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D&D 5E (+) Halfling Appreciation and Development Thread

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Halflings are one of my favorite races in any edition of D&D. I've played at least one halfling in every edition of D&D since Red Box Basic. I identify with their default Tolkien-inspired role as a bunch of well-fed friendly and community-focused homebodies that can be reluctantly plucked from their comfortable surroundings by fate to go on high adventure and show pluck and Batman-like levels of determination. That even the universe smiles on them and gives them a little break from bad luck.

In some ways they are the underdog you cheer for, and the everyman you can identify with personally.

All of that said, that's just the default. Assuming lore is flexible as it can change per setting (Dark Sun cannibals, anyone), what we "know" of them is based off their mechanical expression.

They are uniformly brave and lucky - though more in avoiding the worst then getting the best. Every single one of them. The are smaller than most and that slows them but they also know how to take advantage of it. They have their own language - they aren't just part of other's cultures. The lightfoot are good at hiding behind people, and the stout share resilience vs. poison with the dwarves.

(I'm ignoring ability score modifiers since they can go anywhere post-Tasha's. Also not folding in the Ghostwise as a setting specific subrace.)

That can paint a number of different pictures. The default still fit, but the homebody and the social aren't enforced mechanically anywhere. There can be a lot of expressions of them. 4e Points of Light positioning them as river traders living in boats works fine. but they could be intrepid explorers one and all, in some ways that fits their Brave feat better then the default flavor. How about Lucky - are their sayings "never play cards with a halfling" in your world, and if so why not. They literally as a race are just a touch better at every possible activity vs. someone from another race of equal skill, unless it's something their small size/low speed detracts from, or it's a specialty of that other race.
 

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Jeff Dee's halfling will always be my favorite. One of my favorite characters is a halfling. F/T in 1e, then converted him to fighter with urchin background in 5e.

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jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
By Halflings y'all mean Hobbits, right? Let's finally give 'em back their real name... :)
I actually feel that D&D halflings have moved beyond being just hobbit clones. Or at least, the hobbit archetype is a subset of the D&D halfling. They also have the influence of kender, plus city-dwelling types and the 4E-style nomads. (My own halfling PCs tend to be city-dwellers.)
 

By Halflings y'all mean Hobbits, right? Let's finally give 'em back their real name... :)
To second @jayoungr hobbits are only a subset of halflings. Ones that live in settled stable environments where either the land is fertile or they make it fertile.

But not everyone does that. Some, for example are pushed to the margins and the forests (and make better forest gnomes than forest gnomes) or the margins of cities; I'd consider a gang of hobbits shaking people down for cash weird. Some even end up riding dinosaurs.
But not Rangers; the tough-and-hardy wilderness life of the Ranger just doesn't square with the love-of-comfort Hobbit.
Few halflings IMC have an ambition to become rangers. Many started out poor and travelling and eating whatever they could hunt or poach for their family (who may or may not be related by blood or even species). They started in the wild and found the best ways to be comfortable there to the point beds don't feel right.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I actually feel that D&D halflings have moved beyond being just hobbit clones. Or at least, the hobbit archetype is a subset of the D&D halfling. They also have the influence of kender, plus city-dwelling types and the 4E-style nomads. (My own halfling PCs tend to be city-dwellers.)
The city dwellers have been around since at least the Finieous Fingers comic strip of the 1970s.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
To me the big thing I like about them is how perfectly they fit with what a certain type of new player wants to do.
  1. They aren't humans but aren't that different from humans so they are playing a fantasy race without needing reams of lore
  2. They are wide eyed and curious
  3. They are in a little over their heads but determined
  4. They are more motivated by community and working with other people than seeking great power
It's just about perfect for some curious newbies. Others want a Great Magic Race or to be a humanoid dragon; different people are different. But it's perfect for one type of newbie.

They're also a much better example of the "might be magical" little people of mythology (as opposed to the objectively strongly magical little people) than gnomes are; gnomes are trying to straddle both approaches here and IMO do neither well. Which is part of why halflings make better forest gnomes than forest gnomes do.
Sure we can make all the other points without tearing down gnomes? I mean if you start a thread about how to get more out of gnomes, I'll participate happily, but let's try to keep this thread positive, please?

Also, forest gnomes have the ability to magically camoflage themselves, make animal sounds from a position other than their own, and speak with all small or smaller animals. In no way do halflings match that for that niche.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I kind of want to write up a halfling barbarian now that challenges everyone to arm wrestling contests. :)

Except of course for the other dozen or so PCs I also want to play when I get a chance.
Crossposting this, hope you don't mind.

This reminds me of the halfling I just made a for a new campaign getting started. His name is Jack Barnsfellow, and he is a halfling himbo farmboy teacher. He is from an order of monks that are service-oriented members of the community, who teach halfling childredn to play the games that train them to fight, hide, taunt, trick, trap, build, etc, and are the reason that every adult halfling has some way of helping defend their community.

Imagine dodgeball with hacky-sack slings. You'll get good at dodging, and at slinging, while having a great time!

The Order of the Otter lives within communities but also spend part of their life travelling, usually as part of a messenger guild (halflings run the postal service) or some other job that takes them from community to community, before eventually settling down.

They also run the biannual Games, which are a series of competitions of basiclaly every skill that is favored in their society, from races to riddle games to wrestling to games that are basically capture the flag meets hide and seek and tons of others.

Jack is a mail carrier right now who has been a champion of multiple events in the last couple Games.
 

MoleRatBill

Villager
I love the little guys. I don't know if it's reflected in the lore of anything but Athas, but I tend to think of them as the progenitor race which is unfortunately getting crowded out by the far-too-ambitious humans.

Back in the pre-Tasha's days something I'd been considering doing for a homebrew campaign was giving Halflings +2 STR instead of DEX. I figure primates like chimps and even smaller monkeys are crazy strong because the muscles are more compact, so why wouldn't that also be the case for these guys?

Honestly it makes a lot of sense with them being rustic types, too. We don't exactly have cliches and tropes about the quick and graceful farmer. And the existing lore of being friendly but somewhat insular and fiercely protective of what's theirs really seems to lend itself to Barbarian as a class, IMO.
 


jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Another thing I'd like to note is that while Lightfoot Halflings are more popular, I'm glad Stout Halflings exist. So far, I've only played Lightfoots myself, but I love the idea of a tough halfling fighter, monk, or barbarian.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I've always liked halflings - an inoffensive appearing, jovial fellow, but one with a surprising amount of grit. They're best when they're at their most hobbit-ish.

I ignore pretty much all of the 3e/4e lore on halflings because of the extent to which they were kenderized up. I don't mind kender for what they are - but I keep them distinct from halflings who are not kender.

They're always part of the general background, a bit rarer than humans and with a tendency to specialize in hospitality types of jobs.

Sure, I think they're mechanically powerful in most editions. I generally don't need to add anything.

Proficiency maybe, but I wouldn't give bonus damage.

No. Let them be separate.

2nd edition - by far. 3e kenderized them up, 4e warped them, but at least 5e ties back to 2e's description so I find it better than its two immediate predecessors.

The halfling Lucky trait should never be underestimated. Add in Bountiful Luck as a feat, and it rocks for the whole party.
Pretty much agree.

I like Halflings best as Hobbits which is the original intention.

I have never played Dragonlance but I am ok with Kenders, as a completely different demihuman race from Hobbits.

And I think 5e Halflings have strong features, Lucky being the biggest deal.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Second place image goes to this version. As you can tell, I prefer halflings to appear tough in their own right, and not these giant headed jolly folk lol

View attachment 140921
The artwork in the 5E PHB for halflings is pretty awful. It's the most ... cartoonish ... of all the art in the PHB which is part of what makes it bad to me. While I don't need all halflings to look like little gymnasts, I also don't want them to have giant oversized heads and tiny feet.

I'd be okay with a mix such as
download.jpg
or
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or
c1f0aafc98c864479b9bfd4a7506ae4a.jpg
or
brandon-chang-tumblr-oj93uvicgw1r47awro1-1280.jpg


I get that drawing halflings can be problematic, but it's not hard to find images fit a lot better IMHO.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
I actually like the 5E art. That's right. I can tell a Halflimg in 5E when I see one, no confusion because of scale, or with Gnomes.

I like the 5E writeup and how much it leaves open, and Mordenkainen's adds good stuff. Eberron has my favorite Setting specific take, and I appreciate that the 5E version walked back the 3.x ethnic coding a bit.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I actually like the 5E art. That's right. I can tell a Halflimg in 5E when I see one, no confusion because of scale, or with Gnomes.

I like the 5E writeup and how much it leaves open, and Mordenkainen's adds good stuff. Eberron has my favorite Setting specific take, and I appreciate that the 5E version walked back the 3.x ethnic coding a bit.
It's all personal opinion and preference of course. But to me the following is more in keeping with the rest of the art style while still letting me know it's a halfling:
0900a9500aacf210c05654c3393d0c00.jpg
 



Lanefan

Victoria Rules
It's all personal opinion and preference of course. But to me the following is more in keeping with the rest of the art style while still letting me know it's a halfling:
View attachment 140930
My first thought on seeing that image is that it's a mis-shapen Elf, mostly because of the very Elf-like ears. I've always seen Hobbits (and-or Halflings) as far more resembling small round Humans than small round Elves.

And it's wearing boots. What self-respecting Hobbit wears boots, fer cryin' out loud? :)
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
What do you like about them?
I like their optimism. A D&D race that sees the bright side of their situation and caresdeeply about friends and family is a nice thing for the game to have. It's a good hook for a PC. You follow your crazy ambitious adventuring buddy because he or she is your friend, you enjoy being around them, and you earnestly wish to keep them safe.

What lore do you use from the books, and what do you specifically ignore, if anything?
Not much. I use 4e's fondness of rivers and the halfings being close to dwarves in relations.

How have you used them in your worlds?

In my Six Kingdoms world, not so much. They just have good farmland and feed the world during famine.

In my Klassico setting, halflings are the go-between for dwarves. Dwarves mine the mountains, halfling trade food for dwarven metal, stone, and gems. Othe races trade withhalflings for metal and gems. Halflings don't inflate rices that much so they are good trade partners but they have limited stock,

The patron goddess of halflings is Hestia, Goddess of the Heath. In order to control all aspects of the hearth, Hestia births a son and had him marry the dwarven goddess of the plants.
Results:
  • The halfling pantheon has a female dwarf in it.
  • The union of the halfling god of protection and the "dwarven" goddess of plants causes the existence of stout/strongheart halflings.
  • Dwarven no longer have a nature goddess as they married theirs to the halflings.
  • Religious halflings are honorbound to feed hungry dwarves and must always trade with dwarves.
  • Halflings are overrall skilled with trading and running caravans. Humans allow them to make their own quarters and live on the borders to obtain their relatively cheap but mundane trade.
Do you consider them mechanically powerful, and if not have you done anything to add to them?
Not really. However my chances to the game system help them a lot so I didn't chance the race.

Should they get proficiency and better damage with slings?
No. But the halfling magic weapon is a magic sling that deals more damage.

Should Kender influence Halflings, insofar as giving halflings the ability to taunt?

No. But I think D&D should have a base taunt action.

What edition has the best Halfling writeup?
4e

Any of the above questions, or anything else you want to talk about halflings that is positive, and/or directly about developing them in ways you find interesting, are fair game for discussion, here.
Some halflings in my Klassico setting as straight up ninjas. In the "The Littlefoots aren't potato farmers, they are ninjas and will suddenly disappear then thrown 4d4 shurikens at you with sneak attack damage if you start trouble."
 

Faolyn

Hero
The patron goddess of halflings is Hestia, Goddess of the Heath. In order to control all aspects of the hearth, Hestia births a son and had him marry the dwarven goddess of the plants.
I know you had a typo there and meant hearth. But my mind automatically and immediately inserts the word "blasted" whenever I see the word "heath," and got some weirdly Greco-Lovecraftian images there.
 

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