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The Kender

Date: 07-03-95 00:27
From: Daniel Mcneese

Kender are basically the DRAGONLANCE setting's version of halflings. They are about the same size (around 4', I think), and they are a race of natural thieves, but all similarity ends there.

Kender have a number of annoying (and even dangerous) tendencies that have led many to regard them as a "nuisance race," much like mosquitoes. These traits include:

KLEPTOMANIA. Kender have an almost ghost-like ability to sneak around and steal things. This in itself isn't bad. It's their almost instinctive tendancy to USE these skills, no matter HOW inappropriate, that causes problems. They don't do this deliberately, it's just a compulsive racial habit they don't even realize they have. They often pick something up to examine it and simply forget to put it back. These items invariably end up in a kender's pouches. Kender tend to have several, bulging pouches. Ironically enough, there is no greater insult to a kender than to be called a thief. Go figure. :)

AN INSATIABLE CURIOSITY. *ANYTHING* that can hold a kender's attention for more than about 1.5 seconds must be fully explored, examined, etc. regardless of where it is, who it belongs to, or what danger might be associated with disturbing it. Even the fact that it's on another person won't stop them. They also forget to put it back (see kleptomania, above). When questioned, they will offer an amazing array of excuses, all of which they believe in so whole-heartedly that not even a Detect Lie spell can find flaw in these stories (although commen sense certainly can).

"Honestly, they looked like they were going to fall off a shelf, and I didn't want them to break, they looked so valuable, so I took them for safekeeping. I'll give them back next time I'm there. What was I doing there in the first place? Just looking around. Of course I picked the lock on the door to get in! I had to, nobody answered when I knocked! Well, at least I MEANT to knock..."

AN ABSOLUTE LACK OF FEAR. A kender will cheerfully swat an enraged dragon on the nose if told he might get an interesting reaction. Enough said.

THE ATTENTION SPAN OF A 3 MONTH OLD. It's hard to get a kender to stay focused, and that's the good news. The bad news is that they usually *can* stay focused on something interesting long enough to deposit it in their pouches.

A MOTOR MOUTH. Once a kender starts talking, the only why to shut him up about something is to either change the subject, find something to distract him, outtalk him, or apply a quick, hard blow to the back of his head and hope he doesn't come around for a while.

THE TAUNT. A kender is a master of insults. When he puts his mind to it, he can enrage just about any creature he has a language in commen with. Sometimes they even manage to use this ability in the right place; on the battlefield. An opponent who fails to resist a kender's taunts becomes enraged beyond the capacity for rational thought. This causes opponents to fight much less effectively. Of course, it also means that enemies will be drawn to the offending kender like vultures to a potential meal.

Of course, the kender do have some positive points as well, which many people (*MANY* people) tend to overlook because of their bad habits.

SENSITIVITY. There is no such thing as a cruel, evil, or uncaring kender. In fact, the kender may very well be the only sentient race incapable of deliberate evil. Seeing innocent people hurt (even complete strangers), arouses amazingly strong feelings of compassion in them, and no kender will hesitate to go out of his way to aid someone in need (even though their attempts at aid might cause even more trouble...). The loss of a friend will reduce them to absolute misery, and the sight of a grief-stricken kender has been known to wring pity out of even the hardest hearts.

AN ABSOLUTE LACK OF FEAR. There is a positive aspect to this. A kender will NEVER be paralyzed with fear or too stunned to react. He is always ready to do something, even if it's the wrong thing.

UNSHAKABLE LOYALTY. A kender will never even consider deliberately acting against a friend's best interests. The thought of betraying someone he cares about is alien to a kender's mind. Of course, keep in mind that a kender can easily be misled as to what is in a friend's best interests...

THE HOOPAK. Part tool, part weapon, all kender. The hoopak is a kender invention scorned by all other races, which is a shame, because it's really not a bad idea. It's a staff with a sharp, metal shod on one end and is forked to form a slingshot on the other. A kender of ANY class can employ this as either a melee or, when armed with a pouch of stones, a ranged weapon. While usable by any kender, no member of any other race can use one. This device can also be twirled very quickly, causing the shod to produce a high-pitched whining sound that is the universal kender signal for danger.

I've only touched on the high points here. If you want to get a better idea of what kender are like, read some of the DRAGONLANCE novels. I strongly suggest starting with the Chronicles Trilogy.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Dragons of Winter Night
Dragons of Spring Dawning

Tasslehoff Burrfoot is the character you'll want to pay attention to. Once you've read those, a couple of other books dealing with Tas's adventures are Wanderlust and Kendermore, and he's also involved in the Legends trilogy.

© 2017 Neil Looby
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