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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Halflings don't really seem to me to fit in with the rest of D&D, especially not in standard settings like Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms (they kind of work in Eberron and Dark Sun). And unlike the other races they're not derived from folklore.

    In general they seem both underdeveloped and derivative, as if the "half-" in "halfling" referred not to their size but to the fact that they're only half of a concept, half of which in turn is plagiarized.

    Does anyone else get this impression?

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Have wondered about this myself. It doesn't help that gnomes, dwarves, goblins and kobolds are already overcrowding the little person's council of races. If you use some of the lore from Tolkien, they aren't too underdeveloped. It pays to remember DnD originally did just call them hobbits and steal most of the lore.

    There are ways to spice them up, and if you look at the right splat books and novels they may seem a lot more interesting. I find all DnD stuff is like that, till you do so.


    It's funny you mention them being out of place, as the hobbits were considerably out of place in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. One of the Maiar, a heir to the throne of Gondor, son of the Steward of Gondor, the prince of Mirkwood and a noble of the dwarves. Plus, a famous burglar's nephew, two cousins who decided to come along, and his gardener. In the Hobbit, it was Gandalf and a dwarven royal along with twelve other nobles and bodyguards, plus one rich burglar from out in the country who hadn't travelled till then.

    You might even say that part of the problem is that DnD tries to make them seem not out of place, when a lot of the lore was set up to do just that.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Mask View Post
    Have wondered about this myself. It doesn't help that gnomes, dwarves, goblins and kobolds are already overcrowding the little person's council of races. If you use some of the lore from Tolkien, they aren't too underdeveloped. It pays to remember DnD originally did just call them hobbits and steal most of the lore.

    There are ways to spice them up, and if you look at the right splat books and novels they may seem a lot more interesting. I find all DnD stuff is like that, till you do so.


    It's funny you mention them being out of place, as the hobbits were considerably out of place in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. One of the Maiar, a heir to the throne of Gondor, son of the Steward of Gondor, the prince of Mirkwood and a noble of the dwarves. Plus, a famous burglar's nephew, two cousins who decided to come along, and his gardener. In the Hobbit, it was Gandalf and a dwarven royal along with twelve other nobles and bodyguards, plus one rich burglar from out in the country who hadn't travelled till then.

    You might even say that part of the problem is that DnD tries to make them seem not out of place, when a lot of the lore was set up to do just that.
    Plus they just came out of nowhere. They apparently weren't created by either Eru or the Valar, unlike all the other sapient races of middle-earth.

    --------------

    Anyway, there's also the issue that it generalized them all to being Bilbo. So they're not even just knockoffs of a race they're all knockoffs of a specific character. It's the equivalent to if all-drow-characters-are-drizzt-clones were made a canon part of the game rather than a result of lazy character creation and/or fanboyism.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Whenever I make a setting, I always end up removing the halflings since I can never figureout what to do with them.
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    d20 Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    I could have sworn Tolkien half-heartedly mentioned that halflings were descended from a distant branch of Men, not all that different from the Drúedain; a leftover group that effectively skipped the First and Second Age before finally crossing the Misty Mountains during the Third. Might have been somewhere in his Letters, Unfinished Tales, or The History of Middle-earth.

    I miss my old books.

    As for the topic I have no opinion on 'em one way or another 'cause I can't recall ever seeing anyone play as a halfling, though the only Bilbo-like quality I can see in 'em is their penchants for being thieves. Though they certainly seem to be a touch fitter than Bilbo, but I imagine an adventurer's lifestyle burns a lot of calories. Otherwise, I suppose their overall simple, down-to-earth lifestyle keeps 'em quiet and hard to notice. Well, yeah, no wonder they make good thieves.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Hobbits are a humanisation of rabbits:

    Live in cosy holes, have hairy feet, are cute etc. Swap "ho" for "ra" and even the names are the same. The whole thing was a setting up of Watership Down.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    Hobbits are a humanisation of rabbits:

    Live in cosy holes, have hairy feet, are cute etc. Swap "ho" for "ra" and even the names are the same. The whole thing was a setting up of Watership Down.
    OMG, that's brilliant!

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    When I started playing D&D, it included hobbits, ents, and balrogs. Hobbits made excellent original D&D Theives, and my first Thief had a name that was perfect for a thief and quintessentially hobbit-like: Robin Banks.

    Halflings, treants, and balors seem out of place to me, as if they snuck in under an assumed name - which in fact they did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Mask View Post
    You might even say that part of the problem is that DnD tries to make them seem not out of place, when a lot of the lore was set up to do just that.
    That post was very well conceived and written. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo v3 View Post
    Whenever I make a setting, I always end up removing the halflings since I can never figureout what to do with them.
    I still use hobbits, not halflings. They usually exist in a small community far from the main action, and most of them have no interest in adventures. Unless a player wants to play a hobbit PC, the hobbits don't have anything to do with any of the plots, and most folks don't even know they exist.

    That's as true to the original as I can get.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    I don't like most of the background kludged up for halflings in various incarnations of D&D so I developed my own, which produced some additional, and one thoroughly quirky, concepts along the way.
    Then again a lot of the variations on racial backgrounds don't appeal to me and I've tweaked them over the years as well.

    In terms of place, halflings serve as the "core" thief race, contrasting with dwarves as the "core" fighter race, and elves as the "core" arcane caster race. Humans wind up the "core" divine caster class by default. That leaves gnomes as the real surplus race, with half-orcs and half-elves a pair of weird sidetracks.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Âmesang View Post
    I could have sworn Tolkien half-heartedly mentioned that halflings were descended from a distant branch of Men, not all that different from the Drúedain; a leftover group that effectively skipped the First and Second Age before finally crossing the Misty Mountains during the Third. Might have been somewhere in his Letters, Unfinished Tales, or The History of Middle-earth.
    The wikipedia entry notes the sources as the prologue to LotR, the Guide to Names, and one of the Letters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Mask View Post
    It doesn't help that gnomes, dwarves, goblins and kobolds are already overcrowding the little person's council of races.
    Quote Originally Posted by Milo v3 View Post
    Whenever I make a setting, I always end up removing the halflings since I can never figureout what to do with them.
    I usually do this to gnomes instead. I agree there are rather a lot of 'little people', but I usually find some rolling hills somewhere for the Hobbits/halflings. When there are baddies nearby (and there usually is) they tend to form a relationship with nearby allies, often dwarves, who happily provide security for food. Otherwise they live in a remote area and are rarely seen by outsiders, or inside some mighty empire happy to have them filling the bread basket, and so leaving them to (not) govern themselves.

    In my current 3.5 campaign, they (called Banakil) have seemingly been wiped out by a troll invasion thousands of years back. I think there are still some around, working as farm slaves for orcs, but we've yet to see.
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Halflings don't really seem to me to fit in with the rest of D&D, especially not in standard settings like Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms (they kind of work in Eberron and Dark Sun). And unlike the other races they're not derived from folklore.

    In general they seem both underdeveloped and derivative, as if the "half-" in "halfling" referred not to their size but to the fact that they're only half of a concept, half of which in turn is plagiarized.

    Does anyone else get this impression?
    No. Why would you think halflings ''don't fit''? I guess you could say halflings don't come directly form folklore, but then that is true of all D&D races. The ''goblin'' of folklore, of dozens of different folklores, does not exactly match the goblin of D&D.

    Halflings fit in D&D as much as any other race, as a stand in for humans.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Anyway, there's also the issue that it generalized them all to being Bilbo. So they're not even just knockoffs of a race they're all knockoffs of a specific character. It's the equivalent to if all-drow-characters-are-drizzt-clones were made a canon part of the game rather than a result of lazy character creation and/or fanboyism.
    Not like there's any jokes about that anywhere .

    Personally, for me it really depends on the setting. In Birthright halflings come from what seems to be the realm of the undead. This causes them to be the only race with innate (limited) magical abilities, and also seems to make immitive, letting them blend into other cultures. This means they are only race to not have Bloodlines (unless they were given one by a blooded member of another race, in theory), which makes them interesting, but they do feel a bit out of place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Halflings, treants, and balors seem out of place to me, as if they snuck in under an assumed name - which in fact they did.
    The treants and balors don't seem as jarringly to me though; they've got the right combination of interesting and generic to fit in. Tree creatures fit in well with things like dryads and other fey, wood element creatures, and so forth. And the balors look like generic demons except for the whip, and their behavior is more informed by their tanar'ri-ness than their tolkienian origins. They've basically only gotten their names from tolkien, and those have, at least, been tweaked. "Halfling" on the other hand is a term taken directly from tolkien, and D&D's halflings have neither a compelling backstory nor a clear niche that they occupy from which a backstory can be filled in.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    I ran a game (and may get back to it) with no gnomes, halflings, dwarves, pixies, elves, etc., but with the Fair Folk (from Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles) taking their place.

    In fact, they are not replacing either dwarves or elves, although that's what the players have heard. The dwarves were all lost in a genocidal war with giants a few hundred years ago. They still exist, but are all enslaved by the giants. Nobody outside the Giant caverns knows this. The plan was for the PCs to get wind of this someday, and set out to free them (if they so chose).

    Elves will be introduced from outside eventually. But they will not be D&D elves. They will be the elves from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Lords and Ladies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Pratchett
    Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
    Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
    Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
    Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
    Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
    Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
    The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
    No one ever said elves are nice.
    Elves are bad.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo v3 View Post
    Whenever I make a setting, I always end up removing the halflings since I can never figureout what to do with them.
    I did almost the opposite with the setting I'm working on. The fluff on halflings so often amounts to "small humans". I wanted to reserve humans for the antagonist race, so halflings took over from humans as the "vanilla" race.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Mystaran halflings are basically LOTR hobbits in appearance (though maybe a tad less rotund) and culture but they have some differences. They are excellent sailors and feared pirates, their rowdy teen years involve burning, looting and pillaging (they are encouraged to do this in neighboring kingdoms where they won't bother other hin) and they have innate magic cancelling abilities. Fierce warriors when the need to be (having been enslaved by both orcs and dwarves before fighting off the yoke of oppression) and the wonderful community of Moon Hill, where powerful adventurers retire for some peace and quiet. They are also keepers of Blackflame, a mystic sort of negative fire which can be used for a variety of useful and powerful things.

    Mystaran gnomes are basically Tinker gnomes, only slightly less demented and with a higher success rate.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    I quite like the bioengineering progenitor race that Dark Sun's halflings were, and that they've subsequently split into scattered tribes of cannibals and raiders (or warped into humans, elves, dwarves, etc by their own design to better survive the world after cataclysm).

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arutema View Post
    I did almost the opposite with the setting I'm working on. The fluff on halflings so often amounts to "small humans". I wanted to reserve humans for the antagonist race, so halflings took over from humans as the "vanilla" race.
    I wish it amounted to "Small humans" rather than "Small humans with super luck and uses sling shots for no reason" in 3.P... would make reflavouring easier.
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Okay, it's not the original intention, but why don't we make some new fluff for halflings. It'll be better, with blackjack, hookers, and blackjack playing hookers (in every reading of that phrase). I'd start, but I really have no ideas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo v3 View Post
    I wish it amounted to "Small humans" rather than "Small humans with super luck and uses sling shots for no reason" in 3.P... would make reflavouring easier.
    Actually, it makes sense that they would use slings. As you get shorter, bows become harder to use effectively, while just about anyone with the ability to throw can use a sling or hurl a stone. And slings are dangerous.

    A Halfling wouldn't be able to wield a proper longbow, for example, and they would have difficulty reloading a heavy crossbow. Short bows are just as viable as slings, but stones are readily available and cheaper to boot.
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Actually, it makes sense that they would use slings. As you get shorter, bows become harder to use effectively, while just about anyone with the ability to throw can use a sling or hurl a stone. And slings are dangerous.

    A Halfling wouldn't be able to wield a proper longbow, for example, and they would have difficulty reloading a heavy crossbow. Short bows are just as viable as slings, but stones are readily available and cheaper to boot.
    Personally, I find that any weapon familiarity racial trait harms reflavouring.

    Also, even if it makes sense for halflings to use slings it doesn't make sense for them All to use slings.
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo v3 View Post
    Personally, I find that any weapon familiarity racial trait harms reflavouring.

    Also, even if it makes sense for halflings to use slings it doesn't make sense for them All to use slings.
    Well I don't know about you, but when I DM, I don't compel every member of a species to carry at least one of every weapon they are capable of using with them at all times. A Halfling with a sling is going to be (slightly) better than an equally trained human with a sling. That doesn't mean all halflings use slings or that all halflings are even good with slings.
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    I tend to get rid of gnomes cause I just don't really like them. And my halflings tend to be like gypsies.
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    Well I don't know about you, but when I DM, I don't compel every member of a species to carry at least one of every weapon they are capable of using with them at all times. A Halfling with a sling is going to be (slightly) better than an equally trained human with a sling. That doesn't mean all halflings use slings or that all halflings are even good with slings.
    All halflings have a bonus with slings. Objective fact, regardless of culture or backstory of the halfling. I don't like that. I hoped that at least in pathfinder with their alternate racial traits you'd be able to swap it out for something else... but no, all halflings have sling stuff.
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo v3 View Post
    All halflings have a bonus with slings. Objective fact, regardless of culture or backstory of the halfling. I don't like that. I hoped that at least in pathfinder with their alternate racial traits you'd be able to swap it out for something else... but no, all halflings have sling stuff.
    Maybe their body structures just lend themselves to the effective use of slings?

    Humans are really good at throwing things even relative to other animals physically capable of throwing. Its not that far of a stretch to imagine a species that is even better at it than we are.
    Last edited by Keltest; 2016-02-14 at 09:56 PM.
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo v3 View Post
    Personally, I find that any weapon familiarity racial trait harms reflavouring.

    Also, even if it makes sense for halflings to use slings it doesn't make sense for them All to use slings.
    I figured they were just meant to be like the Balearic slingers. Or that they're just biologically suited to being accurate pitchers. Not quite sure what the best way for the latter is.

    If you give them eyes keen at tracking movement and reacting to it, like some frogs and insect catching birds, then paired with their rather immobile stubby nature, the obvious result is to throw or shoot things at prey such as birds and rabbits. This would make them technically just as good with a bow, but the mentioned problems of height and short limbs would make slings one of the best options.
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Okay, it's not the original intention, but why don't we make some new fluff for halflings.
    Because the only reason we ever played one is because we want to play a hobbit. Re-fluffing them to be anything other than hobbits eliminates the only reason that they exist at all.

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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Agreed. I don't really get it when people refluff hobbits into cannibals or the like. They just become a pygmy native stereotype by that point, divorced from Hobbitness. I would say it would be worth considering expanding on the lore as presented, if it would be helpful.

    DnD has made an effort to do that for example with hobbits living in human cities, making them pickpockets and thieves. Some of that seems plausible, hobbits out of their element may become rather strange to hobbits in the Shire, particularly in a bad neighbourhood.

    Or you could talk about the Shire as a nation and its relationship to various powers and histories and politics, and how it developed. You could potentially have a group of hobbits that became very different from their Shire kin to contrast and add more depth.
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    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    I'm a little hazy how Gnomes came to be split off from Dwarves, or how Kobolds came to be a completely separate race when they're just "Goblins" in German.

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    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Do halflings seem out of place to anyone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    They just become a pygmy native stereotype by that point, divorced from Hobbitness.
    I actually prefer that to hobbits.
    Spoiler: Old Avatar by Aruius
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    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q56/Zeritho/Koboldbard.png

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