So, as a DM, you’ve decided that it’s time your players face the most horrifying,
perilous, location known to man, elf, and dwarf on the face of Krynn. No I’m
not talking about Nightlund or the Plains of Dust, I’m talking about Kendermore.
Some people may think your payers have done something to make you really mad
or you’re just a DM that delights in torture, either way kender villages and
cities, if not managed properly, can be a nightmare, not only for players, but
especially for DM’s that try to have every kender in the city meet and greet
the player characters and fleece them of all their property. Well there are
a few things you can do in any large scale kender situation that should help
to keep things under control, well as much as can be expected with kender anyway.
Tip #1 Form a welcome party. In an extensive kender settlement you
don’t have to have every kender in the city stop and talk to the party. Yes,
non-kender visitors are rare in a kender city, and kender are curious and friendly
by nature, but every kender does not need to be hands-on with the party. Once
the initial welcoming has been made, word of mouth spreads quickly and before
you know it word of the party has reached from one side of the city to another.
Just knowing they are there is enough to satisfy even a kender’s curiosity.
Over time they may meet many kender, but you don’t need to go overboard.
A good idea is to create a welcome party to greet the players. Some kender
cities and villages have official greeters who’s job it is to meet new visitors
and feel them out. I mean, inquire why they are there and help them find what
they need, and what they dropped. In larger cities there are welcoming groups
that man the front gates or main entrance into the city. If this is the players
first experience in a kender town you can imagine how nervous they would be
being approved by a group of 5 to 10 kender, being asked all kinds of questions,
hands grabbed and shaken, informed of the towns next festival, being handed
items they may or may not have dropped. This is usually enough to scare even
the most hardy adventurer away rom the settlement.
Tip #2 Know who your dealing with. Although kender names are usually
pretty simple to come up with you might want to have a list of available names
just incase you need to have them meet multiple kender. Most kender usually
give their name up front when they are greeted, and some will even offer a explanation
of how they got their name. For example there are some names like Burrfoot,
Windseed, Farwalker, Sunjumper, and so on that don’t really relate to events
in the kender life so there is no need to explain them. But if you make up names
like Ninefingers, Blister, Sparkfire, and Drunkensquirel, that the kender might
be asked about, be prepared to have a tale as to why they have that name.
Also when trying to keep track of multiple kender it might be useful to associate
different personality quirks with each one and jot them down beforehand or as
you come up with them. This kender is hard of hearing, this other kender gets
the knights name wrong all the time, this kender is blind in one eye, are just
a few ideas to help you and the players figure out who is who.
Tip #3 Create a quiet get away (out of town). This is almost impossible
in a big city where there are kender wandering from place to place, but sometimes
in a kender city it’s just not easy for the party to have a conversation among
themselves without a kender stopping them on the street inquiring how they are
and wanted to tell them about the latest gossip, or return something to them.
If your players are trying to talk with each other it’s usually a good idea
to have a kender interrupt them, so they are forced to stop and spend a little
time with their new friend. Before long your players will feel like they aren’t
getting anything accomplished. So they will usually try to find a place they
can’t be disturbed. Most likely they’ll try to find a room at an inn to get
away, but even there they will find that the doors locks are usually not functioning
too well and sometimes kender prisoners have to serve time there if they the
inn happens to double as the local jail or if a group of kender are in town
for a wedding celebration. So you might recommend an open area or have them
actually leave town. If they want to hold any type of lengthy conversation they
may just have to get far away from the kender settlement to do it.
Tip #4 Time their arrival. Even in kender towns there is a busy and
slow season. For example, in the middle of summer in the beginning of Wandertime
(July) kender celebrate Graystone Eve. During this celebration the entire community
goes on a “Stone hunt” to find the mystical Graystone. So if your heroes walk
into town they will find very few kender actually there. You can inform/warn
them that they have 3 days until the hunt is over and a thousand kender come
back to town. They might give them enough time to do what they came to do without
overloading them with too much kender interaction.
Tip #5 Keep in mind who lives there. When you are talking about a kender
city you must always keep in mind that the population is made up of kender under
20 and over 40. This actually is something that you can use to your advantage.
The type of kender people are used to meeting are adult kender on wanderlust.
Which means that the kender the player have to interact with are in overdrive.
Their curiosity and wanderlust nature is in it’s prime. So your adventurers
will be dealing with older, (and I use this term loosely) “more mature” kender.
The older kender will still act very much like adult kender, but they have learned
something of the world, and will know how to treat visitors without continuously
mobbing them or trailing them endlessly throughout the street. These kender
have things to do as well. They need to run their community. They will also
be the ones that will keep the younger kenderkin in check. So don’t assume that
just because your heroes enter a kender community that they will be harassed
continuously until they leave. It’ll be more like minor interruptions and small
bursts of chaos.
Tip #6 Give them a Guide. This simplifies random occurrences of interaction
to a minimum because the kender will usually interact with the guide before
interacting with the visitors. And if they have a protective guide he or she
can de a wonderful job at getting the visitors to their intended destination,
in a round about fashion, without too much interruption. This minimizes the
work on the DM to role-playing as the guide the majority of the time. It also
lessens the confusion on having to remember a bunch of kender names and who’s
who, which is actually part of the fun in entering a kender city, but can be
stressful and confusing to new DMs. In general a guide can show the players
around and explain the city while alleviating the confusion that would come
from wandering around a kender city.
Tip #7 Get them in and get the out. If they know their final destination
within the city, you could have a kender tell them the round about way to get
there and as they start on their way you could have them run across it one block
later. Evidently if they had followed the kender’s directions they would have
gotten there, but they would have missed some of the best parts of the city,
which is the reason the kender had sent them that way in the first place. This
will also minimize the amount of traffic the players will have to go through
and possibly save hours of role-playing one kender after another, that is if
you’re in a hurry, some of the charm of visiting the kender city comes in meeting
the citizens that live there.
Tip #8 Remember that kender curiosity is fleeting. Kender are extremely
curios no one can doubt that. But once they have finished examining something
they are back on their way again, off to do something else. So if you seem to
have gotten into a situation where the kender are mobbing the characters, simply
have one of the kender yell about something more interesting and the kender
will head off in that direction. “Hey! Niffer Songsqueeze just beat the record
for green bean champion he has 9 green beans up one nostril!” and off the kender
Your players may actually come up with this idea themselves. It’s not unusual
for a mage to say, “Stand over there, about 100 yards away and I will cast a
spell that will keep all of you in suspense for hours.” Then when the kender
comply the mage mumbles and waves his hands and players walk in the other direction.
It’s the same concept. Get their attention on something else and they’ll leave
the players alone for the most part.
Tip #9 Send them on a secret mission. If your players are not very
forthcoming to the kender on why they are there have the kender of the city
spread the word that your heroes are on a secret mission and that they are not
to been seen or heard of. It’s a fun game that any kender can enjoy. Then as
they pass by a kender on the street they’ll get a whisper that the kender wish
them the best of luck, or a knowing nod or a wink and the kender should leave
them well alone, at least for a day.
So now you have some ideas for how to deal with kender in a large city so
that they aren’t ganging up on the players and leaving them with nothing but
their shirts on their back. But this leads us to one last thing to talk about
and that’s handling. It’s inevitable that your party will start missing items
the longer they stay in the city. It’s just a fact that the party cannot be
on guard at all times. And it’s up to you how often you tell them that a kender
is reaching into a pouch or peering into a backpack. It’s also up to you as
the DM to determine what the players are missing. If they get out on the road
and stop for camp, when you ask them what they are going to eat and reply “our
rations” you could inform them there are none. If you decide that the Knights
magical broadsword is missing be prepared for the party to spend a longer time
searching the city for the sword. Just keep in mind that the longer they are
there the more work it will be on you. But however you handle it have fun with
it, because that’s what the kender will be doing anyway.