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

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I'm just popping in to link this post of mine from the (+) Halfling thread:

If that's what halflings are like, I can get behind that. If the 5.5e/6e PHB does something like that, I would be completely on board with that.

What do the people that disliked the possibility of making Halflings be part of Humans think about this? What about the people who agreed that halflings should be changed? Does this work for both of you? If not, why?
They're all fine ideas, but I don't see why they would be in a PHB. They're DM ideas, surely they belong in the DMG as possiblities?

Or in a setting book.
 

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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
They're all fine ideas, but I don't see why they would be in a PHB. They're DM ideas, surely they belong in the DMG as possiblities?
The "villainous halflings" portion of it would be in the DMG, but probably not the general/base halfling culture. Why wouldn't information on farming halflings be in the PHB? Information on Dwarves being miners is in the PHB, after all. (However, I do think that example cultures being provided in the DMG would make it much more useful, so I would be fine for it to be in that.)
Or in a setting book.
Well, if there's a base setting in the next edition's core 3 rulebooks, why couldn't this (or something like it) be a part of it? There's already cultural information in the core books, and even in books that aren't explicitly tied to any specific settings (Volo's, Mordenkainen's, and the upcoming Fizban's). Why would this have to be in a setting book?
 

Faolyn

Hero
I'm just popping in to link this post of mine from the (+) Halfling thread:

If that's what halflings are like, I can get behind that. If the 5.5e/6e PHB does something like that, I would be completely on board with that.

What do the people that disliked the possibility of making Halflings be part of Humans think about this? What about the people who agreed that halflings should be changed? Does this work for both of you? If not, why?
I like it. I would never be able to use it as-is, sadly, because one of my players is an enormous apiphobe to the point that even talking about bees unnerves him, but I would definitely use the rest of it. So yes, I think leaning into the halfling's agricultural side, in the same way that dwarfs have emphasis on mining and smithing, would be a very good way to go.
 

Faolyn

Hero
They're all fine ideas, but I don't see why they would be in a PHB. They're DM ideas, surely they belong in the DMG as possiblities?

Or in a setting book.
It would be condensed into the PH section on halflings, like where you get elves being magical and/or foresty and dwarfs being mining smiths.
 

I'm just popping in to link this post of mine from the (+) Halfling thread:

If that's what halflings are like, I can get behind that. If the 5.5e/6e PHB does something like that, I would be completely on board with that.

What do the people that disliked the possibility of making Halflings be part of Humans think about this? What about the people who agreed that halflings should be changed? Does this work for both of you? If not, why?
I like it generally.

Some of it seems a bit specific for the phb, and it might be tuned a little too far past 11 for a player race (though that is more a matter of taste) especially one where a bit of plainness is baked in as a feature rather than a bug.

But I do think it establishes and addresses a niche that I've not seen addressed in D&D and its does carry in some of the good halfling qualities.

And "happiness is mandatory" is a great halfling villain thing.

Edit: As I was thinking about it, my one qualm is a similar one to @Chaosmancer s peacekeepers. In think I like halflings better when they don't have a purpose or a "job to do". That most of the good they bring is accidental as a product of virtuous living rather than a result of conscious intent.
 
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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I like it. I would never be able to use it as-is, sadly, because one of my players is an enormous apiphobe to the point that even talking about bees unnerves him, but I would definitely use the rest of it. So yes, I think leaning into the halfling's agricultural side, in the same way that dwarfs have emphasis on mining and smithing, would be a very good way to go.
I'm glad you like it. It's nice that we can agree on something in this thread!

Hmm. That's unfortunate. Maybe you could include the bit about them producing magical healing-potion honey without mentioning bees? Lean more into the flowers and just imply that bees are there through mentioning honey and pollinating flowers? Would that unnerve him?
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
3) And according to other posters, earlier editions directly related them as well.

I believe the quotes from earlier editions have all of the demi-humans very closely related (especially gnomes and dwarves). As such, quotes showing two of them being similar shouldn't be a surprise.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I'm glad you like it. It's nice that we can agree on something in this thread!

Hmm. That's unfortunate. Maybe you could include the bit about them producing magical healing-potion honey without mentioning bees? Lean more into the flowers and just imply that bees are there through mentioning honey and pollinating flowers? Would that unnerve him?
Nah, he likes honey. Just not the critters that make it. I definitely plan on start including regional healing potions along these lines next time we play this game (we rotate DMs so my turns not for a while).
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
So what you are saying is that, since the quote supports an argument you are making, it's strong persuasive evidence, but if it hadn't been, it'd just be flavor text like every other equivalent entry in the PHB.

Sure, sounds like good faith to me.

And I don't really have an issue with folks who say halflings are similar to humans. I do think that they are, broadly, more different from humans than most all the medium-sized humanoids.

In either case, the position, for which the quote was used, was not that halflings are similar to humans. It was that they are the same.

1) I never said that if it hadn't it would be flavor text. I have no idea where you are getting that argument from.

2) No, it wasn't used to say they are the same, to go back to the original post.

The Players Handbook itself says the Halfling is like a Human commoner.

Which was then was followed by a "prove it, quote the PHB". And, just to make sure there is as little misunderstanding as possible, a definition

"having the same characteristics or qualities as; similar to."

If you wanted to say that a Granny Smith apple was identical to a Red Delicious, you'd say "Granny Smith Apples are the same as Red Delicious Apples". If you wanted to say they were similiar, but not the same, you would say "Granny Smith Apples are like Red Delicious Apples" .

See, this is why this conversation has been so painful and circuitous. Because you never respond to the actual point. you make things up that you think we said, and respond to that. Again and again and again and again and again. And then we have to back track and prove, no, we really didn't say that. To which you dismiss it and continue acting like you have our arguments correct.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
As far as easily recognisable in play I would probably put Dwarves at the top followed by goblins, and then perhaps, gnomes, halforcs and halflings.

Tieflings, Genasi, elves and Half-elves (anything "human but cooler") tend to in play just be humans with cool powers.

In my expeirence Half-Orcs are played exactly like a player would play an orc that wasn't a genocidal monster. Personally, I feel like people would be just as happy having orcs that they could play as instead of "half-orcs" which are the orcs you can play as.

to your "humans but with cool powers"...Tieflings, Genasi and Half-elves are generally "half-human but a cool parent that gives them powers". So... yeah, that's how they should get played. Most of them are just altered humans, so playing them like an altered human makes sense. And if you wanted to play a tiefling, genasi or Aasimaar that isn't an altered human... you'd probably either lean far harder into their planar connection (This is what a mortal fire elemental would be like) or make them an altered something else.

I can give you that elves are tricky. But that is actually partially because the ways they aren't human are so inhuman that it makes it hard to roleplay. A character who never sleeps is hard to conceptualize, because sleep is a fundamental part of our experience. The closest to "elf" would seem to be "robot" but we know that doesn't quite fit.

And this really the basic structural purpose of races, a kind of broad rough strokes hook for play and differentiation.

Worldbuilding is really not the purpose of them. Worldbuilding with nuanced distinct societies is much easier without them.

Edit: A lot of people seem to be saying they don't know what to do with halflings. This seems to be from a GM's perspective. I've never seen players have that problem. (Of course if you do you just choose something else, but plenty of players over the years have known what to do with them). The PC races are not, and have never been there for GMs. Even Gygax supposedly didn't really want them, but he put them in for his players.

So if your problem as a GM is how to make a coherent world with the options before you, then you just have to do what GMs have been doing since the 70s. Solve your problems yourself. The game doesn't care. It puzzles me that people see these inconsistencies as problems rather than opportunites - I always though that the fun of worldbuilding in D&D was rationalising these things and coming up with your own takes and solutions.

And I just fundamentally disagree with this idea. Maybe 2e had the wrong idea in how they handled publishing material, but there are multiple people who make their entire livelihoods right now around consolidating and making Youtube videos around DnD Lore. The fact that DnD offers up complete worlds and their own internal lore is an important part of the game.

Yes, we can make our own. Yes, I often do make my own because I'm a writer and I like world-building. But this idea that WoTC should never be held to any standards because if they make something bad the community can just fix it is a terrible model. Because it heads in one of two directions.

1) A game with no lore, you get raw statistics and the rest is made up by the community. This means that anyone who can't make up their own lore is unable to run the game, unless they wish to run it like a miniatures wargame where you just move your piece on the board.

2) A game with terrible lore, that actively makes the game harder to play or even makes it unplayable. this at least gives people a choice, you can make your own, not play, or play with bad stories and bad lore.

I love homebrewing my own worlds. I do. But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to hold the company responsible to actually providing decent lore. Yes, the community has come up with a lot of things I think would improve halflings... why is it wrong to take that next step and say "WoTC, you should look into doing some of these things."

Because, guess what? If you don't like the direction they take halflings? If you think halfling beekeepers are stupid and dum and you hate them? You can make up your own lore. You can change it back. But at least WoTC will have done something other than CTRL+C halflings yet again into the game without trying to make them actually unique to DnD.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I'm just popping in to link this post of mine from the (+) Halfling thread:

If that's what halflings are like, I can get behind that. If the 5.5e/6e PHB does something like that, I would be completely on board with that.

What do the people that disliked the possibility of making Halflings be part of Humans think about this? What about the people who agreed that halflings should be changed? Does this work for both of you? If not, why?

I like a lot of this a lot.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Nah, he likes honey. Just not the critters that make it. I definitely plan on start including regional healing potions along these lines next time we play this game (we rotate DMs so my turns not for a while).

You could keep the pollinator angle by having them use Butterflies, and then have the halflings actually doing the work to produce honey.

Or change it to ants. They don't make honey, but I do know that some ants do produce sweet fluids to feed young and the queens, so it could be adapted.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I believe the quotes from earlier editions have all of the demi-humans very closely related (especially gnomes and dwarves). As such, quotes showing two of them being similar shouldn't be a surprise.

Sure, but I was thinking I remembered a poster saying that in 1e Halflings were directly descended from humans.

Also, I think the gnome+dwarf angle is something that is hurting gnomes to this day with some posters. I can never get over people describing gnomes as looking like dwarves, because that has just never been a thing in the games I've played or the stories I read. I know it used to be, but I feel like that was a negative thing that I'm glad the game changed.
 

1) I never said that if it hadn't it would be flavor text. I have no idea where you are getting that argument from.

2) No, it wasn't used to say they are the same, to go back to the original post.



Which was then was followed by a "prove it, quote the PHB". And, just to make sure there is as little misunderstanding as possible, a definition

"having the same characteristics or qualities as; similar to."

If you wanted to say that a Granny Smith apple was identical to a Red Delicious, you'd say "Granny Smith Apples are the same as Red Delicious Apples". If you wanted to say they were similiar, but not the same, you would say "Granny Smith Apples are like Red Delicious Apples" .

See, this is why this conversation has been so painful and circuitous. Because you never respond to the actual point. you make things up that you think we said, and respond to that. Again and again and again and again and again. And then we have to back track and prove, no, we really didn't say that. To which you dismiss it and continue acting like you have our arguments correct.
1. Not "flavor text".."just flavor text".. reflecting that it is a weak bit of text from which to make an argument..which is what I said..and which you disagreed with..or something.

2. Wow you went up to the original post..and then didn't read the context..here it us..
Again, they're definitely not d&D humans.
The Players Handbook itself says the Halfling is like a Human commoner.
So.. @Yaarel 's response just a non sequitur then? Cool.

The remainder of your post is a sweeping general complaint which is broadly inaccurate and unnecessary. If it's painful for you to respond, you can just not do it, as I have has to do with several of our exchanges in this thread.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
So.. @Yaarel 's response just a non sequitur then? Cool.

The remainder of your post is a sweeping general complaint which is broadly inaccurate and unnecessary. If it's painful for you to respond, you can just not do it, as I have has to do with several of our exchanges in this thread.
Your post comes across as a strange mischaracterization.



I am participating in this thread because I am enjoying the discussion.

Your post suggests that you find this thread painful? I feel for you.
 

Your post comes across as a strange mischaracterization.



I am participating in this thread because I am enjoying the discussion.

Your post suggests that you find this thread painful? I feel for you.
I may be mistaken, but I suspect you are missing some of the context to this point.

If that's not the case, please feel free to correct me.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I may be mistaken, but I suspect you are missing some of the context to this point.

If that's not the case, please feel free to correct me.
You are incorrect. I have read, and understand, every post in this thread. Wow! Every one of almost 4,600 posts!



Some people like the Halfling. The heart wants what it wants.

I personally feel the Halfling has appealing qualities.

At the same time, I find some difficulties relating to the Halfling.

My main concern, is it feels like a Human. If the Human is Small, or if the Halfling is Medium − and add a positive mental outlook and childlike appreciation of the world − it would be difficult to say that these are separate species.

I and other forumers point out that the other Tolkien races are also very Human, like the Elf and the Dwarf. I also want these races to be more clearly less human. But I still view the Halfling as quantitatively the most difficult.
 
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Hussar

Legend
Yep. Text used to illustrate how races view themselves in relation to others is not good evidence for objective comparisons of actual similarity.

You could literally sub in any race for that text. If it'd been written about dragonborn, would you be trying to make the case that halflings are basically dragonborn?

This new casting of halflings as very human friendly sociopaths is an interesting spin.
Really?

The race that critics constantly point to as the prime example of the "Star Wars Cantina" problem in D&D?

The race that DM after DM claim would be attacked on sight in their setting for being too different.

That race? That's the one you want to say you could substitute for being similar to humans?

The race that's described as distinctly martial could be then described as human commoners and there'd be no contradiction in your view?

I'd LOVE to see that in the PHB. The sound of bursting blood vessels and people having absolute melt downs would be heard around the world.
 

My main concern, is it feels like a Human. If the Human is Small, or if the Halfling is Medium − and add a positive mental outlook and childlike appreciation of the world − it would be difficult to say that these are separate species.
Yes, if you take away all the ways they are different, they're basically the same.

It'd be like if you gave elves a human lifespan, or increased the normal lifespan of a human.

It's a pointless exercise.
 

Really?

The race that critics constantly point to as the prime example of the "Star Wars Cantina" problem in D&D?

The race that DM after DM claim would be attacked on sight in their setting for being too different.

That race? That's the one you want to say you could substitute for being similar to humans?

The race that's described as distinctly martial could be then described as human commoners and there'd be no contradiction in your view?

I'd LOVE to see that in the PHB. The sound of bursting blood vessels and people having absolute melt downs would be heard around the world.
Go back.. reread the conversation, and try again. Because your reply has nothing to do withit
 

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