2021-06-24

Kenders are awesome

 

And you know it.

I mean, look at this gorgeous illustration from Elena Zambelli, and tell me: Who in their right mind would gleefully try to pick-pocket an all-powerful, vindicative undead knight?

A kender.

That's who.

Just imagine the flabbergasted faces of the kender's companions as they try to find where the damn kender went, and then realizing where said kender is, and what they are doing...

Anyway, they seem to be the comic relief of a Dragonlance campaign, in a way, they are.

And this is awesome.

Let me share a true story, happened not two weeks ago, during an online Dragonlance session.

Pathfinder

To train myself in the craft of DM-ing online using the excellent Foundry VTT, I searched for a simple fantasy module, and actually found The Dragon's Demand, from Paizo (actually, the french version, by Black Book Edition, for unrelated reasons).

This is an old, but self-sufficient module, aiming at level 1 characters, and aiming to raise them up to level 7.

It is also a sandbox, where the characters can, at some point, decide where they want to go to solve their problems.

Last but not least, converting it to D&D5 is moderately easy, and bringing it to Ansalon is actually very natural.

Put Belhaim somewhere in Solamnia. Move Tula's life around the Third Dragon War, and the Canteclure reign in the age of despair, and everything's go smoothly.

Tasslehoff's Pouches of Everything

The people at the Dragonlance Nexus (see: https://twitter.com/DLNexus) had been working on a D&D5 port of Dragonlance called Tasslehoff's Pouches of Everything (whose cover is the one above, from Elena Zambelli), and have published extracts here. Among them, the Kender, which enabled me to offer my players the possibility of playing one of the cute handlers.

A somewhat underestimated part is the Kender Pouch Grab: A few times a day, the kender can try to find something useful to the situation by looking inside their pouches, which, in rule terms, means throwing a d100, and look at the following table:

So... yeah.

The Adventure!

First, as per the Dragon's Demand, the party was jailed for suspicion of contraband, but were soon freed as they were innocent. In the mean time, they had met a kender calling himself "Tobin Eclairateur" (which can be roughly translated into "Tobin Scouterer"), who was enjoying a calm rest in the local jail.

Without even realizing it, the party soon found themselves joined by the kender, and went to explore the Witch's Tower of Belhaim.

For those who know the module, at the very beginning of the exploration, you can find two mithral daggers that also happen to be keys to something.

And at the end of the module, you find the keyholes, opening the treasure chamber.

And, between them, enough obstacles so you didn't want to go back and forth just to search for something.


So, at one moment, with the help of a imp/raven familiar with evil and sadistic tendencies, the party realises they need the mythral daggers/keys. And they have no idea where to find them !

The kender to the rescue

The kender frowned, then started rummaging through his pouches.

I asked the player to throw a d100 in the table, and guess which result it was?

Imagine the players' reactions, and the GM's (i.e. myself).

There was only a 2% chance for the kender to roll an entry with a "dagger" in it, and the player did it!

Of course, I jumped on the occasion, and announced something like: "The kender starts rummaging his pouches, and suddenly take out two mithral daggers from his pouches, explaining 'someone must have dropped them!..."

Which prompted a round of applause.

The Rule of Cool

Matt Mercer, of Critical Role fame, once posted a video on his GM Tips series, about the Rule of Cool:


I think the Kender's rummaging through their pouches is a very good example of the Rule of Cool. It doesn't stretch the rules by itself, but it pushes the "luck" factor, and in this, it could be damaging.

But the rule is limited by design (at most, used "dexterity bonus" times between two long rests), and by agreeing that, unless exception, the objects found this way would disappear later (the kender would drop them to make room for newer objects), there's no way for the kender to unbalance the game.

And looking at the reaction we had on the kender's pouches moment, and how it both ended in a great moment for us players and GM (and how it also avoided a tedious search for something in a dungeon), it was clearly a good experience.

Conclusion: Kender Pouch Grab, extended

So I guess I will extend this kender aptitude, in two ways:

First, if the rolled entry has some kind of a connection/relation with something useful in the campaign, then the roll result will be hi-jacked, and the result modified, to adapt the thing to the campaign. In the example above, a "broken dagger with a symbol" became "two mithral daggers/keys that had been hidden in the dungeon". Of course, the consequences could be negative, in some cases, but the Rule of Cool is used there, which means that, if done carefully, it will always make the story progress in a cool, interesting direction.

Second, I recently discovered the Kencyclopedia, from Sean Macdonald. I didn't have time to read it fully, but in page 113, you have the Magical Knick-Knacks:

Magic is not a plaything, and magic is especially not wasted on frivolous games and useless toys. But every novice wizard can not expect to start creating a Staff of Magius on the first day of class. Like all individuals in training they begin small and work their way toward greater items. It is general practice to destroy these items after completion, but on occasion a kender will find that these items have fallen into their pouch quite by accident.

These knick-knacks come in all shapes and sizes and have a variety of minor magical abilities. You can use the table below to create your own magical knick-knacks. All effects are usually temporary or negligible in game terms. To use an item really depends on what it is. For example, a Spatula of Eagle Sight might require you to gaze into the reflection in the Spatula, or a Hat of Glowing will only glow when worn. The exact details will have to be created by the player or DM.

To create a magical knick-knack roll percentiles twice, once for the item type and a second time for the magical function. Put the two results from the adjacent table together to create the new item. Refer to the descriptions of the magical function on the next page to help you determine how your magical knick-knack works.

... with two tables to generate magical trinkets like the Chess Piece of Rain Protection, or even the classical Silver Spoon of Turning.

I will be replace entry 98 and 99 of the Kender Pouch Grab by the following: "Roll in the magical Knigh-Knack table".

Of course, as objects found in a kender's pouches, these item tend to disappear, after a bit, as the kender carelessly dispose of them to make room for newer findings...

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