Aimed at Rite Publishing's 'Kaidan' setting, there is evocative material here that could be useful whenever you want to introduce an oriental flavour into your game. It opens with three short stories, told in a gentle oriental style, telling of the adventures of a young swordsman called Akaan and, more importantly, how he grew spiritually and then in his turn taught others. First listen, then meditate on what you have heard.
Moving on, but in the same style, comes an explanation of what tengu are - sentient flightless bird-men, to put it briefly. Customs, traditions, faith, the rhythm of their lives, are all covered here for those who would seek to understand or portray them. The race would seem suitable for players who favour a philosphical approach and are comfortable with thoughtful role-play of a character who has considered his place and aspirations carefully, not that tengu are by any means pacifistic as to them mastery of the sword is a high art indeed! Believing their race to be descended from the wind and the mountains, they revere both and often express themselves in arts such as poetry and calligraphy as well as in swordplay. A well-rounded tengu displays competence in all of these and more.
Only once this discussion is done do we reach the relevant game mechanics necessary to create a tengu character. Naturally, individuals may pursue any class, and each is discussed briefly as to their suitability and the way in which most tengu would approach that vocation. Several archetypes are also presented. For example, some tengu tame and raise boar, and ride them as Cavaliers. Others pursue a distinctively tengu form of Paladinhood. Others seek the very power of flight, developing a martial style involving prodigious leaps and eventually even limited flight. Seekers after great wisdom may aspire to become daitengu, the near-immortal guardians of mountain-top shrines.
Finally comes a selection of new feats. Many could be picked up by non-tengu characters, perhaps by spending time with tengu, observing them closely and studying their ways: others have the race as a prerequisite.
Overall, beautifully-presented in evocative style, it is easy to picture tengu society and see how you might place them in a suitable part of your world - or, for that matter, have a clear picture of your homeland if you wish to play one who has travelled far to adventure in other lands. A nicely-put-together piece, a few minor layout flaws, but pleasing to eye and mind alike.
Return to In the Company of Tengu: A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class page.
Reviewed: 23 June 2011