Dungeons and Dragons Character Races: Halflings
I’ve talked with Dwarves and Elves about how they were inspired by Lord of the Rings. But there aren’t any Halflings in Lord of the Rings. There are Hobbits, obviously.
So how close are Hobbits to Halflings?
Very close, Halflings are the fun loving, food loving, and generally not the most adventuresome. However, if you’re playing a halfling, like Bilbo Baggins, the ones you’ll play are generally the more curious ones. Also, like Bilbo Baggins, you can be a solid thief with the dexterity bonus that halflings always get. The other biggest mechanical feature is that you are lucky, so when you roll a 1 on an attack, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll, but you have to use the new number. That is one of the best class features.
So how about role playing a halfling? Is that going to be like playing Bilbo Baggins as well? I would say that it’s pretty similar. You like your comforts, but there’s more of a big world out there that you want to explore. You are a halfling that is very curious and ready for adventure. I also think that with your diminutive size you’re going to be overlooked as a threat.
Halflings also generally have a positive disposition and interaction with the other races. So the other races are going to overlook you and treat you as their friend. For that reason, Halflings can get into areas that other races might not be able to, and a halfling who is lying to you or up to something wrong is generally going to be suspected less than a Human, Dwarf, or Elf. I’d personally lean into that aspect, not going with an evil halfling, but a jokester halfling who isn’t always doing the right thing, but generally does the right thing and does unexpected things.
I’ve compared them a lot to Bilbo Baggins, but I think that would be a good comparison for how you’d want to create an adventurer. Merry and Pippin also provide good examples of that almost naive curiosity that shows up well. Even Samwise would make a solid example for an adventurer, someone who is extremely practical, but is willing to go out adventuring because they need to, not because they necessarily want to.
Let’s get into what I consider the fun part, that’s looking at backstory ideas.
There was a time in my life that I was innocent, life was pretty boring. If I had my way, I’d go back to that. Like a lot of teens, I was bored and decided to find something fun to do. I should have known better than to trust the stranger in the town, but they seemed like a nice person. So as I got talking, I made a deal to help with some troubles that they were having. Turns out you shouldn’t make deals with random strangers in a tavern. I have gotten some interesting things out of my bargain, but until I complete the mission for them, which is way harder than I thought, I’m an outcast and don’t feel like I can rest in my own town or any town for that long.
Alignment: Chaotic Good/Chaotic Neutral
Background: Guild Artisan/Custom
I thought my town was a nice little place growing up. There was a quaint little church, and everyone in the town would go gather there. We weren’t as solitary as some halflings, but that was fine with me as I got to see the world and visit places with my family. It wasn’t until later that I realized that what we were doing wasn’t as legal as I had thought. Nor was the church as nice as I thought. It turns out that we might have been the bad guys, though on the surface our town was so nice. I didn’t like it, so I grabbed something that I knew my parents had worked hard for, ran off to the big city, sold it, and started a new life, but now my town has found me and I’m pretty sure they don’t mean me any good.
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Note: Haunted is a background from Curse of Strahd that could work quite well. There are also some homebrew Cultist/Reformed Cultist backgrounds you could use on D&D Beyond.
The outdoors, they are so beautiful and amazing. I could spend hours outside, and growing up I did. Playing in the rain, helping my parents garden, climbing trees, I loved them all. When I grew up, I knew that I wanted to study about nature, so I went around to a number of places learning what I could from other halflings, humans, and elves. Every spot I went, I heard stories of Shangri La, and after I had learned all I could, I made it my goal to be the first ever halfling or mortal to make it there, or at least the first in hundreds of years.
Alignment: Neutral Good/Neutral Neutral
What do you think about halflings? Would you play one in a game?
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