Sunday, April 10, 2011

H is also for Hobbit and Halfling

I don't pretend to be particularly original with everything I do in my games for fun.  I produce a ton of original material all the time, but sometimes I like to let others do the heavy lifting.  In this case I like it when a 119 year old English professor does the lifting for me.

1980 was a good year.  I had been introduced to D&D the year before and got my copy of the Basic set and I discovered the world of The Hobbit.  Sure I had seen the cartoon movie on TV and remembered it, but this was the year I read the book.  From that point on I have made it a priority to re-read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings at least every three or so years.  Frankly nothing else in the literary world even remotely comes close in my mind.

So then it should be no surprise that my D&D worlds have halflings, and lots of them.
I pretty much use Prof. Tolkien's guide with my halflings too.  Short, stocky, prone to laziness or at least not having the desire to go anywhere, much less on adventures (make you late for dinner!).

I think it was this picture by Jeff Dee that made me look at halflings as a good character race.

I always figured this was the local halfling sheriff and he didn't trust "big ones" like this guy. And how cute is that halfling girl?

My first halfling was a easy going guy named Perrin. Perrin though liked human women. He was an odd one. My games steadily got more and more dangerous that a guy like Perrin would have easily gotten killed. He retired and lives in a folder in my basement. I kinda hope he retired, bought a nice little cottage in the country and married a Valkyrie Warrior Maid, 6 foot tall and cleavage you could ski off of.

In my world I have a lot of halfling sub-races.  I do stick with the common ones.
- Hairfoots (D&D) or Harfoots (Tolkien) are the most common types.  These are your classical hobbits with hairy feet, slightly pointed ears and a tendency to be home-bodys.  These halflings get along well with dwarves.  These are the stereotypical hobbits.
- Stouts or Stoors are a touch shorter and tend to be more adventurous.  They get along well with humans and while not as numerous as the Harfoots tend to be the ones most humans see.  Their ears are more pointed.
- Tallfellows or Fallohides are a taller breed than the Harfoots, though no where near as numerous.  They have more pointed ears and are commonly found in the same areas as elves.    There is even speculation that the Fallohides have elf blood in their lineage.
- Lightfoots are the halflings that became popular with the advent of D&D3. Roughly the same size as Harfoots, the Lightfoots are notable for their desire to travel more and wear shoes.  The hair on their feet is sparse to nearly non-exsistent.
- Docrae a race of "cursed" halflings from the Blackmoor setting.  I have them closer in nature to the nomadic Native American tribes of the north.  A sad, stoic but hearty race.  I use some information on the Strongheart halflings from the Forgotten Realms here as well.
- Kender, the race of Kender of the hidden island nation of Ansalon believe they were created from gnomes. This is only half true. Kender are a magical, but now true, crossbreed of Gnome and Halfling.  There is even some speculation that Lightfoots are halflings that have bredd back with Kender as the two races have a number of similarities.

Halfling witches are known as Herb Women.

Halfling witches see themselves as the hands of their Mother Goddess. Allow the clerics to be Her eyes and voice; the halfling witch has work to do! This does cause some friction between the two set’s worshippers, but rarely among the populace. Halfling witches are most like their human cousins. More females pick up witchcraft, which they just call “the Craft,” than do males, but there has not been the history of persecution among the halfling witches as with the humans.

Halfling witches tend to be open and honest not only about their Craft, but many of their other opinions as well. While this makes them appear to be crass at times, it has also given rise to a popular saying among halfling youth, “If you want an Answer, ask a cleric. If you want the Truth, ask a witch!”.
Adventuring halflings are known to be full of wanderlust and a desire to see the world. Non-adventuring ones prefer the simple comforts of home, hearth and family. The halfling witch then is the self styled guardian of both halves of the halfling heart. The halfling witch is rarely an adventurer, but has been know to have accompanied adventurers in the past.

Halfling Herb Women fill many roles in the halfling community. First she is a center of wisdom and understanding folkways. In some respects she acts as an informal teacher outside of the halfling home. She is a healer, often a seller of herbs, remedies and minor magic. She may perform marriages (handfastings) and most importantly she is also the community’s mid-wife. Few, except the most knowledgeable clerics can match her wisdom in the ways of bringing the young into the world.

As mentioned previously, halfling witches are very similar to human ones, except there is no history of prosecution for the Herb Women, so nearly all Herb Women display the sign of their trade openly for all to see–a broom propped outside of their door. Each morning the herb woman will rise and sweep her back stoop or porch to signify that she is open. She will then place the broom outside of the door and leave the door open. This is a welcome invitation for the community who may stop by to buy her wares or even to gossip. It is believed that if the broom falls as someone walks in then that person is either special or under a curse. Since the herb woman’s shop is often her kitchen she can very well be fixing dinner all day while chatting with customers. When the witch closes her store she places the broom across the door as a lock. The ritual tool for the halfling witch is of course the Besom, or witch’s broom.

Herb women get along very well with most human witches of all sorts, Elven Kuruni and of course Gnomish Good Walkers. They are typically any non-evil alignment, but individuals have their own choices.


Anthony N. Emmel said...

First time reader (thank you A-to-Z Challenge!). I really love your background on Hobbits/Hobniz/Halflings. I also like the fact that you do not discount different editions's take on them and instead blend them together in a reasonable whole.

My first halfling was in 1981 Moldvey B/X. Inspired by "The Return of the King" cartoon, he was named Frodo. (We were in 6th grade! There was a thief named Robin Hood and a fighter named Arthur, too.) Unfortunately, I did not play another one until 2003 or so...Thomas (Tom) Willowgrove, tailor-turned-professional-adventurer (thief!).

The tradition continues with my 9 year old son, playing Tom's son, Rick (Richard).

Well met, friend!

Gaming Ronin said...

You keep that up and you will have nothing left for W! lol

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Perrin was my only halfling ever IIRC. I finally played a gnome in 2000 under 3.0 by the name of Jasic Winterhaven. Perrin and Jasic would not have gotten along at all.

Oh, I have PLENTY of things for W.

Trey said...

I always dug that Jeff Dee illo too.

That and the "elves" in Marvel's Weirdworld have influenced by portrayal of halflings in games for the last decade much moreso than Tolkien.

MOCK! said...

That Jeff Dee was burned into my brain from back in the day! Thanks for the "reminder"!

Woodclaw said...

Nice work here, but I think I have a little nitpick here. In AD&D there was another sub-race of halfling whihc were quite interesting and very forgotten (no pun intended): the Furchin or polar halflings.
The basics were quite simple a race of halflings with the look and custom of inuit.