The long wait is over, and Dragonlance has come to 5th Edition D&D. While there is a ton of new content to cover, Dragonlance only provides one additional playable race. Kender are anything but new, however. This halfling-like race is a staple in the setting and a welcome addition to 5E. Learn all about them in our Kender 5E Guide.
Kender 5E Guide
I can’t help but be excited about the addition of the Kender. Despite their regular comparison to halflings, this race actually originated as gnomes. Their magical transformation has resulted in a player option that is unique.
What are Kender in D&D?
Kender are unique to Krynn and the Dragonlance setting. They are diminutive humanoids known for their curiosity that drives them to adventure. The curiosity of the Kender is only matched by their fearlessness. Kender are especially fond of trinkets and knick-knacks. Some enjoy a collection they picked up in their travels, while others are the spoils of professional thieves.
Building a Kender Character
Over the last several releases, Wizards of the Coast has moved away from races having fixed ability score bonuses. This approach continues with Dragonlance. I appreciate this flexibility, as it allows you to play the character you want without worrying about optimization limiting your options.
Ability Score Increases
Kender characters do not receive set ability score bonuses. Instead, you have a choice to make when it comes to your ability scores. You can give a +2 bonus to the ability of your choice, and a +1 bonus to a second. An alternate rule allows you to take +1 across three different abilities. When it comes to customization and flexibility, this is hard to beat.
A new Kender character can speak, read and write common in addition to one other language found in the Players Handbook. Kender have their own language, known as Kenderspeak, which would make sense for your character.
These are some strong, thematic options for the Kender! Starting off with a small thing, but it is nice that as a small character you are not burdened with a lower foot speed than the rest of your party. From there, you get three additional traits of varying usefulness.
Fearless protects you from the effects of the frightened condition in multiple ways. You get advantage on every saving throw you make against being frightened. If that wasn’t enough, you can automatically save against this effect once per day no matter what you roll. Unless you are constantly facing monsters with fear effects, this will prevent you from being frightened through most of your campaign.
Kender aptitude is a nice little skill boost. You gain an additional proficiency with insight, investigation, sleight of hand, stealth, or survival.
Taunt is especially fun, and is a great option for drawing fire away from weaker allies. Taunt is a bonus action, which is helpful in the action economy. You can force a creature within 60 feet that can see and understand you to make a wisdom save. If they fail, they get disadvantage against everyone but you until the beginning of your next turn.
Best Classes for Kender
the truth about the Kender (and most new D&D races) is that there is enough flexibility in Ability Score bonuses that you can make anything work without giving up optimization. You can comfortably play a Kender of any class. However, there are some aspects of their racial traits that make some options better than others. I especially love the Kender in a defender role, wading into melee and soaking up damage.
Path of the Totem Warrior (Bear Spirit)
Without a doubt, the first kender I will play is a Path of the Totem Warrior Barbarian with the bear spirit totem. Tanking as it exists in video games is not really possible in D&D for most cases, given that enemies will largely just run past your tanky character and go for the weaker links. A Kender Totem Barbarian has some options for actually building a working tank, however. You can use taunt to make it difficult for nearby enemies to attack anyone but you. As a barbarian, you are a font of HP and resistances. The bear totem is the cherry on top, given that you get resistance to all damage except for psychic at level 3. You can soak up a ton of damage, funnel some enemies your way, and use flexible ability score bonuses to enjoy an optimal stat spread. What’s not to like?
I have a lot of love for the Soulknife Rogue in general. It is also a good thematic fit for kenders, some of whom have developed reputations for theiveryf and pickpocketing. What I really like about using a Kender fo this subclass is the synergy between Psi-Bolstered Knack and Kender Proficency. Between playing a kender and a rogue, you will have tons of skill proficiencies to choose from. If you want to lean heavily into having all the skills, Psi-Bolstered Knack greatly increases your chances of each success by allowing you to add a die to the roll with no additional cost to you.
How to Play a Kender
In 5E, Wizards of the Coast is leaning heavily into the themes of fearless curiosity. While the new book does not offer a lot of flavor regarding this race, older editions provide plenty of inspiration on how to play your Kender character. While your character is your own, this is a chance to play a character that mixes fearlessness and clueless to a degree. Your kender could be equal parts lovable and ferocious, depending on what you have in mind.
While the current version is silent to Kender naming conventions, we can look to older versions of the setting for guidance. Kenders usually have given names at birth. These are often family names, but they are also rarely what a kender is best known by. The kender also take chosen names that best describe their exploits and adventures.
- 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.
Are Kender Halflings?
Unfairly or not, kender have developed a reputation as the halflings of the Dragonlance setting. However, kender are not halflings. In fact, they are an offshoot of gnomes that have been altered by magic to exude supernatural curiosity and fearlessness.
Does Kender Have Their Own Language?
Kender have their own language known as “kenderspeak.” Like the kender, this language is exclusive to the Dragonlance setting.
Wrapping up our Kender 5E Guide
That concludes our Kender 5E guide. We’re very excited for the return of Dragonlance, and we look forward to covering it in-depth. See our other Dragonlance guides for more information!