We have a triple threat match this time as we have three heavyweights from Fantasy Flight facing off. The reason that they get to face off is because all of them have app integration. What this means for all these games is that you don’t […]
This is something that has come up recently for me, the idea of overwriting in a book. It’s probably been noticeable because I’ve been reading LitRPG books, which can often be self published or are very often done by younger writers. It’s been something that […]
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. Class: Warlock 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. Class: Rogue Alignment: Chaotic Good Background: Acolyte/Haunted 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 Class: Druid Background: Sage
What do you think about halflings? Would you play one in a game?
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Now, last time it was basically games that only played two players. With three players, it isn’t often that you find a game that just plays three players. Most of the time games say 2-4 or 2-5 players, because that sells a whole lot better […]
I decided it was time to jump back into some D&D topics, and I wanted to try something a little bit different, instead of just dispensing advice, I wanted to go through the process of building out a campaign that I may (or may not) […]
As I’ve been thinking about finding people to run a new D&D game with, I started thinking, what sort of scope do I want for my D&D game?
Do I want to do another epic story like the first season of Dungeons and Flagons where things are going crazy in the world and there are plenty of plane hopping and epic travels around the world and seeing new places?
Or, do I want to do a tighter more defined story that takes place in a single location over a shorter period of time?
That’s somewhat what the second season of Dungeons and Flagons was going to be, though I was adding scope to it to tie it into the previous season.
Now, I’m not going to say that there are either of them better than the other in terms of gaming, but they are both two very different things. And I would say that you should check with your group or give some game ideas, but I’ve been liking the idea of running that tighter more defined single location or small area story.
Why might you want to do one or the other of them?
For the smaller story it’s easier for the DM and the players to keep track of what is going on. There are fewer crazy things happening, and fewer places to really track. There are also going to be fewer NPC’s. In a larger game you are going to have NPC’s from each city and town that they visit. With that though you are going to see a greater variety of characters for the players to interact with and are going to have to plan the story less, in my opinion, because you can always create a new location for what you need.
The advantage of a bigger game is that you can play the fantasy that people think of. People think of Lord of the Rings and Kingkiller Chronicles when they think Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy. They aren’t really thinking about a game that might be more similar to a Dresden Files book where it’s a more tightly contained story. However, if you think about it, Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mordor and getting rid of the ring would make a pretty boring D&D game, what Legolas and Gimli are up to would make a better game, so there’s a balancing aspect so you don’t have to rush through everything to make your characters the main story of the game.
So what do I want to do in my next game?
I think that I want to do a smaller scope game. I liked parts of what I was doing in Season 2 of Dungeons and Flagons, but parts I didn’t too well. The part that I didn’t love too well was the fact that I wasn’t always prepared enough for a small story game. I think that a small location game, I guess I should say over story, requires more planning and focus as I’ve mentioned above. And I was very used to winging it as I had some general beats through the first season I knew I wanted to hit, but beyond that, they could do whatever. The tighter game is a bit more focused and some might call it a bit more rail road, I would disagree with that assessment, but some people might say that. There’s a difference on limiting the location for the story and making the players doing certain things in certain order so the story progresses as expected.
What sort of game do you enjoy? Do you like the big epic game or the smaller game?
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I always have to add in series, because a lot of the time, my favorite is because they are a series. And a good series can really take a good book and bring it to another level. I’ve also written about bad series before, but […]
When I was writing about fantasy last, see the Not Your Normal Fantasy article, I touched on a concept that I really didn’t have time to flesh out. That what the difference between high and low magic fantasy settings are. Let’s jump into the top […]
We all know fantasy pretty well, at least I’m assuming that we do. We’ve seen and/or read Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. We might have read the Shanara Chronicles, Wheel of Time, Mistborn, or so many other epic fantasy series or watched shows like Merlin, Game of Thrones or Grimm. And there are certain things that we generally expect from fantasy, but what happens when fantasy series aren’t the norm, and why aren’t there more of them?
I think the biggest reason that there aren’t more of them is because publishers and writers want something that feels familiar. A writer can feel like it’s their own unique twist on something that is familiar and safe, and a publisher can look and see how well things have sold. Now there is plenty of variety within the standard epic fantasy that we often think of and that we see published most often, but there’s always some medieval feel to it that feels normal and allows us to jump into a world quickly and pick up the edge cases about the world that are different from others.
What are some of the tropes of fantasy that are used often?
While it’s less the case now, it often feels like fantasy is the clear good versus evil. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are both clear examples of this where there is clearly a good side and there is an evil side, and there really isn’t ground in between. Sometimes you really want that delineation, but fantasy can lean too much so into the good versus evil and it simply being that and nothing more.
Also there is the medieval feel, or what we attribute to a medieval feel. There are going to be knights most likely, though they might be called something else, a king, either good striving against the evil forces coming to the lands or evil keeping the people oppressed so a rebellion must rise up and there’s not all that much in between. Lots of castles, sprawling forests, and generally a lot of what you’d expect from Robin Hood shows up in your standard epic fantasy. Even in urban fantasy, there is often some leftover feel of the medieval period. In the Dresden Files, the wizarding council holds old traditions, in Harry Potter, Hogwarts is literally a giant castle.
Finally, while it’s not in all fantasy, there is very often some form of magic. This is often where fantasy diverges the most as different people use different things for magic. It could be that the magic comes from the divine, it could be that magic is steeped heavily in ritual and must be done at ritual locations, or it could be a quicker and dirtier magic that can be done on the fly. Magic can be fine and precise wielded like a scalpel or it can be swung around like a club, bludgeoning everything. So there’s plenty of leeway for magic, but it is something that is commonly found in fantasy.
That’s epic fantasy, is all fantasy like that or are there different types of fantasy?
While that might be the type that people think of when they think of fantasy thanks to Lord of the Rings, it certainly isn’t the only type of fantasy out there. There’s paranormal fantasy, urban fantasy, low fantasy, dark fantasy, or even steampunk would qualify as a different type of fantasy. Probably the biggest growing type of fantasy falls into that area of urban fantasy. The Dresden Files series is one of the biggest or Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman are two of the better known. But TV shows like Grimm also fall into that Urban Fantasy sub-genre of fantasy.
There are a few that I really want to call out, though, the first being Urban Fantasy. This is one of my favorite genres of fantasy as taking a modern world and putting magic not just into the world as a whole, but a densely populated area and really focusing the story down into that world can be done so well. In all of Neverwhere, Grimm, and The Dresden Files, there’s a grittier side of the world that you don’t a lot in fantasy. That grittier side of things is what sets it apart from contemporary fantasy which would qualify as something like Harry Potter where it’s in a modern setting, but doesn’t deal as directly with the modern nature of the world.
Another one can either be modern or not, but it’s a non-standard medieval fantasy. That’s a long name, but basically, it’s looking at fantasy that really goes outside of the normal sword and sorcery that you can see and takes us to another world or part of our world than London or the medieval European equivalent. An example of this is the Daughter of Smoke and Bones trilogy. Those books are set in Prague, so different location than normal, but they also deal with a very different subset fantasy with how they talk about a number of fantasy tropes, which you can see from above, and the creatures that you see. You don’t really have your standard goblins, trolls, and faeries. It’s often a bit jarring not to have your standard fantasy tropes, but it’s also refreshing to see fantasy step away from it’s roots and branch out into new areas.
Finally is a sub genre of fantasy that I want more from, and that’s the Weird West. But this can also fall somewhat into historical fantasy as well, so I’ll use that genre so I can talk about more things. But in the Weird West genre, you’re getting something that we’re familiar with, because of westerns, and adding in some mix of magic, steampunk or advanced technology, aliens, or monsters. The movie, Wild Wild West is an example of what Weird West can be. But when you expand it to look at other parts of history, you see it around WWI and WWII, even something like Wonder Woman which falls under the umbrella of Superheroes, but the movie was as much an alternative history fantasy movie as it was a superhero movie because of Wonder Woman’s backstory and Ares being a Greek god.
Now, there’s so much more you can go with into fantasy. And a lot of what I’ve talked about with world building before for RPG’s or just in writing in general you can pull into fantasy as well and use it to help shape your thoughts around fantasy. I’m going to be doing a follow up article soon on magic and high, medium, and low magic as well as different ways of using magic that I touched on here in this post.
But I’ll leave you with the question, what are some of your favorite genres inside fantasy, and some of your favorite books or TV shows or movies in that genre?
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Now, This is meant as more of a play on the new game that came out called My Little Scythe. To see if you want to continue reading this, this is not about small games, though I’ll probably do a post on that soon now that […]