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

Status
Not open for further replies.

King Babar

God Learner
I'm not a fan of halflings, and don't include them in my homebrew setting (at present), but in the interest of positive discussion I had a thought on how to tweak their lore.

One of my favorite little asides in LOTR is how the hobbits of the Shire claim to have sent a company of archers to aid the Arnorian king against the Witch-king of Angmar. However, this small contribution (pardon the pun) isn't recorded by Man, and you can possibly assume it's just a hobbit tall tale (more puns).

Expanding from this, I think it would be interesting to present halflings as the forgotten heroes of the world. They've been in all the major battles, have had great heroes, but somehow keep getting ignored in the songs and legends, so everyone thinks they're lazy and decadent good-for-nothings. And maybe halflings prefer it this way, plausible deniability or something. Like how a house cat looks adorable but is actually a fierce predator.

So yeah, the hidden badasses of your DnD world, basically Clark Kent/Superman.

Hopefully I didn't somehow, in my ignorance of Halfling lore, independently arrive at their actual lore 😅
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


I don't see any reason given to reconsider the opinion that led you to reply in the first place.

As I said to the other poster in the post you quoted: "convince me".
(Or don't as you wish, but I'm not sure what you're trying to achieve otherwise).
Well, you could start your own thread about dwarves…
 




Chaosmancer

Legend
OK, guys, how about this:

I think we can all agree that halflings don't have a huge amount of canonical culture. In both 2e "Complete Book" series and 5e's Mordie's Foes, they shared time with gnomes. They, unlike every other PC race, don't have a racial foe (which isn't a bad thing, at least for those of us who dislike the idea of Always Evil races), and don't have an origin myth (IIRC, Yondalla didn't create halflings; she found them and claimed them. I could be wrong, though).

Sooo.... how's about instead of complaining about whether or not they have a purpose, y'all take what you know about them and add stuff until they become as interesting as other races.


Sure, I can rewrite them. But despite the fact that I know this will just get more acidic rebuttals, why would I?

I mean, I've rewritten them a little bit, because I know there are people who might play my games and be interested in their mechanics (no one has yet) but if they weren't one of the Big Four and people expected them to be there... I wouldn't really bother to rewrite them.

This is the issue I have. I'd basically have to make a new race, and as was pointed out... we have hundreds of races already. It is far easier to just make the other races more complex and nuanced, than it is to completely rewrite halflings just because people feel like they need to exist. I can't find a compelling reason for them, so my energy wants to go to the more interesting races instead.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Sure, I can rewrite them. But despite the fact that I know this will just get more acidic rebuttals, why would I?

I mean, I've rewritten them a little bit, because I know there are people who might play my games and be interested in their mechanics (no one has yet) but if they weren't one of the Big Four and people expected them to be there... I wouldn't really bother to rewrite them.

This is the issue I have. I'd basically have to make a new race, and as was pointed out... we have hundreds of races already. It is far easier to just make the other races more complex and nuanced, than it is to completely rewrite halflings just because people feel like they need to exist. I can't find a compelling reason for them, so my energy wants to go to the more interesting races instead.
You could just….not do any of that. I’ve got a world with no humans. If a player really wanted to play one, I’d work with them to figure out where humans could find a place in this world, and it wouldn’t be thier normal place as the demographically dominant people.

I’d ask what appeals to the player about a human, what they want from the character, if there is a particular culture they want to come from, etc.

If someone wants to play another race I don’t have a place for yet, and I can see room for them, I’ll ask them what they want from it, and work it out with them.

But unless a player asks to play a human, they just don’t exist in this world.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Hoooly cow I'm not going to even try to engage with all of that. I'm sorry but I'm just going to have to pick out a few bits and respond to them. Even on a day off I just can't dedicate the time required to engage with....that much point by point argumentative back and forth.

I am sorry for that, because you clearly put a lot of time into this, but...it's too much. it's either snip and reply to a few bits, or not even read it much less respond to any of it. Just the thought is giving me mild anxiety in spite of meds.

I've been having much the same reaction these posts are getting HUGE

Again, @steeldragons can correct me if I'm wrong, but that entire post is in direct reply to posts about halflings, and is thus pretty clearly about halflings. I don't understand how you can read the literal text you just quoted and see anything else, frankly.

Do you not see how that is my entire point? Their post was about halflings. Their post then went out of their way to set up a dichotomy. If you are against halflings, you are against all of those traits they listed. You in their own words, only see the point in playing edgelords and anime characters. Again, their EXACT words stated this unequivocally.

My entire post was that being against halflings IS NOT being against humble heroes. That setting up that dichotomy where people who don't like halflings think that being kind and fighting only to defend and being humble are not heroic traits WAS A STRAWMAN and I responded to say as much.

You keep insisting that they didn't say that and that I am strawmanning them, but you don't elaborate beyond that. You just keep saying I'm adding to their post to make them seem like they are saying things, even when I quote them directly.

You could ask them, instead of assuming the worst possible interpretation of their post and angrily replying to it in that context.

I figured by quoting and addressing their points directly I WAS inviting them to respond and clarify if I was wrong. I also know they are following this conversation, so they are clearly watching you and me argue about it. And I directly mentioned them a few times in my last post.

What more am I supposed to do? If they don't want to respond, they aren't going to respond.

I have made it super clear that my position is that "people like playing halflings and having them in the world" is all the justification that is needed. I have only talked about specific traits in refuting the notion that it could ever possibly matter in any way whether a given trait is unique to them. Halflings don't have to have detailed histories of impacting the world, or obvious character flaws, or anyting else you keep acting like a lack of matters at all. People like them because of exactly what and who they are, as written.

Okay, but this doesn't address anything. For example, whether or not halflings should still exist doesn't address whether or not they should still be as prominent. Right now, they are not only in the PHB, but they are under the "common races" section in the PHB. In the future should they still be listed like that? Or would it make more sense to have them in a later release, and move popular races like goblins and gnomes up?

Saying "they exist and should continue to exist because people like them" doesn't address this point in any way. Should their lore be expanded? Your response doesn't address that.

I'm not saying you can't hold such a narrow point of view with only the goal of preserving the existence of Halflings... but you are arguing very heatedly against me... and I've never advocated for deleting halflings. So, if your entire goal is their continued existence in the game... stop arguing with me. I'm not against your position.


Some people find that to be a problem, that halflings offer them nothing of interest. Especially when they are world-building and they feel like they have to include halflings because people expect them, but they have no interest in just having a race of people who simply... exist for the purpose of existing. Speaking from expeirence, I have struggled with figuring out why to bother pointing halflings in my games for a while, and the only reason I do is because they are supposed to be there, and people expect them.

I literally never said or implied that it is. You're on a wild tangent that I am uninterested in following you on.

Then again, I have no idea what you mean by them being fiercely loyal in a way that humans aren't. I broke down what it seemed like you were saying, and that was part of what you cut.

They don't seem to be loyal in anyway that makes sense from the way you are talking, and no more loyal than any other person in the world.

Which is wholly irrelevant to someone's post lamenting that people seem to think that halflings aren't worthy of being a core race because they don't have any of those traits.

So, to repeat what you just said. Steeldragon was lamenting the fact that people seem to think that halflings aren't worthy of being a core race because they aren't edgelords or anime characters.

And yet, no one is against Humans, Dwarfs or Elves... who are not edgelords or anime characters. You might, maybe be able to argue that Gnomes are anime characters... but since they have existed in fantasy longer than halflings I'd say you'd have to really put forth the most extreme versions of them to make them anime characters, and simply... dialing them back to a 7 or 8 is enough to change that.

So, you are making the same false assumption that they were making. That being against halflings is because we share some twisted values and dismiss certain tropes. That isn't true. We are against halflings because they have nothing to offer. List off all the "generic farm boy hero" traits you want, we can still have those without halflings. We want to have those. I like playing those sort of characters... just not as halflings. I prefer them as other races. Forest Gnomes and Humans mostly. But if halflings aren't offering anything other than a bland white sheet that we can put these generic tropes on.... why do we have them as a core race? That is the point of humans as a core race. Let's put in some of the other races. Let halflings be an uncommon race, maybe wait until a secondary release of player options to include them.

Not saying we get rid of them, just push them back and let other more interesting concepts step forward. Why is that wrong? That's what we've down with various "beast-folk" like Shifters and Tabaxi. Why is it wrong to do that with halflings?

When you stop doing this, I'll be happy to engage more fully with your arguments. When the hyperbolic strawmen come out, I tend to tune out.

Again, you're attributing an argument to me that I never made. Or perhaps you don't know that there is a difference between "not uncommon" and "every person does it"?

Maybe if you stop tuning me out and listen to what I'm trying to say, then you would have an easier time following my arguments and seeing why I am saying the things I am saying.

Hobbits are halflings. Stop trying to pretend they aren't. We all know they are the origin of the concept in fantasy. Which is the primary reason they don't show up in other fantasy, because adding them in makes it feel like you're trying to do either Tolkein or DnD, rather than your own thing.

And thank you for the longwinded equivelent of, "no, i don't understand what you're saying with those examples or how a people can be both things or why that combination of traits is compelling for a lot of people".

And you are misunderstanding my point again. Yes, people can be more than one thing. That is obvious. But, you brought up Merry specifically, and I was pointing out that even among Hobbits Merry is kind of unique. Merry and Pippin are the only two hobbits we ever really see go to war. And I don't remember what Pippin was doing during that war, I think he was mostly in the castle dealing with the regent. Making Merry the only hobbit in the entire story to be on the frontlines of a war. Not a skirmish in the shire. An actual battle for a city with massive armies on every side. Using Merry as an example of what Hobbits are is very misleading, because no other hobbit is like him.


On to the second point... maybe an example would work. Do DnD elves see the world as a flat plain? LoTR elves do. And are DnD elves and LoTR elves the same race of people.... No. They aren't. They are different. If I asked for an example of a DnD elf, and you started talking about Legolas running over top of the snow, I'd have to tell you that DnD elves can't do that.

In LoTR Aargorn is noted to have elven blood, to the point where it affects him. That would make him a half-elf in DnD. And yet, when talking about Half-Elves... we don't talk about Aaragorn or Elrond.

So, when I ask about halflings, and everyone responds with "well the hobbits" we have a problem. We don't do that for any other race in DnD. Every single other race we can talk about in the context of DnD alone. Maybe not humans, but they are kind of a unique case since everyone on the planet is human. Halflings are the only ones that when we try and talk about them, people start talking about Hobbits and JRR Tolkien.

They've never moved past their origin. They've never evolved. They are stagnant and locked into this eternal place where for whatever reason, they are not allowed to become their own thing and must always pay homage to Tolkien. And yes, that is hyperbole if you want to point out that there are two notable exceptions to this. One which is only a half-exception, but I'm talking about the PHB and generic halfling lore, not the specific setting versions that went out of their way to change just about every single race.

This whole line of argument is based on the false premise that a core race needs to have obvious flaws and the like in order to deserve it's place in the core.

Is that truly a flawed premise? If I wrote a character in a novel who had no flaws... did I write a good character? No.

The point I was making is that halflings are idyllic. Their entire point seems to be that they are too good for this flawed world, but also humble and down to earth so they don't end up looking down on humans. They are ideals. They take all of our best qualities, and none of our worst. Which... makes it really hard for them to be anything other than flat when world-building. And they end up occupying the same spaces as humans. Which just makes them... better humans but short.

Which again, that is hard to work with. That is hard to make into anything that a player can explore or dig their teeth into.

None of that follows. An extreme faction having some traction in a community doesnt mean that most of the community doesn't view them as radical or at least worrisome and misguided. And where are you getting "potentially defining their entire culture for generations to come."?

From the concept that if you are playing a campaign that focuses on this issue, then the entire point would be that if Uldra succeeds the Talenta halflings will become more insular and fight to keep out outsiders. That's the point of her existing. For that plot potential.

If it was just that she's a sliver who is raging against the tide of halfling charity and good will and can do nothing except be a terrorist that everyone dislikes.... then there is no point in her being prominent.

Okay, I don't care. The fact that hobbits are part of the history of halflings isn't a mark against halflings, and the idea that it is is just patently absurd nonsense you're making up because you don't like halflings and want to win an internet argument.

And elves dwarves and orcs don't come from Tolkein! Of course we don't talk about tolkein as much when discussing them, although I will note that because orcs are mostly defined in their fantasy fiction origin by Tolkein, Tolkein is brought up in literally every single thread that becomes about orcs that I have ever seen, here or elsewhere. Because of course it does, because that's their origin! LOL what completely nonsense it is to suggest it should be otherwise!

I'm going abandon this argument with you after this post. The mods have made it clear over time that criticising someone's behavior in a thread is only tolerated if it is brief and not repeated, and I don't think I can go another round ignoring certain things.

But in those threads about orcs, people also talk about Gruumsh, and Obould Many-Arrows, and DnD Orc Lore.

Where is the DnD halfling Lore? When I ask for DnD halfling lore... I get told about JRR Tolkien Hobbit Lore. That is the problem. That is what I am saying is a mark against halflings, is that no where in this entire thread has anyone every tried to defend halflings. They have tried to defend hobbits.

And, yes, you can say halflings = hobbits. But the problem is, hobbits don't work in DnD. Their entire reason for existing, every narrative theme they embodied in Tolkien's work, doesn't impact the right way with DnD. And so their origin is also their endpoint, they haven't done anything with generic halfling lore.... and people are saying, "hey, if we are never doing anything with this... why is it still so prominent?"

And I think that is a fair question, but in asking it all I get from the other side is accusations and derision. Which doesn't speak well to their ability to actually defend their argument.

In your later post you go on at length about how halflings work because they are simple folk with no ambitions, but I think you keep missing the point. That is a character trait. That is an individual character story. They guy or girl forced into adventure, who comes home to their sleepy hometown and lives out their days in peace is a specfic character story.

And that doesn't help us with world-building. I played a Wood Elf ranger who was the survivor of a bandit attack, taught by their aunt, and who was adventuring because we were adventurers, but who would have been perfectly fine becoming a small town sheriff and leading a peaceful life once things had calmed down. He wasn't a king. He wasn't a leader of men. He just... wanted to help people not live in fear, and he had been trained as a very good hunter, so he went and hunted bandits and monsters.

I can play that simple character with anything. But, when I build out the world. When I look to "who are elves in the wider world" I have a lot to pull on. I can look to their origins, their religion, their place in the larger world and see how they affect it. With haflings... you can't. They don't have an origin. They don't have a place in the world other than "they live in small communities near humans". They don't really have much of anything written about their religion or gods. Their language is basically non-existent, it never comes up anywhere. They are nearly impossible to do anything with on a world building level, except have them exist in small communities among humans and basically share human culture.
 


jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I mean, I've rewritten them a little bit, because I know there are people who might play my games and be interested in their mechanics (no one has yet) but if they weren't one of the Big Four and people expected them to be there... I wouldn't really bother to rewrite them.
So if I understand you right, you wish they were not one of the four races included in the free rules (i.e. the "big four") because then you'd feel liberated from the obligation to put them in your world?
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Why just Halflings? Or why specifically halfings?

I guess this confuses me. There have been a few threads like this recently.

Why isn't the same true of Dwarves? Is there anything more cliched and dull than a D&D dwarf? What about elves? They are not Tolkien's immortal beings full of grace, or strange fell fey creatures from the lands of faerie, they're just humans with pointy ears who live a long time and spend that long time hanging out in forests and practising archery.

It's not that I can't see why people might find Halflnigs boring. I just don't see why there is a problem here exclusive to them.

Okay, so let us start with the really basic stuff.

Dwarves live in the Mountains. That immediately makes a difference, as stupid as it sounds, because Dwarves live "over there". And it immediately starts raising questions. How do they handle this problem in the mountains, how do they handle that problem. It also raises the question of how they interact with other races. Because they live in the mountains, it opens that door and gives us an option. Are they friendly with their neighbors, or not? And beyond just living in the Mountains, they tend to live underground in the mountains. This opens up even more potential.

So, as a world-builder, just this single simple meaningless fact gives me a lot of options already. I have to start thinking about how they live underground, how they get food, how they interact with their neighbors. It seems like it should be a fact that doesn't even matter, but it starts shaping a lot of how you can present the race. Making them stoic warriors in grey and icy fortresses far up in the mountains who isolate themselves from their neighbors is an option, as well as merry craftsmen who send trade delegations from their mining homes constantly to their good neighbors.

The craftsmen part is also important. Dwarves forge, and traditionally they are one of the best. This gives us angles to work with. Some lore has them enlsaved for their crafting ability and recently freed. Some lore has them having the best troops, because they have the best equipment. Some lore has their skill translate into vast wealth for their nations. And you can turn this dial a few different ways. For example, I once had a set piece location that was a dwarven super forge that used lava and the heat of the core of the planet to forge things like adamantium. We start asking, how do they make that. Why do they make that.

But, one of the biggest things I've seen with Dwarves that gets played with more than anything else, are the clans. Out of every race in the game, the only other one that gets close to this I've seen are orcish tribes. A dwarven clan gives us a unit to manipulate. If your clan is the clan most known for the warriors who guard the borders, that clan is very different than the clan most known for making beautiful jewelry, or for caring for the dead.

The clan allows us to take the dwarven society and chunk it up. Every dwarf is like this, but Clan Gem-Eye is also that. And by making these divisions, you can start piecing together a more complicated relationship. You can have rivalries, wars, different factions with different goals. And, it also allows the character to work with a new unit. Maybe your character is not in a good relationship with their clan, but they are with their family. It allows you to play with this extra layer.


Now, to turn this back around to halflings for a second... they live with humans. Basically all of the things we discussed in the Mountain part of dwarves for halflings is just "copy the humans". What do halflings do? They are simple farming folk. Maybe tavern owners or shopkeeps. In the worldbuilding sense... they are a pallet swap. You'll never go to a halfling city. The best you can do is a small halfling farming village... which is just a farming village. But a dwarven city is very different from an elven city is quite different from a human city.

Where in the world building sense I can see dwarves having multiple dials I can spin... halfling dials are all set. They don't move. And that is why I think things like dwarves and elves end up more interesting, because we can adjust them more, where as halflings... don't really change.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
You could just….not do any of that. I’ve got a world with no humans. If a player really wanted to play one, I’d work with them to figure out where humans could find a place in this world, and it wouldn’t be thier normal place as the demographically dominant people.

I’d ask what appeals to the player about a human, what they want from the character, if there is a particular culture they want to come from, etc.

If someone wants to play another race I don’t have a place for yet, and I can see room for them, I’ll ask them what they want from it, and work it out with them.

But unless a player asks to play a human, they just don’t exist in this world.

I thought about doing that, but the thing is halflings are a core race. Just ignoring them felt like I was going to have an issue down the line.

Now, by this point, the fact that I've never had a halfling player or anyone interested in playing them, maybe I feel more confident in just excluding them from my rewrite. But if they can just be casually excluded and not impact anything... that is an issue I think.

Because unlike your example of removing humans, which is VERY noticeable in the world. Removing halflings.... isn't. I don't even think my most recent group has realized there are no halflings in my current world. And actually thinking about a game a friend of mine has been runninng... I don't think there are any halflings in his world either. But I didn't even think to look for any until just now. And that has been a three or four year long campaign.

It feels odd that they can disappear and no one even thinks about it. I know where the elves, dwarves, gnolls, goblins, orcs and humans are. We;ve encountered hags, giants, dragons, fey, mindflayers, grimlocks and a beholder... but not even a peep is halflings exist. We actually did encounter a gnome artificer too, but we never followed up on where he came from.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
So if I understand you right, you wish they were not one of the four races included in the free rules (i.e. the "big four") because then you'd feel liberated from the obligation to put them in your world?

That isn't why I'm advocating that they need something done, but it would be nice.

They could also rewrite them to make them more engaging and interesting. That would work too, but people seem to think that changing them in anyway is bad, which leaves me in an odd position. I don't think the status quo is good, but every change to the status quo is met with fierce opposition.

If people don't want halflings to change, then it seems the simplest solution is to make them less prominent, and that would lessen the tension I feel between how they are talked about as a major part of DnD and how they are presented as... not a major part of DnD.
 

I've never had a halfling player
Yes, most players tend to be humans.

Because unlike your example of removing humans, which is VERY noticeable in the world. Removing halflings.... isn't. I don't even think my most recent group has realized there are no halflings in my current world. And actually thinking about a game a friend of mine has been runninng... I don't think there are any halflings in his world either. But I didn't even think to look for any until just now. And that has been a three or four year long campaign.
Yes, but besides humans the same can be said for any race. Humans of course are the expected baseline in any setting, and not including them is exceptional (but potentially interesting.) But anything beyond humans is an optional extra that don't really need to exist; there are a ton of human-only fantasy setting. This singling out halflings is just frankly bizarre.
 

Okay, so let us start with the really basic stuff.

Dwarves live in the Mountains. That immediately makes a difference, as stupid as it sounds, because Dwarves live "over there". And it immediately starts raising questions. How do they handle this problem in the mountains, how do they handle that problem. It also raises the question of how they interact with other races. Because they live in the mountains, it opens that door and gives us an option. Are they friendly with their neighbors, or not? And beyond just living in the Mountains, they tend to live underground in the mountains. This opens up even more potential.

So, as a world-builder, just this single simple meaningless fact gives me a lot of options already. I have to start thinking about how they live underground, how they get food, how they interact with their neighbors. It seems like it should be a fact that doesn't even matter, but it starts shaping a lot of how you can present the race. Making them stoic warriors in grey and icy fortresses far up in the mountains who isolate themselves from their neighbors is an option, as well as merry craftsmen who send trade delegations from their mining homes constantly to their good neighbors.

The craftsmen part is also important. Dwarves forge, and traditionally they are one of the best. This gives us angles to work with. Some lore has them enlsaved for their crafting ability and recently freed. Some lore has them having the best troops, because they have the best equipment. Some lore has their skill translate into vast wealth for their nations. And you can turn this dial a few different ways. For example, I once had a set piece location that was a dwarven super forge that used lava and the heat of the core of the planet to forge things like adamantium. We start asking, how do they make that. Why do they make that.

But, one of the biggest things I've seen with Dwarves that gets played with more than anything else, are the clans. Out of every race in the game, the only other one that gets close to this I've seen are orcish tribes. A dwarven clan gives us a unit to manipulate. If your clan is the clan most known for the warriors who guard the borders, that clan is very different than the clan most known for making beautiful jewelry, or for caring for the dead.

The clan allows us to take the dwarven society and chunk it up. Every dwarf is like this, but Clan Gem-Eye is also that. And by making these divisions, you can start piecing together a more complicated relationship. You can have rivalries, wars, different factions with different goals. And, it also allows the character to work with a new unit. Maybe your character is not in a good relationship with their clan, but they are with their family. It allows you to play with this extra layer.


Now, to turn this back around to halflings for a second... they live with humans. Basically all of the things we discussed in the Mountain part of dwarves for halflings is just "copy the humans". What do halflings do? They are simple farming folk. Maybe tavern owners or shopkeeps. In the worldbuilding sense... they are a pallet swap. You'll never go to a halfling city. The best you can do is a small halfling farming village... which is just a farming village. But a dwarven city is very different from an elven city is quite different from a human city.

Where in the world building sense I can see dwarves having multiple dials I can spin... halfling dials are all set. They don't move. And that is why I think things like dwarves and elves end up more interesting, because we can adjust them more, where as halflings... don't really change.
you have components to dwarves, halflings have a lack at that.
That isn't why I'm advocating that they need something done, but it would be nice.

They could also rewrite them to make them more engaging and interesting. That would work too, but people seem to think that changing them in anyway is bad, which leaves me in an odd position. I don't think the status quo is good, but every change to the status quo is met with fierce opposition.

If people don't want halflings to change, then it seems the simplest solution is to make them less prominent, and that would lessen the tension I feel between how they are talked about as a major part of DnD and how they are presented as... not a major part of DnD.
removing them from prominence would less the problem.
Yes, most players tend to be humans.


Yes, but besides humans the same can be said for any race. Humans of course are the expected baseline in any setting, and not including them is exceptional (but potentially interesting.) But anything beyond humans is an optional extra that don't really need to exist; there are a ton of human-only fantasy setting. This singling out halflings is just frankly bizarre.
people like none human in their fantasy, but halflings lack anything to inspire different takes, think of each race as a movie genre, dwarves are western they are all similar but you have room to view it differently and change the interpretation, but halflings are copy-paste every time.
I have seen things in a similar niche as halflings but they diverged massively to the point you would not call them halflings or could even make halflings fill that lore spot.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Now, by this point, the fact that I've never had a halfling player or anyone interested in playing them, maybe I feel more confident in just excluding them from my rewrite. But if they can just be casually excluded and not impact anything... that is an issue I think.
Butting in... I disagree. You can exclude any race and not really have an impact. Even humans. As you said, there are over a hundred races, plus homebrew is super-simple. Get rid of any one race and there are two or three more to take its place.

Unless, for some reason, you decide to do a thing like say "there are no mines or good smiths anywhere on this world because there are no dwarfs." Which is silly. If there are no dwarfs, then humans, goblins, kobolds, gnomes, drow, etc., would take their place and the only players who would care are those who desperately want to play dwarfs for a reason. If there are no elves, you have humans, gnomes, firbolg, and that new faery race to take the place of "woodland dwellers who are in tune with nature and the fey and makes beautiful, natural goods and is probably a bit of a snot." If you get rid of tieflings, you have drow and shadar-kai to take their place in the edgy loner club. If you got rid of dragonborn, well, there's nothing else that has a breath weapon, but you still have lizardfolk and playable yuan-ti.

D&D is a crowded system and there are probably relatively few people who would be truly horrified if your world didn't have one or more of the Core Four.
 

In my old AD&D World of Greyhawk campaign, I always assumed that all of the races had different cultures in different areas of the world. I expanded the setting west and south of the Sea of Dust, and had a halfling civilization of warlike desert raiders living in an area of desert badlands. This was intentionally done to play against expectations. The players loved it and the culture played a significant role in the campaign.

I’ve always seen the core element of halflings to be just their size. They’re small and thus often overlooked and underestimated. That’s always been enough for me to work with.

I also enjoy the GURPS DF take on halflings:
While most are rosy-cheeked and good- natured, there are plenty of sallow, evil-tempered halflings. Given their natural predilections, they gravitate toward organized crime. Mobster half like little better than whacking rival gangsters, grabbing the dough, and enjoying a spaghetti dinner afterward.
On a mechanical front, in addition to other traits, they have the “Honest Face” perk which gives them bonuses to reaction rolls.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Yes, most players tend to be humans.

Haha.

Yes, but besides humans the same can be said for any race. Humans of course are the expected baseline in any setting, and not including them is exceptional (but potentially interesting.) But anything beyond humans is an optional extra that don't really need to exist; there are a ton of human-only fantasy setting. This singling out halflings is just frankly bizarre.

I'd disagree. If I sat down at a table and the DM described the world and the various factions, and they didn't mention elves or dwarves, I'd be asking them where they are.

But halflings are supposedly on the same tier and if they aren't mentioned... I don't notice.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top