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Pathfinder 2e - The Tengu Handbook

Last Updated: October 14th, 2020

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

Introduction

Tengu are bird people resembling crows, cosmetically similar to DnD's Kenku. However, their shared resemblence to crows is where those distinctions end. Tengu have a considerably different personality and wildly different lore.

Mechanically, the Tengu is excellent for Dexterity-based martial builds like fighters, rogues, and swashbucklers. However, their Ancestry Feat options are very limited, so there's few truly effective sets of feats to select. Consider Adopted Ancestry or a Versatile Heritage to broaden your options.

Tengu Ancestry Traits

  • Hit Points: 6 hit points is as bad as it gets, but at least you don't have a Constitution Flaw like the Elf.
  • Size: Medium. Medium and small size have few functional differences in Pathfinder 2e.
  • Speed: 25 ft. is standard.
  • Ability Boosts: Only Two Ability Boosts, but but no Ability Flaw.
  • Languages: Racial language plus Common is standard.
  • Senses: Low-light Vision.
  • Sharp Beak: Basically a shortsword strapped to your face.

Tengu Heritages

  • Jinxed Tengu: Situational.
  • Mountainkeeper Tengu: An interesting offensive option if you can advance your proficiency with Primal spells somehow.
  • Skyborn Tengu: Not essential since Feather Fall is a 1st-level spell, but helpful if you do a lot of jumping off of things. You do get exclusive access to Soaring Flight, which may be enough to justify this.
  • Stormtossed Tengu: Scaling damage resistance.
  • Taloned Tengu: Basically a dagger, but you can't throw it. If you're planning to make use of Sharp Beak, this allows you to switch to an attack with the Agile trait, and both attacks benefit from your magic handwraps without spending the gold to enhance two weapons.

Tengu Feats

Level 1

  • Scavenger's Search: Searching for things like traps is a common occurance for adventurers, and allowing you to search a larger area with the same Action allows you to search more quickly. However, this will rarely matter unless you're searching for traps during combat.
  • Squawk!: Helpful if you're reliant on Face skills. This notably works with combat uses like Demoralize and Feint, so it's a great option for the Swashbuckler.
  • Storm's Lash: Electric Arc is a great offensive cantrip, but it's an innate primal spell so you need both the Charisma to back it up and you need to advance your proficiency to keep it effective. Generally that means that this will only be effective for sorcerers with bloodlines which grant access to the Primal spell list.
  • Tengu Lore: All situational options.
  • Tengu Weapon Familiarity: Access to several Uncommon weapons, but they make be hard for the Tengu to use in many cases since only the Wakizashi has the Finesse trait and Tengus are typically Dexterity-based.

Level 5

  • Eat Fortune: Situational. It's hard to know how frequently you'll be able to use this. Fortune/Misfortune effects are really powerful, but players are the ones most likely to use them. If you face a lot of enemy spellcasters, this might see a lot of use. The target effect is disrupted without a check or anything, so when this does come up it just works with no further hassle so this is a perfect hard counter to Fortune/Misfortune effects.
  • Long-Nosed Form: Very situational. If you need this, it's often better to get a scroll of Illusory Disguise. Beyond being situational, the effect of the disguise isn't especially good. The text states that "your nose remains as long as your beak", but based on official art in the Advanced Player's Guide, that can vary significantly. The iconic Oracle is a Tengu, and their nose is maybe the length of a hand. But the art for the Tengu ancestry has a beak at least as long as a forearm and the art for the Pirate archetype depicts a tengu with a beak that's as tall as the rest of the character's head. Imagine having a nose that stretches from your upper lip to your hairline, and that's as long as your forearm, then try to convine someone that you're a human. Disregarding the "reddish undertone" of your skin while under this effect, that is a distinctive feature that I don't think you could easily explain away even in a world as fantastic as Golarion. Even if you convince someone that "a wizard did it" or something, you're still going to attract a lot of eyes.
  • One-Toed Hop: Too situational. It's great that this doesn't provoke Reactions, but without the ability to move horizontally you're relying on having something above you to grab onto in order to get out of melee. You also need to invest a bunch of Skill Increases and Skill Feats in order to be able to jump high enough to go more even 5 feet upward without taking the High Jump activity.
  • Tengu Weapon Study: Both the Katana and the Wakizashi have the Deadly trait, so if you're using them you're hoping to capitalize on critical hits. If you're doing that and your class doesn't already give you access to Critical Specialization Effects, you definitely want this.

Level 9

  • Eclectic Sword Training: Too situational, and frequently characters are built to use specific weapons so changing weapons is difficult.
  • Soaring Flight: Only 5 minutes and only once per day, but it's still flight that doesn't require you to Sustain a Spell. Unfortunately, it's limited to the Skyborn Tengu Heritage.

Level 13

  • Tengu Weapon Expertise: The only Advanced weapon on the Tengu Weapon Familiarity list is the Khakkara, which honestly isn't a great weapon anyway. The rest of the weapons will be Simple Weapons for you, so your proficiency should advance on its own without this feat.

Level 17

  • Great Tengu Form: The buffs are decent, especially if you're built as a front-line Defender who can handle being a gigantic target. But two feats for the effects of two spells once per day is hard, especially since the spells were available 10 levels ago.