How to Handle Handling by Kipper Snifferdoo

One of the many challenges a DM's faces in allowing a kender into their games deals with how to work with handling. It is one of the most debated and misunderstood of all kender traits. This article will explain what handling is and different ways a DM can deal with it in their games.

Handling is the action of taking the property of another without the right or permission of the owner and without the intent of depriving that individual of their property. Kender handling has been equated to kleptomania, an obsessive impulse to take things regardless of need. But this is not exactly true because the obsession is not with taking things, but with exploring things. Kender don't feel a need to take things from others, they feel a need to examine things. Therefore they do have a need, curiosity.

But you may ask "why does he need to examine my money pouch or my dagger?". That is a misnomer that leads people to believe that kender steal for greed. But all you have to do is check a kender's pouches to see they don't steal for greed. Tiny wooden penguins, feathers, ribbons, candy, quills, empty inkwells... are only a few of the hundreds of items that kender keep that have no real worth to anyone. So when you're dagger or money pouch joins the list of tree bark, marbles, and bees wax it's just another item on the list.

So let me state one more time. Kender do not steal out of greed, or out of profit, or for revenge. They borrow items for inspection and usually immediately stuff them in a pouch for further inspection at a later date or examine it while they wander off thus forgetting to return it. This is how they were raised and it is not an evil intent that drives them.

The Pouch List

So now that we know what Handling is lets talk about just what a kender has in those pouches. When running a kender there must be a list of pouch items involved. The exact composition of the items on this list can vary depending on the level of the kender and the generosity of the DM.

Here is a table written by Ron Cole:

Kender Pouch Grab Chart
Percent Result
01-02 - A medium-sized magical item owned by one of the kender's companions such as a spell-book, belt, or helm, so long as the kender has a backpack or sack of sufficient size to pull it from (DM may choose or decide randomly on the owner and item).
03-05 - A class kit owned by one of the kender's companions that weighs no more than 10 pounds, or sufficient materials from a heavier kit to invalidate the bonuses (DM may choose or decide randomly on the owner and item).
06-10 - A small magical item owned by one of the kender's companions such as a ring or bracelet (DM may choose or decide randomly on the owner and item).
11-15 - A small-sized simple weapon owned by one of the kender's companions (DM may choose or decide randomly on the owner and item).
16-20 - An article of clothing owned by one of the kender's companions (DM may choose or decide randomly on the owner and item).
21-25 - 1d4 colorful sea shells.
26-30 - An assortment of feathers.
31-35 - 1d4 shiny stones.
36-40 - A knot of string in various colors.
41-45 - A worn table item.
46-50 - A 3-foot long thin leather cord.
51-55 - A candle.
56-60 - A small silver mirror.
61-65 - 5 feet of silk rope.
66-70 - Manacles.
71-75 - A lockpick.
76-80 - A spyglass.
81-83 - 1-2 (1d4 / 2) arrows.
84-86 - 1d4 sling bullets.
87-89 - A tiny simple weapon.
90-92 - A small simple weapon.
93-94 - A tiny exotic weapon.
95-96 - A small martial weapon.
97-98 - A healing potion.
99 - DM's choice of any useful item on the list.
00 - Kender's choice of any small-sized item they own or DM's choice (player may chose).

I like Ron’s list because it has a wide range of objects and only gives magical items in extreme cases, and my favorite part is that actually states that the item found belongs to another party member. That’s always fun.

You can start out with a table like the one above for convenience. But then you’re going to have to modify it every time something new gets added to it. The best thing to do is to make sure you have a list of paper numbered from 1 to 100 and as items are added to the list you can place them on the list and if that list if full you randomly remove one item each time you add a new one.

The rule of thumb for how many items a kender can carry on them is 5 items to a small pouch, 10 to a large pouch, 15 to a small sack, 25 in a backpack, and 30 in a large sack. Assuming that the kender only uses pouches I just try to make sure that I have 10 large pouches per kender. If some pouches go missing then you randomly roll and delete the number of items from the pouch list that they lost.

Now that we have a list of items for our kender player lets talk about how to use this list in play. There are three basic methods in the way DM's deal with how a player character handles. The first, Pre-meditated Handling, places all the work on the player. The second, Restricted Handling, lets the player do all the work when the DM allows her to. The third Absentminded Handling, places all of the work on the DM.

Pre-meditated handling

DM: "When you want to handle something tell me and you'll roll a pick-pocket for it."
Player: "I want to pick-pocket that broken dagger hilt out of the back of that wagon."

When the kender wants to handle she'll state that she wants to try to handle something. Otherwise she's keeping her hands to herself. In the short term this method frees the DM from the responsibility of keeping track of what items are in the pouch list and also keeps the kender player to only handling items the DM has presented to her. In the long run there can be some drawbacks to this method. The obvious drawback is that the kender player will be interrupting every other encounter trying to pilfer this item or look into this pouch, thus irritating her companions and holding up the general flow of the adventure at hand. Having to act like a kender by mentioning every single thing she wants to pick up. This can get very annoying before long. Which is usually what leads to the second method Restricted Handling.

Restricted Handling

DM: "OK you're in the city walking through the streets so you can handle now."
Player: "What are people wearing. Do I see anything interesting? Who's in the street now? Are there any places to hide?"

The DM gives the go ahead to the kender character when they can and cannot handle things. This way the kender doesn't interfere with the flow game or get into too much trouble. The DM makes sure that the kender only handles when the DM is ready for the kender to handle something. But this method also has its drawbacks. First the DM has to make special "kender breaks" where the other players roll their eyes and say "Why do he have to have a kender with us? I'm going to a tavern to have a drink while the kender explores the city." And the DM and kender go off together while the other players mutter that they aren't doing anything. The DM is exerting more control over when the kender gets into trouble and that's about it.

Absentminded Handling (True Handling)

DM: "You pull a frozen fish out of your pouch."
Player: "Where did this come from?"
Kipper: That's true handling right there!

The DM holds and maintains what's in the list. The kender only gets to see the list when he specifically says he has emptied his pouches. He reviews it and hands it back when he is done. If he can remember something from the list then he'll remember it's in the pouch. If he forgets, the kender forgets. After an encounter the DM takes a minute. Makes a random roll and updates the pouch list by removing a random item and adding the new item. When the kender makes a pouch grab the item they are looking for may not be there anymore. The DM can also slip in items that may lead the adventuring group in the direction he needs them to go. "What do you mean the kender took the Kings crown!?!" "I just found it in my pouch, he must have put it there for safe keeping."

The DM and player MUST decide what is fair game to displace. Some players may be upset if the DM trades away the +3 fire dagger for a peanut shell. So you'll have to have firm house rules that state that anything in a pouch is fair game for misplacing. So if you value that magical dagger state you're sheathing it or they could state a rule that equipment can not be displaced and declare the player must declare the dagger has part of his equipment.

The Pouch Grab

Kender looking for a particular item that is located within their pouches must take a full action of searching in order find what they are looking for. The Pouch Grab table above is for determining a pouch grab as a free action. So when a kender declares she’s making a pouch grab she must state whether it’s a full action pouch grab or a free action pouch grab. If it’s a full action she can retrieve a specific item, if it’s a free action you just roll and see what comes out.

Well that’s it. I hope you DM’s have a learned a little something about dealing with kender player characters. Happy Gaming!

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