Saturday, March 13, 2010

Devil's in the Details: Halflings

Ok so I'm jumping on the bandwagon led by Aaron Kesher and followed by a variety of talented others. I have an issue with halflings being a little twee and Tolkien-specific but I am going to include them in the Middenmurk because I want to have the basic trappings of BECMI D&D as a touchstone of familiarity against which all the weird psychedelic stuff can be contrasted.

Unlike the other races which have a fairly significant representation in fiction, computer games and other areas of culture, halflings are very D&D specific. Most of the words that have been devoted to halflings over the course of their existence has occurred within the covers of D&D supplements (as well as on the web, of course). Because of D&D, halflings have mutated from hobbitses to something more lean, mean and kewl. I like hobbitses, but, in keeping with old-school sensibilities and the psychedelic dung-age atmospherics I am trying to evoke, I have an idea of halflings as being small rustic embodiments of earthy human traits - honest, hearty, gluttonous and rude, like one of those buffoons in a Brueghel or Bosch painting.

Many Halflings (d20, thrice)

1. Do wear shoes, curly ones, ridiculously long.
2. Constantly make fum of humans and dwarfs for their clumsiness.
3. Have short-person syndrome and are all in-your-face about it.
4. Are very, very florid.
5. Eat upwards of nine meals a day at particular times with associated etiquette for each. "You can't have spatchcock with nuncheontide". Must purchase thrice normal quantity of provisions in order to keep up.
6. Are exaggeratedly steatopygous.
7. Whistle tunelessly all the time.
8. Have no inside voice.
9. Are rowdy and shadow-box imaginary foes.
10. Laugh for far too long when anything humorous occurs.
11. Regale others with tales of their ancestor's heroism and horticultural prowess.
12. Wear striped leggings.
13. Have bowl haircuts.
14. Are superstitious to a ludicrous extent, spending 1d3 turns each morning performing rituals to ensure success in the day's activities.
15. Smoke very large pipes.
16. Try to scare off enemies by rearing and plunging.
17. Dress like Landsknechts when they can afford to.
18. Often try to resolve conflicts with drinking sessions, including with hostile monsters.
19. Collect and hoard any and all items of even meagre value to sell later on.
20. Speak with west-country accents.

Some Halflings (d16, d3 times)

1. Celebrate some kind of religious festival almost every day and observe appropriate customs.
2. Pose as if for a trophy photo with every slain enemy.
3. Take credit for things they didn't do.
4. Run amok after battle, taking 1d4 turns to calm down.
5. Invent mocking names for everyone and everything around them.
6. Cheat at games.
7. Cry at the drop of a hat.
8. Strut around like a cock-of-the-walk whenever they have the slightest success.
9. Have a diet that makes them fart, burp, sneeze, cough and hiccup noisily and often (10% chance it will ruin sneaking attempts)
10. Show no fear.
11. Start fires as part of their combat strategy.
12. Always try to find a high perch from which to pelt missiles at enemies.
13. Sulk when slighted.
14. Attempt to recruit as many hirelings as possible, regardless of race, species or appropriateness.
15. Try to get opponents to surrender rather than kill them.
16. Are very inquisitive about elves.

Common Travelling gear (d16 thrice)

1. Hat with spoon in it in case of invitation to banquet.
2. Helmet shaped like a funnel.
3. Caltrops (2d10)
4. A book of thrilling tales.
5. 1d6 Maps of various degrees of usefulness.
6. Large and bulky set of pots and pans.
7. Satchel of medicinal herbs of dubious efficacy
8. 2d4 different knives, all wickedly sharp.
9. Set of bagpipes of unusual manufacture.
10. Liripipe hood
11. Several different grades of rope and string
12. Small keg of strong drink.
13. A variety of gambling accoutrements.
14. A large and bulky crossbow.
15. A wheelbarrow.
16. A sarcastic blackbird.

Kobolds, Elves, Slaves of Shkeen, Jann, Orcs, Gnomes


  1. I find this entry so damn amusing, you have redeemed Halfings in my eyes!

  2. This is awesome, I want to steal it for GAMERS fantasy :)

  3. Hilarious. "Run amok after battle, taking 1d4 turns to calm down" put an incredibly amusing image in my head.

  4. I went a similar route in my Greyhawk campaign.

  5. Am I the only one imagining the cast from Green Street Hooligans or Married with Children?

    Well done. My hat off to you.

    I tend to play a lot of Halflings and mine all end up acting more like the brothers from Boondock Saints or extras from the Untouchables.