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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Scary Halflings?

    I may have asked this a couple of years ago, if so, sorry but I've lost the thread and/or suggestions therefrom.

    My group is nearing the point where I'll transition them to World 2, the forsaken lands that their ancestors abandoned thousands of years ago. There, all the non-human races are... different. They're exotic, alien, often sinister. There are no elves, only mischievous (often malevolent) fey. Gnomes seldom leave their underground laboratories, which are readily identifiable as misshapen lumps of earth standing alone on the moors, with noxious fumes spewing from their many smokestacks. The Dwarves live so deep in the earth, and are so insular and xenophobic, that they might as well be replaced with Duergar. Heck, I might just refluff them as Duergar altogether.

    What tricks me is Halflings. How do I make Halflings scary? There's nothing alien or incomprehensible about a race that is essentially half-sized Humans.

    I'm thinking, maybe a clan of Halfling psionicist mobsters (thus far there have been no psionics in my campaign) that establish enclaves in whatever city they like, and command a level of fear and respect from the populace that even the Royalty can't match. I love the concept of a crowded market suddenly going dead-silent and splitting down the middle to allow one of the "Little Masters" a wide path as he passes.

    But what about the rest of Halflingdom? The whole race can't all be members of the psionic mobster elite. How can I make a "common" Halfling community seem alien and scary?
    Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad.

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    Belkar Bitterleaf isn't "playing against type", he's just a complelely normal halfling.
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Well, halflings are like (or maybe based on) Tolkien's hobbits. Now in the books, as well as the movies, they are a cheerful bunch. However, when they get serious they are sneaky, cunning fighters (often built on rogue) and if you go for thrown weapons they riddle you with daggers before you can set a foot within their sights (build was something like twf ranger/whisperknife/MT with a sprinkling [as far as I recall] of invisible blade; he could trow something like 16 daggers in a round turning enemies into hedgehogs from 60 ft. away). Now imagine a tribe where their elite warriors are like this. Sure, normal halflings might be cheerful etc. but their elite troops are bad stuff...
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Could nick a page from Magic.

    In the good world of Lorwyn, Halflings were friendly communities with a kind of hivemind or empathy that let them feel what others were feeling.

    In the twisted world of Shadowmoor, they have become so insular that anyone who isn't part of the hivemind is the enemy.

    While halfings may not have a hivemind, they could be wary, insular, make it clear they don't like outsiders and that they better leave quickly.
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Quote Originally Posted by sabelo2000 View Post
    But what about the rest of Halflingdom? The whole race can't all be members of the psionic mobster elite. How can I make a "common" Halfling community seem alien and scary?
    Two established concepts spring to mind.

    Toljein's Gollum character was essentially a feral hobbit. Now imagine an entire community of Gollums.

    Second, 2e Dark Sun's halflings were jungle-dwelling cannibals. Seems quite distant from the cheerful pintsizes we know and love.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    BoVD has the Jerren, a racial offshoot of lightfoot halflings that are universally evil (and almost exclusively chaotic evil). Pretty typical BoVD fluff, so probably not especially useful RAW to what you want, but you can use it as a base idea for refluffing yourself. (Maybe all halflings left in this world had a similar origin in the distant past to that of the Jerren, but they've calmed down on the BLARGLBLARGLEVIL somewhat since then after exterminating the other varieties of halfling?)

    Maybe switch out some of their normal racial traits for a particular, creepy-feeling-but-not-overtly-evil vile feat (or something from Heroes of Horror? That was definitely better for creepy stuff than most of the other evil books). Or reach out to horror movies for ideas. Halflings, in some overt ways, resemble human children--small and curious--and children are a frequent focus of creep-factor in horror.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Go for a Tribal Pygmy Headhunter vibe with them with lots of Voodoo and cannibalistic stuff.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Give them some tentacles, preferably ones which aren't obvious immediately.
    π = 4
    Consider a 5' radius blast: this affects 4 squares which have a circumference of 40' Actually it's worse than that.


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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Willing deformity tall and or Obese. Just for giggles.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Ghostwise Halflings (FRGS) all can take the Improved Speech without sound feat, which grants them telepathy 100ft. Combine with Halfling Totemist (MoI) to get a feral species which has seemingly forgotten how to use language.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    I second the halflings from Dark Sun. They are totally awesome, please don't mention the whimpy hobbits from other settings.
    Here's some text and image that my inspire you: http://www.obsidianportal.com/campai...wikis/halfling

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    My first thought is dark sun. Pointy toothed cannibal ninjas, who are actually not bad IF you get a chance to know them.
    Or
    They are all blind and use tremorsense,
    Or
    They dont cast shadows

    Ruled by lawful good vampire inner circle

    necro based society, those at the top are necropolitan halflings

    going the other way, the have a enchantment that always makes people forget their troubles, smile be happy, etc standard Brigadoon wonder out of the Hobbit village "a few days later" and its been 5 years.

    Over lords of the elves

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Just combine the ideas:

    Pointy teeth, feral, nomadic, telepathic cannibals.

    They hunt alone or in packs and often capture other creatures to eat slowly while they are still alive to savor their telepathic anguish...

    The elite can still be psionic mobsters, and the reason is because their muscle is a tribe of these terrors they could unleash at any time.
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Quote Originally Posted by sabelo2000 View Post
    I may have asked this a couple of years ago, if so, sorry but I've lost the thread and/or suggestions therefrom.

    My group is nearing the point where I'll transition them to World 2, the forsaken lands that their ancestors abandoned thousands of years ago. There, all the non-human races are... different. They're exotic, alien, often sinister. There are no elves, only mischievous (often malevolent) fey. Gnomes seldom leave their underground laboratories, which are readily identifiable as misshapen lumps of earth standing alone on the moors, with noxious fumes spewing from their many smokestacks. The Dwarves live so deep in the earth, and are so insular and xenophobic, that they might as well be replaced with Duergar. Heck, I might just refluff them as Duergar altogether.

    What tricks me is Halflings. How do I make Halflings scary? There's nothing alien or incomprehensible about a race that is essentially half-sized Humans.

    I'm thinking, maybe a clan of Halfling psionicist mobsters (thus far there have been no psionics in my campaign) that establish enclaves in whatever city they like, and command a level of fear and respect from the populace that even the Royalty can't match. I love the concept of a crowded market suddenly going dead-silent and splitting down the middle to allow one of the "Little Masters" a wide path as he passes.

    But what about the rest of Halflingdom? The whole race can't all be members of the psionic mobster elite. How can I make a "common" Halfling community seem alien and scary?
    Go more traditionally fairy-folk on 'em. They are friendly. They love good food and drink. They invite you in. They share their homes. It's great. It's so great, lots of people decide not to leave. It's odd how the humans native to World 2 seem to distrust and avoid them; I mean, Halflings are basically just half-sized humans!

    Or, rather, they are *literally* half-sized humans. They don't reproduce. Humans that enjoy their hospitality too long gradually transmute into halflings, losing 1% of their original height every time they enjoy a 'home-cooked' meal prepared by one of the community's Official Hosts. (The Hosts are master alchemists know the secret of creating the reagents that cause the transformation.) By the time a human has lost 10% of their height, they are under a mild Domination effect that prevents them from wanting to leave; by the time they have lost 25% of their original height they have begun to adopt the 'traditional' Halfling attitudes and alignment.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Halflings look like children. Creepy children are really scary.

    Halflings are sneaky. Sneaky is scarry.

    Athasian halflings are cannibals, but too tame. Let's go more Cannibal Holocaust (warning, if you don't know what that is, do not find out).

    So Viet Cong + pygmy cannibal + all the creepy children in all the horror movies.

    Halflings are rabid, half-naked, slim cannibals - looking like nothing so much as sharp-toothed, gimlet-eyed human children whose hair has never been cut - covered in soot, dried blood, etc. They live in forests and in underground passages in hilly country, from whence they emerge to devour villages and into which they disappear.


    If you want to incorporate the faerie idea, make them more redcaps than elves. Combines well.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    They seem nice. They welcome you in and feed you for free. The whole race is neutral good.

    But you can't spend the night. You must get out of town before sunset. It is their one solid line that outsiders cannot cross.

    Bellow every pleasant halfling village is a network of caves. Inside these caves are the underlings. The underlings are savage creatures that feast on flesh and blood. They are savagely brutal, cruel and evil.

    The problem is that the underlings can control the halflings for as long as the night lasts. When the sun sets the underlings climb out into the village and force the halflings to satisfy their perverse hunger for cruelty and blood. They feast on raw meat and do as their dark pleasure demands.

    Halflings are normal halflings per the racial stats. The dark creepyness lies in the underlings. The underlings are feral halflings with a racial ability that charms any halflings within 60ft per the charm person spell. The DC to resist is 10+1/2HD+cha each turn the halfling stays inside the area of effect. The effect persists for 24 hours or until the halfling is exposed to sunlight. Once 24 hours passes or the halfling is exposed to sunlight the halfling is immune for one hour.

    The underlings are sickened by daylight though and can come out only at night. They become sickened after one min of exposure to sunlight. They recover after one min of resting in darkness.

    Halflings are beaten and abused, stuck in a horrid world that forces them to worship and love a dark evil despite their own will. The halflings who fled the underlings are the colonists who ended up on the first world. Those who stayed are too afraid of the underlings to resist them.

    Leave before night stranger. You won't be welcome here after sundown.

    EDIT - continued

    Play up the abusive relationship. Halflings live in a bright airy village with large open structures. They seem to all have deep cellars though, with thick oak doors. They eat a diet of vegtables, though they raise livestock but never seem to be eating meat. They are welcoming and friendly, though they seem tired, like they had little sleep the night before. They seem nervous around strangers though. After noon they get less friendly though, and by four they are pushing you out of the village.

    There is one halfling you see jogging around the village as you get closer. He is obease. Throughout the day he refuses to eat, staring longingly at food, but refusing to take a bite. When you offer him a ration he looks pained, but says that it's ok. He has to keep the weight off he says. Those pounds will be the death of him.

    They are terrified of the dark, though they never seem to stray far from their homes. They always say they can't leave the village, for their brothers would come looking. They have such a... protective... brother, who doesn't like them wandering around.

    The halflings are stuck, so they ratianalize. The underlings keep us safe, the underlings are better than us, the underlings are supposed to be in charge.

    Then night sets in and the halflings gather in their homes, and curl up in terror. The darklings rise out of the cellars. They torment and beat the first halflings they see, enjoying their pain. They order the slaughter of the livestock to feed them raw meat fresh from the bones of a living animal. The halflings cannot help but serve, cannot run, and cannot shut their eyes and ears to the horror.

    The fat halfling is set in a corrner and given food. His guest the underlings want him to eat so badly how can he refuse their generosity? Once he is fat enough the underlings will slaughter more than animals for food.

    - Game notes.
    Give the underlings a suggestion ability that they can use at will to suggest things to halflings. The idea is that while they control halflings, they do it by subverting them, rather than outright control. The halflings can't help but like the underlings. They can't help but think that all their suggestions are good ideas.

    For more threatening underlings also make them modified grave thouched ghouls. If you do that, let them keep all the feral modifiers and give them everything but the undead traits from gravetouched, but give them increased light vulnerability, so that daylight causes 1d4 damage per round as well as the sickening.

    These can be underlings who have lost all the light from their souls and entered a dark place that is beyond the understanding of any who have any goodness left in them.

    EDIT EDIT: - turn the creep factor to 11.

    All the underlings are male. All the halflings are female.
    Last edited by Fouredged Sword; 2013-03-01 at 02:31 PM.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    This one pales in comparison to the other ideas presented as it's rather a cop out, but you could always stat the halflings out as spriggans from Fiend Folio. Small creatures become more scary when they become Large at a moment's notice.

    Alternatively, the halflings could live in some isolated remote environment where everything is halfling-sized, even the plants an animals. In this environment, entering adventurers would be seen as brutish giants or monsters. It could be a rather Lilliputian sort of experience, except the halflings would certainly like their odds to get rid of the invading monsters better. Mobs are scary things.
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Halflings are in fact horrible skinnless faeries that steal and human children to flay them and wear their skin...
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Children of the Corn them. Have them be a cult of corn demon worshiping murderers.
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Guys, guys, Im shocked I have to suggest the obvious on this site.

    Belkar Bitterleaf isn't "playing against type", he's just a complelely normal halfling.

    (Semi-seriously. I like the 'halflings are creepy children' idea, personally. Anyone else ever heard of a kid's series called 'The Borribles'? Vicious little kids who never grow up, only set in London instead of Neverland. Might give a little inspiration...)
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Dragon Magazine 300#

    Cannibal Halflings even have their own prestige class...
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Halflings keep slaymates as pets and guards. They(all the slay mates) sing a creepy little song
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lea Plath View Post
    Could nick a page from Magic.

    In the good world of Lorwyn, Halflings were friendly communities with a kind of hivemind or empathy that let them feel what others were feeling.

    In the twisted world of Shadowmoor, they have become so insular that anyone who isn't part of the hivemind is the enemy.

    While halfings may not have a hivemind, they could be wary, insular, make it clear they don't like outsiders and that they better leave quickly.
    Oh you're good, I'm stealing a lot of flavor from Shadowmoor. But the Kithkin are more like the Gnomes I'm envisioning.

    That was, by the way, one of my favorite sets ever.
    Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Belkar Bitterleaf isn't "playing against type", he's just a complelely normal halfling.
    No plan survives first contact with the PCs.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuulvheysoon View Post
    Ghostwise Halflings (FRGS) all can take the Improved Speech without sound feat, which grants them telepathy 100ft. Combine with Halfling Totemist (MoI) to get a feral species which has seemingly forgotten how to use language.
    Hmm... that's... very, VERY intriguing. I had hoped to rely on cultural aspects and fluff rather than RAW changes, but this merits some consideration. Being ambushed by some child-sized brigands who never speak, shout, or cry out; and yet, who use expertly coordinated tactics... oh, that's creepy. That's very creepy.

    Edit: so it aeems we're back to the Lorwyn idea, only turned way up past 11. Heck, maybe even turned past question-mark.

    Side note: something that's always frustrated me about video games is Faction Aggro. You find a member of Group X, alone and unawares in a locked room half a mile from anyone else. You assassinate him silently, instantly, and without any possible witness, and yet when you exit the room, every other member of Group X is hostile.

    With Hivemind Halflings, this makes SENSE! I know, for a fact, that our party Rogue will at some point sneak-sap a lone guard somewhere in the Halfling village. Imagine his surprise when he leaves the building and finds himself surrounded by rank upon rank of armed, completely silent halflings!

    This also ties in to the psionic-mobster tribe. The mobsters are either the last remnant of the race who still remember how to interact with normal folk, or have broken ties with their Hivemind and developed their mental powers beyond that of their kin.

    OOooh, I like this. Thank you both.
    Last edited by sabelo2000; 2013-03-03 at 02:35 AM.
    Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad.

    Outlandish Claim #5:
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Belkar Bitterleaf isn't "playing against type", he's just a complelely normal halfling.
    No plan survives first contact with the PCs.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Guys, guys, Im shocked I have to suggest the obvious on this site.

    Belkar Bitterleaf isn't "playing against type", he's just a complelely normal halfling.
    Can I sig this?
    Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad.

    Outlandish Claim #5:
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Belkar Bitterleaf isn't "playing against type", he's just a complelely normal halfling.
    No plan survives first contact with the PCs.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lapak View Post
    Or, rather, they are *literally* half-sized humans. They don't reproduce. Humans that enjoy their hospitality too long gradually transmute into halflings, losing 1% of their original height every time they enjoy a 'home-cooked' meal prepared by one of the community's Official Hosts. (The Hosts are master alchemists know the secret of creating the reagents that cause the transformation.) By the time a human has lost 10% of their height, they are under a mild Domination effect that prevents them from wanting to leave; by the time they have lost 25% of their original height they have begun to adopt the 'traditional' Halfling attitudes and alignment.
    Ya know, I had been mulling over the idea of the Faerie-changeling, who steal human children from their cribs and replace them with Faerie children to be reared by human parents. This is another interesting angle on that... worth more consideration!
    Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad.

    Outlandish Claim #5:
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Belkar Bitterleaf isn't "playing against type", he's just a complelely normal halfling.
    No plan survives first contact with the PCs.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Quote Originally Posted by sabelo2000 View Post
    Can I sig this?
    Certainly!
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Halflings with the Tauric Template Scorpion.
    π = 4
    Consider a 5' radius blast: this affects 4 squares which have a circumference of 40' Actually it's worse than that.


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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Quote Originally Posted by nedz View Post
    Halflings with the Tauric Template Scorpion.
    I actually did almost that: tauric centipede halflings.

    Centipedes are easily creepier. The ones in the newer King Kong just freak me right out.

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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhynn View Post
    I actually did almost that: tauric centipede halflings.

    Centipedes are easily creepier. The ones in the newer King Kong just freak me right out.
    Well I almost suggested millipede, but whilst either of these are creepier than scorpion; scorpion is more scary.
    π = 4
    Consider a 5' radius blast: this affects 4 squares which have a circumference of 40' Actually it's worse than that.


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    Default Re: Scary Halflings?

    Let me add my vote in for the darksun cannibal halflings.

    There's another campaign setting where halflings had an odd twist: Birthright.

    The halflings there originated from a shadowing fey world (Shadow World) and could still access it. Perhaps you could grant halflings the Shade template.
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