Mar 19, 2009

Kender Hate

The following is an exchange from one of my players (currently playing the kender rogue, Theo) with someone on a WotC forum:

Player: I love playing a Kender. I can do whatever I want and people just smile and nod. :)

Other Person: I love playing a Kender. I can do whatever I want and people just randomly stab me in sensitive places of my body until I stop twitching. Then they burn the body, take off, and nuke the site form orbit, because it's the only way to be sure.
The Other Person illustrates something I've been witnessing for years... Kender hate. For reasons that totally escape me, there are a lot of people who hate kender with a passion bordering on obsession.

But I don't understand why? Is it from the novels? I hope not, every Dragonlance book Weis and Hickman ever wrote includes Tas as a key character in one way or another (and those books are among the top sellers in the Dragonlance book line). Is Tas so much more annoying than Regis, the halfling (from the Drizzt books--at least the few that I've read) . I mention halfings due to their unofficial connection with kender. As for Tas, there are plenty of DL stories where he is serious and focused when needed, and playfully innocent at other times.

Could it be from experiences playing with kender PCs and NPCs? First, I'll admit that kender are a very hard race to play, I don't recommend it for everyone... it's very easy for a certain type of player to take that race, run around being a spoiler only to hide behind "oh, I'm a kender, that's what I do". That's just a stupid player, kender characters are just like other characters, and should have believable behaviors. They can be prone to do certain things due to their innate lack of fear, or their childlike innocence, but that's not a license to be stupid and annoying. For those players, the tricky part is to be fearless but not stupid, Innocent, but not annoying, and pulling that off successfully is a real roleplaying challenge.

For the DMs, it's important to make sure you present some non-critical opportunities for the player of a kender PC to play up the lighter side of the character. If there's enough of those times and the player is committed to NOT being a game spoiler, then during the big battles, or other important scenes, it's easier for the kender PC to be a bit more serious.

Thankfully the kender characters in my various games have all kept that balance in check, and I've done the same for the few kender NPCs I've created. I don't think there's bad kender, just bad players and bad DMs...

Ok, now it's time to start spreading some kender love...