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

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I agree with this.

The appearance would need to be an obviously nonhuman characteristic, to count as a nonhuman appearance.

By the way, I have seen reallife people who had somewhat pointy ears. It happens.

For me, the concepts of elf and dwarf are supposed to look human. Because they actually arent humans but are taking on a human form. They still retain subtle hints of their true form, being some feature of nature.

For example, the alfar are sunlight, and sometimes the human form glows an aura of sunlight. That would count as a nonhuman appearance.

So how does a homebrew elven race affect the conversation? I have no problem talking about how I've given halflings more depth in my campaign, but your alfar are a departure from standard lore. That's not necessarily a bad thing. If that's what it takes to make halflings unique to you then add something.
 

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
In short you can pick the two 4e/5e races but not the classic ones from humans once they cover their ears. Which is why some people find dragonborn and tieflings to be too exotic for their D&D.
In hindsight, it seems the earlier resistance against dragonborn and tiefling was because of a palpable sense of D&D trending away from Tolkien assumptions.

Most of these reactionaries seem to have made peace with the trend, and figured out how to coexist with the less-Tolkien playstyles. Fortunately for them, the Tolkien movies are popular, and WotC still wants to ride the aspects of that popularity.

I wish that D&D would do more to ride the popularity of Harry Potter, and soon Strixhaven seems to be granting that wish!
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
So how does a homebrew elven race affect the conversation? I have no problem talking about how I've given halflings more depth in my campaign, but your alfar are a departure from standard lore. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
The alfar and dvergar are clearer as examples of what nonhuman races can be. As opposed to the Tolkien elf and Tolkien dwarf that do feel too human.

If that's what it takes to make halflings unique to you then add something.
Yeah. Something analogous to the alfar is what it takes to make the halfling feel nonhuman.

But I dont want to be the one who decides what unique features to add, because I want the fans of the halfling to be the ones that decide.

I can offer suggestions and critiques, and have done both in this thread. But the fans need to be the ones that determine the traits.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The alfar and dvergar are clearer as examples of what nonhuman races can be. As opposed to the Tolkien elf and Tolkien dwarf that do feel too human.


Yeah. Something analogous to the alfar is what it takes to make the halfling feel nonhuman.

But I dont want to be the one who decides what unique features to add, because I want the fans of the halfling to be the ones that decide.

I can offer suggestions and critiques, and have done both in this thread. But the fans need to be the ones that determine the traits.

I have no idea where you got alfar from other than your own personal homebrew race or from some 3rd party. If that's what you need to make them different, more power to you. Do the same for halflings.

Personally I just accept that all non-human races are just humans with makeup and prosthetics and adding more minor cosmetics isn't going to change anything.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I have no idea where you got alfar from other than your own personal homebrew race or from some 3rd party. If that's what you need to make them different, more power to you. Do the same for halflings.
I get the alfar from the Norse heritage, the same source that Tolkien borrows from.

Meanwhile the 5e elf traits of otherworldly fey ancestry and magical nature, cohere with the mythological accuracy, better than some of the earlier editions of D&D.

Personally I just accept that all non-human races are just humans with makeup and prosthetics and adding more minor cosmetics isn't going to change anything.
From a game design point of view, a player race is an important design space that needs to avoid gratuitous clutter.

Each race needs to consolidate a salient concept that is significantly different from an other race.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I get the alfar from the Norse heritage, the same source that Tolkien borrows from.

Meanwhile the 5e elf traits of otherworldly fey ancestry and magical nature, cohere with the mythological accuracy, better than some of the earlier editions of D&D.


From a game design point of view, a player race is an important design space that needs to avoid gratuitous clutter.

Each race needs to consolidate a salient concept that is significantly different from an other race.
Which, for a lot of people, halflings do. Or at least do as much as any other race.

It's a game. A game played by humans. There's only so much you can do.
 


Faolyn

Hero
So, without looking at the Reddit thread, can you find the 2 non-halflings in this picture?View attachment 141059
Curious how you cut off the feet in all of these pictures. I'm guessing that some of them had the traditional bare and furry feet. Maybe all of them did.

Would you like to take a bunch of pictures of elves and humans but not show us the ears and demand we tell the difference? Or maybe a bunch of gnomes and dwarfs, but none of them have beards?
 

Faolyn

Hero
All I am saying is.

I am unsatisfied with Small and innocent counting as a separate species.

If such would count as a species, the dog would be hundreds of separate species, each breed with separate sizes and temperaments.

No.
But there's more to halflings than just "Small" and "innocent," just like there's more to dwarfs than "Medium" and "gruff." The last 230+ pages have been filled with adjectives describing halflings.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Here, I did one as well! One of these is not an elf. In the spirit of you cutting off the halfling's feet, I blurred out the ears in the pictures below. Pix taken from reddit.

1627058591943.png
 




Chaosmancer

Legend
Really...you can't think of ANY other differences between halflings and humans besides your 3 point list?

No, I was responding to Gammadoodler who when presented with that list said "Yes, if you take away all the ways they are different, they're basically the same."

I even acknowledged, in the post you are quoting with this line " I assume you are being glib, but let's take you at face value for a moment." that Gammadoodler himself likely believes that there are more than three things that should go on that list.

ONCE AGAIN can people actually read what I write! Is it so difficult to read what I write and actually understand it at a level that you don't waste time with posts like this that accuse me of things that not only did I never say, but that I SPECIFICALLY acknowledge the opposite point of?

Seriously, the rest of your post is a waste of my time, because it starts from the premise that despite the fact that I said that this 3 point list is inadequate that somehow I've held it up as the ultimate standard. I'm still going to read it, might even respond. But I'm getting sick and tired of this BS.




OK...let me add one difference you seem to have forgotten (even though it's been discussed about 600 times just in this thread) that is so fundamentally baked into the laid back friendly farmer halflings.

Halflings are not, generally, motivated by wealth. One of the fundamental draws for a stereotypical DnD adventure is killing things and collecting loot. In the US, modern society is built on a bedrock of systems involving the literal accumulation of weath well beyond the needs of an individual. What do you do with your millions? You use it to make more millions. What does the adventurer do with his treasures? Use them the become more powerful to kill better things to acquire better loot on a treadmill.

All the power hungry kingdoms (or dictatorships, empires sultanates, etc...) exist to build and gather more and more power. The elves, dwarves, and humans all do this. In fact, humans are the most power hungry of them all because they don't even have a traditional lane to stay in to build their power, they can be found everywhere some group wants to get a leg up on another group.

And halflings....halflings abide.

Yep, utter waste of time.

Oh no, they aren't motivated by wealth?! Let me just turn to my last few characters who made hundreds of thousands of gold.... Pyroclasm was motivated by knowledge. He was a noble and enjoyed the finer things in life, but he didn't care about wealth as much as wealth was a tool. Sir Kalten of Tamuli was motivated by honor and glory, Bryn Brightwood was motivated by Duty and and a desire to help people, Warren Sinder Raulnor was on a religious quest, Tharivol of New Springfield was trying to rebuild civilization after an apocalypse...

Weird, none of them were actually motivated by wealth. I, also, am not motivated by wealth. There are entire organizations called "non-profit organizations" who do this thing called charity. It is doing good for other people, it isn't being motivated by wealth.

Yes, it is interesting that halflings don't put a high value on gold, as a race, but it is far from unique and it doesn't change a thing about how most people play them. No more than any other choice does, because the rest of the world does care about wealth, and the character is going to need to use wealth to buy things. Part of the game. In fact, I just remembered a friend's character. A human shadow-sorcerer. Used to live on a farm. Looking for his lost kid and wife. Doesn't use the money we get from our missions because he doesn't care about money. But he does give his money to the other characters, to help them buy equipment and gear.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
People keep using "short" like that's all it is. It's a dramatic understatement of the difference.

Approximately the same height and weight as a human toddler. And, in a fight, able to perform with equivalent effectiveness to a full-size adult human/dwarf/etc.

It is way..way..way..more of a difference than some cute little horns, pointy ears, or green skin.

In a similar way, a "positive mental outlook" understates having a fundamentally different worldview with different values, who make different decisions about how they choose to live.

It's an argument constructed on mischaracterization.

Halflings are no shorter or smaller than Kobolds, Goblins, Gnomes or Fairies. Who also are able to perform equivalent to the full-sized adult human in combat. I use it like that's "all it is" because it is something shared by many other races. It isn't more dramatic for a halfling than it is for any of those others.

Also, I have no idea what you are even trying to say with your point on "positive mental outlook". Yeah, a different outlook involves having different values. And if you have different values, you make different decisions. That's why I don't have any piercings, even though I have friends who do. Different decisions based on different values which arise from different outlooks on life.

Unless you think that the other races are incapable of having a positive mental outlook for the world, that there is not a single innocent soul amongst all the gnomes, humans, elves, ect ect ect.
 


Faolyn

Hero
Yeah at least half of them would be a total toss up. More if it's possible that they could be races other than human or elf.
Yup. The blue one is a genasi. Actually, I could have left the all of ears unblurred, because she had pointy, slightly webbed ears... just like a sea elf.

It just goes to show: unless you always depict elves with foot-long anime ears, they're almost invariably indistinguishable from humans or other human-shaped races.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
I asked you specifically, if the quote had been addressing dragonborn rather than humans, if you would be trying to make the case that halflings are basically dragonborn.

In fairness, you didn't answer.. for some very important reason I'm sure..which I took to mean that you would not. If that is not the case, then please clarify.

And here is the issue..you seem to think that the green boxes that are intended to give us glimpses into how the races might view their relationships with other races is equivalent to the text where the PHB says what the races are and what they can do. It isn't.

Like we're not all complaining about how haughty elves are, or how humorless dwarves are..Are we?

We aren't in a thread discussing elves, or discussing dwarves.

See, the reason I didn't say "yes" or "no" is because it was a pointless question. Let us imagine that the PHB was written differently, would we still use the same text as evidence? Maybe, maybe not. It would depend on how it was written differently. What about Dragonborn are similar to halfligs for you? Do you find them incredibly similar? No? Then why would it be written that they were?

The only reason it would be written, in your mind, if to prove that the test isn't worth discussing, because it would be clearly wrong. But, to reach that conclusion you had to create a text you believe to be clearly wrong. You aren't proving anything, you are side-stepping the evidence by trying to bring into question my integrity.

But fine, you want the truth? If we were discussing halflings, and the PHB said that halflings and dragonborn are "a lot alike" especially the dragonborn commoners and farmers... then I'd acknowledge that as a fact. I'd be curious why halflings are living in Dragonborn lands and allowing Dragonborn to protect them. I'd question what the dragonborn get out of that arrangement. I would treat that evidence EXACTLY the same way I'm treating it now.

And you'd probably post and say "but what if it said tieflings? Would you still treat it the same then?"
 

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