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The latest unearthed arcana Heroes of Krynn introduced Dragonlance’s Kender to 5e D&D. A little like halflings, a little like gnomes, the kender are a callback to some of the earliest adventures in D&D and whether you’re a veteran that remembers them fondly or newbie meeting them for the first time, the kender are definitely coming to your tables. So, what are kender? Keep your coin purse held tight as we go through everything you need to know.
Kender are little curious folk, about half the size of a normal human with about the same proportions, only a bit wiry and thinner and they have pointed ears similar to those of elves. The comparisons here to halflings are immediately apparent, and those are fair comparisons because the kender is basically dragonlance’s version of a halfling. Just as halflings were essentially D&D’s version of the hobbits from Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance took halflings and made them its own.
So, what makes kender stand out? Well, take a halfling and remove all the British-esque culture and paunchy flab, add a curious and thieving streak, and make them much wilder and more adventurous, and you basically have a kender. Because multiple people have written for Dragonlance, exactly how the kender behave has varied a bit. In some books they’re literally a race of thieves who can’t stop themselves from swiping things, and in other books they’re merely curious and “borrow” things. In some books kender are literally fearless and can’t feel fear even when it’s in their best interest, but in others they feel fear “for their friends” but not themselves and register a bit more self-preservation instinct. It remains to be seen which iteration of the kender will hold true in the eventual book, but for now we have a range to work with.
Beyond all that, they’re often described as cute, and tend to have ceremonial top-knot hairstyles. Anything else that falls under a human description is fair game, just at a smaller scale.
As with the other recent 5e additions the kender are a “lineage” rather than a “race”. This means that the ability scores are up to you, and it only sets the racial features in stone. These are also Unearthed Arcana statistics, which means they’re subject to change once they’re out of playtesting and land in an actual book release. Currently though their stats seem fun and open up opportunities for all sorts of mischief. Let’s go through them and then analyze each feature individually:
Creature Type. You are a Humanoid.
Size. You are Small.
Speed. Your walking speed is 30 feet.
Brave. You have advantage on saving throws you make to avoid or end the frightened condition on yourself.
Kender Ace. Starting at 3rd level, you possess a magical ability to pull an item out of a bag or another container; as a bonus action, you can reach into a container you’re carrying and roll on the Kender Aces table to determine what item you pull out. The object glimmers softly and disappears after 1 hour. You can use this bonus action a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
5d6 gold pieces.
1 simple weapon of your choice that has the light property.
1 item of your choice from the Adventuring Gear table in the Player’s Handbook. The item must cost no more than 1 gp and weigh no more than 1 lb.
1 random item from the Trinkets table in the Player’s Handbook.
Your choice of a crowbar or a grappling hook.
1 item of your choice from the Tools table in the Player’s Handbook. The item must cost no more than 10 gp.
Taunt. You have a supernatural ability to home in on a creature’s emotional raw nerves and craft a taunt that flusters that creature. As a bonus action, you can unleash a barrage of insults at a creature within 60 feet of you that can hear and understand you. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw (DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier), or it has disadvantage on attack rolls until the start of your next turn.
You can use this bonus action a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
We’ve got some pretty unique and interesting features to look at. Here’s a deeper dive on each feature:
Creature Type: No surprises here, the majority of playable races are humanoid and the owlin are no different.
Size: While many of the recent lineages have had an option between small and medium, I’m not surprised to see small here since it’s such an integral part of their lore. Still not a big issue though since the differences between small and medium creatures in 5e is pretty insignificant.
Speed: 30 is great here, especially considering how often small lineages are bumped down to 25 for their little legs. Enjoy the normal speed, short legs be damned.
Brave: At first glance this looks different from the halfling’s brave feature, but I think it’s functionally identical just with a wording that better explains itself mechanically. Brave is great when it comes up but will come up rarely, stare those dragons in the face with a much higher chance of not freaking out.
Kender Ace: This is the kender’s big unique feature and it’ll be about as useful as you make it. It relies on a random chance but within those random chances you actually have a lot of options. The gear lists have a lot to them and just getting to snag one of them whenever you need it (granted with the random chance) has a lot of uses. I think the most common use though will be selling (or spending in the case of coins) the items you magically produce to shopkeepers unaware that they’ll disappear. Obviously, this will only work once per shopkeeper, but I still anticipate that being the play quite often.
Taunt: THIS is going to be the feature that makes it hard to choose between kender and halflings. Taunt only takes a bonus action, and against single enemy boss fights a whole round of disadvantage at the cost of only a bonus action is AMAZING. I expect this might see a nerf before an official launch but get your use out of it while it lasts. It’s also specifically Charisma based, unlike many recent lineage features that let you choose between mental scores, so kender are pushed a bit towards Charisma-based classes.
Building a Kender Character
There’s no more ability score matching now with the “lineages”, so there’s also no real “ideal” classes anymore. However, the Kender has features that push them towards certain strategies. Firstly, the Kender’s taunt ability is based off your Charisma, so you’re strongly incentivized to either take a Charisma-based class or at least build your character with some bonus to it. Taunt is universally useful, and it can apply to any strategy (you’re not locked into one particular build). However, Charisma classes like the Paladin, Sorcerer, and Warlock are excellent options for a kender character. The Bard is also a good option, but it awkwardly uses its bonus action frequently which clashes with taunt, not a deal breaker but be aware that you can’t taunt and provide bardic inspiration on the same turn.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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