Halfling is another name for J. R. R. Tolkien's hobbit and is a fictional race sometimes found in fantasy novels and games. In many settings, they are similar to humans except about half the size. Dungeons & Dragons began using the name halfling as an alternative to hobbit for legal reasons, but since then the race has taken on a life of its own.

Originally, 'Halflin' was an old Scottish word, pre-dating The Hobbit and Dungeons & Dragons. It meant an awkward rustic teenager, who is neither man nor boy, and so half of both. Another word for halflin is hobbledehoy.

Some fantasy stories use halfling to describe a person born of a human parent and a parent of another race, often a human female and an elf. Terry Brooks describes characters such as Shea Ohmsford from his Shannara series as a halfling of elf-human parentage.

In early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, there was a race of demi-humans known as hobbits that were very much like those found in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Tolkien estate did not appreciate the resemblance and threatened legal action against TSR, the makers of Dungeons & Dragons. TSR renamed the folk halflings, another word coined by Tolkien for the race, but not as commonly used in the books.

Early Dungeons & Dragons halflings also seemed nearly identical to Tolkien's hobbits: They lived quiet lives in their homes away from adventure and, despite being well suited for the task of thievery, they seemingly would not accept a life of larceny. A very similar race, kender, appeared in the Dragonlance campaign that had a lifestyle much more suited to the thieves that most halfing player characters became. The game's Third Edition altered the halfling lifestyle to become more in line with how players played the race: They became troublesome opportunists, nomadic wanderers, and seekers of wealth.

Halflings in Dungeons & Dragons have been further divided into various subraces:

  • Hairfoot halflings were the standard, "common" subrace of halflings in the game's earlier editions. Clearly derived from Tolkien's Harfoots, they most clearly resembled Middle-earth's hobbits, being a good-natured race of homebodies with fur-covered feet. With the advent of the game's Third Edition, they were replaced by lightfoot halflings.
  • Tallfellow halflings were based on Tolkien's Fallohides. They are taller than hairfoot or lightfoot halflings, with lighter hair and skin tone, and prefer to build their homes in woodlands. They have survived the change to Third Edition more or less intact.
  • Stout halflings were based on Tolkien's Stoors. Shorter but broader than hairfoot halflings, stouts make good craftsmen. In Third Edition they were renamed as deep halflings but have otherwise remained unchanged.
  • Lightfoot halflings are the standard halfling subrace of Third Edition. They are more removed from Tolkien's halflings, being athletic and ambitious opportunists, although they retain their love of comfort and family.
  • The Forgotten Realms campaign setting has done away with both tallfellows and stouts, replacing them with two completely original subraces. One, the strongheart halflings, are a semi-nomadic people who move from town to town within their nation in the south of Faern. They are more martially-inclined than other halflings.
  • The other new subrace is the ghostwise halfling, who parted with their strongheart cousins after a war between the two kindreds. Ghostwise are savage and insular, rarely leaving their woodland homes, and have developed the ability to speak directly from mind-to-mind, without words.
  • The Dragon Lance campaign set has a completely different race of halflings. Known as kender. The are completely immune to fear, even if magically generated. Also they have a very 'communal' outlook on property ownership. They are known to wander off while still holding, looking at, or even after pocketing an item that catches their fancy. They do not consider this stealing, but rather borrowing the item.

Other, minor subraces have been introduced in various sources over the years as well.he:זוטון pl:Niziołek


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