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

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Chaosmancer

Legend
The course of conversation up to that point was that halflings should be a Human subrace, including a challenge issued to name three ways that halflings are not humans. You can read into that what you will. I did, and I wasn't alone in it.

As to the response..

If I say, "a glider is not a plane", how does "this aurlthoritative book says a glider is like a plane" address that statement? On it's own, it is neither agreement nor disagreement and broadly unresponsive.

Orrr..it is intended as evidence for a counterclaim. And the available counterclaims are...

And yet there have been a lot of people claiming "a glider is nothing like a plane, they are totally different" or "of course a glider is like a plane, so are spaceships and kites, everything is like a plane so it isn't special that gliders are like planes."

And in that additionaly context, there does seem to be some place for that claim, that doesn't involved saying that a glider is identical to a plane.
 

lingual

Adventurer
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.





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.
My interpretation of this would be that halflings in general do not care about wealth and power. There is a difference between pursuit of wealth and pursuing money for some charity, security, etc.

Now I don't believe in monocultures where every character has to adhere to the written description (and only humans are afforded diversity - that would almost mirror "real" culture where minorities were just stereotyped in movies). So there obviously will be dwarven mariners, elven butchers, and greedy halflings in the world.

But you will probably not find a fleet of dwarven sailors, an elven butchers union, or an expansionist halfling state. However, there are many examples of expansionist human states.

If the Earth were of a halfling mindset, there would probably be no wars over territory, historic slavery, theocracies, etc. Also, no mighty militaries and a much slower and gradual pace of technological developments.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
An elf with hair that covers part of their ear does not look like a human? A dwarf does not look like a stocky person with a beard?

Cherry picking artwork proves nothing. Sorry .

You know, since people are currently discussing a lot of appearance things, let's ask a question.

Halflings in 5e no longer have massive hairy feet. Those are gone. So, other than being short... what does make a halfling different than a human?

See, with a dwarf you can have the beard, but if I was to describe a dwarven body I'd be talking about stone and iron. Tough muscles, solidly built to be nearly unmoving when they don't want to be. I've actually always wanted to have dwarves be more literally made of stone. It is a cool concept.

Elves don't look very different, depsite being described as more lithe and "skinny" than humans, but it is all in how they move. Fluid, like water or air. They also tend to have very pointed features, smooth.

And then with halflings.... nothing. No ideas.
 

lingual

Adventurer
Don't halflings get a plus to to dexterity - the same as elves? I would think a blanket plus 2 would be pretty distinctive genetic trait.

I think you dwarf and elf characterizations are based on the "ideal". They are not really represented in the rules that well. Rules like that would be nice additions though. Like dwarves getting advantage on checks against being shoved, etc.

I have no idea why I would try to spell out "two" (and fail) and then use the numerical form in the next sentence.
 
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Chaosmancer

Legend
My interpretation of this would be that halflings in general do not care about wealth and power. There is a difference between pursuit of wealth and pursuing money for some charity, security, etc.

Now I don't believe in monocultures where every character has to adhere to the written description (and only humans are afforded diversity - that would almost mirror "real" culture where minorities were just stereotyped in movies). So there obviously will be dwarven mariners, elven butchers, and greedy halflings in the world.

But you will probably not find a fleet of dwarven sailors, an elven butchers union, or an expansionist halfling state. However, there are many examples of expansionist human states.

If the Earth were of a halfling mindset, there would probably be no wars over territory, historic slavery, theocracies, etc. Also, no mighty militaries and a much slower and gradual pace of technological developments.

Sure, I can agree with most all of that. (Elves are hunters, they'd butcher animals. The union thing is only weird because I don't think elves would form unions. Unions were the collaboration of workers to prevent being scammed or bullied by employers. Elves.. don't really seem like the type to do that. Like, I can't imagine an elven lord mistreating an elvish servant. Or elven artists needing to band together against government censorship. It doesn't fit with the general view of elves)

But the point is that saying that halflings don't care about pursuing wealth, and that makes them unique as a race falls apart pretty quickly when you realize how easy it is to make a character of any other race that doesn't care about wealth and power. It can't be a defining trait.

And I know, people throw dwarves in my face constantly. But being miners isn't all there is to dwarves, and yes, there are a few things we could fix about dwarves, but that "fix dwarves" thread is this one, not the thread we are currently in.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Don't halflings get a plus to to dexterity - the same as elves? I would think a blanket plus 2 would be pretty distinctive genetic trait.

I think you dwarf and elf characterizations are based on the "ideal". They are not really represented in the rules that well. Rules like that would be nice additions though. Like dwarves getting advantage on checks against being shoved, etc.
I prefer the elf prioritize Charisma for magic, charm, songs, arts, and bards. That leaves the halfling as the main contender for dexterity for precision tasks, like aiming slings, stealth, and perhaps many other applications.

Altho the Brit elf is known for "elfshot", this is a magical attack, more like a cantrip, not a mundane arrow.
 

lingual

Adventurer
Sure, I can agree with most all of that. (Elves are hunters, they'd butcher animals. The union thing is only weird because I don't think elves would form unions. Unions were the collaboration of workers to prevent being scammed or bullied by employers. Elves.. don't really seem like the type to do that. Like, I can't imagine an elven lord mistreating an elvish servant. Or elven artists needing to band together against government censorship. It doesn't fit with the general view of elves)

But the point is that saying that halflings don't care about pursuing wealth, and that makes them unique as a race falls apart pretty quickly when you realize how easy it is to make a character of any other race that doesn't care about wealth and power. It can't be a defining trait.

And I know, people throw dwarves in my face constantly. But being miners isn't all there is to dwarves, and yes, there are a few things we could fix about dwarves, but that "fix dwarves" thread is this one, not the thread we are currently in.
I was just using unions to mean that there probably wouldn't be a whole lot of them. Elves in view have traditionally been vegetarians but that view is probably not the concensus.
 

lingual

Adventurer
I prefer the elf prioritize Charisma for magic, charm, songs, arts, and bards. That leaves the halfling as the main contender for dexterity precision tasks, like aiming slings, stealth, and perhaps many other applications.
I suppose an argument could be made that Charisma would also help with performance art like dancing.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Don't halflings get a plus to to dexterity - the same as elves? I would think a blanket plus 2 would be pretty distinctive genetic trait.

I think you dwarf and elf characterizations are based on the "ideal". They are not really represented in the rules that well. Rules like that would be nice additions though. Like dwarves getting advantage on checks against being shoved, etc.

I have no idea why I would try to spell out "two" (and fail) and then use the numerical form in the next sentence.

I don't think the +2 would really be that distinctive. Even if it was... Well, +2 Dex is really common.

Aaracrockra
Elves
Halflings
Dhampir
Reborn
Hexblood
Goblin
Kobold
Kenku
Swiftstride Shifter
Tabaxi
x4 SCAG Tielflings (winged, hellfire, Infernal, and Devil's Tongue)

Two are birds, Two are cats, three are short, three are variable, then you have tielflings and elves


I do however agree that some better racial traits would be nice.
 

lingual

Adventurer
I don't think the +2 would really be that distinctive. Even if it was... Well, +2 Dex is really common.

Aaracrockra
Elves
Halflings
Dhampir
Reborn
Hexblood
Goblin
Kobold
Kenku
Swiftstride Shifter
Tabaxi
x4 SCAG Tielflings (winged, hellfire, Infernal, and Devil's Tongue)

Two are birds, Two are cats, three are short, three are variable, then you have tielflings and elves


I do however agree that some better racial traits would be nice.
With the direction it's going, maybe stuff like elves just automatically getting acrobatics and persuasion (or it's future equivalent) in the future - and they can get expertise if they use a slot. It would alleviate some of the min-maxing with race and class combinations.

Dwarves getting resistances to shove and grapples. Halflings getting something similar to stealth and maybe acrobatics, etc.

The blanket plus 2 is too tantalizing a fruit for optimization.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I don't think the +2 would really be that distinctive. Even if it was... Well, +2 Dex is really common.

Aaracrockra
Elves
Halflings
Dhampir
Reborn
Hexblood
Goblin
Kobold
Kenku
Swiftstride Shifter
Tabaxi
x4 SCAG Tielflings (winged, hellfire, Infernal, and Devil's Tongue)

Two are birds, Two are cats, three are short, three are variable, then you have tielflings and elves


I do however agree that some better racial traits would be nice.
Some of these dont make sense. Why would Hexblood be dexterous? Shouldnt the proritize a spellcasting ability? Or maybe be weirdly strong.

I guess the birds and the cats have it for balance and landings.

Undead dont exude dexterity, and speed is more a Strength thing.

Kobold deserves Dex as a rigger of contraptions.

Goblins are hard to stat because the folklore makes them magical and dangerous but dim and comical. Wisdom as physical senses and relentlessness kinda makes sense.

If the elf exits the Dex scene, the halfling is the main contender for humanlike Dex stuff.
 

And yet there have been a lot of people claiming "a glider is nothing like a plane, they are totally different" or "of course a glider is like a plane, so are spaceships and kites, everything is like a plane so it isn't special that gliders are like planes."

And in that additionaly context, there does seem to be some place for that claim, that doesn't involved saying that a glider is identical to a plane.
I believe there have been zero instances of "a glider is nothing like a plane" and the quoted authoritative literature would be equally unresponsive to the remaining ones.
 

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?"
No, what I would say is, should we make them a subrace of dragonborn then? After all, the PHB says they are a lot alike.
 

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.
Yes, none of whom are being nominated as adoptees of other races, unless that was a part of the conversation I missed.

And, that the halfling shares that characteristic with others does not change how different it makes them from humans. And it does not make "short human" any fairer of a characterization.

(/edit: this is an argument purely based on whataboutism. If we bring up the lifespan of an elf as a differentiator from humans, "gnomes live a long time too" doesn't make elves and humans any more similar)

It is in the same way that "positive attitude" is in no way a close approximation, of the general lack of a will to power or desire to accumulate wealth. Now you may say, "it's not supposed to do that", which is fine except that it only changes the argument from an oversimplification/mischaracterization to one that includes a "tactical" omission.

In either case, it is not a fair representation of the differences between humans and halflings.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
With the direction it's going, maybe stuff like elves just automatically getting acrobatics and persuasion (or it's future equivalent) in the future - and they can get expertise if they use a slot. It would alleviate some of the min-maxing with race and class combinations.

Dwarves getting resistances to shove and grapples. Halflings getting something similar to stealth and maybe acrobatics, etc.

The blanket plus 2 is too tantalizing a fruit for optimization.
Athletics and Acobratics do well to merge into a single skill for gymnastics and swashbuckling, with choice of either Str or Dex as the key for all checks.

I can see the Halfling with Slight of Hand, Stealth, and probably "Gymnastics".

I can see the Elf with Arcana, Persuasion, and a choice of one skill or tool, to cover various Elf concepts like Gymnastics, History, Perception, magic item creation, or Performance.

There can also be backgrounds that are specific to the Halfling or Elf cultures, to flesh out these concepts.

Oh. And the Arcana skill should use whatever the casting ability is as the key.
 

Hussar

Legend
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?
Oh, hang on.

Funny no one questioned this as you folks are all about honesty and all that.

5e hailing's DON'T HAVE HAIRY FEET. They aren't hobbits. So, cutting off the feet makes perfect sense SINCE IN 5E they don't have that.

But, sure, if you choose images of elves that have thousands of positive reputation points and are considered among the top 20 or 30 of all images of elves on Reddit, then, sure, go ahead. Again, like I said, about 5 of those images are from Paizo (which does have hairy feet halflings). Not random Google image search stuff. I mean, I went to the r/ImaginaryHalflings site, clicked Top of All Time and picked from the top stuff, ignoring the stuff that was obviously pulled from The Hobbit and things that were too hard to crop.

We get taken to task for saying that halflings are too similar to humans. "NO THEY'RE NOT" is the oft repeated reply. "They at least as different from humans as any other race." Ok, prove it. You only had to pick two non-halflings out of 11 pictures. Many of which are held up as exemplars of what halflings look like in the game. Yet, everyone whines about "gotcha" and whatnot.

Heh, one thing I did notice though. The top image on imaginary halflings got 59 votes in a membership of just under 1000. The top elf pic on /imaginary elves, a community of 25.6 thousand, got 1300 votes.

But, I was told that halflings are so popular. Even Imaginary Dwarves have 12000 members and their top pic got 650 votes. All three reddits are about the same age. If halflings were so popular and being played so often, as often as dwarves according to some people in this thread, you'd think that the art communities would be closer. But, hey, what do I know? Apparently I'm just wrong.
 
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We get taken to task for saying that halflings are too similar to humans. "NO THEY'RE NOT" is the oft repeated reply. "They at least as different from humans as any other race." Ok, prove it. You only had to pick two non-halflings out of 11 pictures. Many of which are held up as exemplars of what halflings look like in the game. Yet, everyone whines about "gotcha" and whatnot.
So by the Hussar Metric a race of humans with feathers where the description is "humans with feathers" is 100% different from humans despite literally every personality trait being the same.

And a big issue with the challenge is that it is very hard to tell halflings and their less popular imitators D&D gnomes apart by sight. Or are you now saying that there are no gnomes there because that's new information. Also it's not an especially useful challenge.
But, I was told that halflings are so popular. Even Imaginary Dwarves have 12000 members and their top pic got 650 votes. All three reddits are about the same age. If halflings were so popular and being played so often, as often as dwarves according to some people in this thread, you'd think that the art communities would be closer. But, hey, what do I know? Apparently I'm just wrong.
Who said that halflings are played as often as dwarves? Rather than the most popular subrace of halflings being as popular, by the data, as the most popular subrace of dwarves?

And no one is saying that halflings look cool. So of course reddits devoted to cool art aren't as popular for halflings. I also wonder why given that your metric is a Reddit community size r/ImaginaryTieflings has 10 members and r/ImaginaryDragonborn doesn't exist.
 

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