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For my first campaign ever, we are playing 2E DragonLance. I, not content with my usual lot, chose to play a female kender handler. The first playsession went well, but reading up on kenders (from kencyclopedia, for example) I found out that I roleplayed my character very flatly and un-kender-like. I wasn't curious, I was unreasonably cautious for a kender, I didn't 'handle' much (though that might have been because we didn't have much interesting stuff either), I didn't get into trouble.

For the second session, I want to improve this, but I'm also wary of falling to the other side: playing a 'realistic' kender might mean 'being a pain in the rear'. Many of us in the group are new to RPGs. I'm assuming (and could be wrong) that having to race to bail me out of troubles because I always go "Hey look, a big red dragon, cool! Let's check it out!" would not be fun. Dying because they decided not to help me would not be fun either.

What would you recommend I do to play a better kender but not be a pain to my group?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 20 down vote accepted

By nature, a kender is always a pain to the rest of her adventuring party. :) So I'm going to look at how to roleplay a kender in such a way that you don't annoy the rest of your gaming group.

  • Use the curiosity as motivation and justification for what your character is doing. That means you should still move to maximize your effectiveness, but describe it from your characters point of view. For example, you won't simply say I move into range, instead:

    I skip towards the tree that looks like my cousin. "Hi Cousin Tander!... Ohhhhh look! I bet I can hit the dragon with a stone now that I'm closer!" and roll your attack.

  • Don't let the curiosity carry you (as the player) away. You are in control and decide how close or far you range. The inquisitiveness does not mean charging ahead blindly in all situations. You can do much of the wandering that gives color to your character along the trail: butterfly!, entering the kitchen at the tavern.

Most Importantly:

  • Pay close attention to the other players at the table with you. If people are getting annoyed at you, pull back a bit for a while. Kender can be quiet and somber sometimes, too. Gaming is supposed to be fun, and that means paying attention to the mood of the group and not pushing too hard if the rest of the table isn't with you.

Basically, your kender should be antagonizing the other characters, without driving the other players at the table crazy.

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4  
I'm impressed - I don't play Dragonlance, but based on what I know of kender (mostly from oldsuptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/2901271/images/…), I wasn't aware it was considered possible to play one in a way that would not make others hate you. –  Burrito Al Pastor Nov 8 '10 at 5:38
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@Burrito Al Pastor LOL. Had I seen that when I was choosing the race, I'd have thought twice about it. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Nov 8 '10 at 17:29

The most important part is to play WITH the other players, not AGAINST or DESPITE them. Too many times people playing slightly unethical or different characters rely on the other players compromising what their character would do so that the kender (/goblin/thief/etc) doesn't end up dead/outcast. That isn't fair.

You can easily play a kender to show how much it doesn't care about social mores, and how great it is at thieving stuff and making other people look stupid. That generally isn't much fun for other players. So you need to find a way to make them look cool sometimes.

If you do this, you can add cool kender stuff in without worrying about annoying or boring other players - they know it's a trade, and you are playing with them, rather than trying to look cooler than them.

Ideally, you want noone to bat an eyelid when someone says "I get that key out, and open the lock" and you respond "Oh! This key here? Here you are". You also want noone to be surprised when the barbarian ONCE AGAIN beats you near senseless with the flat of his blade. There is an unspoken deal here - instead of saying

"I'm going to make you all look dumb/waste your time chasing butterflies, and no retaliation because you'll hurt party harmony" you can say

"Here's a deal - I'll make you look silly sometimes, when I steal stuff, or get you in trouble. In exchange, I'll help you look awesome sometimes, when everyone sees how badass you are/how you see through my silly plans"

You should also have a similar deal with the GM (spoken or unspoken). If you are constantly derailing plots because you want to spend 30 minutes describing how you chase an imagined fairy through the woods, that's not cool. If the GM throws you "you think you see something shiney out of the corner of your eye" and knows you'll lead the party into an adventure, everyone at the table will be much happier to have you around.

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The only answer I can give you as a DM: "however one likes".

These are your characters. If Kenders are all described in the source material as being fearless and guiltless pickpockets and you choose to play yours as a careful and diplomatic negotiator, or a grim pint-sized assassin.. then that's a creative choice you made. (and good for you!) It's up to you.

Don't let yourself be overrun by concerns for canon. It's always a good idea to be aware of the source material, but when it's your character, keep in mind- you are writing the canon of who your character is with every passing moment. You are the sole author, creator, and editor of your characters inner life. You are not beholden to anyone else at the gaming table except the other players and the DM, and their input is somewhat limited. You can flaunt this by making stupid characters with joke names, or completely cliched characters that are all the same.. you can create a character that completely matches every expectation of what the source material says it is.. but you can also create something unique.

I highly recommend you find a way to balance the different influences and come up with something you love.

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While this advice is true, it also begs the question (no, grammatically I'm not sure it's the case, but...) "Why did you choose a Kender in the first place, then?". Taking a role implies stepping up to it, not changing everything about it. It's a constraint that makes the game more interesting. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Dec 15 '10 at 18:34
    
That's true. I just think that people pick things like races based on a variety of reasons (examples: they like the picture, they haven't made a small size character yet, they wanted the +4 bonus to thievery to kit out a build, it' .. etc) that (in the end) might not have much to do with what that character race represents in the established fictional setting of the game. And - I think it's ok to do that, it's ok to approach a game just as a game alone, or without a preconceived idea or much research . In the end it's all good. –  Peter Seckler Dec 15 '10 at 19:02
    
So the answer I made here is based on the background of the question as written- he had already started playing and found out it was "wrong". But I'm saying, ok, maybe you weren't wrong. maybe you were just fine for your character. –  Peter Seckler Dec 15 '10 at 19:04
    
Actually, when I chose the character, I had a fairly good idea of what a kender was, but on playing, I didn't actually get to roleplay it. You have a point. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Dec 16 '10 at 3:02

The key to any potentially disruptive character is meta-playing. Sometimes players forget that they can work out general play style outside of the game. I learned this lesson well in a MUD I used to play where the geratly feared evil player would use meta-playing to make it clear to his ‘victims’ that this wasn’t person, it was role-playing and he would make sure they didn’t lose in the play and would back off when they had enough.

Tris’ line about not playing against the group is very much on mark. The only time one should do this is when they have a deal with the GM that karma will balanced everything out and even then, this may get old and frustrating to other players really fast.

I had one kender who would slip medals with fake grandiose kender titles onto other party members. Then later steal them back with some loud obnoxious reason. This allowed me to steal something I could in-character proclaim to be of great value, but not really piss off other players since they usually got the joke and didn’t feel I was stealing they actually valued.

My kender for a time would steal locks of hair every few nights with no explanation to the other players. Then every once in a while would sport a new badly constructed wig, with a similar costumey look of a character, and then would aping the mannerisms of some party member. Then I’d try to coop the character I was aping into my antics.

One of the tricks in playing an odd character can be to create a few fixations. Maybe you only steal certain things. Making your character a bit OCD can be a way to act in character while limiting when you’re acting out. Maybe you steal items, but only to polish them and give them back. Maybe you steal portions of food. A generic thief is a bit boring. Give your character a twist and the dialog pours out so much easier.

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