Monday, June 24, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Halflings are Half What?

I mentioned on Friday I am re-reading the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.  I am also likely to re-read the Silmarillion and even pick up some of Prof. Tolkien's other books.

In my reread I was struck by a line in the Hobbit that is later repeated in the Appendencies in Return of the King.
It is rumored that one of the Took ancestors had taken a fairy wife in the past and that blood left the clan not entirely hobbit-like.
Of course, Tolkien means "Elf" in place of "Fairy" here.  This is the source of the Fallohide (Tallfellows in AD&D) sub-race/sub-type of Hobbit/Halfling.  But what an interesting idea here!

Halfling-half pixies or half-leprechauns or ... anything!

How Little are the "Little People"?
Tolkien refers to Hobbits as "little people" in the Hobbit. This is to contrast it with big, lumbering "big people" aka humans.  But there is also a long history in British and Irish folklore of "little people" also called faeries or fairy.
The basic thought I had here is that the smaller the faerie the less like a hobbit/halfling they are inclined to be.  Since I am still somewhat of an old school focus here (though I play a lot of D&D 5) here are some "faerie" creatures (not counting elves) from some AD&D 1st Ed books.
(Monster Manual if not indicated, FF = Fiend Folio, MM2 = Monster Manual 2)

Creature Size
Atomie (MM2) 1’
Brownie 1½’ 
Boggart (MM2) 2’
Booka (FF) 1½’ 
Buckwan (MM2) 2’
Gnome 3’
Goblin 4’
Grig (MM2) 1’-1½‘
Halfling 3’+ 
Leprechaun 2’
Pech (MM2) 4’
Pixie 2½’ 
Quickling (MM2) 2’
Sprite 2’

The Brownie Family
In the AD&D Monster Manual, there is a line that states "Brownies are distant relatives of halflings, (perhaps half-halfling, half-pixie) but they are smaller and far less common."  I am willing to go with this.

Since Stoors/Stouts are believed to be Hobbits/Halflings with dwarf blood in them, then the Buckwan would be a Brownie/Dwarf hybrid.  It is also likely (to me anyway) that the Buckland and the Brandybucks of Buckland get their name from the Buckwans or the Bwca as their are know in Gaelic.  The Booka then is more a Brownie/Pixie or Brownie/Sprite cross.

Boggarts are listed as the immature form of a Wil-o-wisp, but newer versions of the game have reclassified the Wisp as an undead.  More akin to Ban Si than anything Hobbit or Brownie like.   Boggarts then are Brownies having a bad day, or maybe evil brownies.  Two of the more prominent literary uses of boggart in recent times are the fear causing Boggarts of Harry Potter and the invisible monsters of the Last Apprentice series.

Boggarts (Brownie)
No. Enc.: 3d6 (5d8)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: ½ d8 (3 hp)**
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d3 or weapon
Save: H2
Morale: 7
Treasure: None
XP: 15
Boggarts are relatives of the brownie.  They are often confused for one another, as they appear to be exactly the same. However, boggarts are chaotic and tend to undo all the things that brownies do. They are known to knock over milk pails, pinch sleeping babies and basically be a nuisance. Their antics are rarely harmful, but there are a few who are actually evil-natured and do intend harm.
They can only be removed from a house by a Remove Curse or similar greater magics.
They have a dagger they can attack with, but prefer to use their spell-like abilities.
A boggart can cast Audible Glammer, Cause Fear, Darkness, Faerie Fire, and  Ghostly Sounds at will.  They may also cast Phantasmal Image once per day.

The Leprechaun Family
I once read in Dragon magazine that one could play a leprechaun character in D&D Basic and just use the Halfling advancement.  I never did this, but I always wanted to do it.
Years later I would make my own Leprechaun race as class and race for Basic Era games and for James Spahn's The Hero's Journey.  Though my leprechauns tend to be more like Irish Hobbits than the magical creatures of "Darby O'Gill and the Little People".

The Cluracan (or Cluricaune) is a cousin of the Leprechaun that is inordinately fond of wine, spirits, beer, and ale. They look like leprechauns or small old men that are constantly intoxicated.
They are solitary creatures, although they tend to happily latch themselves onto unsuspecting folk. Once attached to a dwelling, they stay in the wine cellar (or equivalent), where they poach the supply. One benefit is that servants and the like who attempt to take a drink without the owner’s permission will likely be scared off by the little fellow, but it is doubtful that the cost is worth it. Families have been known to move their entire household in the hopes that the Cluracan plaguing them will not follow, but these mischievous little fellows will often stow away in the packed goods and follow the family.
Clurancan usually get along fine with Leprechauns and Fir Darrigs, their closest relatives. Like them, Clurancan are tricksters and their favorite victims are humans.

The Fir Darrig (also Fir Dhearga or Fear Dearg) are diminutive, Halfling/Leprechaun crossbreeds.
They are a bit taller than their leprechaun cousins (2 to  2½ ft on average) and much uglier. They typically wear ared cap and coat, and thus their name, Red Cap or the Red Man. The Fir Darrig are inordinately fond of cruel practical jokes, and they tend to be rude. They often travel alone, although there are occasional incidents where an unlucky victim has run across multiple Fir Darrigs having a little fun. Many Fir Darrigs have taken up the habit of traveling and seeking to warm themselves by others’ fires, and the Fir Darrig so refused is likely to play harmful pranks on anyone that refuses them. The correct response to such a request (and one which will leave the Fir Darrig kindly disposed towards the individual and unlikely to harm him) would be “Na dean fochmoid fainn” (“Do not mock us”). The Fir Darrigs are rumored to be shape-shifters, and they often use this ability to strike fear into those that they wish to annoy.
Fir Darrigs are on reasonably good terms with other fairy races. Their love of home, hearth, and good tobacco puts them at ease with Leprechauns, Cluracan and halflings, although halflings tend to think of them as rude and inconsiderate guests. Fir Darrigs are disliked by dwarves, but not hated. Fir Darrigs think dwarves take themselves too seriously. Fir Darrigs enjoy most of the same things that leprechauns do, gold, a good drink and smoking long pipes.

Goblins
Goblins will breed with anything.   For my money the best work on goblins for Old School games is still Beasties II from Night Owl Workshop.  Here Thomas Denmark covers all sorts of goblin-crossbreeds in this book.  Of interest to us here is the Hoblin, the sterile goblin/halfling crossbreed.

This reminded me of the old White Dwarf monster, the unfortunately named, Blacklings, which are underdark halflings.    A better name for them would really be the Trow.  This is where we get the name Drow, but these creatures are described as small and ugly.

Trow (Halfling)
No. Enc.: 3d6 (5d8)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1 - 1
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d6 or weapon
Save: H1
Morale: 7
Treasure:
XP: 10
These evil depraved halflings are found in the same locales as the drow elves.  They are rare and prefer to avoid combat unless their numbers are in their favor and they can quickly overwhelm their foes.  They have 120’ infravision, and if abruptly exposed to light are blinded for 2 rounds, half with a save vs. paralyzation. In addition, when in bright light including sunlight they suffer -2 to hit and -2 to DEX. Trow have keen hearing and are surprised only on 1 on 1d8; they always move silently with 95% efficiency.   It is believed they can turn invisible at will but in truth they are so adept at hiding they have an effective 99% hide in shadows in their homelands.
Trow, like Halflings, can attack with short sword and slings.  They organize in small roaming gangs.  Trow typically do not have a single home and roam about the underground.  During moonless nights they will come to the surface to raid small villages.
While other subterranean races worship demons or other foul entities the trow deny the existence of all gods. They believe there are powerful entities, but they are unworthy of veneration or worship.


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It's a little late but this is my entry for the June RPG Blog Carnival hosted by Pitfalls and Pixies.
https://brynvalk.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/the-2019-rpg-blog-carnival-the-third-fey-march/


2 comments:

Vortexbeast said...

Halflings are "half size" of course. It isn't meant to imply a crossbreed. But it's fun to ponder the question--particularly in game terms--which is why I really like this article. Thanks!

Fuzzball said...

I recently made, Brother Brandon, a halfling cleric for 5E. He is good natured until called a halfling, small, or short. He will angrily retort that he is a whole person, not m missing anything, over 6 feet tall (his own, why would her user human feet?), etc. He usually ends up calling the offender an overgrown, beardless dwarf or undersized ogre or whatever he can think of that fits and doesn't bother to enlighten "ignorant fools."

I haven't figured a name for the race to replace halfling, hence the last piece, but it was a concept I have been considering for the last year for my own campaign, before making Brother Brandon a few months ago.

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