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DnD’s Dragonlance Updates Controversial Kender Race for 5E

Dungeons & Dragons’ new release, the campaign setting Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queens, brings back its controversial Kender species.

The latest Dungeons & Dragon sourcebook, Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, updates a controversial species from the original.

Dragonlance reintroduces the Kender, a species of humanoids who bare a striking resemblance to Halflings, though they’re taller and lankier than them. Initially, the Kender came about as a way to differentiate some halfling characters from the Dragonlance setting who shared strong similarities with Hobbits in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, including one with a ring of invisibility. Dungeons & Dragons devised Kender as a group with a strong inclination towards thievery to the point of it being the main component of their species, which caused significant frustration among players since their release. However, Shadow of the Dragon Queen made some notable changes to fix those issues.

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Why the Kender are a Controversial DnD Race

Kender caused a great deal of frustration among fans for multiple reasons, from their origin to their racial traits. Some balked at the idea of a species that’s main cultural quality was thievery, as it lacked logic or nuance. Others complained that Kender’s proactivity towards stealing caused considerable issues among D&D adventuring parties, as those who played a Kender often had their character take things from other members of the group. It led to many DMs refusing to include Kender into campaigns, and many players expressed hope that Kender wouldn’t return with Dragonlance.

In Shadow of the Dragon Queen, Kender get several massive updates to remove their less savory qualities. Chiefly, their primary quality is no longer a tendency to steal, though the book does note that some become thieves. Instead, Kender are described as incredibly curious and adventurous, which often leads them into falling through portals or otherwise ending up in exciting situations. Rather than flatly stealing from others, the Kender show an inclination forwards amassing extensive collections.

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Dragonlance changed Kender’s Fearless trait, which use to prevent them from becoming frightened. Instead, they have advantage on rolls to prevent or end the frightened condition and can choose to succeed on a failed save. However, they cannot use that ability to override their failed save more than once per long rest.

In recent months, Wizards of the Coast has made several attempts to revamp its approach to character species. One of its most recent sourcebooks, Spelljammer, caused outrage among fans for its racist depiction of the Hadozee. Wizards formally apologized, announcing a revamp of its content review process with the inclusion of several cultural consultants. It also announced the phasing out of the term “race” in Dungeons & Dragons due to the problematic nature of the word.

Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen is available now in physical copy and on D&D Beyond.

Source: Wizards of the Coast

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