Creative Characters – Thunderwing Tengu


Welcome to Creative Characters. This is where I indulge myself a bit and create an unusual character, based on a concept, idea, theme, feat or whatever else catches my fancy. These characters are NOT supposed to be optimized, but they ARE supposed to be INTERESTING.

For the sake of reference, and consistency, all characters here are created with the Elite stat array (15,14,13,12,10,8) and all hit points are rolled as averages (and rounded down). They are also written so that they can be used as either NPCs or PCs as the reader chooses, and are written with all special abilities typed out, so as to ensure a minimum amount of book flipping throughout your game.

This is a recurring series, and you should be seeing installments of it each week. Should you wish to see a particular build or idea featured here, then please don’t hesitate to comment

This time around we’re looking at making a vigilante, the terror that flaps in the night, the scourge that pecks at your nightmares, the itch that you cannot reach! Please welcome Thunderwing Tengu, the tengu vigilante.

Thunderwing Tengu (Drake Crowe; CR 5)

XP 1,600
LG/NG Medium male tengu (humanoid, tenguvigilante 6
Init +8; Senses low-light vision.; Perception +10


AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +1 deflection, +5 Dex)
hp 37 (8 (from class) +5d8+6 (favored class bonus));
Fort +2, Ref +10, Will +8


Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 elven curve blade +11 (1d10+5, 18-20/x2) or bite +5 (1d3+1/x2)


Thunderwing attacks from stealth whenever possible, preferring to overpower his enemies before they even know he’s there. If the initial strike turns out to not lay an opponent low, he’s a fearless combatant, trusting to his skill with the curve blade to see him through. When working in groups, he will set up flanking as much as possible to make use of his hidden strike ability. Thunderwing never uses ranged attacks, believing these to be dishonorable.


Str13, Dex 18 (15+2 race +1 level+2 item), Con 10 (12-2 race), Int 8, Wis 16 (14+2 race), Cha 10
Base Attack +4; CMB +5; CMD 20
Feats Light Armor Proficiency, Medium Armor Proficiency, Improved Initiative, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Stealthy, Weapon Finesse (elven curve blade), Weapon Focus (elven curve blade)
Skills Acrobatics +13, Diplomacy +12, Disguise +8,Knowledge (engineering) +11, Stealth +22
Languages Auran, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Infernal, Samsaran
Gear  +1 elven curve blade, +1 chain coat, belt of incredible dexterity (+2), cloak of elvenkind, eyes of the eagle, ring of protection (+1); Non-magical Gear: masterwork backpack, bedroll, blanket, explorer’s outfit (2), scholar’s outfits (2), sunrods (4), signet ring, trail rations (7 days); Coins 1,317 gp, 9 sp (these remaining coins can be spent at the GM or player’s discretion before the start of the game session).


Dual Identity (Ex)

Thunderwing hides his true identity, allowing him to move about social circles and nobility without carrying the stigma of his ruthless actions. In effect, Thunderwing has two identities: one is a polite member of society while the other is a skilled and cunning warrior. To keep up this charade, he has two names: his true name (Drake Crow), used in polite company, and Thunderwing Tengu, used to strike fear in the hearts of those who oppose him. Knowledge checks about one do not reveal information about the other unless his true identity revealed to the world at large.

He can start each day in either of his identities, referred to simply as social or vigilante. Changing from one identity to another takes 1 minute and must be done out of sight from other creatures.

Changing identities is more than just changing outfits and clothing (although that is certainly a part of it); the process often also involves applying makeup, altering his hair, and adjusting other personal effects. Furthermore, the change is as much a state of mind as of the body, so items such as a hat of disguise and similar spells and effects that change the user’s appearance do not reduce the time required to change identities. Most social talents require Drake to be in his social identity, but if he uses his vigilante talents in his social identity as Drake, he risks exposing his secret.

Despite being a single person, Thundwerings dual nature allows him to have two alignments (Thunderwing is Lawful Good in his Drake Crowe identity and Neutral Good in his Thunderwing identity), one for each of his identities. When in an identity, he is treated as having that identity’s alignment for all spells, magic items, and abilities that rely on alignment. For the purpose of meeting a qualification for a feat, class, or any ability, he is only eligible if both of his alignments meet the requirements.

Any attempts to scry or otherwise locate the vigilante work only if the Thunderwing is currently in the identity the creature is attempting to locate (or if the creature knows that the two identities are the same individual). Otherwise, the spell or effect has no effect, revealing nothing but darkness, as if the target were invalid or did not exist.

Seamless Guise (Ex)

Thunderwing knows how to behave in a way that appears perfectly proper and normal for his current identity. Should anyone suspect him of being anything other than what he appears to be while either in his social or vigilante identity, he can attempt a Disguise check with a +20 circumstance bonus to appear as his current identity, and not as his other identity.

Startling Appearance (Ex)

Thunderwing has learned to use the element of surprise to his advantage, startling foes that are unaware of his presence. Whenever he attempts an attack against a foe that is completely unaware of his presence (usually due to Stealth or invisibility), the foe is treated as flat-footed for the rest of Thunderwing’s turn (uncanny dodge or a similar ability prevents this effect unless Thunderwing is at least 4 levels higher than the foe with uncanny dodge).

The foe also takes a –4 penalty on attacks made against Thunderwing until the start of Thunderwing’s next turn.

Unshakable (Ex)

Thunderwing adds his class level (5) to the DC of any attempts to Intimidate him.

Vigilante Specialization (Ex) – Stalker

Thunderwing has gained an ability called hidden strike, which allows him to deal an extra 3d8 points of precision damage on melee attacks (or ranged attacks from within 30 feet) against foes who are unaware of his presence, who consider him an ally, or who are made flat-footed by startling appearance. Thunderwing can also deal hidden strike damage to a target that he is flanking or that is denied its Dexterity bonus to AC, but in these cases, the damage dice are reduced to d4s. A stalker can deal hidden strike damage against targets with concealment (but not total concealment).

Social Talents

Many Guises (Ex): Thunderwing can take on any number of mundane guises. Whenever he changes his identity, he has a third option (instead of social or vigilante): he can become mundane. The mundane identity is not a specific individual. Each one is created at the moment it is assumed, and quickly forgotten as soon as it is removed. While in a mundane identity, the vigilante does not gain the benefit of either his social or vigilante identity, but instead appears as a member of his race, usually a common laborer, farmer, or peasant of any gender. His alignment is treated as neutral when he is in his mundane identity. While in this identity, he receives a +20 circumstance bonus on Disguise checks to appear as an ordinary member of his race. Spells and abilities that are looking for the vigilante in either of his other identities fail while he is in his mundane identity. He must build the appearance for this identity using whatever clothing and tools he has at his disposal. While he can use magic (such as a hat of disguise), his mundane identity can never be anything other than an ordinary member of a society or large group (subject to GM discretion).

Social Grace: Whenever Thunderwing is in his social identity, he receives a +4 circumstance bonus on checks with Diplomacy and Knowledge (engineering).

Entrepreneur (Ex): Thunderwing can use Diplomacy and Knowledge (engineering) to earn money as if he were using a Profession skill.

Vigilante Talents

Environment Weapon (Ex): When the vigilante gains this talent, he must select one type of terrain from the ranger’s list of favored terrains. While in urban or plains, as a swift action Thunderwing can find an improvised weapon if there are any loose or moveable objects around (subject to the GM’s discretion). He doesn’t take a penalty for using these improvised weapons.

Lethal Grace (Ex): Thunderwing combines strength and speed into incredibly deadly attacks. He gained Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat. When using Weapon Finesse to make a melee attack using his Dexterity bonus on attack rolls and his Strength bonus on damage rolls, he also adds half his vigilante level on damage rolls. This bonus damage is not reduced or increased if the Thunderwing is wielding a weapon two-handed or in an off-hand.

Silent Dispatch (Ex): When Thunderwing ambushes an enemy or enemies unaware of his presence, he can attempt a Stealth check at a –5 penalty. The result indicates the DC of Perception checks to hear the vigilante’s attacks until an opponent’s first action when the DC returns to the normal –10 for hearing battle. Other enemies present can still see the attack; this talent only prevents the sounds of battle from alerting others.


Drake Crowe is a man who’s had enough. Criminals infested his small town, and no one stood up to them. Due to having a young niece under his protection, he took up the mantle of a Vigilante calling himself Thunderwing, to protect his town and oust the criminals. Remarkably, he found a liking for a life in the shadows and decided that this should be his future, freeing people from the influence of those who would abuse them. Soon, his niece was old enough to look after himself, and Drake moved to a bigger city, setting up shop, working as an engineer and a sometime mediator, and waiting for his opportunity to strike. It took a few weeks, but the night came when an old man was attacked nearby. Donning his costume, Thunderwing descended upon the criminals, causing several of them to be injured and captured by the city guard, including the son of a local crime lord. Thunderwing then had a price on his head, and as he became more and more of a nuisance to the crime lord, the price on his head grew. Now, the heat is on, and criminals from all over the town are chasing him, and Thunderwing needs allies in his quest to make the world a better place. It is time for him to find an adventuring party and take down the crimelord once and for all. And once that is accomplished? Maybe a life on the road, living as Drake Crowe during the day, but during the night, Thunderwing will fly once more!

About Kim Frandsen

Kim is a freelance writer for various companies (including Publishing, Fat Goblin Games, Flaming Crab Games, Outland Entertainment, Purple Duck Games, Rusted Iron Games and Zenith Games) as well as an editor of the Pathfinder and D&D 5th Edition product lines for Publishing. Hopes to one day rule the world!

View all posts by Kim Frandsen →

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