Friday, December 5, 2008

KendAAAGH


I know, I missed another deadline and this blog updates slower than the short bus reversing up a hill, but hey, I have an excuse. Exams. And Wrath of the Lich King. But mostly exams, honest.

I still hate kender as much as I ever did.

I haven't played Dragonlance, mind, I'll freely admit that. Nobody I know seems to want to, and with kender in it, I don't want to.

This is from the Dragonlance book. If there aren't enough simple pictures in bright colours for you, feel free to skip ahead and post "tl;dr":

"To the other races, kender are the child-race of Krynn. The diminutive kender have short attention spans, intense curiosity, and a fearlessness that serves them well in battle, but often lands them (and those travelling with them) in danger."

Okay. Not too bad yet - enough to make you wary, yes, but still. Child-races are fine if done right. Some people despise them and even anything that is Small and potentially cute, but those people are arseholes and like shitty things. No offense to my arsehole friends.

But like the first few pebbles before a rockslide, or the grunt of a fat man as he prepares to rest his buttocks on a chair that won't support him, things are going to come crashing down in a minute.

"Kender live a carefree existence where every new day is a day of wonderful secrets just waiting to be discovered. Their most defining character traits are their insatiable curiosity and their utter fearlessness, which makes for a frightening combination. All dark caves need exploring, all locked doors need opening, and all chests hide something interesting."

I can still give them the benefit of the doubt since they're very clearly a rogue race and -- you know what? Let's just skip ahead to the horribleness.

The next few paragraphs are about how kender have this urge to wander the world exploring new places which is pretty much an excuse to have kender adventurers. After that, well...

"While kender have a modicum of instinct for self-preservation (...) their propensity to act on impulse at the expense of common sense makes them reckless in dangerous situations - a volatile addition to addition to any adventuring party. Boredom is the kender's arch-nemesis, to be conquered at any cost. It is said that nothing on Krynn is as dangerous as a bored kender or as terrifying as hearing a kender say, "Oops!"."

What? So kender get bored easily and deal with it by screwing things up on purpose in situations where they can get someone killed? What an amazing addition to your adventuring party.

"Kender are creatures of extremes. Nothing can be as infectious as the laughter of a giggling kender or as heartrending a sight as a grief-stricken kender. With their short attention spans, kender rarely focus on any one thing for too long. It's when a kender is bored that a kender is most feared. A kender who can't find anything interesting to do determines to do something interesting, often with dire consequences."

Basically the last paragraph repeated again, apparently just in case you didn't get that they're supposed to be played like the halfling's mentally damaged little brother, except now we get the first hint that people are supposed to like the kender. Personally, if a kender I know is grief-stricken, it's because I just set him on fire.

"The unquenchable curiosity of kender drives them to investigate everything - including other people's personal possessions. Kender appropriate absolutely anything that catches their eye. Physical boundaries of notions of privacy are both alien concepts to them, while the monetary value of an object means nothing to them. (...) Kender are never happier than when their hands are in the pockets, pouches, or backpacks of those around them."

What the balls?

These are supposed to be playable. By people. Presumably ones with self-diagnosed Asperger's because holy crap, this is a stupid idea. I wonder how many kender have ended up on the business end of a fellow party member's sword over the years after delving into people's stuff.

It gets worse, though. Oh, so much worse.

"Kender do not consider such appropriation to be thievery as others understand it (kender are as contemptuous of thieves as the next person). Kender term this "handling" or "borrowing" (...) Kender are at best bemused and at worst outraged at being accused of theft or pick-pocketing. Kender always give perfectly reasonable explanations for just about every accusation leveled at them."

Amazing. Really. A race that can't understand boundaries and privacy can still understand what a thief is and act outraged if accused of being one. Or like a smug, smarmy cunt, if they prefer. Or they can act innocent, grinning like idiots at the party as if everyone is supposed to find their antics hilarious.

There's a list of "favourite" kender explanations for why they have everyone's stuff, but most of them are shit and many of them are obviously outright lies, because apparently kender are also fine with that.

Summary of the next few paragraphs: Only the kender can understand the difference between what they do and stealing but there is one, honest, kender are fearless, kender form lasting friendships easily... there are a couple snippers from that last paragraph that are worth noting:

"Kender (...) can feel fear for their friends, and this has often led to the tempering of kender impulses."

Yeah, thanks for that. One little redeeming bite-sized chunk in the family-sized shit pudding that is kender. Don't worry, we'll be back to the entire paragraphs devoted to how stupid kender are in a moment.

"the sight of a grieving kender can (...) reduce even the most cold-hearted person to sympathetic tears."

If you haven't spotted the pattern emerging here, it's spelled out for us in the end.

Oh yeah, and apparently kender are great at figuring out someone's insecurities and masters of the taunt and insult. Good for enraging your enemies, or chewing out your party for getting mad when you lift someone's wand of healing and get someone killed.

That was just the "Personality" section. We aren't done yet. tl;dr, I know.

The good bits of "Physical description":

"Aware of the value of first impressions, a kender's first instinct upon meeting someone new is to straighten his clothes, brush himself off, and introduce himself with extended hand."

I don't think it's possible for anyone to make a good first impression when everyone knows theirs is a race of giggling delusional pickpockets. Go eat a bag of shit, new kender.

"Kender cannot keep secrets to save their lives and happily blurt out intensely personal information about themselves or anyone else."

A drop in an ocean of piss, I know, but every bit of awful design is worth noting. Kender truly are greater than the sum of their parts.

Finally there is the Relations section, which takes any doubts I had about kender being the worst race I have ever encountered out behind the shed and shoots them in the head.

"Kender get along with anyone and everyone they meet"

No you don't, fuck off.

"Members of other races are not as fond of kender as kender are of them, however."

NO, REALLY?

Afterwards there is a list of various races and their thoughts on why kender suck, and I think the dwarves are the winner here - they call the kender "good for nothing, lazy doorknobs" and "a race of thieves", immediately winning back any respect I lost for them after countless people whining about all elves being nature-loving wet dorks, then rolling bear-swilling axe-wielding beard-wearing elf-hating Scottish dwarves and not seeing a problem.

It refers to humans who hate kender as "close-minded." How about "intelligent"?

Suddenly, slipping in at the end like a knife in the groin:

"The truly wise of all races know that kender are the innocents of the world and that the world would lose something precious if kender were ever to leave it."


AARGH.


(Somebody call a doctor! The blogger has been killed by stupidity!)

This part gets me every time. The rampant thievery and general bad behaviour of kender isn't even the worst part, it's that everyone is expected to like them. If you're smart you sympathise with them and find them endearing, and if you're really smart you know they're just plain super kewl and the world needs kender, and their kleptomania is just so damn cute.

There's some mary sue bullshit afterward about how kender are incorruptible and I don't care.


I think the thing that really gets me is how it's written. 3.5 has plenty of things that are easy to screw up and play in a way that hurts everyone else if you read them wrong - paladins are a good example. Played wrong, which they oh so easily are, they turn into jackasses trying to impose their moral code on the party rogue or cardboard cut-outs who charge into any situation with an evil NPC or people in trouble the DM dangles in front of them with no regard for themselves. I can live with things that are hard to play well. The solution is to get good players.

The problem with kender is that you play a shitty character that hurts everyone else if you do them right. There's next to nothing about kender that is redeeming or endearing or any other nice word that ends in -ing. These are terrible people.

Kender are banned from all my games ever.