Introduced in Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen (affiliate link), the Kender is a race unique to the Dragonlance world of Krynn. They have a storied history in the long-running Dragonlance novel series, and they hold a controversial place in the D&D community, beloved by Dragonlance fans and often disliked by other players only tangentially familiar with the Kender’s lore.
Historically, Kender have been portrayed unfavorably because of their loose concept of private property. Within an adventuring party, this could encourage the worst rogue impulses, including theft from fellow party members with the excuse of “it’s what my character would do.” That flavor has been scrubbed away in 5e’s interpretation, and instead Kender lean more into being inquisitive, curious explorers and collectors rather than light-fingered menaces.
Mechanically, the Kender feels very similar to the Halfling; Small size and a natural protection against fear evocative of the Halfling’s Brave trait. The Kender’s signature racial trait is Taunt, which allows them to debuff a creature as a Bonus Action, making it difficult for the target to attack other creatures.
Taunt is satisfying in a number of ways, but it does mean that the Kender favors builds with higher mental ability scores over strictly martial builds. This is unfortunate, because a taunt mechanic often makes it much easier to be an effective Defender. Builds which already lean heavily on their Bonus Action may find it difficult to fit Taunt into their tactics, but builds which don’t will find Taunt a wonderful addition to their tactical options.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
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The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released, and the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.
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Artificers have numerous uses for their Bonus Action, which makes Taunt difficult to use. A stout halfling will frequently be a better choice with a similar feel.
Barbarians almost universally dump their mental ability scores, so Taunt will usually be unreliable. Many barbarians also lean heavily on their Bonus Action.
While bards have many ways to use their Bonus Action, they’re all limited use (Bardic Inspiration, spells, etc.), so turns in which you’re not using your Bonus Action occur often enough that Taunt is appealing.
A Kender lore bard can max out their action economy by using Vicious Mockery as an Action, Taunt as their Bonus Action, and Cutting Words as their Reaction, and spend all of their actions for a round doing nothing except insulting people. This isn’t abnormally powerful, but it’s fun and it can shut down one creature’s attacks for a turn quite a bit.
Clerics have many excellent uses for their Bonus Action, including spells like Healing Word, Shield of Faith, and Spiritual Weapon. However, those all cost expensive and limited spell slots, and often can’t be used when you’re casting another spell on the same turn. As a whole, this means that you’ll have occasional turns where your Bonus Action is unused, but not many beyond low levels.
Most Druids have few consistent uses for their Bonus Action, so Taunt is easy to fit into your tactics. Taunt does require speech, unfortunately, so you won’t be able to use it while using Wild Shape. This makes Circle of the Land and Circle of Spores particularly good choices.
While most fighters don’t lean heavily on their Bonus Action, they also generally don’t have mental stats good enough to make Taunt reliable. If you can spare a bit of Wisdom to support it (Charisma for Purple Dragon Knights, Intelligence for Eldritch Knights), you might do alright.
Monks have too much competition for their Bonus Action to fit Taunt into their tactics easily, though of every martial class they’re among the most likely to have mental stats to support it.
Paladins often have Charisma close to that of full spellcasters (if not outright matching a full caster), and aside from a handful of spells, most paladins have few uses for their Bonus Actions, making Taunt easy to fit into your tactics. It does compete for space with Compelled Duel, but Taunt doesn’t require Concentration and doesn’t eat a spell slot, so it adds to your existing resources without directly competing with them. Unfortunately, once a Paladin becomes immune to the Frightened condition at tenth level, that makes Fearless a dead racial feature
Rangers need a bit of Wisdom for spellcasting, which can make Taunt viable. However, they often need their Bonus Action for things like spells, commanding pets, two-weapon fighting, and using damage boosts provided by many ranger subclasses, so there is a lot of competition for your Bonus Action.
Rogues have too much competition for their Bonus Action to fit Taunt into their tactics easily.
While Bonus Action spells exist, they are in the minority, so there will be many turns where your Bonus Action is free to use on Taunt. While drawing attention to yourself may feel counterproductive as a caster, if you’re fighting from a safe distance, it’s a great way to protect your party’s front line with minimal consequences.
While Bonus Action spells exist, they are in the minority, so there will be many turns where your Bonus Action is free to use on Taunt. While drawing attention to yourself may feel counterproductive as a caster, if you’re fighting from a safe distance (relatively easy for someone using both Repelling Blast and Lance of Lethargy), it’s a great way to protect your party’s front line with minimal consequences.
While Bonus Action spells exist, they are in the minority, so there will be many turns where your Bonus Action is free to use on Taunt. While drawing attention to yourself may feel counterproductive as a caster, if you’re fighting from a safe distance (or happen to be an exceptionally sturdy Wizard like War or Abjuration), it’s a great way to protect your party’s front line with minimal consequences.