Source: Advanced Race Guide
The crow-like tengus are known as a race of scavengers and irrepressible thieves. Covetous creatures predominantly motivated by greed, they are vain and easily won over with flattery. Deceptive, duplicitous, and cunning, tengus seek circumstances in which they can take advantage of the situation, often at the expense of others, including their own kind. They can be highly competitive, but impulsive and rash. Some claim their behaviour is innate, while others believe their selfish mannerisms are cultural and developed as a learned adaptation that has enabled their people to endure through centuries of oppression.
Tengus are natural survivalists. For many, only theft and guile have afforded them the temporary luxuries other races take for granted. In the past, both humans and powerful races such as giants sought the bird-folk as slaves and servitors. Many tengus scavenged for survival, scraping for food in the shadows of cities or living as subsistence hunters and gatherers in the wild. Their descendants now struggle to find their place in contemporary society, often competing against negative stereotypes or driven to embrace them, and they rely on thievery and swordplay to get by in a harsh and unforgiving world.
Tengus are avian humanoids whose features strongly resemble crows. They have broad beaks and both their arms and their legs end in powerful talons. Though tengus are unable to fly, iridescent feathers cover their bodies; this plumage is usually black, though it is occasionally brown or blue-back. Their skin, talons, beaks, and eyes are similarly coloured, and most non-tengus have great difficulty telling individuals apart. Tengus who wish to be more easily identified by other humanoids may bleach certain feathers or decorate their beaks with dyes, paint, or tiny glued ornaments.
Though they are about the same height as humans, they have slight builds and tend to hunch over. A tengu’s eyes sit slightly back and to the sides of his head, giving him binocular vision with a slightly more panoramic field of view than other humanoids. Like many avians, tengus have hollow bones and reproduce by laying eggs.
Society and culture
Tengus live in close-knit communities in which they keep to themselves. In urban centres, they tend to group in communal slums, while those living in rural areas establish isolated settlements. Only humans allow them to settle within their cities with any regularity. When this occurs, tengus inevitably form their own ghettos and ramshackle communities, typically in the most wretched neighbourhoods.
Overall, they remain secretive about their culture, which is a combination of old traditions laced with newer bits of culture scavenged from the races common in the neighbouring regions. Cultural scavenging also extends to language, and regional dialects of Tengu are peppered with terms and colloquialisms from other languages. Unsurprisingly, tengus have a knack for language and pick up new ones quickly.
Most tengu communities tend to follow a tribal structure. Tribal rules remain loose and subjective, and tribe members settle any conflicts through public arbitration (and occasionally personal combat). While every tengu has a voice in her society, in most settlements, tengus still defer to their revered elders for wisdom and advice.
Religious beliefs vary from tribe to tribe; some worship the traditional tengu gods (most of which are aspects of better-known deities), while others take to the worship of human gods or celestial spirits. Tengus can be fickle with regard to their patrons, quickly abandoning religious customs when they cease to provide any tangible benefit. Many embrace polytheism, picking and choosing to uphold the tenets of whatever deities best suit them at the time.