Kender

Kender

Kender are small humanoids that resemble human children with pointed ears. They are to be found throughout Ansalon and the other realms of Krynn, and few people live their lives without finding out first-hand exactly what it is about this irrepressible race that annoys everyone so much. The free-spirited kender observe few boundaries and even fewer laws, getting on the wrong side of almost everyone they meet, yet never losing the insatiable drive for excitement and adventure which fires their lives.

Personality: Kender live a carefree existence in which the world consists of secrets waiting to be uncovered. Their most defining character trait is their insatiable curiosity. To a kender, all the dark corners of the world need a light shining in them, all the locked doors should be opened just a crack, and all the trapped chests obviously have something all the more interesting to hide. This is a mixed blessing both for the kender… and the party of unfortunates that happen to be in the vicinity at the time. This curiosity manifests itself in young kender, around the age of 20, at which point they depart their homeland on a journey of discovery called ‘wanderlust’. At least as many kender are never seen again as actually return from this adventure. Almost all kender encountered outside the kender homelands will be on wanderlust.

Kender are mesmerised by the possibility of experiencing the new and exciting, and only the most extreme of circumstances will force them to place their own self-preservation above such a tantalising prospect (death is an intriguing question mark hanging over the heads of most kender, albeit a little definitive even for their tastes). While they won’t casually discard their lives in pursuit of adventure, their propensity to act on impulse at the expense of common sense (anathema to the kender) makes them reckless in dangerous situations, and a volatile addition to any adventuring party. Boredom is the kender’s arch enemy, to be conquered at any cost. It is said that there is nothing on Krynn as dangerous as a bored kender, or as terrifying as the utterance of their direst warning: ‘Oops.’

Their desire for exploration and their unquenchable curiosity lend the kender a unique perspective on what is beautiful or desirous. They are as likely to be captivated by the different colours of an unusual bird feather as they are by the perfect gemstone, and hold little regard for economics beyond the day-to-day needs of their travels. This is a boon to the kender, but a source of unending heartache to everyone around them, as a kender is never happier than when her hands are in the pockets, pouches, and backpacks of those around them.

Like an almost involuntary reflex, kender will appropriate absolutely anything that catches their eye. Physical boundaries or notions of privacy are both alien concepts to them. This is not thievery as the common man understands it, but ‘handling’ (kender are as contemptuous of real thieves as the next person). Most kender are at best bemused, and at worst mortified, to be accused of theft or pickpocketing, and are able to give perfectly reasonable explanations for just about every accusation levelled at them. Favourites include:

  • It must have fallen into my pouch.
  • I picked it up so I could give it back to you.
  • I was just keeping it safe – it looked fragile.
  • I forgot I had it.
  • Yes it does look like yours.
  • I thought it was a lovely present, thank you.

Handling is a natural extension of every kender’s day-to-day life, and is the basic panacea to their rabid curiosity. The distinction between the handling of the kender, and the pickpocketing and skulduggery of the thief or rogue, is an important one; unfortunately, only the kender themselves seem to truly comprehend the subtlety of it.

Despite the inherent distrust which surrounds them, their capacity for powerful loyalty and friendship is unrivalled. They often fall victim to the extreme intensity of their emotions, and, given the opportunity (as well as a great deal of patience) will form lasting bonds with their companions. It has been said that the only form of death feared by the kender is the death of a friend, and the sight of a grieving kender can be enough to reduce even the most cold-hearted to sympathetic tears.

As an essential companion to their curious natures, the kender have by necessity developed a powerful resistance to the effects of fear. Terror which would reduce the most iron-willed of fighters to gibbering wrecks may scant catch the attention of his kender companion, and only those dangers which are new or unusual will succeed in turning her head – and even then, only so that she can rush headlong into the unkown. This fearlessness imbues kender with a keen sense of self-confidence, and makes them highly effective in pressure situations – if you can keep them still long enough to come up with a plan. They react casually and pragmatically to almost all situations, exhibiting a bravery which quickly earns the respect of those who witness it.

In addition to this, kender boast one other unique defense to bolster their slight stature – the Taunt. Possessing an unerring knack for probing a victim’s insecurities, paranoia, and prejudices, they are masters of instilling concentrated insult and vitriol into the space of very few words. The result is that the victim of the Taunt forgets their years of training and experience, and even their common sense, in favour of attacking the kender with unchecked rage and abandon. Whether it be inciting a mob to violence or drawing a dangerous enemy out of hiding, or even just for the sake of irritating someone to which the kender has taken a dislike, the Taunt can be a powerful tool in the kender’s arsenal.

Physical Description: Most kender stand between three-and-a-half and four feet tall, weighing in at about 75lbs. They have child-like faces which quickly gain a network of fine wrinkles as they age (and travel), giving them an intense and wizened aspect. Their hair is usually sandy blond, light or dark brown, or a striking shade of red or copper; it is often immaculately braided and decorated. This tidiness is also apparent in their clothes and manner, and a kender’s first instinct upon meeting someone new will be to straighten themselves up, brush themselves off, and introduce themselves with an extended hand.

Kender speak quickly and without much forethought, tending to ramble and leap from one topic to the next as their train of thought leads them down new and unexpected avenues. They find it hard to hold anyone’s attention for very long, often fading into the background noise, and have a difficult time making themselves heard when they have something important to say (which, admittedly, they feel is most of the time).

Relations: Nothing moves faster than a kender’s reputation. Among civilised parts they are often considered on the same level as the local vermin, and constabularies quickly adopt an ‘arrest first, worry about what’s missing later’ policy (though only the strongest jails are capable of actually incarcerating a kender for very long). Despite their protestations to the contrary, kender are generally considered light-fingered thieves and pests, and will always find it hard to evince trust from those they have never met (though only slightly harder than from those they know extremely well).

Alignment: Kender tend to fit the profile of a neutral character as described on page 89 of the PHB. Their child-like nature lends them a wide-eyed innocence and naivety of the world at large that makes it difficult to ascribe a moral imperative to any of their actions – though the trail of victims their handling leaves behind them may claim otherwise. The single-mindedness of their curiosity makes it difficult for the temptations of the evil Gods to gain a foothold in the kender psyche, and evil kender are a rarity in Fourth Age Ansalon (though not entirely unheard of). Those kender which travel on the lawful path often fuss over their friends, taking on a ‘mother-hen’ attitude toward their compatriots. Like most neutral characters, kender will in general prefer good over evil, but tend to rail against evil-doers only when their actions directly affect their friends (most kender find it hard to believe that anyone would have evil intent towards them personally).

Kender Lands: Kender populations live in quaint villages and towns constructed in the forests of Krynn, consisting of a variety of comfortable huts, cosy burrows, and spacious terraces. Their dwellings blend meticulously with the natural environment and often entire cities are difficult to discern from a distance unless you know exactly what you are looking for, instead appearing only as lush, bountiful pastoral forests blossoming with life and vitality. Though their wanderlust means they pervade much of Ansalon, kender consider the lands of Kendermore (on the Balifor peninsula) and Hylo (in northern Ergoth) as ‘home’. The majority of kender roam throughout their lives in a great circle of exploration starting and ending at one of these cities, settling down later in life to raise families among others of their kind.

Kender society and politics have little structure or logic, ever-changing to reflect the whims of their constituents. Leaders rise to a semblance of power usually only by virtue of having something interesting to say, and rarely stay in a position of influence for very long, quickly dropping out of favour as their fickle peers bore of them and seek excitement elsewhere. Kender insist on being able to do as they please, so long as they do not bring harm to others, and their easy-going nature allows a semblance of order to arise from a chaos which would quickly destroy other societies. The more stringent institutions and structures which are an essential part of the lives of other races would quickly disintegrate under the pressure of far less kender than live together in Kendermore or Hylo.

Despite this focus on the individual, under the threat of a common enemy kender societies can mobilise large armies with little or no preparation, and fight fiercely to protect their friends and homelands (as many an invader has found to their cost).

Religion: Before the Cataclysm, kender clerics, though rarer than those of other races, worked miracles for themselves and others under the vault of the heavens. In post-Cataclysm Ansalon, clerics are much rarer even than that. Though they recognise all of the Gods, they hold Branchala, Chislev, Mishakal, and Gilean in highest regard. Reorx is grudgingly tolerated as a grumbling but benevolent grandfather, but most kender do not praise him highly. The adventures of the renowned Tasslehoff Burfoot, and his oft-told tales of daring and exploit, have also rendered the name of Fizban the Fabulous a revered one among many segments of kender society.

Language: Kender have their own language colloquially called ‘Kenderspeak’, and receive this language automatically, as well as Common. Kender have a huge appetite for story and verbal literature, and rarely use Kenderspeak in company lest it should hamper their ability to communicate (unfortunately using Common doesn’t seem to help much either).

Names: A kender has a given name, as well as a more descriptive ‘chosen’ name (usually – but not always – by themselves) which best describes their exploits, achievements, and outlook on life. They have a habit of appropriating particularly popular or heroic names so as to inherit the good reputation of the original owner – it is not uncommon to encounter an entire group of wandering kender all calling eachother by the same name. Younger kender are often influenced by their elders or relatives whom they hold in particularly high esteem, and the importance of familial ties often means that kender will maintain a family name out of loyalty to their blood line.

Male Names: Typical male kender names include: Arlie, Brimble, Buckeran, Giffel, Jackin, Kronin, Milo, Pentrian, Peverell, Pickolus, Quinby, Ralph, Rethean, Ringmar, Rithel, Talorin, Tarli, Teekli, Tobin, Vallo, Zacharo.

Female Names: Typical female names include: Amari, Amber, Athola, Catt, Dera, Emla, Ethani, Hakan, Judi, Juniper, Loraine, Mela, Noblosha, Oletta, Paxina, Teeli.

Chosen Names: Birdwhistle, Deep-Pocket, Downyheels, Five-Rhyme, Flamehair, Flowerhair, Lampwick, Lighteyes, Maplekeys, Nimblefingers, Pathfind, Quickstep, Redfeather, Riddler, Ringglimmer, Slightfoot, Softtread, Songmend, Stubbletoe, Thistleknow, Windseed.

Adventurers: All kender adventurers are on wanderlust, that time of their lives in which the need for exploration and adventure over-rides all other priorities. The fact that this ‘phase’ lasts for most or all of their remaining years is an irony lost on most of them. No other race is as born to the adventurer’s lifestyle as the kender.

Kender Racial Traits

  • -2 Strength, +2 Dexterity. Kender are small of stature and favour legerdemain over brute force. The only way to satisfy their curiosity is to be able to squeeze their fingers and bodies into every nook and cranny; they are lithe, agile, and very difficult to hold on to (just ask anyone who’s tried to retrieve their property from a scampering kender).
  • Small: As Small creatures, kender gain the normal +1 bonus to Armour Class, +1 bonus to attack rolls, and +4 bonus to Hide checks. However, their small size limits them to weapons smaller than those of their human companions (they have developed a variety of specialised weapons more suitable to their size), and they can only carry three-quarters of the load manageable by Medium-sized characters.
  • Kender base speed is 20 feet.
  • +1 racial bonus to all saving throws. Kender have been the victim of every form of aggression on Krynn, and have learnt a thing or two over the generations.
  • +2 racial bonus to Spot checks – no trinket escapes the sweeping gaze of the kender.
  • Skill Bonuses: Kender receive a +2 racial bonus to all skill checks made against Escape Artist, Move Silently, Open Lock, and Pick Pocket checks. In addition a kender’s larcenous disposition allows them to make Open Lock and Pick Pocket checks even if they are untrained in those skills.
  • Automatic Languages: Common and Kenderspeak. Bonus languages: Dwarven, Ergot, Elven, Goblin, Solamnic. Kender are well travelled and quickly pick up the nuances of other dialects. It has been said that all kender know how to say ‘Sorry’ in at least ten different languages, although happily for most people, ‘Oops’ seems to transcend most dialects without the need for translation.
  • Fearlessness: Kender are never frightened in the same inexplicable way as their companions, and describe extremes of terror only as ‘an odd feeling in the stomach’. As per the Dungeon Master’s Guide p.76, kender are oblivious to fear that would cause others to be Shaken or Frightened, and when others are Panicked, they are considered only to be Shaken. In addition to this, kender are never required to make a saving throw against non-magical fear, and save against magical fear with a +4 racial bonus. This combination of bonuses renders kender immune to all but the most extremely terrifying encounters.
  • Kender Taunt (Ex): Kender can use uncannily insightful insults to anger others, causing them to react irrationallyand lower their defences. Opponents unaware of the kender cannot be taunted. A kender can taunt an opponent while performing most actions, with the exception of spellcasting and activating magic items by command word or spell activation methods, but must taunt for one full round before she has any effect.. It is a language-dependent, mind-influencing effect (Will save negates, DC 10 + 1/2 kender’s level + Cha modifier) with a 30 foot range. When insulting a member of a crowd, the impact of clever insults can easily bleed to onlookers; thus creatures other than the target may be affected by the Taunt at the DM’s discretion, perhaps becoming angered or belligerent towards the kender (though never to the same extent as the target). Creatures immune to mind-affecting attacks are immune to the kender Taunt; this includes undead, constructs, plants, vermin, and other mindless or mind-shielded targets. Saving throw bonuses versus mind-affecting saves may be applied to the saving throw for a Taunt. Victims suffering from the effects of a Taunt are thrown into a single-minded rage in which all other priorities are set aside in favour of doing harm to the kender. This means that they will attempt to engage the kender in melee combat if at all possible, relegating all other forms of attack in favour of standing toe-to-toe with her(spellcasters may make an additional Concentration check at the DC of the original saving throw in order to continue using spells). Much like the victims of a Charm, however, they are not mindless automatons, and will not willingly put their lives in jeopardy if they can help it (walking across a river of lava, for example, to have at the kender poking her tongue out at them on the other shore). Victims of a Taunt suffer a –2 penalty to AC, but gain a temporary +2 morale bonus to attack rolls to reflect the abandon with which they throw themselves at the kender. The effects of the Taunt last as long as the kender continues to insult the target plus 1d4 rounds. Those who succeed at the saving throw are immune to further Taunts for a period of 24 hours.
  • Favoured Class: Rogue (or Handler if the optional Handler class is being used). A multiclass kender’s Rogue (or Handler) class does not count when determining whether she suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing. The roguish lifestyle is a natural fit for the curious kender, but their aims and motives differ greatly from the roguish archetype, as described above.

Editor’s Note: This was a prototype design for the final kender entry in the Dragonlance Campaign Setting.

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