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

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
There's a long history of a lot of the races being very similar...

"The demi-human races are cousin species to humans." - Moldvay, B9

"All of the non-human or part-human races closely resemble humans in many aspects." - 1e PHB, pg. 15

"Similar to their cousins, the dwarves, gnomes are..." - 1e PHB, pg. 16

As far as 5e...

The 5e PHB's entire quote from the human point of view about halflings is: "It's hard to beat a meal in a halfling home, as long as you don't crack your head on the ceiling - good food and good stories in front of a nice, warm fire. If halflings had a shred of ambition, they might really amount to something."

About human's in general: "Everyone's second-best friends. Just as readily as they mix with each other, humans mingle with members of other races. They get along with almost everyone, though they might not be close to many. Humans serve as ambassadors, diplomats, magistrates, merchants, and functionaries of all kinds."
These "races" as actual human ethnicities, are Tolkien-dependent racism, and are problematic.
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
These "races" as actual human ethnicities, are Tolkien-dependent racism, and are problematic.
In Tolkien, the Elves, Dwarves, and Men have entirely separate origins.

My point in the post was to argue the 5e quote about humans and halflings being similar was a whole lot of nothing burger, because they've all always been described in D&D as being pretty similar in spite of being different species.
 


2) I still dream of a proper D&D 4X or strategy video game and wonder would the halfling faction would field.
Does Warhammer count? They normally work as scouts or cooks for the army, but have their own rangers, archers, and slingers - and the Hot Pot artillery piece. Total Warhammer modders have implemented the halflings in OVN Lost Factions. (And no, neither GW nor the mod are entirely serious).
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
5e continues the 1e concept, via Fey Ancestry. Despite a body of flesh and blood, the Elf really is a Fey spirit. A nonhuman nature being.

For 5e, I prefer the Gnome and Goblin to be similarly Fey.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I think it's one thing to state "the phb says halflings are like humans"
and another to say "phb halflings recognize similarities between themselves and some members of another race".

I don't think it's that unusual to look at a different community and find similarities between yourself and that community. It's basic empathy, and halflings are noted for being particularly empathetic.

It's not as big an overstatement as "Phb elves are closely associated with the fey" but it is an overstatement.

Basic Empathy that never appears in any other spot in the phb between any two other supposedly "separate" races. Heck, they don't say that about elves or dwarves either, in fact they seem very distrustful of the elves.
 

Faolyn

Hero
RaceMelee InfantryRanged InfantryCavalryOther
DragonbornGreatswordsSorcerersDrake Rider????
DwarfAxedwarfCrossbowdwarfScrew mounts Hammerdwarf!Defender
ElfSwordselfBowelfUnicorn Rider?Bladesinger
HalflingBounderSlinger????????
HumanPikemanCrossbowmanKnightsPaladins
OrcGreataxesJaveliner???Berserker
GnomeBreechgnomeCatapults???Illusionists
Personally, I see dragonborn riding drakes as being like humans riding gorillas: I guess you could do it but it's kinda weird. I liked the boar riding dwarfs from the Hobbit movies. And elves totally get elk. Halflings get ponies, orcs get either worgs or warhorses, and gnomes get contraptions.
 




Basic Empathy that never appears in any other spot in the phb between any two other supposedly "separate" races. Heck, they don't say that about elves or dwarves either, in fact they seem very distrustful of the elves.
Right, the empathetic race displays some empathy, where the other ones don't. That sounds about right.

"Very distrustful" serms like a lot to read into: "you never know what's going on behind their smiling faces, surely more than they ever let on".

To be honest, it reads as another example of empathy to me, that they can detect that there is more there than what's being expressed outwardly, even if they are unsure what it is.

Can see it as open to interpretation though.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The Fey origin works well for the British elf, who are explicitly faerie.

D&D has an awkward disconnect between Fey and Elemental. Both would be nature beings, and both would be primal power source.

The Elf could be Elemental. The British elf is a land spirit associating with the plants. The Norse elf is a sky spirit associating with the sunlight, which feels even more Elemental.

One solution might be that all of it is aspects of the Ethereal Plane. The ether includes the four elements, and also includes the fey and the shadow. Potentially some earth elementals might be fey land spirits, including Gnome.

Altho a land spirit, the British sith elf might specifically be a Fey Plant Elemental, relating to fertile soil. And altho a sky spirit, the Norse alfar elf might specifically be a Fey Fire Elemental, relating to sunrays.

If the Feywild itself includes Elemental beings, the aspect would be the four elements coexisting with each other, in a dynamic equilibrium that brings forth and sustains life.

(This elemental eqilibrium compares to the Dark Sun concept of preserver magic where the four elements are in a lifegiving harmony. Perhaps Athas became unable to access the Feywild because it became too out of balance because of the destruction of water.)

Similarly, the Norse Dvergar dwarf would be a Fey Earth Elemental.

The Norse alfar and dvergar are Fey in the sense of personifying human fates, successful and unsuccessful, respectively. But they retain their elemental aspects, respectively.

I feel comfortable relating the alfar with D&D both Fire and Air, and the dvergar with both Earth and Water. There are a number of Norse texts that correlate this.

If each elf correlates with two elements, then the British elf is definitely both earth and plant. Whence the D&D Wood Elf is earth and plant, and the High Elf might be plant and air. The Drow Elf is obviously earth, possibly water too, thus correlating but nonidentical with the Norse Dvergar.
 
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1) hyenas are neither cats nor dogs. Hyenas would be closer to cats anyways.

2) I still dream of a proper D&D 4X or strategy video game and wonder would the halfling faction would field.


RaceMelee InfantryRanged InfantryCavalryOther
DragonbornGreatswordsSorcerersDrake Rider????
DwarfAxedwarfCrossbowdwarfScrew mounts Hammerdwarf!Defender
ElfSwordselfBowelfUnicorn Rider?Bladesinger
HalflingBounderSlinger????????
HumanPikemanCrossbowmanKnightsPaladins
OrcGreataxesJaveliner???Berserker
GnomeBreechgnomeCatapults???Illusionists
Seems to me that the idea of traditional cavalry doesn't make a ton of sense for the small races in the "run over the enemy infantry" sense.

I think for small races an interesting option would be mounts that offer alternative movement types like burrowing or flying to go over or under enemy lines rather than through them.

Edit: and for halfling other, let's go chef. Lure the enemy in with delicious pies.
 

Hussar

Legend
Seems to me that the idea of traditional cavalry doesn't make a ton of sense for the small races in the "run over the enemy infantry" sense.

I think for small races an interesting option would be mounts that offer alternative movement types like burrowing or flying to go over or under enemy lines rather than through them.

Edit: and for halfling other, let's go chef. Lure the enemy in with delicious pies.
Y'know, that's an interesting point that I never really considered.

As a small race, medium flying creatures become viable mounts. Giant Wasps (reskin as Bees as I could totally see Halfling bee keepers) would easily carry a halfling rider. Ooo, that would actually be pretty cool. Halfling communities, known for their honey and beeswax, field giant bee riders in battle. Slings wouldn't work, but, crossbows certainly would.

Shame that 5e giant bees don't have magic honey that heals. I always thought that was something they should bring back.
 

Casimir Liber

Explorer
Y'know, that's an interesting point that I never really considered.

As a small race, medium flying creatures become viable mounts. Giant Wasps (reskin as Bees as I could totally see Halfling bee keepers) would easily carry a halfling rider. Ooo, that would actually be pretty cool. Halfling communities, known for their honey and beeswax, field giant bee riders in battle. Slings wouldn't work, but, crossbows certainly would.

Shame that 5e giant bees don't have magic honey that heals. I always thought that was something they should bring back.

Easy to introduce without altering stats...just say a particular halfling village has access to a special orchard of trees with magical pollen that makes healing honey...
 

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