Home > Ancestries > Tengu


Uncommon Humanoid Tengu

Tengus are a gregarious and resourceful people that have spread far and wide from their ancestral home in Tian Xia, collecting and combining whatever innovations and traditions they happen across with those from their own long history.

Tengus are survivalists and conversationalists, equally at home living off the wilderness and finding a niche in dense cities. They accumulate knowledge, tools, and companions, adding them to their collection as they travel.

The tengu diaspora has spread across Golarion in search of a better life, bringing their skill with blade Crafting to lands far from their home. In maritime regions, tengus notably work as fishers, blacksmiths, and “jinx eaters” members of ships' crews who are believed, accurately or otherwise, to absorb misfortune. Having lived in a variety of conditions and locations, tengus tend to be nonjudgmental, especially with regard to social station, though their willingness to associate with lawbreakers has often led some to look at them with suspicion.

If you want to play a character hailing from a rich history of artisanship and tradition, but who happily picks up new practices, companions, words, and items as needed, you should play a tengu.

Hit Points: 6
Size: Medium
Speed: 25 feet
Ability Boosts: Dexterity, Free
Ability Flaws: -
Languages: Common, Tengu, Additional languages equal to your Intelligence modifier (if positive). Choose from Dwarven, Elven, Halfling, Gnomish, Goblin, Sylvan, and any other languages to which you have access (such as the languages prevalent in your region).
Traits: Uncommon,Humanoid,Tengu
Low-LightVision: You can see in dim light as though it were bright light, and you ignore the Concealed condition due to dim light.
Sharp Beak: With your sharp beak, you are never without a weapon. You have a beak unarmed attack that deals 1d6 piercing damage. Your beak is in the brawling weapon group and has the finesse and unarmed traits.

You might...

  • Be gregarious and eager to find a flock of your own.
  • Voraciously absorb the practices of those around you, sometimes even forgetting where they came from.
  • Be willing to take on any task or job, no matter what others think.

Others probably...

  • Look to you as a source of eclectic skills and knowledge, especially relating to languages.
  • Get confused by your simultaneous respect for and disregard of tradition.
  • Have trouble reading your expressions or regard you with suspicion and superstition.

Physical Description

Tengus have many avian characteristics. Their faces are tipped with sharp beaks and their scaled forearms and lower legs end in talons. As closed footwear tends to fit poorly unless custom made, many tengus wear open sandals or simply go barefoot. Tengus are rarely more than 5 feet tall, and they are even lighter than their smaller frames would suggest, as they have hollow bones. A small number of tengus have vestigial wings incapable of true flight.

Tengus hatch from eggs and are featherless for their first year of life, during which they rarely leave home. They soon grow a downy gray coat, which is replaced by a dark covering of adult feathers by the time they come of age at around 15 years. Tengus use their shed feathers in a variety of tools, from simple writing quills to magical fans to focus their ancestral magic. Many tengus modify their appearance by dyeing patterns into their feathers or talons, which amplifies their body language and has the added benefit of aiding other humanoids in understanding their expressions.


Tengus are extremely social, banding together in extended communities with many families living in adjacent houses and sharing the work of the household. In cities, a community may also contain members of other ancestries. Tengu children raised in the same unit consider each other siblings, usually forgetting which of them share a biological connection.

The greatest divide in tengu society is between tengus remaining in their ancestral home and those who have dispersed across the world. Tengus refer to these two groups as those “in the roost” and those “migrating,” respectively. Roosted tengus tend to be more traditionalist and conservative and are especially concerned with preserving their culture in the face of years of erosion from oppression. Migrating tengus, on the other hand, voraciously absorb the culture of the various nations and settlements that they now call home.

Alignment and Religion

Tengus often follow the faith of the region in which they were raised, though the tengu ancestral deity is the storm god Hei Feng. This god's notorious drunken carousing and emotional swings causes many tengus to instead focus their attention on gods of freedom and travel, such as Desna or Cayden Cailean, or deities of nature, such as Gozreh. Besmara is also a common subject of tengu worship, especially among tengus who live on the sea.

Before their diaspora, tengus practiced a syncretic faith that blended a polytheistic worship of the deities responsible for creating the natural world. As tengu folklore posits that tengus long ago descended from the night sky on shooting stars to rest upon Golarion's highest peaks, animist rites were practiced on mountains and other great natural features. Even today, tengus rarely differentiate between divine and primal worship.

Tengus are far more concerned with the balance between traditionalism and adaptability than they are with good and evil, with lawful tengus more common among the roosted and chaotic tengus more common among the migratory.


Though roosted tengus tend toward more traditional names with the hard consonants often seen in the Tengu language, migrating tengus' tendency to readily absorb and repurpose the culture of those around them has led to names that combine elements of whatever languages suited the namer's fancy.

Sample Names

Arkkak, Chuko, Dolgra, Dorodara, Kakkariel, Kora, Marrak, Mossarah, Pularrka, Rarorel, Ruk, Tak-Tak, Tsukotarra

You select a heritage at 1st level to reflect abilities passed down to you from your ancestors or common among those of your ancestry in the environment where you were born or grew up. You have only one heritage and can’t change it later. A heritage is not the same as a culture or ethnicity, though some cultures or ethnicities might have more or fewer members from a particular heritage.

Jinxed Tengu

Your lineage has been exposed to curse after curse, and now, they slide off your feathers like rain. If you succeed at a saving throw against a curse or misfortune effect, you get a critical success instead. When you would gain the Doomed condition, attempt a DC 17 flat check. On a success, reduce the value of the doomed condition you would gain by 1.

Source: Advanced Player's Guide pg. 25

Mountainkeeper Tengu

You come from a line of Tengu ascetics, leaving you with a link to the spirits of the world and the Great Beyond. You can cast the Disrupt Undead cantrip as a primal innate spell at will. A cantrip is heightened to a spell level equal to half your level rounded up. Each time you Cast A Spell from a tengu heritage or ancestry feat, you can decide whether it's a divine or primal spell.

Source: Advanced Player's Guide pg. 25

Skyborn Tengu

Your bones may be especially light, you may be a rare Tengu with wings, or your connection to the spirits of wind and sky might be stronger than most, slowing your descent through the air. You take no damage from falling, regardless of the distance you fall.

Source: Advanced Player's Guide pg. 26

Stormtossed Tengu

Whether due to a blessing from Hei Feng or hatching from your egg during a squall, you are resistant to storms. You gain electricity resistance equal to half your level (minimum 1). You automatically succeed at the flat check to target a Concealed creature if that creature is concealed only by rain or fog.

Source: Advanced Player's Guide pg. 26

Taloned Tengu

Your talons are every bit as sharp and strong as your beak. You gain a talons unarmed attack that deals 1d4 slashing damage. Your talons are in the brawling group and have the agile, finesse, unarmed, and versatile piercing traits.

Source: Advanced Player's Guide pg. 26

At 1st level, you gain one ancestry feat, and you gain an additional ancestry feat every 4 levels thereafter (at 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels). You select from among the following ancestry feats.

Name Level Prerequisites Benefit
Squawk! 1
Storm's Lash 1
Tengu Lore 1
Tengu Weapon Familiarity 1
Eat Fortune 5
Long-Nosed Form 5
One-Toed Hop 5
Tengu Weapon Study 5 Tengu Weapon Familiarity
Eclectic Sword Training 9 Tengu Weapon Familiarity
Soaring Flight 9 Skyborn Tengu heritage
Tengu Weapon Expertise 13 Tengu Weapon Familiarity
Great Tengu Form 17 Long-Nosed Form