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Halfling 5e

Halfling 5e

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Halfling 5e

How To Play Halflings

When most new players think about halflings, often times the first image that comes up are hobbits from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" & "The Lord of the Rings." While there are definitely many common traits borrowed from this source material, to assume 5e D&D halflings are just like hobbits is to diminish everything this race brings to the table. While they are often overlooked by many players, that is an unfortunate mistake. This small race might be short in stature, but they have a wide array of interesting traits that can help to create some really remarkable characters, not to mention mechanics that can be used to create some truly epic and interesting characters.

d&d 5e halfling

Halfling Culture

Standing at only three feet tall, halflings rarely cause the instant suspicion or worry that races like tieflings or half orcs must deal with. They have a reputation for being practical, jovial, and very easy-going. They are also found among many different societies because of this ability to get along. While a mostly halfling community will likely come in the form of small villages led by family elders, especially around farms and fruit orchards in the rolling hills of the country, members of this race can be found just about anywhere. They are frequently found among a community of humans or other humanoids and the diminutive halflings are hardly helpless, displaying a remarkable ferocity and capacity to survive in what is to them a world of giants.

Halflings usually form peaceful communities, content with the comforts of hearth and home connected to their neighbors through the bonds of family. Most halflings are excellent farmers, caring for their land and reaping the abundant rewards of the fields in their quiet shires. Rarely the victim of political strife or infighting, halflings avoid unwanted attention and are usually content to enjoy their agricultural communities.

They are incredibly loyal friends and while known for an affable nature, they can be fierce fighters and steadfast allies for those they care about. This loyalty and general friendliness make them rather popular in many communities and among many different races.

Halfling Statistics

Your halfling character has several special abilities that define them as a lineage. You also have the option of several subraces including the Ghostwise Halfling, the Lightfoot Halfling, and the Stout Halfling. There are also some setting specific regional variants, but these 3 are the true subraces. Let’s go through the raw text of each of your base race halfling features, then go over how they’ll effect your new character:


Core Racial Features

Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Age: A halfling reaches adulthood at the age of 20 and generally lives into the middle of his or her second century.

Alignment: Most halflings are lawful good. As a rule, they are good-hearted and kind, hate to see others in pain, and have no tolerance for oppression. They are also very orderly and traditional, leaning heavily on the support of their community and the comfort of their old ways.

Size: Halflings average about 3 feet tall and weigh about 40 pounds. Your size is Small.

Speed: Your base walking speed is 25 feet.

Lucky: When you roll a 1 on the d20 for an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll.

Brave: You have advantage on saving throws against being frightened.

Halfling Nimbleness: You can move through the space of any creature that is of a size larger than yours.

Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Halfling. The Halfling language isn’t secret, but halflings are loath to share it with others. They write very little, so they don’t have a rich body of literature. Their oral tradition, however, is very strong. Almost all halflings speak Common to converse with the people in whose lands they dwell or through which they are traveling.

Core Racial Feature Breakdown

Fairly simple, but let’s talk about each feature on its own. 

Ability Score Increase: Halflings are particularly nimble and as such no matter what subrace of halfling you end up picking, you’ll be gaining a +2 bonus to your Dexterity score. Dexterity is arguably the strongest ability score in 5th edition and no matter what class you choose it has potentially major benefits for you. 2 dexterity is especially useful for classes that plan on using their Dexterity for more than AC and Initiative rolls, such as Monks, Rangers, Rogues, many kinds of Fighter, and often Warlocks


 

Age: As a halfling you get a somewhat extended age range, living usually to at least 150. This typically isn’t enough of a timeframe for insights into “historical events” but it does give you a decent range to play with.

Alignment: Halflings are typically as good as they come, but you’re under no compulsion to stick with that. Just know if you play a maniacal serial-killer halfling you’ll be “playing against type”.

Size: True to their namesake halflings are in fact on the short side. A small size is rarely a hindrance in 5e though, and often the biggest impact is to make it easier for you to hide effectively.

Speed: Probably the biggest downside the halfling has, your little legs only get you a 25-foot movement speed whereas most other races get 30 feet. You'll especially feel this if you have the misfortune of fighting in difficult terrain. Not an insurmountable disadvantage but keep it in mind if your build requires speed.

Lucky: And now we get the biggest upside the halfling has. Halflings are inexplicably lucky sons of guns and whenever you roll a natural 1 on practically anything that uses a d20, you get to reroll it for free. No limits on usage, it’s always on, you just have an incredibly low chance of fumbling a roll. I can’t overstate how powerful an ability this is and a lot of players create halfling characters specifically for this feature.

Brave: A minor feature compared to lucky, but still quite useful. You gain advantage against effects that would frighten you, which is a nasty condition that a whole lot of monsters and spells dish out regularly. Just remember you have the feature the next time some horror spooks the party.

Halfling Nimbleness: This lets you walk through other creatures that are bigger than you are, and since you’re small-sized that’ll be almost everything. This makes you exceptionally hard to box into a corner and gives you an extra edge when it comes to battlefield maneuvering. It’s especially useful for spellcasters with close range spells they need to get into optimal positions.

Languages: You speak Common and unsurprisingly, Halfling. Halfling is a language that I find almost never comes up in campaigns, especially since even halfling NPCs will almost always also speak common. The best use of the Halfling language I’ve found is sending “coded” messages between multiple halfling player characters, since it’s rare for non-halflings to speak it.


Halfling Subraces 

There are several different halfling variants so next let's take a look at the halfling subraces:


 

Ghostwise Halfling

The rarest of the halfling subraces you’ll likely play or encounter, ghostwise halflings are the descendants of halflings who live the nomadic life in tight-knit clans deep in deep forest communities. Living in elusive and isolated clan territories, they rarely leave their ghostwise clans to become adventurers, so you’ll need to come up with some reason your character left. Did your clan leader send you on a mission? Did your clan of ghostwise halflings collapse?

Ghostwise halflings are the only official halfling subrace that doesn't come from the core rules or a setting book, and you can find them in their isolated forests within the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide. Mechanically a ghostwise halfling is quite distinct from a standard halfling and you'll gain the following features as a ghostwise halfling in addition to your base halfling features:

Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Silent Speech: You can speak telepathically to any creature within 30 feet of you. The creature understands you only if the two of you share a language. You can speak telepathically in this way to one creature at a time.

 


Ghoswise Halfling Feature Breakdown 

A bonus to an ability score and a single very powerful feature, let’s go over them here:

Ability Score Increase: A bonus to Wisdom combined with the base halfling’s bonus to Dexterity pushes a ghostwise halfling towards classes that can make use of both abilities. Dexterity is universally useful, and Wisdom is a primary ability for Clerics, Druids, Monks, and Rangers.  

Silent Speech: I don’t think it’s adequately explained why ghostwise halflings are telepaths where other members of their kind aren’t (like is this a natural feature or some sort of magic), but it’s incredibly powerful and welcome all the same. It’s fairly short range, it only works one way (you can talk to others, but they can’t talk back), and you have to share a common language. It’s a lot more limited than it first appears, but it’s still an amazing way to send secret signals to your allies without hostile creatures hearing about it.


 

Lightfoot Halfling

Lightfoot halflings are the nimbler and less paunchy cousins of the stout halflings. They tend to be on the taller and slimmer side for halflings and are among the most common halflings you see in most settings. They’re also often charming scamps prone to wanderlust, and very commonly become adventurers. Mechanically they’re distinct from other halflings and you gain the following features in addition to your base halfling features:

Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 1.

Naturally Stealthy: You can attempt to hide even when you are obscured only by a creature that is at least one size larger than you.



Lightfoot Halfling Feature Breakdown 

A bonus to an ability score and a single strangely useful feature, let’s go over each racial trait here:

Ability Score Increase: A bonus to Charisma combined with the base halfling’s bonus to Dexterity pushes you towards classes that can make use of both abilities. Dexterity is universally useful, and Charisma is a spellcasting ability for Bards, Paladins, Sorcerers, and Warlocks

Naturally Stealthy: This is an odd one but it comes up strangely often. Basically, you can use your allies as “obscuring cover” when you hide so long as they're larger creatures (at least medium creatures). The biggest application of this is for rogues, as you can while surrounded by your allies use a bonus action to hide then make a sneak attack with impunity. If you’re thinking of playing a halfling Rogue, this feature makes lightfoot halflings a reasonable choice.


 

Stout Halfling

Stout halflings (sometimes called strongheart halfling in the forgotten realms) are a bit paunchier than others, and stocky to the point that some people think they’ve got dwarven blood. These are more of your classic "hobbits" with an appetite for food and used to creature comforts and simple pleasures. The stout halflings are a bit more resilient and are resistant to poison. Stout halflings are a common variety just like lightfoot halflings, and while they’re not as prone to wandering as lightoots a fair number of them still become adventurers. Mechanically they’re distinct from other halflings and you gain the following features in addition to your base halfling features: 

Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1.

Stout Resilience: You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage.


Stout Halfling Feature Breakdown

This halfling subrace gains a bonus to an ability score and a somewhat standard but still useful feature, let’s go over them here:

Ability Score Increase: A bonus to Constitution combined with the base halfling’s bonus to Dexterity pushes you towards martial classes that rely on physical combat. The combination of both Dexterity and Constitution is particularly useful for Barbarians, Fighters, Rogues, and Rangers


Stout Resilience: Resistance to poison damage and advantage on saves against poison is a feature that is fairly common but still useful. Many monsters utilize poisons and while it’s commonly resisted it’s also commonly applied.

What's in a Name?

Like many other races halflings tend to have a given name and a family name. Halfling names usually also have a nickname they are best known for, as well. In addition to this, if a nickname really stuck then over the generations that may actually supplant the family name. This is how many family names can sound like nicknames like Berrygather, Alebrewer, or Applepicker.

What Classes Fit Well?

If the short, easy to hide, easy to blend in, widely accepted halfling doesn't scream rogue, then what race does? There are several classes that halfling adventurers can naturally fit into, but it's hard to argue with rogue. Not only to the beginning stat bonuses match well, but story wise having that short, affable individual who blends so easily into so many societies makes them a natural fit for the Thieves' Guild or any type of rogue profession. Having that lucky trait to re-roll ones when trying to get in that all-important sneak attack damage is incredibly powerful. It can also come in handy when making a stealth check to sneak by or trying to pull off a sleight of hand trick.

While halfling rangers and halfling monks are might not pop into mind when thinking about this race, they should. Both heavily rely on dexterity, which halflings start out with. The same stealthy nature that rogues rely on in the cities is equally as important or useful to rangers in the woods, who also can supplement that with the " Pass without a Trace " spell to add +10 to stealth checks. A dexterity based halfling fighter concentrating on bows and ranged weapons is also a powerful option, though certainly a bit more unconventional compared based on the general traits most halflings show.

While very unconventional and unusual, a stout halfling barbarian can be a surprising force to be reckoned with, especially when they get to re-roll every critical fail attack to get another chance to hit.

Interesting Build: The Luckiest Adventurer

Ever wanted to build a character who somehow got by on ridiculous luck as opposed to skill? Could cause incredible headaches for a DM as things just kept working out? Somehow despite incompetence and a befuddling lack of wisdom could just have things work out? Introducing an interesting build for a halfling: the luckiest adventurer.

The point of this build isn't necessarily to optimize, but to create a fun character who can improbably stumble through challenging adventures that put down more experienced and capable adventurers. The key here is luck. This build is for a halfling wizard, focusing on divination. At level four take the Lucky feat. Mechanically this means as a halfling you get to re-roll anytime you roll a one, you can re-roll three dice per long rest because of the lucky feat, and as a divination wizard you get to roll two d20 at the beginning of a day and at any time replace your (or another) die roll with one of those d20s.

This gives your halfling an insane ability to change dice rolls all the time, essentially twisting your own fate. Instead of role playing it as a master of the arcane, play if off as feeling like you're always dodging a bullet due to chance. With the ability to conceivably change five dice rolls in addition to re-rolling and ones, you now have an adventurer who is a bookworm wizard who, thanks to changed dice rolls, just somehow has everything work out perfectly for them.

So Many Options

Dexterity is a quality stat to have boosted, and the mechanics of the halfling means that this race has plenty of versatility and flexibility. While they naturally make incredible rogues and rangers, they can also be spellcasters with the ability to easily hide, lucky adventurers who just have things work out, or surprisingly effective fighters who don't look too intimidating but whose small package provides a giant punch.

In other words, this is a surprisingly versatile and effective race that can add quite a bit of power and flair to some unconventional characters. While they aren't likely to catch up to humans as a popular race in D&D 5e, there's a lot to love about the big effect that comes in a small pint-sized package.

 

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Disclaimer

Last updated: January 27, 2019

The information contained on www.SkullSplitterDice.com website (the "Service") is for general information purposes only.

www.SkullSplitterDice.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. (source: Section 5)

Blueshift Nine, LLC assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents on the Service.

In no event shall Blueshift Nine, LLC be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tort, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Service or the contents of the Service. Blueshift Nine, LLC reserves the right to make additions, deletions, or modification to the contents on the Service at any time without prior notice.

Blueshift Nine, LLC does not warrant that the Service is free of viruses or other harmful components.

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This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of Blueshift Nine, LLC with other companies and products.

Some of the links are "affiliate links", a link with a special tracking code. This means if you click on an affiliate link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission.

The price of the item is the same whether it is an affiliate link or not. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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