log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General My Problem(s) With Halflings, and How To Create Engaging/Interesting Fantasy Races

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
One of the kids in the game I'm running for my 11yo and his friends is a halfling, so I mentioned food a couple times early and he jumped on it. The kobold they have traveling with them decided the halfling-prepared food was certainly worth giving up whatever dragon-cult-work he had been doing before and is very loyal, it got the halfling in as cook on the pirate ship they needed to become crew on, and it throws in lots of random background descriptive stuff.
That’s amazing. Exactly why I love halflings.

Could I make a Goblin assassin and former warlock who is the son of a fisherman and a farm wife from a town on a river near where it comes to the sea, who dreams of going home and living a quiet farm life and raising kids and crops and spending long days fishing, but who knows he likely will never go home, and whose “theme song playlist” starts with Castle on The Hill by Ed Sheeran because it’s nostalgic in just the right way and becomes tragic with his specific story?

I guess? But like...nothing about the goblin makes that character feel right.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
When I think of a setting, I think in terms of "foreground" and "background". The foreground is the minimalist essence that defines the setting and sets the tone. The foreground includes which characters are the main characters, which lineages are the main lineages, which places are the main places. How do these fundamental elements of the story interrelate to each other? There is no room to waste space.

The background is different, any thing could be there out in the periphery.

The Players Handbook puts the Halfling front-and-center among the four lineages in the foreground. Compared to the Human, Elf, and Dwarf, the Halfling needs to be pruned to make the foreground tighter.

Would just putting the halflings back with the exotics fix that (like with the Dragonborn, Gnome, and Half-orc.)
 


For design space hobbits don’t have to take any space. You can on the fly assume that there can be a small hobbits community between two kingdom, that they have not contribute to any political or warfare events, until that player decide to play a hobbit.
true but they feel so irrelevant like if they all died tomorrow nothing would change.
Yeah I cut those too. I agree none of those are of interest too me. Ironically though where Halfling is too bland, the ones above are too specific for my liking,
But then I’ve done games where Elfs and Dwarf have been cut too,
yeah I know what you mean you want a good core idea and a cool look but lots of ways to use them, maybe that is why elf has not really been replaced yet.
Would just putting the halflings back with the exotics fix that (like with the Dragonborn, Gnome, and Half-orc.)
yeah but we would likely need to rase up something for the third most common spot and I do not want to see that blood bath.
I really hate the half-elf and half-orc as they are I want to be a blander version of a nearly human thing, just play an orc or elf.
he was speaking of a tabletop game I believe.
 

Sounds right. It may even have been Tolkien subliminally injecting himself into his world.
I dunno if it was even subliminal. He was asked about Tom Bombadil, and whilst he was happy to talk about what inspired his look and stuff (a child's toy), when he was asked about the conceptual foundation/what he was saying, he was uncharacteristically coy and basically said "some things are ruined if you know".
 


Geeknative reported the top 5 in 2020 as being Human, Half-Elf, Dragonborn, Tiefling, and Half-Orc.
Wow really? Quite a turnaround for Half-Orcs since 2017.

The 2019 figures show some big changes, too, but you can see the Half-Orc rising since the 2017 figures. I still expect HOs to be out for any future PHBs though. We might of course see a bunch more races as it's possible that a move to the "lineage"-style approach may save space (or it might take up even more!).

Certainly the 2019 figures and your 2020 quotes make sense to what I see in both at tables I play at and in actual plays and so on.

Re: nuking, yeah, I don't disagree that if you go solely on numbers, gnomes get the chop first. However, I'm not sure you do, because gnomes fit into and are integral to more D&D settings (where halflings are often so bland you literally couldn't tell they weren't humans from reading the culture description), and seem more likely, conceptually, to be PCs than halflings. Weirdly the older I get the more "okay" I get with halflings I note. I loathed the little so-and-sos when I was a kid, but I played one recently and I'm not fundamentally down on the concept. I just don't think they're "PHB race" material. I literally honestly think kobold would make a better PHB race.
 

Going back to the OP, is the human 'hyper-adapter who can be anything' and 'hyper-ambitious so they will do anything' really a niche and a clear purpose? And does the literal default really tie into the world other than they're the ones in charge... by default?

Again, I don't really see much of the value in niches for playable races other than worldbuilding and even then, 'niche' is basically just 'stereotype', right? Like what was the Neandertal's niche or H. habilis? I'd still kind of like to play a wolverine style tough guy or captain america like enduromancer in a game though and that's what those dudes were.
 

Yaarel

Legend
Would just putting the halflings back with the exotics fix that (like with the Dragonborn, Gnome, and Half-orc.)
Yes. I think so.

It is no different from bringing in a Dragonborn to Dark Sun. In that setting, this lineage isnt part of the foreground. But, if the player is desperate to play one, the DM can figure out how it relates to the foreground. Maybe, the Dragonborn has something to do with the Sorcerer Kings. Maybe the Dragonborn is the result of a mad-science arcane magic experiment. In any case, the Dragonborn character is rare or unique within the setting, or at least from somewhere far away in the periphery. The character has little or no impact on the rest of the tone of the setting.

Likewise, even tho the Halfling contributes less to (any?) D&D setting, a DM can make room for a Halfling character if a player wants to invest in one. The DM can think about how the Halfling relates to the setting foreground. A simple solution is the Halfling is actually a little Human.

I approach the D&D game as players play a character, and the DM plays a world. I consider the setting a kind of character. Generally, a player has complete control over their own character concept. The DM has complete control over the setting. When a player wants something that fits less well into the setting, I consider it the responsibility of the DM to figure out how to make the desire of a player happen. At the same time, I consider it the responsibility of the player to work with the setting and even to try invest in the setting. Any negotiations between DM and player are in good faith.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I really don't understand why some folks think that halflings need to have a big impact on history in order to "deserve" their place as a common race in dnd. It's just a really strange notion, to me.

Why does it matter whether they have empires or great wars or move international politics?

Further, it's a good thing that there is a common race that doesn't do any of that. The game would lose a certain fullness, like mole without chocolate. Halflings are important because they're a large segment of the population, and they thus impact the broad culture of a given region, and help shape what a city or town looks like. They don't tend to insulate into exclusive enclaves within a city like dwarves and elves, instead being happy to live right alongside members of other communities. Their own villages tend to be out of the way, quiet, and easy to miss.

Halflings are like the broadly archetypal Canadians. No one puts Canada's army in the history books, because they don't start wars and no one starts wars with them, but when their allies go to war, especially when they go to war because someone else started it, they march with them, and they fight with a stunning ferocity and loyalty. The rest of the time, they're welcoming, they take care of their folks, and they don't try to push others around.

There are evil halflings out there, but they're fairly rare. It's also rare that a halfling lacks curiosity, or the ability to defend themselves. In past editions this was modeled by making halflings extra good with the ultimate simple weapon, the sling, and I think that should have been kept in some form.

They're fun to play, and they contribute to the world feeling real and inhabited.
 

When I think of a setting, I think in terms of "foreground" and "background". The foreground is the minimalist essence that defines the setting and sets the tone. The foreground includes which characters are the main characters, which lineages are the main lineages, which places are the main places. How do these fundamental elements of the story interrelate to each other? There is no room to waste space.

The background is different, any thing could be there out in the periphery.

The Players Handbook puts the Halfling front-and-center among the four lineages in the foreground. Compared to the Human, Elf, and Dwarf, the Halfling needs to be pruned to make the foreground tighter.
There is nothing tight related to Hobbits. Unnoticeable. Tolkien don’t even mention when they appear in Arda, and before the Hobbit, they didn't have any impact on Tolkien world. It could be the same in any setting. A setting don’t have to fulfill the lore for everything since the creation.
 

Yaarel

Legend
Halflings are like the broadly archetypal Canadians. No one puts Canada's army in the history books, because they don't start wars and no one starts wars with them, but when their allies go to war, especially when they go to war because someone else started it, they march with them, and they fight with a stunning ferocity and loyalty. The rest of the time, they're welcoming, they take care of their folks, and they don't try to push others around.
So, the Hin are a Human ethnic group.

That is kinda the point of the original post.
 


Yaarel

Legend
There is nothing tight related to Hobbits. Unnoticeable. Tolkien don’t even mention when they appear in Arda, and before the Hobbit, they didn't have any impact on Tolkien world. It could be the same in any setting. A setting don’t have to fulfill the lore for everything since the creation.
In the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbits are central to the setting concept. Their innocence and lack of ambition makes them the only ethnic group that is uncorrupted by the Ring, which is the main plot.

(And yeah, in the context of Tolkien making folkbelief magical creatures mostly nonmagical and humanized, I do mean "ethnic group". Not to mention, the ethnic group is England, and the characters are ex-pats.)

By the way, the Hobbit is Tolkiens version of a magical creature. The Hobbit is actually the "hob", who is a house sprite, whence the love and need to be at home.
 

Halflings are fine, the endless amount of "the problem with halflings" threads on the other hand...
I understand it's annoying, but if they weren't an issue, why would people be complaining about them as commonly as they are? (I'm not saying that complaining about something makes that be a problem, but I'm saying that the first sign of a problem is complaint.)
 

except that if you remove all hobbits from Lord of the Rings, the quest would have fail and Sauron would rule the world. Indeed nothing change!
I never said they did not fit in lotr just outside of Tolkien they do not fit.
Yes. I think so.

It is no different from bringing in a Dragonborn to Dark Sun. In that setting, this lineage isnt part of the foreground. But, if the player is desperate to play one, the DM can figure out how it relates to the foreground. Maybe, the Dragonborn has something to do with the Sorcerer Kings. Maybe the Dragonborn is the result of a mad-science arcane magic experiment. In any case, the Dragonborn character is rare or unique within the setting, or at least from somewhere far away in the periphery. The character has little or no impact on the rest of the tone of the setting.

Likewise, even tho the Halfling contributes less to (any?) D&D setting, a DM can make room for a Halfling character if a player wants to invest in one. The DM can think about how the Halfling relates to the setting foreground. A simple solution is the Halfling is actually a little Human.

I approach the D&D game as players play a character, and the DM plays a world. I consider the setting a kind of character. Generally, a player has complete control over their own character concept. The DM has complete control over the setting. When a player wants something that fits less well into the setting, I consider it the responsibility of the DM to figure out how to make the desire of a player happen. At the same time, I consider it the responsibility of the player to work with the setting and even to try invest in the setting. Any negotiations between DM and player are in good faith.
Dragonborn are dray in 4e look it up.
personally, I like a tightly built setting just one which is wide in the kind of plots you can do.
I really don't understand why some folks think that halflings need to have a big impact on history in order to "deserve" their place as a common race in dnd. It's just a really strange notion, to me.

Why does it matter whether they have empires or great wars or move international politics?

Further, it's a good thing that there is a common race that doesn't do any of that. The game would lose a certain fullness, like mole without chocolate. Halflings are important because they're a large segment of the population, and they thus impact the broad culture of a given region, and help shape what a city or town looks like. They don't tend to insulate into exclusive enclaves within a city like dwarves and elves, instead being happy to live right alongside members of other communities. Their own villages tend to be out of the way, quiet, and easy to miss.

Halflings are like the broadly archetypal Canadians. No one puts Canada's army in the history books, because they don't start wars and no one starts wars with them, but when their allies go to war, especially when they go to war because someone else started it, they march with them, and they fight with a stunning ferocity and loyalty. The rest of the time, they're welcoming, they take care of their folks, and they don't try to push others around.

There are evil halflings out there, but they're fairly rare. It's also rare that a halfling lacks curiosity, or the ability to defend themselves. In past editions this was modeled by making halflings extra good with the ultimate simple weapon, the sling, and I think that should have been kept in some form.

They're fun to play, and they contribute to the world feeling real and inhabited.
name a nation or a culture without a history, the halflings could have been made two seconds ago and nothing changes, it is not logical or even reasonable I need the sense that they did things or had things happen to them otherwise you have no story with them.
the Canadian army was known to be apparently terrifying in world war two plus you can still look them up they did things halflings literally did nothing other than building a house and smoke since their creation, look I am not ambitious but that is just nuts.
There is nothing tight related to Hobbits. Unnoticeable. Tolkien don’t even mention when they appear in Arda, and before the Hobbit, they didn't have any impact on Tolkien world. It could be the same in any setting. A setting don’t have to fulfill the lore for everything since the creation.
it would be nice to explain them at some point as dnd is not a novel sooner or later you should explain the fourth most common race in the setting as that just makes sense but they can't as there is nothing to work with or inspire.
 

You could just as easily reverse that, to be fair. What would change if Dakaan was an ancient Halfling empire?
Well, for one, it wouldn't have the three goblinoids as a part of it. There's also the fact that Dhakaan is compelling because it takes a spin on typically evil races and gives them an interesting and compelling culture and acceptable motivations for disliking humanity. IMO, that story would be much worse if you were to just change the nation of typically monstrous races of Goblins, Bugbears, and Hobgoblins to the bland short people of Halflings.
 


Yaarel

Legend
Halflings are like the broadly archetypal Canadians, ... they don't start wars and no one starts wars with them.
Actually, if there was ever a war between the US and the old USSR, the first things that Russia would do, would be kill everyone in Toronto in a nuclear holocaust, so as to interfere with the steel industry of the US. Russia would invade Norway in a blitzkrieg, because the Norwegian fjords were resistant to nuclear warfare. If a nuke went off in one fjord, the neighboring fjords would be less affected. Russia declassified this information some time ago.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top