Wednesday, July 16, 2014

1st Adventures: Development Log #3 - Halflings

The other day I wrote up my thoughts about how non-human cultures will influence the classes I intend to provide in my 1st Adventures game. This generated a lot of fantastic discussion from the community and even though I hadn't planned on writing about Halflings yet, all the discussion put them at the front of the line in my development process.

I have some unique ideas for Dwarf and Elf classes, but I'm struggling with a differentiation for Halflings to make them mechanically different from Human classes.

Culturally, 1st Adventures Halflings are not unlike the stereotypical Halflings you think about when considering Basic D&D, AD&D, or even Lord of the Rings. Below is a very early rough draft on the section for Halflings.


Halfling are short humanoids with adults ranging from 4  to 4 1/2 feet tall on average. The are more slender than Dwarfs but slightly stouter than human youth of a similar size. While not entirely as prolific as Humans, Halflings are found in most corners of the Known World and, like Humans, their culture and skin tones vary in accordance with their environment. Most Halfling clans live in settled, traditional farmsteads, but there is no small minority that travel as tribal nomads living out of wagons, river barges, or yurts, hunting and fishing off the land. In general though, Halflings known to enjoy a simple life often associated with an agrarian society.

A sample cross-section of Halfling professionals might consist of farmers, millers, brewers, bakers, tailors, cobblers, carpenters, as well as various other tradesmen and artisans. Halflings take great pride in their crafts and trades. Despite the simple adornment, Halfling trade goods are highly sought after for their durability, workmanship, and quality. While a fine set of clothes purchased from a Halfling village may not be fancy enough for a King's court, it will last the traveler years of wear and tear. Halflings communities are fully self-sufficient, but they still enjoy an active trade with the outside world. Halflings do not exhibit flashy displays of wealth, but one does note that a Halfling abode is usually well appointed and comfortable.

Outsiders often view Halflings as having a pastoral, bucolic and even care-free existence, but that freedom and security comes with its own cost. Half a century back, the township of Woolrich-upon-Lenz was set upon by raiders. Every Halfling adult and child was slaughtered and the village razed. This tragedy led to the formation of the Vanguard.

The Vanguard is a military organization whose mission is to patrol Halfling territories and communities to protect from encroaching dangers. These special forces voluntarily set aside the quiet life in order to safeguard that life for others. A term of service in the Vanguard is 5 years, though many serve multiple terms. Almost all Halfling adventurers are retired Vanguard who are no longer able to settle into a quiet existence after having experienced the soldier's life.

Dogfighter (Fighter)

Dogfighters are the stock soldiers of the Vanguard. The name derives from the the war dogs ridden by the mounted outrider patrols. The name is a bit of a misnomer as many Dogfighers are actually foot soldiers, and some ride Halflingers, a special small breed of war horse. Dogfighters patrol the boundaries of the Halfling territories, vigilant against any encroaching dangers.

This art is just bad ass!  Source: Dragon Magazine
Ferret (Rogue)

Ferrets are the special reconnaissance soldiers in the Vanguard. Like Dogfighters, Ferrets get their nickname from the animals trained in their service, which includes Giant Ferrets used as mounts or for other specialized tasks. As specialists in scouting and reconnaissance, Ferrets excel in stealthily moving about their objective undetected. While they are capable fighters, their task is to avoid combat and report back to their Dogfighter support teams. On occasion, Ferrets are sent out beyond the borders for specialized missions either on their own or in very small teams. In these circumstances, they must fend for themselves in combat as well as in other aspects of survival in the wild.

The problem I’m having with Halflings (that I’m not having so much with Dwarfs and Elves) is that the classes aren’t differentiated enough from a human Rogue or Fighter. I have unique ideas for the Dwarfs and Elves that make their classes mechanically different from humans… but I don’t have that for the Halflings yet (with perhaps the animal companion potential). I’m also still not sold on the class names. Please share ideas or feedback.

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