count as weapons so you can equip a shield for a nice Armor Class bonus.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting (modified)—You can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack. As I mentioned in the fighter section, this can be a confusing ability (because technically everyone can fight with two weapons) so I put together a guide to two-weapon fighting with an improved version you can present to your DM.

Which skills work best for your kenku ranger?

As a ranger, you can choose to be proficient in THREE of the following skills:

  • Animal Handling (WIS)
  • Athletics (STR)
  • Insight (WIS)
  • Investigation (INT)
  • Nature (INT)
  • Perception (WIS)
  • Stealth (DEX)
  • Survival (WIS)

First, let’s take advantage of the bonuses to Dexterity and Wisdom. In addition to your kenku skills, choose Perception, Stealth, and Survival to create a vigilant kenku ranger who is great at tracking down her targets without making a sound. And when you close in on your target, you can mimic whatever sound you know to draw your target’s attention before letting a deadly arrow fly.

Want something different?

Take a higher Intelligence score and grab Investigation, Nature, and Survival to create a ranger that is more in tune with her surroundings. When the party rests for the night, your kenku can spend her time foraging for food and studying the tracks left behind by whatever it is you’re tracking. And when you reach your destination, you can provide valuable information about the area that other members of the party may find useful. Maybe there’s a source of running water nearby you can use to sneak into a city…

Best Classes for Kenku—Lastly, the class kenku were meant to dominate, the Rogue
Best Classes for Kenku—The best of the best classes for kenku

Best Classes for Kenku—Rogue

We knew this one was coming.

Most flocks of kenku reside in rundown buildings in crime-ridden cities, and kenku have a reputation for making a living as thieves, spies, and assassins.

Everything about kenku screams rogue. They receive a great Dexterity bonus for better attacking, evading, sneaking, pickpocketing, and general skullduggery. Their racial skills are Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, and Sleight of Hand.

Those are literally all skills for a classic rogue.

But we are talking about the best classes for kenku so let’s proceed

You can forge documents with Expert Forgery and deceive people with your mimicry ability.

The bonus to Wisdom grants you better perception of your surroundings and the intent of those around you. You’ll see that knife coming long before it strikes you in the back. You’ll see that human is about to betray you so you cut his throat before he can reach for his blade.

Strength and Constitution aren’t too important, so put your points into Dexterity, Wisdom, and Charisma to embrace everything kenku. Intelligence is nice to have since rogues have proficiency in Dexterity and Intelligence saving throws. And intelligence is great for general Investigation checks and searching for traps.

But I wouldn’t prioritize Intelligence over Dexterity, Wisdom, and Charisma if I was going for “THE” kenku rogue experience.

If you go down the Arcane Trickster path, however, then I would prioritize Intelligence over Wisdom or Charisma. Just keep in mind the tricky nature (pun intended) of casting spells as a kenku.

Best Classes for Kenku—Everything about kenku make the rogue the perfect class for them
Best Classes for Kenku—Yeah, that about sums it up

Which skills work best for THE BEST of the best classes for kenku?

As a rogue, you can choose to be proficient in FOUR of the following skills:

  • Acrobatics (DEX)
  • Athletics (STR)
  • Deception (CHA)
  • Insight (WIS)
  • Intimidation (CHA)
  • Investigation (INT)
  • Perception (WIS)
  • Performance (CHA)
  • Persuasion (CHA)
  • Sleight of Hand (DEX)
  • Stealth (DEX)

Choose the two skills you didn’t choose from the list of racial skill proficiencies. You’ll then have Acrobatics, Deception, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth, all the skills for the classic thieving rogue.

I recommend going with a comfortable Charisma ability score if you want to take advantage of skills like Deception and Performance. You can use both to great effect when you want to cause a distraction. Put on a show in the middle of town and pick the pockets of those in the crowd who stop by to watch. Hide and use your mimicry to trick someone into searching for you instead of the rest of your party. That way you can easily hide and keep their attention while your companions sneak by undetected.

If you’re looking to choose the perfect class for your kenku, the rogue is THE BEST of the best classes.

I touched on two other unusual class ideas to make your kenku unique in my last article so check it out if you want more inspiration.

Best Classes for Kenku—In a Nutshell

In a Nutshell—The Best Classes for Kenku

So, there you have it—four strong class options for your 5e kenku hero, each with its own unique strengths and abilities that can take your adventure to the next level. And this is just the start because I barely touched on the subclasses for each class, which offer yet another level of customization.

To recap, the best classes for kenku are:

  • Fighter—Get up close and personal using finesse weapons or take deadly shots from afar using ranged weapons. Rely on your Wisdom bonus to stay aware in hostile environments and detect when creatures are concealing their true intentions from you.
  • Monk—Turn your little bird body into a deadly weapon by channeling the energy running through them. Take advantage of your racial Wisdom bonus to make sure your enemies can’t resist the powerful effects of your dope monk skills.
  • Ranger—Rely on the power of nature to assist your kenku ranger in taking down powerful foes. Stalk your target through the wilderness and depend on animal companions to guide you and your party through dangerous environments.
  • Rogue—And lastly, of course, hide in the shadows and murder everyone with a kenku rogue. The end.

In Closing

Remember the goal of Dungeons and Dragons: have fun. Take what you’ve read in this article and change it however you want to create the ultimate kenku experience for yourself and your party.

The best classes for kenku are the ones that suit your playstyle and help you achieve your gaming goals. So choose wisely and may your next adventure be a phenomenal one!

Want to take your kenku experience to the next level? Check out our series of guides for this amazing player race:

What do you think? Do you have any tips or thoughts on the best classes for kenku? Did I leave out your favorite class for the kenku? Let me know in the comments below!

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