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Dragonlance More DRAGONLANCE Information: Kender, Battles, W&H's Novels, & More!

In addition to the official videos announcing Dragonlance releases for late 2022, I got to talk to talk to the D&D team and get a few more details not in the public D&D Direct event. Because Dragonlance is a setting about war, Ray Winninger, Executive Producer of Dungeons & Dragons, was asked if Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen would have large-scale combat rules. He said that they...

In addition to the official videos announcing Dragonlance releases for late 2022, I got to talk to talk to the D&D team and get a few more details not in the public D&D Direct event.

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  • Because Dragonlance is a setting about war, Ray Winninger, Executive Producer of Dungeons & Dragons, was asked if Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen would have large-scale combat rules. He said that they would in an broad abstract form. The board game or battle game Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn is actually focused on large-scale combat and can be played independently or RPG players could switch to Warriors of Krynn for their big combat scenes, including porting in their characters and then switch back to the RPG after the battle. So the RPG adventure can be played alone, the board game can be played alone or they can be combined, depending upon the group's preference.
  • Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn is a cooperative game.
  • When asked if Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn could be used for large-scale battles in other D&D settings Winninger said it was designed with that idea in mind. However, if Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn is poplar they'll consider making more customized, large-scale combat board games for other settings.
  • Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen is a brand new story, independent of the upcoming novel, Dragonlance: Dragons of Deceit. Winninger said that Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are telling their own story set in Krynn while Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen is a different story set in Krynn and is blazing a trail to help players create their own stories in Krynn. So Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen and Dragons of Deceit are both set in the same world but different stories.
  • There will be some cameos from old Dragonlance characters, especially villains, in Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen.
  • Price points for Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn and Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen are not finalized yet.
  • When asked about player races for Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen – especially Kender – Winninger said that Kender have gotten a good reception from the Unearthed Arcana play test but they're making some tweaks. Yes, Kender will be an option. He said the play test material gives hints as to what playable races it will have but would not mention to confirm any specifically beyond Kender.
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

Which mechanics that Kender have is to blame? The ability to auto make fear saves? The taunt which is optional? They can steal like a thief... which is also optional. Which ability do they have that MUST be employed breaks them for you?
Yeah, I don't get the whole hatred for Kender. Never once in my 30+ years of DMing have I ever had a problem with a Kender player. The reason why? I clearly lay out my expectations and guidelines beforehand. Yes, they tend to borrow things they are curious about...they never do it intentionally or maliciously...when they do, I remind the player that this is not how Kender are played. They do borrow from their party members, but only if it is something truly interesting that they are curious about...usually, it's not even a magic item or weapon, it's a shiny bauble that caught their eye. And sometimes, just for comic relief, I do allow the Kender player to take something important, but never during a combat. They are children, and they look at the world through the eyes of children. The negative connotations of how they were eventually allowed to be played came in the Dragonlance 3.5 campaign book, where they were described as Sociopathic Kleptomaniacs. They are there to add the brightness and innocence of children, a childlike wonder, to a game or campaign that is usually quite serious.

I have run Kender in many Dragonlance games. I have also played them. One of my favorite and most beloved characters was a Kender who thought it would be interesting to be a Knight of Solamnia. In fact, I've had Gnomes that were more disruptive than Kender in my games.

It's not the race, it's the player. A strong DM who clearly lays out expectations and guidelines and adheres to them can easily manage them.
 
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Well, let's see shall we? We have a race with no concept of personal possessions where the player is encouraged to steal from the party - after all that's right out of the novels that Tasselhoff "borrows" from fellow PC's. Stealing from the party is pretty much the poster child for problem behavior by a player.

But, wait, there's more. The race is also supposed to be entirely fearless and easily bored, meaning that you have an entire race that comes with an built in excuse to Leroy Jenkins every single encounter. Again, probably in the top three of problematic player behavior.

Hrm, I wonder why I would think that it's the mechanics to blame here. Let's bake in two of the most egregious examples of bad players right into a race and try to pass it off as a good thing. 🤷‍♂️

Encouraged? No, not encouraged, not if expectations and guidelines are established.

No, not entirely fearless either...it is well established that they are resistant to fear, and are characterized in the novels as being fearless (or rather not understanding what fear is). The reality is that there are many times in the novels that Kender are shown to not be fearless...they just believe they are. And, in fact, one of the most tragic examples of them being "entirely fearless" is when a colossal red dragon destroyed their homeland, which created an offshoot race of kender known as the Afflicted Kender...this was because they now understood what fear was.

As to saying that mechanics are to blame here...I will quote something that someone said earlier in this thread..

"It absolutely baffles me that people insist that we MUST HAVE OFFICIAL approval to run our games the way we want to. You want gully dwarves and Raistlin? No problems You can certainly do that. There is nothing stopping you. But, why does it bother you if I don't? What is the problem with my DL having playable Draconians?

Isn't having the option better than not having it? "
 

Well, let's see shall we? We have a race with no concept of personal possessions where the player is encouraged to steal from the party - after all that's right out of the novels that Tasselhoff "borrows" from fellow PC's. Stealing from the party is pretty much the poster child for problem behavior by a player.

But, wait, there's more. The race is also supposed to be entirely fearless and easily bored, meaning that you have an entire race that comes with an built in excuse to Leroy Jenkins every single encounter. Again, probably in the top three of problematic player behavior.

Hrm, I wonder why I would think that it's the mechanics to blame here. Let's bake in two of the most egregious examples of bad players right into a race and try to pass it off as a good thing. 🤷‍♂️
Those aren’t game mechanics but story narratives. The ask about game mechanics
 

So Kender weren't immune to fear? Funny, I seem to remember that. But, in any case, that's some pretty fine hairs your splitting. You claimed that the problem was with players, not the race. Moving the goalposts to claim that it wasn't mechanics that was the problem isn't really winning any points here.
The post you quoted literally said “mechanics”, what mechanics are the problem. The only mechanic you listed was fear immunity. Which isn’t problematic by itself as far as I can tell.

it is not splitting hairs. The point is you can play a lender anyway you want within the constraints of the mechanics of the race. A player is not bound by the narrative/story in the books, only the mechanics. So, how do the races mechanics make the race terrible?
 

Re: Kender I think it's less the mechanics and more the lore/story that inspired those mechanics that's the problem.

Basically entire Kender race is portrayed as "Tasslehoff Burrfoots". He's not exceptional. He's not unusual. He's just "the average Kender", personality and behaviour-wise. They're all childish (including according to Hickman, ruthlessly cruel like children can be), fearless, have no regard for privacy or personal possessions, and like to start stuff.

They're basically the worst spoilt brat you ever met: the race.

The mechanics flow from this portrayal, which is the core problem. Even if there were no mechanics supporting this portrayal, the portrayal itself would lead to terrible, terrible characters.

So, how do the races mechanics make the race terrible?

Mechanics supporting this stuff merely exacerbate a fundamental issue.

A player is not bound by the narrative/story in the books, only the mechanics.
Technically that might be true, but when the ENTIRE racial portrayal of a race is "the worst, most genuinely hard-to-deal-with spoilt brat you ever met", it's not reasonable for the game designers to not expect that 95% of people playing that race, regardless of mechanics, will play as an incredibly disruptive little kleptomaniac brat.

That some mechanics support this only makes it worse.

In 2E Kender were:

A) Totally immune to all kinds of fear.

B) Could perform all Thief percentage abilites at 5%+dex mod except read languages (not allowed) and Climb Walls (40%+dex mod)

C) Had an extremely effective taunt.

So those pile on with the portrayal to make the problem worse.
 

Technically that might be true, but when the ENTIRE racial portrayal of a race is "the worst, most genuinely hard-to-deal-with spoilt brat you ever met", it's not reasonable for the game designers to not expect that 95% of people playing that race, regardless of mechanics, will play as an incredibly disruptive little kleptomaniac brat.

That some mechanics support this only makes it worse.
But that's not how they are portrayed in the books, nor is it how they are portrayed in Dragonlance Adventures and Tales of the Lance:

"Kender treasure their friends; if a kender's friends are injured or slain, the kender may become very depressed and upset. Death only seems to affect a kender when it comes to one that the kender knows and loves, or when it is meted out by disaster or warfare to innocent beings (including any kender). In such cases, the distress that the usually cheerful kender feels is terrible to behold. A story is told of a human ranger during in the Age of Dreams who wounded a deer that was the pet of a kender community. The sight of the entire village of small kender crying their hearts out was so upsetting to the ranger that he quested until he found a druid who could heal the animal,then retired and took up fishing."

From Tales of the Lance:
"Kender make lifelong friends. They offer undying (though distracted) devotion and self-sacrifice to their companions. They always aid those who are hurt and they happily share their meager bounty with those less fortunate. The wounding of a dear friend sends kender into paroxysms of grief. Their grief is so plaintive that it can soften even the hardest heart.
Due to their big-heartedness for others, kender are easily hurt by indifference or cutting remarks from friends. However, they quickly forgive and forget, and this endearing trait makes them extremely difficult to dislike."

That doesn't sound like a "spoilt brat," but it does sound like an innocent child. There aren't any particular rules that specifically give Kender this negative reputation...again, it's a complete misunderstanding of how they should be portrayed. This can be easily managed using clear expectations and guidelines that are expressed at the beginning of the campaign.

The mechanics here are irrelevant...this is mainly a narrative element to how they are portrayed that some players (who either through misunderstanding or power gaming) tend to abuse. I will reiterate that I've had gnomes who were more disruptive to my games than Kender...I had a game where the party almost had a TPK from a gnomish mishap...that was mechanical, not narrative.
 

That doesn't sound like a "spoilt brat," but it does sound like an innocent child.
Sure it does.

All spoilt brats are innocent children (by definition), that's what you're not processing. Loads of horrible children care deeply about their friends, but are out of control little monsters whose parents make zero effort to keep them in check.

And Hickman himself is clear that they were not meant to be "nice", so you acting like they are is pretty demonstrably wrong.

It's also kind of funny that you don't see how your first example is literally of Kender being incredibly disruptive to normal life (hunting a deer hardly being an outrage in the middle ages), and your second example is of another situation that's like to be extremely disruptive, because a deeply role-played Kender is going to be in tears half the damn time.
 

It's obviously the Kenders fault and not the naughty word players who play them wrong. Trust me, it's not the player race that makes jerk gamers play like jerks. They can do it with any character.
If you've ever played with jerks you'll know that some of the most obnoxious words are "I'm just playing my character". The problem with Kender is that playing Kender as the description tells you to play involves being an obnoxious party-stealing jerk. It's possible to play a kender that isn't - but inexperienced but well meaning D&D players playing in good faith are likely to follow the advice the game gives. In the case of kender doing what the game tells them to end up with characters that are raving jerks. This means that the classic kender description does just about the worst thing it is possible for game design to do; it takes good well meaning players and gets them to play like jerks.

Here's a particularly notorious annotated copy of the 3.X Kender description.

Mod Edit: Image removed for foul language. ~Umbran
 
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Sure it does.

All spoilt brats are innocent children (by definition), that's what you're not processing. Loads of horrible children care deeply about their friends, but are out of control little monsters whose parents make zero effort to keep them in check.
A "spoilt brat" by definition is a selfish child. These examples clearly demonstrate that Kender are by no means selfish. They have no issue at all being selfless or sharing their items with others...unlike a "spoilt brat."

And Hickman himself is clear that they were not meant to be "nice", so you acting like they are is pretty demonstrably wrong.

I would very much like to see Hickman's quote about how they are "not nice," because I have seen many quotes from both Weis and Hickman that the portrayal of Tasselhoff by Janet Pack determined how Kender were written overall.
It's also kind of funny that you don't see how your first example is literally of Kender being incredibly disruptive to normal life (hunting a deer hardly being an outrage in the middle ages), and your second example is of another situation that's like to be extremely disruptive, because a deeply role-played Kender is going to be in tears half the damn time.
Ok, any character who roleplays their character deeply would do the same...how are Kender any different in this case?
 

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