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


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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I am suggesting that if we move the halfling to exotic something will have to be moved to the common race slot and the flame wars will be like a dying blue sun.
I assume anything will be like a dying blue sun. But if we're getting that, I'd make the battle to the death just leaving Elves, Dwarves, and Humans as the only common ones.
 



Yaarel

Legend
Probably, the default setting should feature the four most popular lineages as the foreground.

• Human
• Elf
• Tiefling
• Dragonborn

Maybe add Dwarf if a fifth.



These are the most popular D&D races according to DnDBeyond (2019).

Human 22.8%
• Standard 11.8%
• Variant 11%

Elf 22.8%+
• Half Elf 9.1%
• Wood Elf 6.1%
• High Elf 5.1%
• Eladrin 2.5%
• Drow (0.+%)

Tiefling 7.5%

Dragonborn 7.2%

Dwarf 6.6%
• Mountain Dwarf 3.6%
• Hill Dwarf 3.0%

Orc 4.7%
• Half-Orc 4.7%

Halfling 4.7%
• Lightfoot Halfling 3.4%
• Stout Halfling 1.3%

Gnome 3.1%+
• Rock Gnome 2.2%
• Deep Gnome 0.9%
• Forest Gnome (0.+%)

Aasimar 2.9%

Aarakocra 2.8%



Notice, combining Halfling and Gnome into a single lineage potentially improves their clout (7.8%).
 

To be fair, perhaps you're applying a higher standard to halflings that to other species? Like sure, I would combine them with gnomes, but then again I would also get rid at least half of the other lineages too. Most of them just exist because there were many words on thesaurus or because someone managed to think yet another marginally different and absurdly specific elf subspecies. Are orcs, goliaths and bugbears actually conceptually that distinct form each other? Do we need water genasi, triton and merfolk to be separate things? Leonin and tabaxi? And all the bloody elves?
A lot of the humanoid variants also exist because, until 3E and especially 5E, they were each tied to a narrow band of when they were a viable enemy.

Kobolds --> Goblins --> Orcs --> Hobgoblins --> Gnolls --> Bugbears --> Ogres --> Giants

The 1E PHB literally let fighters take as many swings on monsters below one hit die as they had levels, so that they could mow down, eventually, 20 in a round. Kobolds and goblins were intended as mass cannon fodder, unsuitable for even level 3 or 4 player characters, when they would have graduated on to orcs and hobgoblins. But by sixth and seventh levels, orcs and hogoblins were jokes, and it was on to gnolls and bugbears and ogres.

Since monsters didn't get levels and there was no notion of bounded accuracy, they had to create lots of different species to fight, even if there was very little conceptual room for them or if the differences were cultural or alignment-based and nothing else. There were something like three or four alternate "races" of orcs whose defining difference was not being Chaotic Evil.

And yes, sometimes Gygax (it was often Gygax) came across a new word or name for something that, realistically, already existed in the game, but felt the need to make it a brand new monster. And thus we got the xvart, the least loved of the 1E humanoid races. Basically, blue goblins who hang around with rats.
 

Probably, the default setting should feature the four most popular lineages as the foreground.

• Human
• Elf
• Tiefling
• Dragonborn

Maybe add Dwarf if a fifth.
It depends on what your goal is. If, as with 5E, your goal is to have a big tent approach for fans of all editions, centering tieflings and dragonborn is a great way to chase off a lot of the Baby Boomer and Generation X players who made up the primary player base until recently.

If your goal is to not have a big tent approach and bring in the maximum number of customers, I have some questions about what your business plan actually is.
 


jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
So my contention is that the fun of playing a nonhuman race is directly linked to its thematic limitations.
It can be, yes, absolutely--and I went out of my way to explicitly acknowledge that multiple times. But players are all different. Some simply aren't going to find that to be particularly fun, even though they understand what makes it fun for others. It isn't indicative of a flaw in their perception; it's just not their thing.

Let a thousand flowers bloom, and all that jazz.
 
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Nobody who starts these sorts of threads makes them. (By that measure, I guess nobody plays elves, either, since I never play them.)

In point of fact, halflings are right around the median in how many people play them, per D&D Beyond.
That's out of date, as someone pointed out earlier in this thread. Those figures from 2017. They've declined since then, now down to 4.7% combining subraces. They're doing badly for a PHB race - and the 2020 figures are presumably even worse because Half-Orcs are now in the top 5.
There's no chance the PHB is going to have just four races in it. And based on the available data, goliaths are significantly less popular than halflings.
Out of date data - 2019 shows they're basically comparable (3.9% despite only one subrace vs 4.7% on combined subraces). I strongly suspect given the gain/fall rate between them Goliaths are now ahead, in 2021.

The only PHB race doing worse is Gnomes. Soz little guy. Your people are in trouble.
 

Your people are in trouble.
Are they? Is WotC now deciding to cut races from the PHB?

I am a special snowflake (if snowflakes were invisible and in disguise and hiding so that its enemies would have no idea where they are until it's too late for them). I'm OK if everyone else wants to play an elf. Sucks to be them, but I can't live their lives for them. ;)
 

Probably, the default setting should feature the four most popular lineages as the foreground.

• Human
• Elf
• Tiefling
• Dragonborn

Maybe add Dwarf if a fifth.



These are the most popular D&D races according to DnDBeyond (2019).

Human 22.8%
• Standard 11.8%
• Variant 11%

Elf 22.8%+
• Half Elf 9.1%
• Wood Elf 6.1%
• High Elf 5.1%
• Eladrin 2.5%
• Drow (0.+%)

Tiefling 7.5%

Dragonborn 7.2%

Dwarf 6.6%
• Mountain Dwarf 3.6%
• Hill Dwarf 3.0%

Orc 4.7%
• Half-Orc 4.7%

Halfling 4.7%
• Lightfoot Halfling 3.4%
• Stout Halfling 1.3%

Gnome 3.1%+
• Rock Gnome 2.2%
• Deep Gnome 0.9%
• Forest Gnome (0.+%)

Aasimar 2.9%

Aarakocra 2.8%



Notice, combining Halfling and Gnome into a single lineage potentially improves their clout (7.8%).
Note also the Geeknative article brought up previously which said the top 5 in 2020 (presumably top 5 most generated/played) were: Human, Half-Elf, Dragonborn, Tiefling, and Half-Orc (I have to suspect something went wrong with elfs that they got left out).
 

Yaarel

Legend
You literally could just read the history of the hin in FR.
But it seems as if you literally dont know the history of the Hin in FR − because − the Hin are irrelevant to the FR setting.

I dont know their history either.

By contrast, I can tell you in detail the history of the Elf in the FR setting − because − they are central to the foreground of the FR setting, and contribute to the tone of the FR setting.
 

Are they? Is WotC now deciding to cut races from the PHB?
Honestly I have no idea. The whole lineage thing means when a new PHB comes out things are likely to be shaken up for a lot of people, and without the stat modifiers in play, I bet a ton of races will get more or less popular. I think theme will become more important, relatively-speaking. I actually think the shake-up will probably save gnomes/halflings because WotC won't want to do too much change at once.
 

The only PHB race doing worse is Gnomes. Soz little guy. Your people are in trouble.
I'm not really into 5e, but do they still do that stupid thing where Small races have to use suckier versions of weapons and thus have most martial classes but rogue backdoor barred to them?

That might explain it.

This is why you ignore anyone who talks about 'verisimilitude', people.
 

But it seems as if you literally dont know the history of the Hin in FR − because − the Hin are irrelevant to the FR setting.

I dont know their history either.

By contrast, I can tell you in detail the history of the Elf in the FR setting − because − they are central to the foreground of the FR setting, and contribute to the tone of the FR setting.
Halflings being there definitely contributes to the tone of the FR. That being silly and incoherent embarrassing mess.
 

Mercurius

Legend
It can be, yes, absolutely--and I went out of my way to explicitly acknowledge that multiple times. But players are all different. Some simply aren't going to find that to be particularly fun, even though they understand what makes it fun for others. It isn't indicative of a flaw in their perception; it's just not their thing.

Let a thousand flowers bloom, and all that jazz.
Sure, "its not their thing" - so they should play a human, no? Or perhaps ask their DM to make elves just like humans so they can play a prettier human with pointy ears ;).

And to be clear, I'm not saying that is a misperception to see nonhumans as limited thematically, but it is a misperception to not recognize that it is a feature, that the whole point of a nonhuman--from a game perspective--is to play a "pastel" or "natural" hued character along a certain archetypal line. The word "flaw" implies that there's something wrong from a design perspective with nonhumans with regards to their limited thematic nature, which I think is a misperception.
 

I'm not really into 5e, but do they still do that stupid thing where Small races have to use suckier versions of weapons and thus have most martial classes but rogue backdoor barred to them?

That might explain it.

This is why you ignore anyone who talks about 'verisimilitude', people.
Nah. Only weapons with the "Heavy" tag are penalized for them, which is relatively few of them. Broadly agree re: verisimilitude.
 

They're actual humans while D&D humans are coked out Vin Diesels at best, poster-boys for Slytherin at worst. Sometimes you don't want to be the ISO standard adventuerer.
Brutal and yet disturbingly accurate.

Almost all the worst characters I've ever dealt with in D&D, in terms of character personality/behaviour, were humans. Through 2/3/4/5E.
 

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