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

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I don't think there's as much of a tread as you might think. Agriculture is (slightly) more about civilization and trade than about nature.
While true, remember the gnomes and elves aren’t just out there living in communes. They have civilizations of their own. And having halflings get top billing for agricultural achievements seems odd in worlds where many artists and DMs have those other races bending nature to their will with things like tree cities and the like.
 

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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Nice!

…but in D&D, that shtick went to dwarves.🧐
Depends on what you define as a "giant". If you go by D&D terms, with the Giant creature type, yep, that went to dwarves. However, if you do something like the Dwarves from Alagaësia where they consider "giants" to be any race of people that's bigger than them, that could let this work without stepping on the dwarves' toes.

To a halfling, anything taller than a dwarf would be considered a giant.
 

While true, remember the gnomes and elves aren’t just out there living in communes. They have civilizations of their own. And having halflings get top billing for agricultural achievements seems odd in worlds where many artists and DMs have those other races bending nature to their will with things like tree cities and the like.
Elves (in default settings) have never struck me as notably good farmers. Horticulturalists, yes, and elves can definitely do better than halflings at e.g. growing rare orchids. But elves tend to have large land areas, low population density, and low birth rates and can defend their lands better than most. They just have neither the need nor the interest in competing for growing large amounts of food. Give them an apocalypse and 50 years to develop their skills, and sure. And gnomes have always struck me as mostly too mercurial to make good farmers.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Depends on what you define as a "giant". If you go by D&D terms, with the Giant creature type, yep, that went to dwarves. However, if you do something like the Dwarves from Alagaësia where they consider "giants" to be any race of people that's bigger than them, that could let this work without stepping on the dwarves' toes.

To a halfling, anything taller than a dwarf would be considered a giant.
But they shouldn’t call them Giants. That confusing*. What about…”big’uns”?


* not that that ever stopped RW languages, but…
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Elves (in default settings) have never struck me as notably good farmers. Horticulturalists, yes, and elves can definitely do better than halflings at e.g. growing rare orchids. But elves tend to have large land areas, low population density, and low birth rates and can defend their lands better than most. They just have neither the need nor the interest in competing for growing large amounts of food. Give them an apocalypse and 50 years to develop their skills, and sure. And gnomes have always struck me as mostly too mercurial to make good farmers.
If you have big cities, kingdoms or empires, you NEED lots of food.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
But they shouldn’t call them Giants. That confusing*. What about…”big’uns”?


* not that that ever stopped RW languages, but…
Yep. Never stopped real world people. IMO, it would be fairly realistic for Halflings to call Humans and taller races "Giants". They could call creatures of the Giant creature type "Titans".
 





A thing you could tack onto halflings that builds off the farmer suggested here is to make them the generic craftsmen. Where Dwarves are miners and masons; Gnomes are Tinkers, the Hin/Halfling could be the general artisan. This would represent them working just enough at living life that they become proficient at Dragon Chess, or whittling (Woodworking), or Vintning, or Canoeing, etc, etc.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Elves (in default settings) have never struck me as notably good farmers. Horticulturalists, yes, and elves can definitely do better than halflings at e.g. growing rare orchids. But elves tend to have large land areas, low population density, and low birth rates and can defend their lands better than most. They just have neither the need nor the interest in competing for growing large amounts of food. Give them an apocalypse and 50 years to develop their skills, and sure. And gnomes have always struck me as mostly too mercurial to make good farmers.
Gnomes either make constructs to farm for them, or train animals to help them. Or invent alchemical "food".
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Or on them. I've always had my Forest Gnomes live inside carved-out trees and Wood Elves use magic to create huge tree-houses on giant trees (kinda like Ewoks do on Endor's Moon).
In my buddy's setting where he kinda let me run wild in a region dominated by gnomes in a supernaturally densely forested mountain range, the gnome's oldest towns (the region has no big cities) are in the stumps of ancient titanic trees, the biggest of which is easily 100 yards across. The biggest town is Three-Trees, because of the three trees it's built in and around.

Even when they don't like inside an acient titan tree, the mountain is dotted by essentially giant redwoods and other very large similar trees, even up in the mountain where the soil should be too thin to even grow trees, but where thousands of years of fey living there until 1500 years ago, and thus magical flora and fauna living even up at the highest reaches has led to quite viable soil, and to trees that still bear a small part of that magic. All the titans have fallen, though, and all that is left is stumps. The Old Wood has long since been cut into manageable pieces and stored safely, becoming a highly prized resource in the region, underwriting much of the mountain's wealth.

Anyway, the redwoods and such still provide space either in their hollows or amongst and underneath their roots for Gnomish dwellings.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Gnomes either make constructs to farm for them, or train animals to help them. Or invent alchemical "food".
If gnomes are used for comedic magitech in your campaign- see Giant Space Hamsters & Rube Goldberg devices- then Gnomish agriculture and animal husbandry could indeed have some…unusual outcomes.

Perhaps a large percentage of the giant insects and similarly oversized flora and fauna are the result of a Food of the Gods-type discovery by an ancient gnomish alchemist, whose name is lost to time. (Who knows, perhaps that’s even where giants came from…)

Predatory, ambulatory plants like D&D’s Shambling Mound (or even critters akin to Triffids and Audrey II) could have originated in the greenhouse of a gnomish hothouse farmer who was lonely for a little friendship.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
A thing you could tack onto halflings that builds off the farmer suggested here is to make them the generic craftsmen. Where Dwarves are miners and masons; Gnomes are Tinkers, the Hin/Halfling could be the general artisan. This would represent them working just enough at living life that they become proficient at Dragon Chess, or whittling (Woodworking), or Vintning, or Canoeing, etc, etc.
I like that. It makes sense and it expands on what's there.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If gnomes are used for comedic magitech in your campaign- see Giant Space Hamsters & Rube Goldberg devices- then Gnomish agriculture and animal husbandry could indeed have some…unusual outcomes.

Perhaps a large percentage of the giant insects and similarly oversized flora and fauna are the result of a Food of the Gods-type discovery by an ancient gnomish alchemist, whose name is lost to time. (Who knows, perhaps that’s even where giants came from…)

Predatory, ambulatory plants like D&D’s Shambling Mound (or even critters akin to Triffids and Audrey II) could have originated in the greenhouse of a gnomish hothouse farmer who was lonely for a little friendship.
I love the idea of Gnomish fringe horticulturalists.
 

But they shouldn’t call them Giants. That confusing*. What about…”big’uns”?


* not that that ever stopped RW languages, but…

Yep. Never stopped real world people. IMO, it would be fairly realistic for Halflings to call Humans and taller races "Giants". They could call creatures of the Giant creature type "Titans".
Yeah, the entire point of that little story was that the majority of creatures or humanoids are giant from a halfling's perspective.
 

Faolyn

Hero
While true, remember the gnomes and elves aren’t just out there living in communes. They have civilizations of their own. And having halflings get top billing for agricultural achievements seems odd in worlds where many artists and DMs have those other races bending nature to their will with things like tree cities and the like.
Agriculture isn't tree cities though. Agriculture would be crops and animal husbandry, handled through mostly nonmagical means, like how dwarfs handle mining and smithing. Tree cities would likely be magically shaped.
 

Elves (in default settings) have never struck me as notably good farmers. Horticulturalists, yes, and elves can definitely do better than halflings at e.g. growing rare orchids. But elves tend to have large land areas, low population density, and low birth rates and can defend their lands better than most. They just have neither the need nor the interest in competing for growing large amounts of food. Give them an apocalypse and 50 years to develop their skills, and sure. And gnomes have always struck me as mostly too mercurial to make good farmers.
Another possibility - they trade for food. From races like halflings. There have been real-world homologues.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Agriculture isn't tree cities though. Agriculture would be crops and animal husbandry, handled through mostly nonmagical means, like how dwarfs handle mining and smithing. Tree cities would likely be magically shaped.
See, you’re ASSUMING elves in tree cities aren’t using magic, and I’m not so sure that’s a safe assumption.

It‘s extremely hard to grow food crops under the tree canopy by mundane means. So there’s 3 options: elven tree cities are surrounded by mundane farms; they’re using magic to grow crops under the tree canopy; they’re using a mix of magical & mundane methods in their agricultural system.

(Personally, I think it’s option #3.)

And if we‘re NOT talking fantastical arboreal architectural marvels, we’re still taking about a race at home in nature and for whom magic is like a fluffy down comforter- to feed their citizenry, they WILL use magic to make things easier. The only questions will be what kind and how much.
 

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