Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just Not A Farmer, Owen

I have nothing against halflings, really, per se. I mean, I'd play one. Connie plays one. I bear her no ill will.

However, I keep not putting any halfling settlements on the map anywhere. There aren't any in the random tables I draw up, for the most part. Like if you were like "Where do halflings come from?" I'd be like "Fuck if I know."

I don't mind them. It's just the comfortableness and sandals, really. The Tolkien.

Anyway I figured out what I'm doing with them--in the macro sense (and I have to do something with them, Connie's got one, ergo, they exist on Planet D&DWPS):

Connie's rogue halfling is actually a rogue. An aberration.

The Preferred Class for Halfling is Paladin. Cavalier, really, if you have that, because they're not religious, or Knight, if your system has knights. Or just Upper Class Prick, really.

Here on Earth-Gigastructure, the typical Halfling isn't Bilbo, it's Napoleon. With a side of High Elf. They see the rest of us as "giant-class" monsters at best. They have colossal empires that stretch across parts of continents I haven't drawn yet. They sneer in their shining plate mail from atop their ponies and warboars. They keep griffins in cages and force them to tell jokes.

They're the sort of self-deluded-worm-ouroboros-monologuing-Nietzsche-quoters. As is usual with this sort of thing, it's all pretty funny until they start in with the genocide.

Unlike your bread-and-butter High Elf there will actually be an identifiable underclass keeping these aristocrats aristocratic, but they'll never be halflings. A halfling would never be caught dead pitchforking straw around like some Breughel yokel. They have half-orcs for that.


  1. I was going to say that you could make the lack of origin a feature of the race, so that no one is quite sure where they come from, they just appear and act as if they've always been there.

    But then I read the stuff about monsters in cages and tiny Napoleons, and your idea is much better.

  2. I picture these nasty little pieces of work as versions of The Metabaron with short man syndrome.

    Here on Earth-Gigastructure, the typical Halfling isn't Bilbo, it's Napoleon. With a side of High Elf. They see the rest of us as "giant-class" monsters at best.

    Any resemblance of Zak's halflings (Zaklings?) to French national leaders (former or current) is purely coincidental and entirely in the mind of the reader. ;)

  3. In my head, I have a tendency to to make Halflings nomadic wolf riders. They're small so they can use wolves as mounts. Make them all Druids or Rangers with animal companions riding fast to make up for their short legs. Eberron puts them on Velociraptors but I'm not ready to go that far with them.

  4. "Ye braggers an 'a', be skeered and awa' frae Brandoch Daha."

  5. On a related note, my gnolls -- pronounced "GUH-noll" thanks to PD&DWPS -- are all upper-class English toffs named Fortesque, Rendlesham, Carruthers and the like, who enjoy the ritual hunting of humanoids, more or less an inversion of fox hunting.

  6. I think the standard 3.X edition version of halflings are supposed to be nomadic. It looks like wizards wanted to style them as short gypsies.

    I'm usually lazy enough to just go with that, but prefer to make them the stereotypical mean and unreliable kind of gypsies. They travel around trading and doing odd jobs for money, and just when you realized they cheated you or when the roof they fixed falls apart again, they have allready left. If you catch on quickly and confront one one them, the entire clan shows up out of nowhere to explain how things really went down, all seeming to exhonerate the person in contradictory ways. If you keep insisting on your story, they stab you and move camp.

  7. I like your Halflings! I like them a lot. One thing I would add is something from my own campaign milieu which is that the term Halfling is insulting and derogatory. I mean, why would these 'Lords of the Earth' call themselves 'Half' of anything. I never like the term Halfling anyway. What are they half of?

    @Kelvingreen - I have detailed mythology and legends for the origin of nearly every creature on my world except Gnomes. Gnomes are rarely and strangely missing from most of the religious, historical and folklore text on the planet. Yet there they are. Just as you said, their lack of origin is part of their story.

  8. I like that concept, and love alternate visions of halflings. In my Greyhawk campaign they were sort of aggro farmers, undercutting prices and squatting on land and getting in scraps with humans. I have a C&C never-ending project world in which they are vile, corpulent crime lords, sort of a cross between Hutts and pirates that have various strangleholds on trade routes and black markets.

    In my B/X shattered world-type setting they're basically the plain-vanilla rustic bumpkins normally depicted, but because human society has regressed so much they are the prime remaining knowledgeable farmers/food producers.

  9. I've come to hate halflings; not sure why. I think Peter Jackson is to blame; the movies seem to be the turning point in my feelings toward them. Maybe I just hated the casting.
    But I like kelvingreen's idea of they are just there, no one knows why. Like many of the unpleasant realities of life, they just are.

    But, "I don't mind them. It's just the comfortableness and sandals, really."

    Makes them sound like Hippies. How's Kimberly going to handle that? Does she slap Connie around? And can you post video if she does?

  10. Should point out I still LOVE Connie...

    She's my favorite.*

    I know I'm not alone on that.

    *It's a close five way race though.
    God, I'm a suck-up.

  11. There was a book I read long ago about a raxc of Halfling-like race who secretly lived in contemporary London. Can't remember the title but the cover depicted one of them fighting what looked like a Wererat. Anyway, they made a pretty good alternative to the classic Hobbit if a GM wanted his halfling's to be a bit more streetsmart.

  12. @crowking

    Well I feel like "streetsmart thief hanging out among humans" is sort of the default "alternate halfling". I was thinking they need a sort of place of their own that they come from--unless their gypsies.

  13. I'm inclined to sub in talking rabbits for hobbits, making plain Tolkien's original metaphor. Or maybe cartoon ducks in the mighty Runequest manner, trapped in a world they never made.

  14. In the very nuanced campaign my table is running, halflings aren't exactly a race or a culture; they are more of a byproduct of biology. For our table, Dwarfism is passed through the mother's side, and to somewhat reflect Dwarven longevity and toughness, true Dwarven gestation takes two years. Halflings are what happen when Dwarven males get randy with non Dwarves and produce offspring.

    So yeah, messing with the ideas of race and race purity has been one of the themes of our campaign. Some cultures are very devout, traditional and restrictive to outsiders. Conversely, there is also a goddess who advocates cross species breeding and proliferation.

    As far a s playing style goes, this hasn't actually led to people playing halflings more. If anything, it has just removed the country bumpkin angle to allow for a wider range of roll playing.

  15. In the game I run, there are small settlements within human lands of localized halflings, leprechauns and whatnot.

    But most halflings march the war drums of the steppes. The vast Hunling empire that fills the void from east to west, and steadily marches upon both directions..burning everything in its path.

    "Frodo! What is greatest in life?"...

  16. I played a Gnome supremacist once. He was a berserker, and based of a guy from public access TV. He died after 2 sessions, which was fine.

  17. I was thinking, If Vornheim Halflings somewhat mirror Napoleon and aspects of hsi life, maybe they come from some weird fantasy version of Corsica with the Emperor in residence( maybe even imprisoned?) at a massive citadel with a giant statue of his likeness over looking the city. Ads t how they look, anything from a mini Grenadier to a grimy little gypsy. It's a start...

    " The Borribles" by Michael de Larrabeiti. That's the book I was thinking of.

  18. I prefer my evil halflings to be disenfranchised gang bangers who cycle weekly through routines of dock work (handling cargo, fishing, paperwork, etc.), drug dealing, muggings, "drive-bys" (hand crossbows and slings) and acting surly. Real dirty punks, scabs and pseudo-urchins.

    Good halflings are mostly factory workers or craftsman of varying sorts, tired of being pushed around by devil summoning decadent aristocrats and burghers (upper middle class merchants).

    Guess I just like playing around with the grey goo of cliches.