D&D 5e: The Halfling Personality


Since I’ve written posts for the Elven Personality and the Dwarven Personality, it would seem silly not to at least finish the Professor Tolkien Collectible Cup Set with this post. Not that I won’t continue on to races not found in Middle-Earth but included in the Player’s Handbook, but it might be a little while. Not gonna lie, it’s a lot easier when I have the Professor’s books and Peter Jackson’s movies to draw on for details. (For whatever reason, they’re more useful to my creative process for the Flaws section than anything else.)

Personality Traits

d8 Personality Traits
1 I obsess over pairing the right wine, beer, or mead with every meal.
2 I am the voice of reason and compromise, even between the fiercest foes.
3 Flattery is both my favorite tool and my secret weakness.
4 I trust in the gods and my native luck to see me through terrible risks.
5 What I lack in height, I make up for in hidden depth (…and maybe breadth).
6 As long as I can indulge one minor gluttonous vice, I can endure any hardship.
7 I pepper my speech with malapropisms, either from ignorance or to see if you’re listening.
8 Revenge is a dish best served cold, and from below.

Ideals

d6 Ideals
1 Mercy: I can’t stand by and watch someone else in sincere need – even a former foe. (Good)
2 Independence: I’ll go it on my own instead of being patronized by Big Folk. (Chaotic)
3 People: Highfalutin ideals aren’t for me – my loyalty is to individuals. (Neutral)
4 Gluttony: With the gods as my witness, I will never go hungry again, no matter the cost. – with apologies to Margaret Mitchell (Evil)
5 Fairness: Our community collapses if we turn on one another or won’t do our share. (Lawful)
6 Respect: Money and status have nothing to do with whether I should treat you with respect. (Good)

Bonds

d6 Bonds
1 I set my feet upon the road, and discovered I loved seeing the world.
2 I will show the Big Folk just how much they’re missing by ignoring us.
3 As long as my village endures, I have the strength to go on.
4 The gods made halflings to bring the world hope when hope seemed foolish.
5 My word is my bond – not because of honor, but because I hate disappointing people.
6 The true history and purpose of the halflings is a mystery I intend to solve.

Flaws

d6 Flaws
1 Twenty gold says you will not make a “short” joke I haven’t heard before.
2 I can resist anything but temptation. – Oscar Wilde
3 Carnivorous monsters think I’m the most delicious thing they’ve ever smelled. – with apologies to the Wildlands campaign. I know that halflings are not gnimari – but Tasty is the best disad ever.
4 Curiosity killed the cat. The cat learned it from a halfling. I’m doomed.
5 I need my creature comforts, even when it’s impractical.
6 I have no experience with devious people, so I’m easily outmaneuvered and tricked.

Design Notes

Based on the existing stereotypes, it’s relatively harder to make halflings into out-and-out assholes without drawing on Kender themes. I think this is a good thing! (I don’t foresee ever quite getting around to writing the Kender Personality. Let’s say I’m leaving it as an exercise for the reader.) I also steered away from Belkar, even though I think Order of the Stick has done a good job of moving him beyond the relatively shallow joke that he was in the beginning. Belkar is deliberately an inversion of most halfling traits, and you can get a broader range of evil or hostile traits from Background anyway.

It says something about the default murder-hobo-ness of D&D that Belkar Bitterleaf is less disruptive to party cohesion and fun than the average kender. My essay on how people miss the traits of Tasslehoff Burrfoot that stop him from being insufferable will have to wait for another day.

All of this is to say that there are a lot more themes I would have drawn in, but six to eight items per category means that most items have to cover the core stereotypes, and only one or two get to touch on more unusual things. It wouldn’t break anything to build these as d20 or even d100 lists, but it would dilute the consistency of many group members sharing particular traits. I dunno, I think what you want in character portrayal is for 80% or so of your presentation to show how you represent your race, class, and background, while the other 20% show how you are an individual. If there are other members of your race, class, and/or background involved in the story who cleave to the defaults, you can increase your own variation by contrast. Everyone needs a good foil, right?

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