4e Halfling Lore
DaWeirdo Sep 19th, 2017 514 Never
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- =Wizards Presents: Races & Classes=
- When the sun-hot strife between gods and primordials was barely cooled, the goddess on the moon, Sehanine, and the goddess of the wilderness, Melora*, were drawn to each other. A tempestuous affair ensued, and before the two separated forever, a love gift was fashioned from the moon's dreams and the undisciplined glens and rivers of the world: the halfling race. The goddess of luck looked upon the fruit of Sehanine and Melora's abandoned effort and was delighted. Within the newborn halfling race stirred a spirit of adventure that could never be sated, and a devil-may-care attitude that surrendered their hopes and desires to luck as much any knowledge of artifice.
- * Actually "the god of the wilderness, Obad-hai" in the book; this was before they fully excised all the Greyhawk out of the setting. Replace all references to Melora in this segment with "Obad-hai" if you want the 100% original feel.
- Curious and active, open but secretive about their internal dealings, halflings are quick and resourceful wanderers, small in stature but great in courage. They are an athletic race known for their ingenuity, quick wits, and steady nerves. Despite their lesser size, halflings have stout hearts and the ability to stand up to punishment that few could scarce credit.
- Halflings benefit from a nomadic, world-spanning culture that has survived thousands of years, including the rise and fall of several empires. When other races saw their great empires topple, found their deals with extra-mortal entities go bad, or were enslaved by terrible monsters, halflings survived unchanged. Their oral histories contain a vast amount of lore about people and places long past, especially remnants still found in the world of today.
- Bound by traditions and customs that have served them well for thousands of years, halflings place great importance in being friendly to other peaceful societies and on sharing both the burdens and rewards of fortune. Among their own kind, halflings settle easily into their customary interactions, which are characterized by a more serious and practical mien.
- Halflings don't collect themselves in kingdoms or realms, and they don't recognize any sort of royalty or nobility. Instead, halflings organize themselves by clans, groups tied together by family relationships. Thus the head of the clan is also the head of a family. Clan elders are expected to look after their own folk. Families many miles distant from each other keep in touch by means of avian couriers and messengers, so most halflings in a given area are quite well informed about what's going on all around them. Clans move around with the seasons to avoid trouble, to find better fishing and hunting, to visit a distant family group, to relocate their water caravan to a new center of trade, or simply to live someplace different. In their travels, clans pass knowledge on to others they meet, exchange members via marriage, and reestablish relationships with clans with whom they have been out of touch.
- The fine points of clan law varies from one family clan to another, but in most cases a halfling is technically a member of both the mother's and father's clan at birth. Upon reaching maturiy, a halfling must formally declare between the two clans and adopt the family name of the chosen clan However, ties between both clans remain close.
- Clan elders are chosen by acclaim every so many years, depending on a particular river caravan's luck and happiness - the less happy, the more often new clan elders are chosen. The title elder is more ceremonial than accurate - any halfling can be an elder as long as he or she is at least twenty-four years old. Clan elders hand down family lore, mediate in disputes between members, and provide general direction to the clan's activities. No set number of clan elders exists - more elders are elected whenever it seems too much work has fallen on the shoulders of too few. Sometimes clan elders from disparate clans meet to pass on important warnings; however, such information is normally trusted to standard means of dispersing information.
- Always roaming, halflings are at home in any land but call no land their own. Through their constant travels, usually via waterways and marshlands, few peoples have learned more of the world and what goes on upon its face than halflings. Where most other races find their peace in a domicile lived in by generations of parents and grandparents, or in sturdy-built homes deep in the earth that hardly change at all over the centuries, halflings find peace in the act of traveling. Instead of being wearied by days of paddling canoes, pushing rafts, riding rapids, and pulling barges, halflings are rejuvenated by such activity. Halflings are not much for riding or traveling by hard, dusty roads; river trips are their preferred means of touring.
- The river offers routes to places near and far. Halfling water caravans can be found traveling up or down a river or tributary subsisting on trade, entertainment, and sometimes graft.
- When a halfling water caravan ties up its many craft to the piers of an established community, halfling merchants, day laborers, tricksters, and entertainers jump from their boats, eager for the day. At the same time, those remaining with the boats begin songs of labor as they get to work patching holes, mending sails, and performing other repair work, already anticipating the next leg down or up the river.
- Some of the halflings who disembark from a river caravan hire themselves onto nearly any enterprise, including masonry, farming, guard duty, or even as companions on perilous, one-off quests into the wilderness. Others who have salable skills of their own seek the local marketplace to offer their services, be it brewing weaving, cobbling or leatherworking. A few who've bought lots of merchandise from somewhere further up or down the river try to sell or trade their wares, sometimes even setting up temporary stalls from which to do business.
- Halflings are also powerfully drawn to games of chance and luck, and in such games tend to do so well that others sometimes suspect them of being a race of cheaters. While its true that halflings are not above a trick or two, their natural luck is more than enough to put them over the top in many a game. Even when halfling proclivities for winning and tricks is sknown, there always seem to be those of other races eager to "match wits" with halfling dice masters, and card sharks who believer their own luck and the stories their sycophants feed them. Some even win a hand or two, but usually halflings come out on top.
- When halflings deal with the population of a community they're visiting, they present a plucky, affable face to outsiders. They possess an easy-going, friendly, optimistic and curious demeanor. This behavior isn't a false front, but instead is their natural inclination outside the bounds of their traditional culture. Halflings are also know for the favors and great deals they sometimes accord their buyers. Such favors can take the form of aid to those in need, discounts on services for those who have little to spend, and small gifts to people who have treated them especially kindly - or unkindly. While it is probably true that such halfling good will is merely part and parcel of a halfling personality, such actions go a long way toward maintaining the feelings of good will most other races feel toward this diminutive people. If halflings were known to be a race of lairs and swindlers, no community would allow an itinerant water caravan to set up camp.
- Of course, it should be noted that halflings' happy-go-lucky view of the world sometimes comes across in a less than positive light to other, more conservative peoples. Owning only a minimal amount of property themselves, halflings look at others' possessions in a "different" light. To some halflings, the fact that another creature "owns" a particular object is less relevant than how soon the halfling in question might "find" that same object himself. Thus, halflings have also acquired something of a reputation for being prone to theft - but from a halfling's point of view, such action is a result of a powerful curiousity, not outright dishonesty. WHen halflings do sell the proceeds of ilicitly gotten gains, they do so with the belief that they've merely redistributed resources to where they were able to do the most good to those most in need.
- Then again, not all halflings are motiviated by curiosity and an honest spirit of fun to do tricks. There exists the rare halfling who fully understands the ethics of larceny, deception, and the profits crime can accumulate if such activities are never discovered. Such a halfling is motivated more by greed than curiosity. When such halflings are discovered operating within the confines of a halfling water caravan, they are exiled and can never return to the river-born life. Messages bearing the description of the offender are sent to all other nearby caravans, lest the offender attempt to take up with them. These halflings may seek another caravan, though most decide to live permanently within the bounds of a human city so they can continue to pursue their questionable ways.
- ==The Evolution of the Halfling==
- In the beginning (which we'll call 1974), halflings were hobbits straight out of Tolkien. The D&D game - at that point three booklets and some reference sheets costing $10 - even called them hobbits. But then D&D made the transition from an overgrown hobby to a full-fledged product line, and by 1977 all the hobbits became halflings.
- Throughout the 1970s and the early 1980s, the D&D halflings still looked and acted like something right out of the Shire - they were often a little plump and they walked around with their fuzzy feet bare. Most of them were thieves, a class that's conceptually similiar to what we'd call a rogue today.
- In the mid-1980s, halflings started to move away from the Tolkien vision - spurred on by tens of thousands of D&D players. Bilbo Baggins might have been a reluctant thief, but D&D tables everywhere were full of mischievous, wisecracking and enthusiastic halfling thieves. The players drove D&D halflings into new territory, and the little fellows became a key repository for much of the game's humor.
- The look of halflings started to change, too. Subraces emerged; the traditional hairfeet, the somewhat dwarflike stouts, and the tallfellows, who were associated with elves and were only tall when compared to hairfeet and stouts.
- Then came the Dragonlance version of the halflings: kender, a diminutive, vaguely elfin race. Talk about a race designed for a mischievous player - kender are impossibly curious, utterly fearless, and they have an instinctive desire to "borrow" things from the pockets and backpacks of whomever is standing nearby. Some players embraced the kender, while others found them a little too far in the "comic relief" territory. Whether the antics of the kender PC at your table were hilarious or annoying tended to determine how you felt about the kender as a whole.
- With the onset of 3rd Edition D&D in 2000, a consensus quickly emerged: retain the halfling's natural enthusiasm, but shade them a little darker than the kender so they could be more than comic foils. Get them out of their comfortable holes, and for heaven's sake let them wear boots like everyone else. Halflings became nomadic and had a measure of whimsical trickery - but whimsy that could turn sinister at a moment's notice. Their visual identity changed too. Halflings got the lithe physique of gymnasts rather than the portly physique of rustic gentleman farmers.
- As we began our work on 4th Edition, we decided that we still liked the 3rd Edition look and feel of halflings - but we neeeded to continue to evolve the halfling role and appearance in the game.
- ==Where Do They Live?==
- Elves and dwarves have always been tied to specific terrain types in D&D. Forests with elven tree-cities and mountains with dwarven fortresses are a staple of the game setting. Of the major nonhuman heroic races, halflings have always lacked a native terrain. It leaves them oddly flavorless compared to the others.
- In thinking bout possible terrains halflings might like, we quickly discarded forests and mountains (that's where the other races live), hills (too much like mountains) and plains (not very distinctive, really). So, what's left? Marshes and swamps.
- At first blush, it might seem that looking at halflings as marsh-dwellers is not very interesting. We tend to see people who live in swamps as backwater rubes. But when you think about it, halflings have good reasons to live in swamps. First of all, marshes and swmps are waterways that provide access to coasts and rivers - and rivers are the best roads in the world in a nonindustrialized society. Second, marshes and swamps offer excellent defensive terrain. They present hiding places and impede the movement of most attackers. Finally, marshes and swamps are filled with life and offer lots of opportunities for hunting, gathering and fishing.
- ==Lifestyle and Society==
- Halflings are waterfolk, skilled boatbuilders and fishers. halflings don't live in caravan wagons; they live in large clans aboard keelboats, barges, and rafts. They are the far-ranging traders who control the best roads in the world, and they have a knack for providing their trading partners with whatever commodity or expertise their friends lack. Halflings provide foodstuffs to the dwarven stronghold, metalworking skills for the elven village, and hand-worked leather and pelts for the nearby human town.
- Halflings are still an affable and easy-going people, but they know how to stand up for themselves when they need to. To master they difficult environment they have chosen to live in, they have gained a great respect for and understanding of the natural world around them. They frequently domesticate animals and birds to serve as scouts, messengers, guards and workers.
- While other great races build permanent cities and try to raise up great empires, the world's halflings form a sort of "invisible empire" from sea to sea. All clan leaders re more or less equal, and all the clans in a particular region confer with each other when any one of them is faced with a decision that might affect all halflings.
- Because halflings haven't raised many empires, they haven't suffered any gret racial reversals like bigger folk. Halfling culture and tradition is quite old, stretching back for thousands of years. Their legends and tales recall people, places and events that other races no longer remmber.
- =Player's Handbook 1=
- Halflings are a small race known for their resourcefulness, quick wits and steady nerves. They are a nomadic folk who roam waterways and marshlands. No people travel farther or see more of what happens in the world than halflings.
- Play a halfling if you want...
- * To be a plucky hero who is all too easy to underestimate.
- * To be likeable, warm and friendly.
- * To be a member of a race that favors the rogue, ranger and warlock classes.
- ==Physical Qualities==
- Halflings stand about 4 feet tall and weigh about 80 pounds. They resemble small humans and are proportioned like human adults. Halflings have the same range of complexions as humans, but most halflings have dark hair and eyes. Halfling males don't have beards, but many have long, full sideburns. Halflings of both genders often wear complicated hairstyles, featuring complex braiding and weaving.
- Halflings typically dress in clothes that match their surroundings and prefer earth tones and various shades of green. Their clothing and gear feature woven textures and stitching. Birds, river patterns, boats, and fish are common images in halfling art and decoration.
- Halflings have life spans comparable to humans.
- ==Playing A Halfling==
- Halflings are an affable, warm, and cheerful people. They survive in a world full of larger creatures by avoiding notice or, barring that, avoiding offense. They appear harmless and so have managed to survive for centuries in the shadow of empires and on the edges of wars and political strife.
- Halflings are practical and down to earth. They concern themselves with basic needs and simple pleasures, harboring few dreams of gold or glory. Adventurers are no more rare among halflings than among other races, but they usually pursue the adventurer's life for reasons of community, friendship, wanderlust, or curiosity. Halfling adventurers are brave and faithful companions, relying on stealth and trickery in battle rather than raw might or magic.
- Tight-knit halfling communities are found near the settlements of other races, often along or even on the surface of a body of water. Halflings have never built a kingdom of their own or even held much land. They don't recognize any sort of royalty or nobility of their own, instead looking to family elders to guide them. This emphasis on family and community has enabled halflings to maintain their traditional ways for thousands of years, unaffected by the rise and fall of empires.
- According to halfling legend, Melora and Sehanine created the halflings together, giving the race a love of nature and the gift of stealth. When their interest waned, Melora and Sehanine stopped looking after the race, or so the legends go, and halflings made their own way in the world. They say Avandra, the god of luck admired their resourcefulness and and adopted them, favoring them with good fortune. Not all halflings worship Avandra, butnearly allbreathe a prayer of thanks to her when fortune favors them.
- Halflings are fond of stories and legends such as the myth of Avandra, and their culture is rich in oral tradition. Few members of other races realize that halfling folktales contain a vast amount of lore about people and places long past. Many halflings are able to dredge up knowledge about the history, religion or culture of other races, but that knowledge is usually wrapped in a fable.
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