D&D 5E Is a halfling a half-gnome?


Mind Mage
Is a halfling a half-gnome?

I am one of the D&D-ers who have difficulties with the halfling as a race. The halfling is too human. It seems like one of the human ethnicities that the Players Handbook lists. The idea of a small human no longer counting as a human, feels off to me.

Moreover, when Tolkien and Gygax use the term "race", they kinda did mean the term in a racist sense. Certainly D&D doesnt today: there is clearly only one human "race" in D&D. For us, "race" means species. But Gygax uses the term "race" to mean both the halfling "race", and for example the Suloise human ethnic group "race". Both Tolkien and Gygax interpreted various figures of folkbeliefs as if "exotic" human ethnicities of flesh and blood.

In any case, the halfling is too human.

In order for the halfling to merit the status of a D&D race − in the sense of a separate species − there must be something about the halfling, that is clearly, obviously, nonhuman.

To me, gnomes are nonhuman enough, but really, only if the gnomes are fey. If they are natives of an other dimension, an other level of existence, that is enough to at least nominally qualify as nonhuman.

If the halfling is the progeny of both a human and a gnome, the half-gnome origins might be enough to distinguish the halfling from other humans. The halfling can still strongly resemble the human because of partly human heritage. The human traits include material plane and typically martial power source cultures. Gnomes are magical, human-friendly, and experimental − pairing with a human is no obstacle. In several D&D settings, including Forgotten Realms, halfling communities are ancient, and continue to form families with other halflings. The ancestors include both gnome and human parentage.

Making halflings half-gnomes is one way to resolve the issue of halflings being too human.

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Unserious gamer
Not saying it's official or anything, but halflings being gnome hybrids is exactly the lore I use in my homebrew setting.


Mind Mage
I like halflings being more human than gnome. Pass.
The Players Handbook lists human ethnicities, including Rashemi, Illuskan, Shou, Turami, etcetera.

Are you comfortable with halflings (Hin) being one of the human ethnicities?


No, I don’t see halflings as a gnome relative, and I don’t see why they would need to be either, leopards, housecats and bobcats all exist but you don’t see people going oh bobcats are too similar they must of course be crossbred housecat-leopards,

The halfling and the human are both there for the audience to relate to but in different ways, humans are human, so of course we’re going to relate to them, but they’re books and movies fantasy humans, they fit into the heroic tone of the world with some random human farmer to pick up a blade grab a horse from the fields and gallantly ride to the horizon to slay the dragon that’s terrorising their village and you expect them to succeed, but halflings, halflings we’re meant to relate to on a different level, on a societal level, with their cozy homes and nice meals who are far removed from the dangers of the world for the most part, if we were sent to the fantasy world while we’d resemble humans physically our attitudes would be more comparable to the halflings.

In any case, the halfling is too human.

In order for the halfling to merit the status of a D&D race − in the sense of a separate species − there must be something about the halfling, that is clearly, obviously, nonhuman.
Or there must be something about the human D&D race that is clearly, obviously, not a real world human.

Like how they are the badass race. With most D&D countries counting humans as the most powerful race - and approximately every second adventurer is a human. If you empathise with the glitterati and celebrities this is fine. But if you don't think they are like you? If you identify with the little people then the way humans are Fantasy Hero Badasses menas that they aren't the race you want. No one is ever surprised when an adventurer turns out to be human - but halflings they are.

It's not that there's something about halflings that are non-humans. It's that D&D Humans lean very hard into one side of humanity and halflings lean into the other side.

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