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Halflings in the realms

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1 Halflings in the realms on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:36 am

Halflings can be found on almost all the worlds inhabited by demihumans and human-kind--and, in at least one case, have settled a world without any human or elven inhabitants. Though they resemble their larger human cousins in physical characteristics as well as geographic locale, the halfling race differs significantly in the common tale of its origin.

Whereas humans throughout the known worlds have countless legends, tales, and myths to explain their arrival and presence there, halfling cultures all share a common story: the Story of Littleman. Of course, the common tale is inevitably flavored with local custom--for example, the role of the goddess Yondalla varies depending on who's telling the story. Yet its core is always the same: the story of a small person wandering in the midst of chaotic, populous lands, facing a thousand difficulties and triumphing over them all through luck, courage, wits, and persistence.

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2 The Story of Littleman on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:37 am

The Story of Littleman

"There, Petrilly--be a dear child and fill my teacup. Surely thanks. Oh, and just a wee splash from the bottle to give it some character. Well done, lass."

"The story, Grandmother--tell us the story!" Eyes wide, the youngsters waited impatiently until the old halfling's tea was properly mixed. She sipped, and smacked her lips, and then began.

"Yes... the story of Littleman. But it's not just a story of the first halfling--it's a story of the gods, as well. The gods of the Big Folk and the Bad Folk, humans and goblins, who dwell up in the Seven Heavens and look out over the worlds and watch out for their followers."

"And Yondalla, Grandmother? She's there too, isn't she?"

"Mercy, child! Where else would she be? All you little ones know she's the great Protector of all halflings. Of course she lives there! In fact, the tale's not just about Littleman, but about Yondalla as well. But in those days, when our story begins, she was not yet our protector. Indeed, back then Yondalla was held by most of her fellows to be an unimportant goddess and was little heeded by the great lords of Human and Elf, Dwarf and Monster.

"Not that she was weak, or meek, mind you--quite the contrary. Yondalla was bold and brave, and quick to speak her mind when the gods met together in one of their great councils. But alas, since she had no faithful worshippers, her wise words were often ignored by the other gods, deities who boasted of their multitude of followers like peacocks showing off their pretty tailfeathers. Then, too, there was the matter of her size--gods are like too many people I could mention and are quicker to give respect to the huge and awesome than the small and clever, and Yondalla barely reached to the knee of many of the mightier lords."

"But, but, Grandmother...?" Kepli spoke tentatively. "Yondalla's a mighty goddess--isn't she?"

"Aye, Sprout--that she is. But even in those days, many other gods already had the weight of worshipping legions to support them and cause others to listen to their words. Yondalla had none, and thus many of the greater lords ignored her, especially after she was banned from their councils for a time . . ."

"But why would they do that to someone as nice as Yondalla?" Petrilly wanted to know.

"Simple, lass. She'd often heard various of the gods boast that they were the wisest, or strongest, or most popular deity of them all. One time when all the gods were gathered in council, she asked 'Which of you is the greatest?' Quickly the responses grew heated, and the argument that followed lasted for a long, long time; by the time it was over just about everybody was mad at just about everybody else. And they decided to blame it all on poor Yondalla for bringing it up in the first place--isn't that just like Big Folks?

"But it wasn't just that; her questions had gotten her in the soup before, and not listening to the big gods making long speeches and trying to impress one another was hardly punishment in her mind. I think it was more that she was tired of being ignored. It seemed to her that even those gods and goddesses who were her friends often treated her with condescension, as if her size meant she had no more sense than a child! Humph!

"Also, Yondalla is a kind and tolerant goddess. She admires kindness and generosity--not traits that the other gods held in abundance. But remember, my little ones, Yondalla is also a clever god. She saw the power that followers gave to the other gods, and she determined that she would have followers of her own. Finally, the goddess decided there was nothing for it but to find some worshippers of her own."

"Kepli, the fire needs another log--Ah! there's a good lad.

"Yondalla left the Seven Heavens and came to the Worlds Below, where she searched for a long time, looking for the perfect worshipper. But it was a long, hard search: most of the folks she came across already had gods of their own. She could have tried to steal away the other gods' worshippers, of course, but that would have meant trouble, and it was never Yondalla's way to stir up trouble when there was an easy way of avoiding it. Other folk had no gods, but watching them Yondalla saw that they were cruel and savage, hurting one another for no reason. She wanted followers she wouldn't have to scold every ten minutes, and decided to continue her search.

"I don't know how long she searched--my old grandmother used to say it was 'a day and a year and a year and a day'--but surely it was a long weary time. Then one day she saw Littleman sitting on a riverbank, fishing, and at that moment her search was over."
The old matriarch stopped. There was a long, thoughtful pause as her audience considered the story. Unnoticed, Pedderee refilled the venerable halfling's empty cup. Finally Kepli broke the silence: "Grandmother? Where did Littleman come from? What was he doing before Yondalla found him?"

"Ah, child, who knows? Remember, this was in the Bad Old Days, before our folk had farms, and villages, and shires of our own. Back then we were scattered like mice when the owls are out. Each family kept to itself and had its own hidden burrow. It was a hard life: sneaking, and hiding, and getting by on gleanings and scraps, always listening for enemies at the door.

"But Littleman, he wasn't afraid like the rest. He used to boast there wasn't a monster in the whole forest he couldn't outsmart, and he proved time and again that his quick wits were more than a match for brute strength by leading enemies into trap after trap as they chased him, until finally they'd given up and decided to leave him alone. Thanks to his carrying on so, his folk were safer than they had been in a long day, for none of the Bad Folk wanted to mess with any halfling they came across, in case it turned out to be Littleman.

"Yondalla watched Littleman for a long time and decided she liked what she saw. Here was a potential worshipper who was clever, brave, kind-hearted, and full of mischief. Best of all, he was just the right size. So one day she revealed herself to him and made him a bargain: if Littleman would gather all his scattered people into villages and communities, in return for their worship Yondalla would protect them from all their many enemies and give them a life of plenty and peace.

"Now, Littleman thought this over and decided it sounded fair, so he said 'Done!' And from that day to this, Yondalla has watched over our folk and guarded our prosperity, and we have been her people."

"Now, Littleman set to work, and gathered his people together, and showed them how to outsmart their enemies, frightening most away and banding together to defeat the rest. Soon there was a small village along the riverbank. True to her word, Yondalla showered her blessings upon them and gave them a comfort and contentment they had never known before. There was enough to eat, and safe places to sleep; friends to visit, and a fire in every home.

"That was the greatest of all her gifts, the greatest treasure to show her love for her new people: the hearth you'll find today, my sprouts, in every halfling home, no matter how humble, no matter how small. Its fire kept the halflings warm, and cooked their food, and brightened their burrows, a constant reminder of Yondalla's gifts.

"So great was their love of their new life that most of Littleman's people wanted to remain always beside their hearths, till the Bad Old Days faded to a distant memory, a reminder to help them cherish their new way of life all the more."

The venerable ancestor coughed for a moment, and took another sip of her potent tea. Sighing contentedly, she leaned back in the soft chair. Kepli had climbed into her lap, and she patted the youngster's head absently.

"And what of Littleman, Grandmother? Did he settle down with the rest?" demanded Pedderee, sticking out her tongue at her privileged brother.

"Well, strange to say, all the changes that had come over his fellow halflings, changes he'd caused, didn't affect Littleman much. He was the same merry scamp he'd always been, and when he'd finished the task Yondalla had set him would have gone back to his old carefree ways, had she not had other plans for him.

"Yondalla was well pleased with her Littleman, and wanted him to do the same for halflings everywhere as he'd done for those of the Green Fields. And Littleman, he was full of wanderlust, and agreed, thinking it'd be a fine thing to travel the world and see all there was to see. So he set out on his travels, and for years he went from forest to forest, anywhere there were any of our people, and showed them how to put their fear aside and make places for themselves in the world alongside the Big Folk. And when he was done with that, Yondalla showed him how to travel the paths to other worlds, paths known only to the gods.

"So Littleman went on his way, traveling to all the worlds that were, looking for the scattered homes of our people. He noticed how people are more apt to like those who have a lot in common with them, so when he found some of our folk living nearby settlements of the Big People, he taught them how to adopt some of the Big People's ways. If he found some of the small people living in a deep forest ruled by elves, by the time he left a village of Tallfellows prospered in a nearby forest glen. Where a few families had been driven into the hills not far from a dwarven underground city, a homestead of Stouts sprang up.

"And everywhere he went, Littleman found humans. It seemed that humans could live anywhere. Even in those days their numbers were far greater than those of the dwarves or elves. He watched the humans carefully, for of all the Big Folk they seemed the closest to the small folk in nature. He saw them in many guises, in many places. Whereas the elves kept to their forests and the dwarves their mountains, humankind dwelt in temperate plains, amid lofty mountains and forbidding glaciers--even in steaming jungles and parched desert. Most of the places Littleman found any of our people dwelling, their nearest neighbors were human farmers or pioneers. Hence the Hairfeet came into being, and the long friendship between our folk and the Big Folk begun."

"And Littleman, Grandmother? Surely Yondalla rewarded him for all his work?" wondered Calkin.

"Aye, lad, that she did--but in her own way, and her own time. For a very long time Littleman traveled the worlds, meeting new people and seeing strange and wonderful sights, marvels beyond belief. Many of the folk in the villages he founded invited him to stay with them, but always he refused and set out again to see what lay beyond the next bend in the road.

"Then one day he climbed a hill and looked down into a valley, and it seemed to him that he'd never seen a fairer sight. A shady river wound its way along through well-tended fields surrounded by friendly forest. It was a small village of our folk, and just as Littleman was thinking how he'd like to sit along that riverbank and fish, he saw that it was the very river he used to fish in all those years ago! He found his old burrow, kept clean and snug all the time he'd been away by his neighbors, and sat down contentedly by his own hearth once again. He'd come back to his own home at the end of all his wanderings, and if he's not gone away I 'spect he's there still."

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3 Lightfoot on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:37 am

Lightfoot

This most common of halflings is found throughout lands that have been settled by humans (with the notable exception of Krynn, where this role is filled by the Kender). They live much as humans do but prefer rural settings and villages to towns and cities. Their crafts tend toward the ordinary and practical--farmers, millers, innkeepers, weavers, brewers, tailors, bakers, and merchants are common in Hairfoot society.

Averaging about 3' in height, Lightfeet are slightly stockier in build than is typical for humankind. Their complexions run the gamut from pale to very dark, with hair color correspondingly blond to black and eyes that are brown or hazel. They rarely wear shoes (only in bad weather and bitter cold) and can be easily distinguished by the thick patches of hair growing atop each foot. They have no facial hair (besides eyebrows and eyelashes, of course). They wear brightly-colored, comfortable clothes, such as trousers and shirts or dresses, with a vest, jacket, hat, sash, or bonnet added as a flourish. Their faces are round and very expressive, often appearing child-like to humans.

Lightfeet are slightly longer-lived than humans, averaging 100 years--though a few patriarch and matriarchs have reached ages of 140 and beyond. Full adulthood is generally recognized at about 25 years of age.

Lightfeet are only moderately industrious, but they tend to make up in talent for what they lack in drive. A Lightfoot farmer may tend a small plot in the morning, for example, and spend the afternoon lying in the shade--yet his or her irrigation ditch will be so cleverly aligned that his or her field yields a crop equal to that of a much larger human-tended farm. A Lightfoot-woven tunic will have a finer weave and be less scratchy than a similar human product, thus fetching a considerably higher price.

Lightfeet are the halflings most closely integrated into human society. They will work for human employers or hire human laborers, and many a Lightfoot merchant has made his or her fortune by appealing to the human elite of a city's population. While they will dwell in buildings in human neighborhoods, Lightfeet do prefer to live among others of their own race (though not necessarily their own subrace) when this is possible.

A Lightfoot's preferred type of house is the combined above and below ground burrow. The upper portion is almost always wood-framed, with several doors and windows and a bright, airy feel--though the ceilings are typically no more than 5' above the floors. The lower portion will contain the fireplace and several small, cozy rooms.

Lacking the time, property, or means to build a traditional home, however, a Lightfoot will cheerfully occupy a human house, a sheltered cave, or even a shack or tent. Wherever he or she lives, a Lightfoot will find a place to have a fire and gather for social conversation.

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4 Strongheart on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:38 am

Strongheart

Stronghearts are not as common as their cousins, the lightfeet, but they are nonetheless a populous and widespread subrace. They are about the same height as Lightfeet, averaging an inch or two below 3', but much stockier--indeed, a typical Strongheart weighs half again as much as the average Lightfoot! This girth is not all fat, however--Strongheart are more muscular than any other halfling and tend to regularly best their kin in the wrestling contest that are a favorite Strongheart entertainment.

Ruddier in complexion than the other subraces, Strongheart tend to blush easily when pleased or embarrassed and flush bright red when angry. Their hair color tends to be on the light side, with blonds and sandy reds predominating; their eyes are blue, grey, and green. Unlike Lightfeet male Stronghearts can grow some facial hair, although not full beards; usually it takes the form of unusually thick sideburns or muttonchops. Moustaches are rare, and the few able to grow them are often inordinately proud of their accomplishment.

Stronghearts favor sturdy garb, commonly made of well-cured leather. They prefer practicality to appearance, and thus the members of a community tend to dress with an almost drab sameness. However, a Strongheart will try to make a point of having a brightly colored outfit of exotic material (such as cotton, wool, or, rarely, silk), for use on special occasions. They often wear boots, which are really more like thick moccasins that offer good protection from the rocky or marshy ground typically under Strongheart feet.

These halflings tend to segregate themselves from human society more than do Lightfeet, preferring the company of dwarves. Strongheart and dwarves mix very readily, and their communities will often be located near to each other. Military and defensive alliances between the two races are common, and prosperous trading is also the norm.

Strongheart villages will generally be in hilly or rocky regions near good fishing waters and well-watered fields. They are the only halflings with any affinity to mining, but they are quite good at it and will often develop a bustling business from the excavation of minerals. Stouts can also be skilled jewelers, stone-masons, builders, smiths, boatmen, and carvers. They are lackluster farmers at best, except where mushrooms are concerned, and as merchants they excel primarily at selling the products of the above trades.

Preferring underground habitation more than any other halfling subrace, a Strongheart will typically live in a fully-excavated burrow. He or she will have several round, shuttered windows placed in a few walls to let in light and air, but the overall place will be cooler, darker, and somewhat damper than a Hairfoot home.

The most industrious of halflings, a Strongheart can accomplish a great deal of work in a short time. They make doughty soldiers, and their infravision (60' range) gives them a great advantage in night-fighting. They are skilled swimmers and boatmen and have used small, slender canoes with great effect in night attacks against larger vessels.

With a typical life expectancy of more than 130 years, Stouts are not considered adults until they reach 30 years of age. The eldest of the race have been known to exceed two centuries in age.

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5 Sandstorm Halfling on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:44 am

Sandstorm Halfling

The sandstorm halflings do not appear to be native to Zakhara, but they have adapted well. Stranded in the Land of Fate when their storm-tossed fleet of ships was smashed against the shore, the halflings quickly "went native" and adopted the dress, cultures, and language of Zakhara. Well, almost. In short, the halflings picked up some of the worst aspects of Zakharan society, becoming a race of bandits, brigands, and raiders who prey upon everyone else. Their name comes from the way their raids descend upon villages and strip them clean like a dark cloud of billowing sand. Sandstorm halflings are light-skinned with hair that ranges in color from blond to red to brown.

Sandstorm halflings don't really get along well with anyone. That's what happens when you spend all your time (not just some of it) raiding every single tribe or village you come across. Enlightened folk try to accept everyone, regardless of race, but anyone who has ever encountered a sandstorm halfling before is likely to be quite wary around any other members of their race. Sandstorm halflings, for their part, look upon everyone who is larger as a bully and someone who has been unfairly rewarded by Fate.


Racial Traits:

- Ability Adjustments: +2 Dexterity, -2 Strength, -2 Charisma.

- Small: As a Small creature, a sandstorm halfling gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but she uses smaller weapons than humans use, and her lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.

- Low-Light Vision: A sandstorm halfling can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination.

- Stealthy: +2 racial bonus to Move Silently and Hide checks.

- Fearless: +2 morale bonus to saving throws against fear.

- Unarmed Combat: Armed opponents don't get attacks of opportunity against sandstorm halflings when they attempt unarmed attacks.

- Favored Class: Rogue. A multiclass sandstorm halfling's rogue class does not count when determining whether she takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing. Sandstorm halflings have long had to rely on stealth, raiding, and
skill, and the vocation of rogue comes naturally to them.

- Level Adjustment +0:

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6 CULTURE on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:45 am

CULTURE

A culture of harmony and peace, a warm emotional attachment to family and friends--including a willingness to look beyond physical differences to the common bond beneath--and an appreciation of the finer things in life... these are the hallmarks of halfling existence. No culture has displayed such a willingness, even enthusiasm, in mingling with members of other races. And halflings, with their generally cheerful demeanor, more or less honest approach to life, and helpful ingenuity, have been sincerely welcomed into communities of humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, and even treants, giants, and (rarely) goblinoids.

But despite this willingness to diversify--or, perhaps, because of it--halflings of all cultures feel a strong identity with their extended families; the company of other halflings is important to members of this small race. Families remain close, however large they grow in size, and many adult halflings will consult with their brothers, sisters, grown children, or parents concerning important decisions; if no kinfolk are about, they will turn to friends and even mere acquaintances, so long as they are fellow halflings. Even if advice is not taken, halflings feel a sense of comfort in knowing that other small folk have been privy to the decision.

The Name "Halflings"

It should be noted that, so far as halflings themselves are concerned, the name "halfling" is a misnomer. They don't consider themselves half the size of anything; in their opinion, it's everybody else who's oversized. Their own name for their race translates simply as 'the folk' or 'the small folk' (a term which sometimes includes gnomes as well); humans, elves, and dwarves are collectively referred to as 'the Big Folk.' The halflings also have a slang term they use to refer to humans which translates as 'too-talls.'

The Hearth and the Burrow

Halflings have been called connoisseurs of comfort, and the interior of a burrow will be furnished as cozily as the inhabitant(s) can afford. The floor will boast several rugs, mats, or carpets. Every halfling, however poor, has a table and a few stools, and at least one well-padded comfy chair. The bed will be small but snug, its mattress filled with clean straw or sometimes down, with several soft pillows.

The mantlepiece will feature a variety of decorations--most practical, like dishes and candlesticks, a few ornamental or exotic. The latter will often be among their owner's prized possessions, even if he or she hasn't a clue as to what the things are, provided they look interesting enough. Paintings and statuary are rare, as halflings generally prefer their treasures to be useful as well as pretty to look at.

A single burrow will be occupied by members of one family. Depending on the size of both burrow and family, the dwelling could have as many as twenty-five residents or as few as one. A populous burrow will have a patriarch or matriarch (occasionally both) who presides over the brood with genial authority. Four generations of a family living in a burrow is not at all uncommon, although sometimes a just-married couple will decide they want a burrow of their own. Occasionally an older halfling will decide that he or she would like a private burrow, but such individuals are viewed as eccentrics by their families and neighbors--it is hard for most of these gregarious folk to imagine anyone wanting to be alone.

Halflings respect experience and wisdom and defer to their elders out of affection and trust. Aside from the venerable head of a family, adult halflings of different generations (even parents and children) view each other as equals. Only the youngest halflings, not yet adults, are subject to rules and restraints imposed by authority; all grown halflings living in the burrow will be there because they want to be.

Parenting duties are shared by all the adult members of the family; fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and older siblings all share in the upbringing of youngsters. It is a rare halfling who grows up as the only child in a household; it is more common to be one of a number of brothers and sisters and cousins who play and explore together.

Though family bonds are felt warmly, they are not a cause of exclusivity. Feuds between clans are rare, since most disputes are blamed on the disputers themselves, not their families. For example, a halfling who gets into a fight (a rare, but not unheard of, occurrence) is likely to be criticized soundly by his or her own family for his or her lack of self-control--there's no "Let's go and whup them guys what beat on my brudder!" mentality.

Although disagreements are naturally inevitable in these crowded living conditions, halflings rarely engage in outright bickering or argument. For one thing, the presence of two people arguing in a burrow several dozen people call home is considered a major intrusion into the privacy of the others and hence a severe breach of etiquette by those engaged in the fracas.

Many of the traditional causes of such fights among humans are removed by the halfling's communal outlook on life. Supper is prepared by everyone who has a free hand, and those who didn't cook will pitch in the cleaning up or help entertain the youngsters after the meal. Only when all the chores are done is an individual member free to go about his or her own business. Because of their ready-to-help nature, tasks like cooking and cleaning up don't take very long, so this still leaves family members with plenty of time to get their feet up and their eyelids down.

In cases of deeper disputes, such as a couple's disagreement on whether to move out and find a place of their own, the discussion will generally be waged quietly, over a period of months or even years. One member might make a friendly remark, after a crowded dinner around a small table, how pleasant it would be to have enough room to stretch out his elbows at the table. A week later his spouse might reply, in an equally pleasant tone, how nice it is that there was such an interesting conversation—"so many points of view"--around that same table on a different evening. Naturally, it takes a long time to resolve an issue like this--but when it's resolved, the decision is far more likely to have been mutually arrived at than it would have been among a human couple.

Growing Up

Offspring are a source of great pride and joy to their parents. Halflings enter the world as helpless as human infants, requiring similar care for the early part of their lives.

For the first ten years, a halfling's relative growth pretty well parallels a human's--i.e., a ten year old human and halfling will look much the same age, although not in size, and will have about the same level of maturity. Children of both sexes and many different ages commonly play together, following rules created by the older youths that still allow the youngest a measure of freedom and decision-making in the game.

It is during these formative years that young halflings practice those traits that will form some of their basic skills when they grow up. Hide and Seek is a favorite game among halflings and is almost always played out of doors. Thus the youngsters become adept at concealing themselves in all sorts of natural cover--in patches of brush, behind tree-trunks, and even amid beds of flowers. Young halfling quickly develop the calm patience that allows them to remain still for long periods of time, since they learn over and over that it is the one who moves that is seen first.

Another favorite game is called Knock the Block, in which a small object such as a block of wood, or perhaps a tin pot or iron kettle, is placed some distance away, and the young halflings take turns throwing things at it, recording points for hits. The game is sometimes played with slings and stones (among older youths). For special tournaments and important matches, clay targets are used, with the winner determined by whoever's shot strikes hard enough to shatter the object. This common game is presumably one reason why so many halflings grow up to be so adept with missile weapons.

From the age of eleven or so on to adulthood, halfling development slows in comparison with the Big Folk. A halfling's adolescence lasts for about a decade and a half (more in the case of the longer-lived subraces). However, the period is characterized by a lot less angst than is typically felt by a human--perhaps because of the warm, supportive, noncompeting environment provided by family, burrow, and community.

Halfling artisans and craftsmen do not follow a formal apprenticeship program--indeed, adolescents are encouraged to experiment with a wide variety of pursuits. The cheesemaker, for example, will be helped by virtually every village youth over the course of several years. Those who find that they enjoy the work will spend more and more time with the `master,' until by adulthood the youth has learned everything the cheesemaker can teach about the trade.

Another reason, perhaps, for the relaxed adolescence of the typical halfling is that male-female friendships are as common as friendships between members of the same sex, often lasting from childhood through adulthood. Many of these lifelong friendships culminate in marriage.

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7 FOOD on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:46 am

FOOD

Halflings enjoy eating and drinking in plentiful quantities--indeed, despite the difference in size, the typical halfling will eat as much if not more than a human twice his or her size; this is because halflings have a very high metabolism. Most halflings eat three large meals a day, interspersed with three sizable snacks: breakfast, brunch, lunch, teatime, supper, and bedtime snack. Although they enjoy an occasional meal of meat, especially poultry or wildfowl (roast pheasant is considered a great delicacy), the short folk rely extensively on bread, fruit, and cheese.

Halfling bakers are famed for their abilities with dough, making all types of sweet or salty, light or heavy breads. Cheesemaking is another skill in which many halflings are proficient, and here, too, variety is a prime hallmark--each individual cheesemaker will typically specialize in one kind of cheese, no two of which will be alike, allowing a halfling community to offer a variety of sharp and mild, hard and soft cheeses.

Halflings are born gardeners, far exceeding any other race in their knack for growing foodstuffs. Any halfling with access to a plot of ground will usually maintain a garden, wherein he or she will carefully nurture fruits and vegetables of all types appropriate to the climate. Even in a small garden, a halfling will generally plant at many different times during the spring, assuring a continuing harvest from early summer through late autumn. Halflings do not favor a lot of spice in their foods, however, so few raise peppers or other strongly-flavored crops unless a nearby ready market for them exists. Onions are a notable exception--many halflings love them and have even been known to munch them raw, much as a human might eat an apple.

Halfling brewers are well-known and their products popular with humans as well as other halflings. As with cheesemaking, a brewer will specialize in a single beverage. These can vary from heavy stout (halflings often jokingly hand a first-time human drinker a knife and fork with the glass) to light and creamy ales. Fruit wines are also popular, with halfling vintners specializing in using whatever fruit is near to hand.

It should be noted that, though halflings favor many sorts of wines and ales, they rarely get drunk, due no doubt to their high metabolism. Rather, the alcohol tends to make them pleasantly drowsy, and a group of halflings that share a bottle of potent stuff will typically become quite relaxed, quiet, and contented as the evening wears on.

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8 The Village on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:47 am

The Village

The key to the village is the halfling's desire for the maximum of comfort with the minimum of effort. These pragmatic folk long ago learned that, though one halfling might learn to grow and cook and sew and build and so forth, specialization in these tasks creates a much higher level of quality all around. Thus, we see the cooperative roots of the halfling's picture of community.

Indeed, this cooperation extends to all aspects of life. The breadmaker will give his or her loaves to the other villagers, as will the cheesemaker with his or her cheese and the brewer with his or her beverage. Perhaps the baker's family gets the best loaf from a particular batch, but everyone gets a fair share.

Burrow excavation and house-building operates under the same pattern--the most experienced builder in the town will supervise a legion of workers, so that the initial portions of the task can be accomplished in a few days. As to the furnishing of the burrow, the occupants see to that themselves.

Though halflings mingle well with human society, this does not mean they have departed from the concept of the village--rather, it is an indication of their broad vision, for nowhere is it written that the villagers must be fellow halflings. A halfling who dwells in a city will treat his or her neighbors as fellow villagers--this is what makes halflings such good neighbors. They are quick to recognize when their generosity is not reciprocated, however, and thus will soon narrow their circle of `villagers' to those who feel a similar sense of cooperation and friendship.

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9 Crafts, Labor, and Products on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:48 am

Crafts, Labor, and Products

Halflings are adept at utilizing local resources in their labors. Although only the Stouts are very effective at mining, all subraces will be intimately familiar with the surface features of their surroundings. If they live in an area with a lot of trees, carvers will know everything about each variety of wood available. If the environment is rocky, experienced stone-masons will predominate. The most dramatic evidence, perhaps, of this adaptability is the fact that the Furchin have developed a high level of skill at working the raw materials in their nearly woodless and stoneless environment: they make everything from their homes to their tools, weapons and clothing out of leather, bone, and ice. The specific skills likely to be found in a halfling community vary by subrace

The quality of halfling work is very consistent. While rarely the equal of the greatest artisans in the world--dwarves make better axeblades, elves better wine--on the average it is better than the average available elsewhere.

Areas where halfling craftsmen truly excel include many tasks involving dexterity and great detail. The small folk make splendid jewelers, engravers, locksmiths, woodcarvers--indeed, artists of all types. They love colors, and once again the propensity for detail allows a halfling painter to bring a scene to bright and vivid life. If clocks are known to a world (e.g., if its technology is sufficiently advanced), then it is likely that the finest clockmakers will be halflings.

Also, because of their proclivity for entertaining gossip and news of all kinds, halflings make great storytellers. Some of them have a gift for music, and halfling musicians and storytellers are in great demand at any village feast or festival.

Halflings are ill-suited for jobs requiring size and strength, such as blacksmithing, ocean sailing, or cargo hauling. Though a halfling village will usually have a smith who makes nails and horseshoes, his or her work will not be up to the level of most human smiths and will probably be for local consumption only; the same is true of halfling teamsters

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10 Re: Halflings in the realms on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:49 am

Though they have no lack of courage, halflings shun violent or aggressive behavior in social settings. They are slow to anger and always ready to seek a negotiated solution to any dispute.

A halfling feels no sense of shame if he or she chooses to leave the presence of some obnoxious bully rather than getting involved in a fight--even a fight the halfling thinks he or she can win. Fortunately, because of their communal village upbringing, few halflings are this rude, and such situations mainly arise when the halfling mixes company with humans, dwarves, or goblinoids.

Personal insults delivered to a fellow villager are considered low class, reflecting more poorly on the one who makes the insult than the target. Politeness is much admired, and one who shows tolerance to a neighbor who has wronged him is considered to be the epitome of a class act.

Parties among halflings are common and will be given for a variety of reasons. Birthdays are always cause for celebration, and with so many family members living together it's rare for a month to go by without several birthdays in it. Each community will also have many annual holidays. These vary by culture--there are no such holidays observed by halflings everywhere. Often the Small Folk will celebrate whatever festivals are popular among their human and demihuman neighbors, soon giving these observances a character all their own.

The hosts of a party are expected to provide food and drink--but much of this will be contributed by neighbors prior to the event. Thus, none of the guests show up with anything to contribute, but they've all provided a bottle, a wedge of cheese, loaf of bread, or the like beforehand. Indeed, this is one way halflings get invited to parties--if you find out that your neighbor is celebrating his birthday, for example, take over a small jug of ale in the morning and he can hardly turn you away when the festivities commence in the afternoon!

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11 Re: Halflings in the realms on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:50 am

There is little sense of social status among the halflings in a village, aside from the amused tolerance shown by adults to children and the general respect for the elderly. Wealthy halflings are expected to throw bigger parties and to generally show generosity to those less fortunate--yet they are not accorded any 'upper class' standing because of this. The villagers may well elect a sheriff, mayor, or constable and give this individual nominal authority to arrest troublemakers. Rambunctious behavior is rare among halflings themselves, however, so the sheriff's main concern will be to control the behavior of humans, dwarves, and other possible troublemakers who come through the community

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12 Joy and Humor on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:51 am

Joy and Humor

Halflings are a folk who can derive pleasure from many simple things and are not afraid to show it--a halfling who is happy laughs; one who feels affection or love will express himself or herself with words or deeds.

The small folk love to tell and hear stories and will generally be attentive and silent when anyone spins a tale. Not surprisingly, they especially love stories in which the small and clever triumph over those who are physically larger and stronger but clumsier and less quick-witted.

Halflings also have a frank appreciation for bawdy humor and practical jokes. They have the ability to laugh at themselves, though one prank often leads to another in retaliation, and so on. Such good-natured exchanges have been known to continue, reciprocated back and forth, for decade after decade.

Sorrow and Anger

The small folk know the same griefs as humankind--death and illness, partings, natural disasters, and other tragedies. Though they, as a people, are deeply affected by such misfortune, halflings tend not to display their grief as openly as do humans. Halfling villagers who have just lost several neighbors and friends to marauding bandits will shuffle around as if they are in shock--there will be few tears, little wailing or crying.

Even more surprising, there will be few expressions of outright anger or hostility. Revenge is not a great drive to most halflings, though occasionally a wrong will be judged so heinous, so unforgivable, that retribution is required (deliberate murder is a prime example). Loss of possessions, however--whether due to accident or the malicious acts of others--tends to be greeted with a more relaxed attitude of 'easy come, easy go.'

In their day-to-day lives, halflings are remarkably impervious to frustration and depression. Members of the small folk show a remarkable ability to adapt to the circumstances of their surroundings. If the crops fail and food is short, they derive that much more pleasure from the meager fare that they eat. If the roof caves in and the family has no place to sleep, they will remark how fortunate they were that no one was seriously hurt--and they'll mean it!

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13 Why Most Halflings Are Homebodies on Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:51 am

Why Most Halflings Are Homebodies

Almost all halflings suffer to some degree from feelings which resembles the condition humans call agoraphobia--a fear of unknown or open places. It's not that halflings are literally afraid, merely that they become very uncomfortable whenever they're too far away from their villages and burrows or in unfamiliar places. Whether this is one of Yondalla's 'gifts,' designed to keep them close to home and hearth, or a holdover from the Bad Old Days when enemies lurked behind every tree and bush, none can say. But it has been observed that the symptoms increase with age--halfling children freely range far and wide, while the very old rarely step outside their burrows. Not that the halflings see this as a bad thing: to them, it's simply the way things are and ought to be--youth is the time to gadabout, age the time for rest and reflection.

Why Some Halflings Pursue Adventure

If his or her burrow and its attendant company and comforts are the most important features of a halfling's life, why then would any halfling leave this perfection for a life of short rations, crude lodging, exposure to bad weather, danger, and possible violence?

That's the question asked by most of the rest of a village when a young halfling packs his or her tote bag and waves goodbye to his or her parents. His or her neighbors will often gather to see the would-be adventurer off, watching the already small form grow smaller in the distance, knowing there's a good chance that they'll never see their friend again.

There are nearly as many answers to this question as there are halflings who have walked down that road. Some do so reluctantly, out of a sense of duty. Others find the temptations of excitement, adventure, and treasure too great to ignore. One thing almost all of them share in common, however, is that they lack the characteristic halfling dread of faraway places.

For reasons which once again are unknown halflings call it 'the legacy of Littleman'--a few rare halflings are born entirely free of the condition which keeps their fellows tied to their homes. Instead, they are filled with an endless curiosity to see new places, new people, and new things. Usually this wanderlust fades later in life and the homing instinct reasserts itself, but a few halflings remain wanderers for the rest of their days. These restless individuals are considered 'eccentric' by their fellow halflings, but their exploits are often admired just the same.

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