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A DM’s Guide to Halflings

by Jae

Halflings are one of the 9 basic race types for DnD. Known by many names in common fantasy literature, halflings represent small humanoids that love the comforts of home. Though small in stature, these fantasy folk are not to be overlooked as they make up for their size with big personalities.

What is a Halfling?

A halfling is a small humanoid creature standing about 3 ft. tall and weighing about 40 – 50 lbs. They live upwards of 250 years and have long memories, but this fits into their culture differently than with Dwarves and Elves. Instead of focusing on craft or nature, halflings spend their lives seeking peace and comfort. Many travel often or settle in cozy homes. They seek practical lifestyles and the most opulent part of a halfling’s life typically comes from their food. They have simple needs and enjoy the little things in life.

Halfling Society

Halflings are not known to make kingdoms or large societal structures. Instead they build small and cozy towns typically centered around orchards and other simple farming activities. In place of any sort of royalty or formal governance, halflings rely on the wisdom of their elders and the bonds of friends and family. Because of this, halfling traditions tend to extend beyond any particular power structures and survive the decline of any empires built up around them.

When not grouped in their own towns or villages, Halflings do a great job of fitting into other societies. They are kind, hard working, friendly, and loyal by nature. Because of this they easily make space for themselves anywhere they go. When it comes to racial stereotypes, halflings often benefit from being known for their cheery and helpful nature and this also helps open doors for them that might not otherwise be available.

Halfling Disposition

As we mentioned above, halflings are a kind and helpful people, but this extends far beyond a general kindness. Halflings are curious, open, and talkative. They like to understand others and want others to understand them. They don’t often have negative things to say and can always find the good in any situation. Being a highly practical people, halflings are known to be honest and truthful as lies are often more trouble than they’re worth. At the same time they like jokes, stories, and songs, and will seek out things that keep them entertained.

Beyond just being a friendly race, halflings also are a bit more antsy than most. This is the duality of them in that they like peace and stability, but love travel and adventure. Often they’re not out seeking glory, but instead defying boredom or gathering stories to bring back home. This desire to learn, laugh, and forge new friendships underscores and encapsulates their nature.

Halfing Adventurers

Halflings go on adventures for many reasons, but not typically for the reasons that other races do. They very rarely are interested in wealth or power, but more often they seek out stories and the opportunity to do some sightseeing. When not adventuring for the pure pleasure of it, halflings may head out in support of their friends or in defense of people they care about.

Similar to the dwarven bond to family, halflings take their relationships with others very seriously and will go from cheery joke slingers to ferocious warriors in an instant if their friends or families are threatened.

Some halflings adventure continuously. They are known in some cases to stick together as nomads and head off to wherever the wind takes them. These halflings live simply but comfortably and pack everything they need for a quest to have all the comforts of home right at their finger tips.

Subversion of Halfling Archetypes

While halflings seem to be painted into a very specific character type, this can be subverted in a number of ways with simple character flaws. Halflings social nature can come undone by their desire to fill their lives with the things they love. This could manifest as an obsession with a certain hobby or pastime, eschewing friends in the name of adventure, or becoming closed off to people after over trusting early in their life.

The core traits of Halflings are so kind and pure heated that they can easily be used as great setups for changes in character and personal growth through a campaign.

Like with all races, we encourage you to think about them not as a particular race, but instead a person who has their own set of life circumstances. Just because most halflings are kind doesn’t mean all of them are. Their nature is just a setup for typical halflings in the world and should not be used as a hard rule for how they must act.

Halflings by the Numbers

Halfings have a few special abilities and rules that are unique to them.

Lucky is the halfling trait that lets you re-roll ones on the first attempt at any attack, save, or ability check. This trait really helps reduce critical failures over the course of a game.

Nimbleness allows halflings to move through spaces that would otherwise be blocked by larger creatures. This comes in handy, as they are small creatures and puts them on average one class size lower than more other creatures.

In addition to the abilities above, halflings also have two subrace variants: the Lightfoot – which specializes in Stealth, and the Stout – which specializes in poison resistance and Constitution.

Halfings in a Nutshell

Halfings are a perfect race for bards, rogues, and sorcerers. Their cheery disposition and helpfulness makes them an easy fit for any group and allows them to be woven into most stories without any difficulty. Great for players and NPCs, there’s no major downside to rolling up a halfling character. Give them a try in your next game and see just what you can make with them.

Happy DMing!

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